I’ve become a firm believer that one’s actions upon waking are a fundamental element in setting oneself up for the day ahead.
Once upon a time my morning routine consisted of snoozing for three or four ten-minute intervals, getting up at the last possible minute and a mad dash around the house trying to get myself together. Mornings were a hectic, stressful blur, and the act of waking up became a chore. I had no time to set myself up for the day and I’d frequently leave the house in a blind panic that I’d miss my train and be late for work.
Soon enough, enough became enough (I love this sentence). I realised that my frantic mornings were playing havoc with my mood, their effects leaking into the following hours and marring what might otherwise have been an okay day. I needed a morning-overhaul.
I’ve now found myself in a comfortable groove in regards to my morning routine, having adopted a few personal rituals that set me up for a productive, successful, happy day. And the best part? These add-ons only take about 20 minutes in total to complete, meaning I’m not sacrificing too many precious moments with my head on the pillow.
My Twenty-Minute Morning Ritual
I set my alarm for an hour and ten minutes before I need to get up. The hour is for my entire morning routine (the following rituals plus showering, getting dressed, sorting my bag etc.), and the ten minutes for snoozing. There is nothing better than turning back over for a little extra shuteye, so I plan this in so as not to let it infringe on the rest of my morning.
After I’ve taken my extra sleep, I get up and head straight to the kitchen, grabbing my phone, headphones and gratitude journal from my bedside. Here I set about making my morning coffee in my stovetop coffee maker. Instant is fine, but there’s something so much more mindful about spooning out the ground coffee, filling the base and waiting to hear the soothing sound of bubbling water.
Whilst I wait for my coffee, I move to the sofa and start filling out the day’s gratitude journal entry. Noting what I have to be grateful for is such a heartwarming way to start the day. It refocuses me on the positives in life, rather than anything that might be worrying me or causing negative feelings. As well as the given headings I may also scribble down how I’m feeling that day to give each entry a little more context.
My coffee is normally bubbling away just as I’m writing my last couple of sentences so, as soon as I’m finished with journalling, I step back into the kitchen to take it off the stove. At the moment my chosen way of drinking my morning joe is in my mini Duralex glasses, poured over ice with a splash of milk.
With coffee in hand, I move back to the sofa. Here I grab my phone and load up the Headspace app. I’ve taken to switching my phone to airplane mode at night so that I can control when I start to see notifications, so I’ll usually have a couple of Headspace packs downloaded to my phone so that it’s ready to go without me having to connect to the outside world.
At the moment I’m focusing on the Productivity pack, but if I feel a particular need for something different that day I might choose to do one of the single sessions, a mini or even an unguided meditation should I want some real quiet, reflective time. A great tool within Headspace is the ability to change how long you want each session to be – my sessions are currently set at ten minutes, so I can squeeze them neatly into my morning.
After my meditation is complete, I like to go back to my gratitude journal and jot down in the margin any thoughts that might have been sparked by my meditation session. These may be hints and tips discussed at the beginning or end of each Headspace session, or anything that particularly worked for me that day. Keeping this kind of meditation diary helps me to internalise what I’ve learnt, to grow with each session, and I love how it’s all combined into one space with my gratitude journalling and emotion-tracker.
From this point on, I carry on with the normal morning bits and pieces – showering, dressing and getting ready to leave the house.
Since making this time for myself, just twenty minutes each morning to refocus, breathe and prepare my mind for the day ahead, I leave the house much calmer and put together than I’ve ever done before. I’m learning that focusing on self-care is of the upmost importance – previously I would have said that I didn’t have enough time for things like this, that sleep was more important, but forming a morning routine around these quick, simple rituals has made it so easy to prioritise my own mental health and happiness.
After that, the rest just falls into place.