First off lets start with some clarity. There is no such thing as a perfect morning routine for everyone, we all have our own way of doing things and not everything works well for everyone. The trick is to try different elements of successful people’s morning routines for yourself and see what works.
That said, below is a list of the things that roughly 80% of successful people do to start their day
Number 1: Wake before dawn
Routine.com interviewed hundreds of successful people about their morning routines and discovered that the most successful woke up at 5:30 each morning. This is co-incidentally something that the likes of Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg and Ariana Huffington also do.
During my Ayurvedic training we were taught that the best time to rise was before dawn. This is because our bodies are meant to align with the circadian rhythms of the earth. It is good to wake up before the sun rises, when nature is at peace as it allows us time to wake our senses. Getting up early and watching the sunrise is a powerful experience and it is also believed in Ayurveda that it helps to cleanse the aura.
Whether you believe that or not, getting up early at least gives you time to yourself before everyone else wakes up and you can start your day by doing something just for you. Maybe that’s just reading, listening to some music or as I like to do, watch the sunrise with a hot cup of coffee.
Number 2: Don’t touch your phone
It’s now second nature for many of us to reach for the phone the instant we wake up. Sometimes this can’t be helped if we are using an alarm clock on our mobile device. However, the point of this is not to start your day focusing on someone else’s request.
Let me explain. If you pick up your phone and see an angry email from a customer or there’s a news story about a politician lying again or maybe it’s a funny video of a dog dressed like a pirate. Whatever it is, these are not your priority first thing. And what happens is it doesn’t give our brains and our bodies time to align. We haven’t fully woken up and already we’re being torn from pillar to post and on the back foot of events that happened whilst we were blissfully asleep. Just don’t. Leave your phone for later, an extra 30 minutes before you check in on the world will do you some good.
Number 3: Drink water first
During the night, we detox, hence the reason why that first pee in the morning is so dark in colour. It’s full of all the toxins your body has been working hard to remove. That said, you need to rehydrate as soon as possible. Make sure to drink a glass of water before any other drinks. Especially coffee. Because as much as I’m a coffee addict, it’s a diuretic and actually dehydrates rather than rehydrates which is what you need first thing in the morning.
Number 4: Meditate for 10 minutes
Meditation was such a game changer for me just in general in my life. It’s why I teach meditation worldwide now. But in order to truly benefit from the power of meditation, you need to practice daily. The best time for meditation is first thing in the morning. It’s also much easier first thing as your brain isn’t cluttered or preoccupied with the days events.
Take just 10 minutes to conduct a simple mantra or breathing meditation to start your day.
Number 5: Practice gratitude
We’ve all heard of the power of gratitude. It helps to switch your brain from a state of lack to a state of expansion. By establishing a regular gratitude practice you can shift so many aspects of your life. I’ve been practicing gratitude daily for so long I now have something I call ’20 points of gratitude’. Everyday I write down 20 things I’m grateful for, and each day that list could be doubled.
Regular gratitude helps you truly appreciate your life from all angles. I know many people struggle with this, but one approach that could help is this. Imagine what your life would be like without essentials, fresh water to drink, a supermarket close buy to get all the nutritious food you want, the money in your account to subscribe to Netflix. You’ll be surprised at how quickly these points of gratitude expand.
Number 6: Stretch your body
When you wake up, and climb out of bed, the first thing you do naturally is yawn and stretch. This actually has a name pandiculating.
One of the most common reasons behind stretching is that during sleep fluid tends to accumulate along the back and stretching helps to massage the fluid gently back into its normal place and realign our muscles. That’s probably why it also feels so good to stretch, because we’re putting everything back into it’s natural place.
Also a full body stretch helps to activate the parasympathetic nervous system that is responsible for the body’s ability to recover, increase blood flow and help with digestion. Ideally you should be doing some more active stretching such as yoga in the morning.
When I was training in Ayurveda, I was taught to practice sun salutations daily. Which was fine for a while, but I actually found them quite tedious! Instead I practice a range of stretches working from top to toe for about 10 minutes. If you have more time, then yes a full yoga session would be perfect but for most of us we just want to get on with our day rather than spending 90 minutes in between downward dog and corpse poses.
Number 7: Make your bed
This is such a simple habit to get into and although it can seem incredibly trivial making your bed everyday does serve some other purposes. Naval Admiral William McRaven, the commander of U.S. Special Operations said in a speech at the University of Texas.
Not only is it one small task achieved each day. If you are an entrepreneur or starting your business from home, and use your bedroom as your office, making your bed is even more important. It helps to establish space in the room, clear energy, set boundaries and signal to your brain that the work day is about to start.
Number 8: The 3 Goals list
Setting out tasks for the day is a core part of not just ensuring you get work done but also feeling accomplished. This is regardless of where your attention gets taken during the day. Keeping your to-do list to three short goals each day is a great way to ensure you don’t get overwhelmed in an avalanche of minutiae.
For example, if you’re building your website, you know that the overall site needs to be completed by a certain date but today you only need to build one page. Simply put that in your to-do and that’s it. Do this with the 3 most important things you need to get done each day. You don’t need a mammouth to-do list; one that needs rewriting and makes you feel inadequate because you cant complete all your tasks. Just focus on three things that can help you progress daily.
If you want to manage your days better, following elements of this morning routine is guaranteed to show you how to become more productive.
I have been practicing this routine for a while now and whilst I don’t encourage people try to incorporate all these changes at once. By just adding one practice into your routine until it becomes second nature before adding another you’ll soon find things become much easier.
Meditation and Mindfulness are easily confused. There are so many different types of meditation available to us. Some meditation practices focusing on the breathe and guide us to simply inhale and exhale. Others are mantra based where meditators repeat phrases or sounds such as OM. Then there are are kindness meditations where meditators send messages of loving kindness others or to the world as a whole. And then there is a Mindfulness Meditation – where meditators are encouraged to experience the moment, how they feel, what they can hear and what sensations and emotions are present.
There are so many different types of meditation it can be quite confusing especially to the beginner. Coupled with the fact that you can practice a ‘mindfulness meditation’ it’s easy to understand where the confusion comes from.
Meditation is a practice that you engage in for a certain period of time, but when the bell rings the practice is over. Mindfulness however is a continuous way of thinking. Meditation can be done in so many different ways, you can even meditate whilst walking or drawing as well as the traditional eyes closed methods.
But at its core Mindfulness is a focused awareness. It’s simply paying attention to the present moment, to your thoughts, your feelings, your sensations and the world around you as a whole. Yes, this can be done in mediation, but true mindfulness is done outside of meditation.
Mindfulness and Meditation are often interchangeably used, and the increased confusion comes from the fact there are also ‘mindfulness meditations‘. But if we look at mindfulness as more of a quality of mind, that can help us gain some clarity.
Mindfulness meditation is about not concentrating our energy on the thoughts that permeate the present, but settling into the thoughts of our mind and putting ourselves in a state that goes beyond thinking.
While mindfulness can be defined as a mental state that involves fully focusing on the now so that we can acknowledge and accept our thoughts, feelings and sensations without judgment, meditation can also be combined with other mental states, such as insight meditation or even meditation practice.
I like to think of mindfulness as a conscious way of being. With mindfulness, we are conscious of each moment. The air brushing the leaves, the sound of the car tyres on the tarmac, the warmth of the air as it exits our bodies and our emotion in that moment.
There are so many aspects to mindfulness, and there is no right way to become more mindful other than to practice.
If you’re new to mindfulness, you can start by scheduling just five mintues in your day to stop whatever you are doing and appreciate the world around you.
This can be done by ideally going outside, and witnessing nature. Even if youre in an urban area, being able to see trees, grass or plants can help. Then you simply witness. Look at the colour of the sky, the green of the plants, the air temperature. Think about the miracle of nature, how that tree even got there, how the sun nourishes all things on the planet. How water brings life. How the same molecules in the trees are also in your body.
You see where I’m going here. The miracle of the moment is so powerful when you consciously think about all the things you are able to experience. And that’s just on your own!
Practicing mindfulness around others is incredibly powerful and can dramatically improve emotional intelligence. Being able to use a brain that is well versed in mindfulness when you’re in the middle of a disagreement with someone truly helps to shift anger and confusion into compassion and understanding.
The benefits of mindfulness are widely known, including improving overall mental health and wellbeing. There’s a reason why medical professionals often recommend mindfulness nowadays even the NHS and NICE recommend mindfulness as a practice to help with depression.
But neither meditation nor mindfulness are magic pills. They are tools that can help us in our day to day lives but sometimes we need more, and if you are suffering with something like depression or anxiety then please seek professional advice as well as practicing meditation or mindfulness.
Whatever is going on in your life. You can incorporate mindfulness into your day. And it becomes so much easier the more you do this.
When I started my own mindfulness and meditation practice, I was in a terrible state. I was recovering from a burnout that left me paralysed, I was also healing from an abusive relationship, and quite frankly I was miserable. I was living my life in a state of fear and hate. But all that was doing, was making my life harder.
But I was determined not to be beaten. So I set about a regular practice. And at first, whilst I tried to appreciate the moment, my brain would still go back to how awful my life was. But by gently going back to appreciating the moment, eventually my brain stopped with that negative pattern. And then I started to discover that I was so grateful for my life. I was grateful for the air I was breathing, for the people in my life, for the money in my account for every aspect of the life I had experienced so far.
Mindfulness leads to a gratitude unlike any other. My gratitude practice following being consistently mindful exploded! I now have a gratitude practice that includes 20 points a day and I could keep writing!
So in short, mindfulness and mediation are interchangeable but the important thing to remember here is that both are incredibly powerful and beneficial to our mental health and our overall wellbeing.
We are so close to the end of the month and I bet this has already had a significant impact on you. Assuming you’ve been following of course.
Today is a little different. It focuses on something we do without thinking… walking. We take the ability to walk for granted. And as someone who has been paralyzed and been unable to walk for weeks, I know all too well how much I took my health for granted.
So today, all you need to do is a little exercise in awareness. Simply notice the sound of each step you take and how each step feels. Simple
There is so much to be grateful for beyond your possessions.
As someone who has had my health taken from me quite brutally, suffering paralysis after a stress-related illness I know all too well how important good health is.
After that period of my life I have given thanks every day to my body for being healthy and all the things it can do. It sounds really simplistic and it is. But the quickest way to really feeling joy in your life is to give thanks for what you already have rather than focusing on the things you are missing.
Mindful March – Day 24 – Make a list of amazing things that you take for granted
Today’s task is one that is especially close to my heart. As a girl, I was always obsessed with the stars and the night sky. It was the place I would turn to and just get completely lost in wonderment. Taking the time to just watch the night sky especially for me is almost like meditation. It truly helps to make me feel grounded and puts so much of my life into perspective. It’s hard not to look at the stars and marvel at the existence of not just the earth but us as human beings.
To this day, I still get completely lost looking up at the night sky, trying to count the stars or imagining how far away some of those stars are. I know I’m not the only one that does this too. There’s something truly magical about the night sky and in the knowledge that even we are simply stardust. Absolutely beautiful if you ask me.
So today your task is to simply top and just watch the sky. Now of course if you wish you could just watch the clouds go by at some point during the day. Maybe in the morning when you’re drinking your coffee rather than watch the news, sit in silence and watch the sky.
It’s so simple but a truly wonderful experience that you can incorporate into your day.