Which of these two scenarios do you relate to most?
Scenario One: Your mornings are spent relaxed, focused and thoughtful. You take time for a nourishing breakfast, some quiet reflection or exercise, and you start your day primed and ready for what ever it is you'll be doing.
Scenario Two: Your mornings are... definitely not that. You're lucky if you have more than a few minutes to shower, breakfast is on the run (or not at all), and you start your day rushing.
The first one sounds amazing, doesn't it? It sounds like pure indulgence... imagine if your mornings were quiet, relaxed and thoughtful. Imagine starting your day feeling focused, energized, ready, and with a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.
Make it happen: Try a 20 minute morning* routine.
This might mean getting out of bed 20 minutes earlier, but trust me -- it will be worth it.
*Little ones might make achieving this in the morning tough. If you prefer, you might like to shift this routine to the evening -- after baths and bedtime!
Create your routine by choosing some ideas that appeal to you from the list below. You might need to try a few different things before you get a routine that you like, and that's fine. Find the combination that suits you best.
1. Morning Pages
Julia Cameron suggests this practice in The Artist's Way. The idea is to pick up a pen as soon as you wake, and write three pages of anything. Anything that comes to mind, even if it's, "This is weird and I don't really know what to say, but I have to fill three pages with words, so I guess these words will do." You don't need to think about it. Just write. This exercise helps to rid yourself of random thoughts, worries, questions and anything else you may have on your mind.
You get a beautiful, whole body stretch. It's gentle and relaxing but challenging too -- your muscles are stiff and tight in the morning... you may struggle to touch your knees, let alone your toes! It doesn't take long to loosen up, though. You'll find your flexibility will progress much faster by doing yoga in the morning. YouTube is a great resource to find yoga routines that you can do at home.
If you haven't meditated before, the "sit in silence and think of nothing" style can be difficult. Alternatives such as gratitude (or empathy, or love, or another similar emotion) meditation may be more enjoyable when you're starting out. This involves sitting comfortably in a quiet space, closing your eyes and concentrating on emitting gratitude out toward the world. Visually, this can look however you want. Conjure the feeling of gratitude, and let it flow out of you. Imagine gratitude beaming out, flowing out, or you giving it to people.
Create a playlist that makes you feel great in the morning -- whether it's relaxing, upbeat or mentally stimulating. What you listen comes down to personal taste, of course, but I would avoid anything too heavy first thing. Choose something that reflects how you want to feel throughout the day.
8. Herbal Tea
You can make your own fresh blend by picking homegrown herbs and steeping in hot water, or stock up on your favorite blend. There's something ceremonial about tea -- it slows you down, but in a good way. Everything about tea is relaxing, it's a moment to be savored and enjoyed. Coffee, on the other hand, is fast -- could you imagine ordering a herbal tea to takeaway? Although, if coffee is more your thing, go for it. Turn it into a ceremony in itself -- quality coffee, a special mug, a drop of honey.
A motivating podcast playing in the background while you're making breakfast, running or even having a shower is a great way to motivate you for the day ahead.
6. Online #Inspiration
If you do jump online in the morning, keep it positive. Avoid emails, Facebook, news -- anything that distracts you or alters your frame of mind. The exception to going online in the mornings is for a little inspiration. This might be for a uplifting blog or video, or a hashtag and Instagram account. I put this in my morning routine if I'm getting up earlier than I usually do, as the light from the phone and mental stimulation wakes me up instantly... and this is why you should avoid your phone or iPad before you go to bed! There is a fine line with this, of course -- you don't want your time online to dominate your morning.
Jumping out of bed, tying your shoes up, and hitting the pavement can give you a powerful and invigorating start to your day. Make it easy for yourself by having your running gear ready to put on as soon as you get up. You'll find it easier to stick to if you practically roll out of bed and into your shoes!
9. Lemon and Water
Try fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of warm water to kick start your metabolism and get your digestive system working.
10. Prayers or Mantra
Create your own ritual and incorporate stretching, any sort of mantra, chanting, poetry, prayers or singing, any type of meditation or relaxation you like. This can all be done within five to ten minutes -- longer if you wish.
11. Walk or Sit Outside
You can't beat crisp, fresh air in the morning. Go for a short walk, or just spend a few minutes sitting outside and relaxing. You might like to combine your outside time with yoga, your morning pages, your tea, coffee, or breakfast, or meditation. If you have a beautiful view or garden, this step is almost mandatory!
12. Wake With the Sun
If you're lucky enough to have your bedroom window positioned away from street lights, try sleeping with your curtains open. The natural light will wake you in the morning (use an alarm as a back up to start!) and leave you feeling refreshed. It's a beautiful way to be woken each morning.
You're busy. You're active. You're getting it done. And to pull this off, you need fuel. Even if you find it difficult to eat early in the morning, increased activity in the morning will usually work up your appetite. At the very least, try a fresh fruit salad. At the most - pretend you are serving up a special and fancy breakfast for close friends who have come to stay. Set the table, use silverware, have a flower in a vase and enjoy. Even something as simple as eggs, toast, fruit and tea can look like a Sunday treat.
14. Daily Planning
Breakfast can be a great time to plan out your day. Take a moment to jot down your daily tasks, any phone calls or appointments you have, and any simple To Dos you need to check off. You can also highlight the three most important things you need to get done that day -- even if nothing else gets done, you want to at least to check off those three things.
What would you like to try?
Combine the ones you like the sound of, and trial your routine for at least a month. See what changes you enjoy. Hopefully, you'll find yourself more relaxed, focused and positive throughout your day.
Also on The Huffington Post:
How do your mornings begin? Pressing snooze buttons? Droopy eyes checking messages on phone? Hurrying for the office? Do you even stop for a second to listen to what your body and mind is saying?
Maybe you do, but are unsure of what else is possible. Getting out of that comfort zone isn't easy. It's always tempting to sleep for "just a few more minutes." Even if the night were an hour longer, we would still try to get an extra five minutes of shut-eye.
Most people follow some sort of routine in the morning, but below are five ideas that can help you create a habit that nourishes your mind, body and soul.
1. Eat a few pre-soaked almonds.
Make it a habit to soak six to eight almonds every night. Peel the almond skin and eat them first thing in the morning. You can soak other dry fruits, too, based on your preferences.
2. Say at least one affirmation.
When you look in the mirror while washing your face or brushing your teeth, spare one minute to tell yourself that it's a good day and you're thankful for that. See how good that smile looks on your face! Tell yourself that one task which you are going to finish today. Willpower is highest in the morning, so start strong.
3. Start drinking green tea with lemon.
Put the green tea bag in warm water. Add honey and squeeze some lemon. It's a wonder herb. Sit in fresh air, savor every sip of it. Hear the birds tweeting; observe the green trees; play with your pet; see the rising sun; be grateful for the morning; be present in the moment.
4. Go on a mindful walk, no matter how long it is.
Choose a green and clean place. Take deep breaths. Focus on the rhythms of breath. Observe the blue sky, the trees and then the ground. Repeat. Go from slow, to brisk, and back to a slow pace. From increasing your blood circulation to releasing your muscular tension, from making you calm to opening up your chakras, walking daily is a must.
5. Try a few yoga poses.
Caring for your health on a physical level even when you're not sick is going to give you rewards on a mental level, too. Practice yoga daily. You will be healthier, and will feel younger and happier for a long run. It's not just breathing in and out. It's connecting your inner self to nature. That's how life energy sustains. It nourishes your body, mind and soul; everyone needs that.
Cheerful, calm, composed, nutritious and grounded mornings will make your whole day fruitful. We can always use a lack of time as an excuse. Try doing it for a week. Notice the difference in your days. You won't want to quit the routine after feeling its effects.
Establishing a regular meditation practice can drastically improve your health, and so can choosing the right foods. Ready to learn more about the power of food? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.