Do you have a morning ritual? A set of activities you do every morning as you start your day?
For those of you who’ve taken my Anti-Procrastination Program, you know about the concept of the productivity ritual, what I call a set of activities that energizes you and helps you to achieve and maintain peak energy all day long, so that you achieve maximum productivity every day.
Part of a productivity ritual consists of a morning ritual, a set of morning activities to kick your day off to a fresh start. A morning ritual can be very simple, from a 10-minute meditation session, to a series of mundane morning tasks (like brush your teeth, wash your face, do your skincare regime), to brewing your morning tea and soaking in its aroma as you take tiny sips while reading the morning paper.
Why have a Morning Ritual?
- When we wake up from our deep slumber, we may be physically awake but our minds are still warming up to the day. Our morning ritual helps awaken our minds and get a fresh start.
- With an energizing morning ritual, you’ll look forward to the start of your day, thereby encouraging you to sleep early and wake up early. Having a morning ritual has given me an added reason to wake up early each day, on top of other reasons like increased productivity and more big-picture focus that I share in Why I Wake Up Early (And 9 Reasons You Should Do So Too.
- Most of us have busy days as we wear multiple hats at work and in our life. Most of us barely have any time to ourselves as we start off the day. Our morning ritual is the one time in our day when we have some quiet time to ourselves–sort of like a morning meditation.
- If you’re a business owner, freelancer, home maker or student, you may find that your days are very fluid… even lacking a structure. Having a morning ritual adds structure to my days because this is one consistent thing that I do every morning, regardless of my daily agenda. It creates a nice foundation for me to layer on my to-dos and create a productive workday.
My Morning Ritual
I only started having an “official” morning ritual last month and I’ve been loving it. My current morning ritual consists of the following steps:
- Wake up. I sync my sleeping and waking times with my husband so that we can spend as much time together as possible in the day (especially since he’s out of the house from 8am to 10pm on weekdays so we barely see each other), so this means sleeping at around midnight and waking at around 7am. (I don’t wake with an alarm because I find it jarring to be disturbed from my sleep.)
- Fill the 2 glass pitchers in my kitchen and workroom with filtered water.
- Toast 2 slices of wholemeal bread for 3.5 minutes. (For those of you who toast food, light brown is the key. Over-toasting leads to dark brown areas which are heavy in acrylamide, a potentially cancer-contributing agent.)
- Cut tomatoes and avocado. I usually pre-slice them for a few days and store them in the fridge.
- Spread a thin layer of olive butter on my toasted bread. Then, place avocado slices on one piece of toast, followed by tomato slices on the other.
- Serve with a banana and a glass of water.
- Eat, do some light surfing online, and start the day.
*As steps 2, 3, and 4 take a few minutes each, I do them concurrently.
On brushing teeth before/after breakfast…
By the way, did you know that it’s not good to brush immediately after breakfast (or any meal)?
According to Dr. Scott Frey of Frey Smiles, when you consume sugary foods (that’s basically almost every food that most eat for breakfast, from pastry, to fruits, to fruit juice, to jams, to any drink with sugar), the bacteria in our mouth will feed on the sugars to make acids, hence softening your tooth enamel and “making it more vulnerable to abrasion.” This is the same when you consume acidic foods (citrus fruits, salad dressing, sodas, seafood, bread). By brushing your teeth right after the meal, you may scrub away “acid-softened layers of your enamel,” which will thin your teeth. This is obviously not good!
The good news is our mouth saliva can bring our oral pH back to normal though it takes about 30 minutes. Here are 3 recommendations for oral care after each meal (I try to do this for breakfast and dinner where possible):
- Use an alkaline mouth rinse to help reblance your oral pH
- Floss to remove stuck foods
- Then, wait 60 minutes before brushing brush to avoid amplifying the damage
Create Your Morning Ritual
Having a morning ritual is really fun and I encourage you to create one. :D Here are my guidelines for you:
- Your morning ritual should energize you. Meaning you should feel excited and look forward to doing it, as opposed to it being a chore. Otherwise, there’s no point of having it at all!
- It can be one big activity (like a 15-minute meditation) or a series of small activities like mine.
- It should be easily replicable such that you can do it daily without thinking.
- It should be no more than 15 minutes, or else it may become a drag to do it daily. (However, there are always exceptions, such as a 30-minute morning jog followed by a 15-minute shower and then a 10-minute breakfast. Since exercising, showering, and breakfast are part of a healthy routine, here they aren’t really “additional” tasks to be done but are simply part of a healthy regime.)
- Let yourself experiment! Your morning ritual isn’t meant to be set in stone. Since our interests change, our morning rituals can change over time too. So allow yourself to try different rituals and tweak your existing ritual till you find one that you feel 100% in sync with.
Here are some ideas on what you can do for your morning ritual: :)
- Do some self-affirmations. (In 2014, I did a 15-day affirmation challenge and you can find the 15 affirmations here.)
- Walk in the park.
- Soak in morning sounds, such as bird chirping, rustling of leaves, and light traffic.
- Look at nature.
- Meditate. (Read my 3-part meditation series.)
- Say “I love you” in the mirror and give yourself a big hug! :)
- Brew your morning tea and enjoy its aroma.
- Prepare a healthy breakfast for yourself. Tuck in after that. :)
- Review your life handbook.
- Look at your vision board and visualize your goals coming to life. :)
- Review how you’re doing in your goals! Anything to do differently? What are your next steps?
- Read a chapter or half a chapter of a book. (After a few months, you’d have finished a few books!)
- Read your favorite blogs.
- Stretching exercises. Yoga.
- Morning jog, followed by shower, then breakfast.
(You can combine bits of different activities together and create your unique morning ritual!)
Notice I didn’t include anything like checking email, replying to email, or talking to someone? That’s because these are activities where you’re actively receiving and processing input, which defeats the whole purpose of your morning ritual being meant as a personal space where you get some alone time. Also, email is pretty much a form of work, and your morning ritual is a ritual that you do before you start off your busy day. Your morning ritual is meant as a sacred space with yourself, so guard it preciously!
What’s your morning ritual? What energizing activities can you do to start off your day on a strong note? :)