One of the very best things that I’ve developed thanks to my not-so-little-anymore AIP caper, is a morning ritual. It’s taken me some time. I’ve dabbled with a WHOLE lot of different things along the way, but I’ve hit upon what works for me.
Well – I should qualify that with what works for me at this time. I reserve the right to change and amend as I see fit!
Before we get into my morning ritual, let’s back up the bus a little and talk about what a morning ritual actually is and just why everyone should consider creating their very own.
What is a morning ritual?
A morning ritual is a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order that help to set you up for your day. The ritual itself may be as simple or as involved as you choose to make it.
The most important thing about a morning ritual is that it isn’t about mindlessly just going about your routine of choice. Rather, it’s a way of building something good into your life. It’s a very deliberate and conscious process that helps to set your course for the day.
What are the benefits of a morning ritual?
It helps to set the tone for the day
My morning ritual allows me the space and time to start my day with intention.
I used to open my eyes and the first thing I’d do is reach across for my iPhone or iPad to check emails or social media updates. That meant, if there was some ‘urgent’ occurrence somewhere, the first interaction I had with the world upon waking was one that caused me stress. It didn’t serve me at all.
Now, I open my eyes, stretch and rise to put on my walking gear. I know that I have a dedicated period of time set aside just for me. It’s a lovely feeling.
It can improve your sleep
‘Operation Sleepytime’ is the name I gave to the sleep improvement routine I put in place early in my AIP caper. At the time, sleep was a real issue for me. And, one of the best things I implemented was a morning walk. It was the first thing I did upon waking.
Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. In theory, your brain should secrete more in the evening, when it’s dark, to make you sleepy, and less during the day when it’s light. However, so many aspects of our modern life can disrupt the body’s natural production of melatonin. In particular, bright lights at night — in front of the TV or computer screen — can suppress your body’s production of melatonin and make it harder to sleep.
So, going for a walk first thing in the morning helps to jump-start my ‘awake’ cycle.
It’s great for stress management
Following a morning routine helps to lower levels of stress and anxiety. Rituals enable us to savor and connect with our experiences. They draw us in and can prompt us to feel a sense of control and calm.
It allows you to connect to your spiritual side
I’m not religious, but by including some breath work and yoga into my morning ritual I feel more in tune with your body. I start the day feeling more centred, yet with a clearer direction. My mind is quieter.
Want to know what my morning ritual consists of?
I’m part of the early to bed, early to rise brigade. At this time of year, I’m generally up sometime between 5.30 and 6am. Bella (the pooch) and I take a morning constitutional – rain or shine. We walk for about 45 minutes and I try to face into the rising sun as much as possible. Generally this gives me a real sense of appreciation for being alive.
When I get home, I practice some simple yoga poses for 10 minutes. This includes breath work.
At this time, I consciously set an intention for my day (something personal to me, that particularly resonates on that day). I have found this to make a real difference in how I approach my day.
- Now that I have my head (and my heart) in the right place, I move onto a few practical tasks. These are still part of my morning routine and help to set me up for the day.
- oil pulling
- shower and dress
- feed the dog
- empty the dishwasher (sounds a little OCD and silly, but helps me feel in control of my day!)
- prepare and eat breakfast – consciously and without any digital devices. For me, breakfast is usually some form of AIP-friendly hash.
My morning ritual usually takes me less than 90 minutes.
I now actively look forward to it – every day. I love how it sets me up for the day.
What’s your morning ritual?
If you don’t yet have a morning ritual of your own, why not create one?
It’s something that you’re creating for yourself – so there’s no right or wrong way to do it. It’s all about experimenting with what works for you. Think of it as a little bit of self care.
I recommend beginning with a small chunk of time – perhaps just a few minutes, and progressing from there. There is little point in creating something long and complicated when you’re starting off. Change is always easier when you make it in small, incremental steps.
We’d love to hear what works for you in your morning ritual…
This post first appeared at joannafrankham.com