the importance of A morning ritual. More Specifically, creating your own personal morning ritual…
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
One of the very best things that I’ve developed thanks to my not-so-little-anymore AIP caper, is my morning ritual. It’s up there with using the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) as my health template, keeping a food and mood journal and my creating my Wheel of Health to help me personalise my health goals, as one of the key things that have really made BIG difference.
My morning ritual 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 100% reserve the right to change and amend my morning ritual as I see fit. Because it’s mine! But also, because my health needs are not static.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of my morning ritual, let’s back up the bus a little and talk about the importance of a morning ritual and just why you should consider creating your very own.
What is a morning ritual?
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
A morning ritual is a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order that helps to set you up for your day. The ritual itself may be as simple or as involved as you choose to make it. It’s entirely up to you. It’s your ritual, after all.
When you’re starting out, I’m a fan of keeping things simple and building up.
The most important thing about a morning ritual is that it isn’t about just mindlessly going about your routine of choice. Rather, it’s a way of creating something good in 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?
For me, the main one is this:
A morning ritual helps to set the tone for the day.
My morning ritual allows me grace and ease; the space and time to start my day with intention.
Before I discovered the importance of a morning ritual, 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 (after a quick loo stop!). I know that I have a dedicated period of time set aside just for me. It’s a lovely feeling.
A morning ritual 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 remains the first thing I do each morning 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.
A morning ritual is great for stress management
Following a consistent morning routine helps to lower your levels of stress and anxiety. And, if you’re a stress-head like me, this can only be a good thing!
Rituals, like one you participate in early in the morning, enable you to savour and connect with your experiences. Rituals draw us in and can prompt us to feel a sense of control and calm (or grace and ease!). When you feel like this, you are engaging your parasympathetic nervous system. Less stress!
A morning ritual allows you to connect to your spiritual side
I’m not religious, but by including some breath work and dedicated stretching into my morning ritual I feel more in tune with my body. I start the day feeling more centered, 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 6 am. AFter Bella (the pooch) and I have had a bit of morning cuddling, we take a morning constitutional – rain or shine. We aim to 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. I often use this time walking to practise some breathing (I’m a fan of box breathing)
- When I get home, I practice some simple strestches for about 15 minutes. This includes breath work.
- While I’m doing this, 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.
- I’ve recently added some journalling to my ritual. I pick a topic, whatever is top of mind, and write – stream of consciousness style for a page or two. I’m enjoying the feeling of gettiong ‘stuff’ out of my head and onto the page, and I’m also finding this helps with creative thinking, too. Bonus!
- 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 ritual and help to set me up for the day.
My morning ritual usually takes me less than 90 minutes, but yours can be as long or as short as works for you.
I now actively look forward to my mornings – every day. I love how my ritual 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?
Think of it as a wee gift 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. And, this can evolve over time, as it continues to do with me.
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 out. Change is always easier when you make it in small, incremental steps.