I am not a morning person at all! As much as I love watching the sunrise, sacrificing my sleep for it is sometimes not all that worth it. I will admit it though, waking up a little earlier than usual is actually quite satisfying––it’s strange, but it literally uplifts my mood and productivity almost instantly. While peeling myself off the bed early isn’t all that fun, the rest of the day actually pans out fairly well when I do. And that’s what makes me think about the importance of a proper morning ritual. As a matter of fact, research has found that establishing a daily routine can actually improve mental health and wellbeing. So what can you do to boost your mental health––we’ve got a couple of options for you!
Difference Between Rituals & Routines
There is a huge difference between rituals and routines. Think of a routine as something you have to do––it’s a practice that eventually becomes involuntary every single day, like brushing your teeth, having a shower, sipping on your coffee, or even catching up on the morning news. A ritual can be mundane too, however, they usually don’t have an end goal or a task completion check-list. It’s more about the journey, rather than the destination. Including elements like journaling, yoga, or meditation, or even reciting affirmations and daily intentions help start your day on a more positive note (and brace you for the 24 hours that’s yet to come).
Here are 8 morning rituals you can follow to boost a happier day ahead of you.
#1 - Wake Up & Don’t Check Your Phone
Thanks to technology, we often tend to start and end our days looking at a screen. Be it a laptop, television, or even our phones. Once you wake up and switch off your alarm, try and avoid looking at your phone screens. Yes, we’re asking you to go on a dopamine fast, that involves a digital detox. This means no checking emails, no going through Instagram, no listening to music online, and no responding to any messages. Basically, cutting off from all forms of technology. Keep this time for you and your thoughts, sans any devices. Take a few deep breaths while you’re in bed, and brace yourself for the busy day.
#2 - Make Your Bed
While this might seem like a mundane task, it actually makes a huge difference to the way you start your day. Making your bed actually triggers your brain to realise that ‘sleep time’ is over and helps boost productivity for the day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, people actually found that making your bed aids in improving sleep quality at night. A neat and clean bed makes for a better rest!
#3 - Drink Some Warm Water
So everyone loves waking up to a cup of coffee or tea––the caffeine kick really helps get those senses going. However, it isn’t really all that great for your health. Start your day with a warm glass of water, as it helps your body flush out any toxins. Drinking water the moment you wake up, helps rehydrate the body before you start the day. As a matter of fact, research has shown that dehydration has an effect on mental performance, memory, alertness, concentration, and so much more. Therefore, by rehydrating your body early in the morning, you are also boosting your mind.
#4 - Let In Some Light & Take A Deep Breath
Morning sunlight is super important for your body and that’s why sitting in the dark the moment you wake up is never a good idea. Draw open your curtains and soak in some vitamin D, before 8am––the rays post that aren’t good for health and if you do soak in the sun post that, make sure to wear an SPF. Other than being good for muscles and bones, vitamin D also helps deal with fatigue and mood issues. As a matter of fact, vitamin D deficiency is closely linked to mood disorders such as depression. So wake up and instead of smelling the coffee, take in a deep breath while soaking in some of the early morning sun rays.
#5 - Journal Away
Remember when you were a child and you kept a diary full of your thoughts? Well, journaling is the adult version of it. Journaling in the morning, soon after you wake up helps you pave the way for a calmer and more effective day. Journaling has proven to be effective when managing anxiety, reducing stress, and even treating depression. Keep a journal next to your bedside table and scribble in your thoughts, things you are grateful for, affirmations, and priorities for at least five minutes in the morning. It’s one of the best ways to prioritise what’s on your mind––think of it as your morning sounding board.
#6 - Meditate + Exercise
A few moments of silent time, followed by some quick exercises can instantly set a positive mood for your day. Keep 15 minutes aside every morning to meditate. You can start with guided meditations available online and work your way up to an independent meditation. This will improve focus, productivity, concentration, and your overall mental wellbeing too.
When it comes to exercise, you needn’t do a full blown workout routine. A few stretches first thing in the morning help boost energy levels (which also improves mood) and can aid in reducing stress and fatigue, which often hampers a good night’s rest. Better sleep equals better mental health!
#7 - Make A To-Do List
We all have a million things to do in a day, which sometimes can be impossible (and can lead to burnout). That’s why it’s imperative to make a to-do list –– a realistic to-do list –– that’ll help you prioritise your day. Divide your list into three sections–– high priority, medium priority, and low priority. This way you do feel a sense of accomplishment as you check things off, but don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Plus, having a to-do list actually does help relieve stress!
#8 - Motivate Yourself
Before you get ready, psych yourself into having a good day by repeating positive affirmations. Give yourself a pep-talk––this way you’ll have a more positive outlook when dealing with obstacles that come your way. This is especially important for those who deal with anxiety or depression––you know the saying, fake it till you make it? Positive affirmations will help you make it. One of the best ways to make this a habit is to write down a few affirmations on your bathroom mirror. Now, just before you brush your teeth and start freshening up, repeat these affirmations while looking at yourself in the mirror. You got it––trick yourself into believing your day is going to be awesome!
Remember, a healthy morning routine sets the mood for your entire day (and for the night that’s yet to come). Therefore, keeping these little rituals in mind can actually boost your mental health and help balance stress and anxiety levels––whether you spend just 10 minutes or an hour, it’ll make a huge difference to your wellbeing.
- Daily routine improves mental health and wellbeing, Jogh. 2020. "Regularizing daily routines for mental health during and after the COVID-19 pandemic"
- Making your bed. NSF. 2010. "Bedroom poll: Summary findings"
- Dehydration affects mental and physical performance. PubMed. 2012. "Hydration and cognitive performance"
- Effects of Vitamin D. PubMed. 2011 "Vitamin D and Depression: Where is all the Sunshine?"