Mindfulness is the state of being aware and conscious about something, such as our actions or what is happening around us. Being mindful of our actions can help us lead more fulfilled lives and take joy in the small things we experience every day, such as taking our morning showers or even brushing our teeth.
The things we do in our morning routine can help shape our entire day. When we have gotten things right, such as making our bed and being properly fuelled by our breakfast, we tend to have a more positive outlook on the day ahead.
Psychologists and authors have this well documented; there are many self-help books on creating habits and routines, and many of these publications focus on the time we spend before we leave our homes - our morning routine.
In this article, we will explore the nature of creating a mindful morning routine that is adapted to suit your individual lifestyle but with an emphasis on what has been documented to work across academic publications.
Some things to bear in mind before we start
It is important to know going forward that habits and routines such as a mindful morning routine can take time to form. If you feel like it sounds like a lot to begin with, tackle the most straightforward steps first and go from there. Your mindful morning will likely have a mix of both habit and routine, but throughout it all, you should aim to be present and in the moment.
According to a publication in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes, on average, 66 days or about ten weeks to form a habit and have it become an autonomous part of your day. Routines are less commonly studied due to their nature of being unassociated with cues and are generally more challenging to monitor fairly.
While the idea of forming habits and routines might seem counterintuitive to mindfulness initially, habits around mindfulness can help us remember to take a step back and be in the moment of our activities without thinking about the steps behind being mindful.
Another detail worth mentioning at this point is that each morning for you doesn't have to look the same. We lead complex lives and some days look different from others. Part of the beauty of being mindful in your actions is that you can take each day as it comes and practice gratitude and be in the moment for whatever comes next.
Lastly, know that it's okay to forget at times. It's okay not to practice gratitude for the things you eat or experience from time to time, and it's okay not to be in the moment 100% of the time. You can always return to mindfulness and gratitude later.
1: Get a good nights rest
If we wake up feeling tired and unrested, we will have difficulty feeling gratitude and being mindful the following morning. Start your mindful morning routine the night before by getting good quality sleep. Building a routine out of going to bed at a time where you can regularly achieve eight hours of sleep is the golden ticket. It's no use for us to tell you when to go to bed; everyone has different work schedules and commitments. The main thing is to get eight hours of quality sleep in a dark, cool room.
For some of us, the hours we have outside of work are precious. We might want to binge-watch the latest Netflix show or scroll through Instagram, but doing these activities before, or even worse, while in bed, can seriously affect our sleep schedule and stimulate brain activity in a time when our brain wants to rest.
Instead, try practicing mindfulness while you are lying in your bed. Enjoy the feeling of your sheets and pajamas against your skin, practice gratitude for the silence and safety you experience within the walls of your room.
Things to avoid in the hours leading up to bedtime would be caffeine, alcohol, stimulating activities, and screen-time, especially in the form of blue light. Light can be differentiated by its waveform, and the waveform emitted from blue light has been proven to boost attention, mood and stimulate us. While this is great for the daytime, it's going to have an effect on your sleep at night. This light is present on the screens of many of our devices, and while some have a filter to reduce the amount of blue light emitted, it's still a problem.
2: Practice gratitude for the things you have
A large part of mindfulness is practicing gratitude for the things that we have. It's easy to take the things we have and use every day for granted; the safety of our homes, the food we eat in the morning, the products that we use to keep ourselves healthy and feeling fresh and clean.
Mindfulness takes us to a place where we can practice gratitude for the smallest things, such as our toothpaste. Instead of dreaming about pearly whites in the mouths of A-listers, we get to experience cleaning our teeth and prioritizing our own health.
The way in which we practice gratitude for the things in our lives will vary. We might think to ourselves, "I am grateful for this meal," or we may just choose to enjoy it slowly, breathing in the smells and flavors of the food and feeling its texture in our mouth.
There isn't a hard and fast rule on showing gratitude. Still, the research behind showing value and appreciation to the things we have in our lives, be it people or possessions, brings about feelings of positivity and produces a sense of higher well-being in those who take part in the practice.
3: Recite your affirmations
Affirmations(insert link to previous article here) can help us build a more positive self-view and allow us to manifest our goals in life while at the same time helping us be content with our current selves.
Your morning routine is an excellent time to practice affirmations of self-love as it is often the time when most of us allow the least amount of outside influences into our day. If you are building a mindful morning routine, this is also likely to be the time of day you are most intentional with your thoughts and feelings, and as such, your affirmations will go further.
4: Clean your space and your body
Making our bed in the morning is the first step towards creating a peaceful night's sleep the following evening. When we take pride in the things that bring us wellness, such as where we sleep, we feel more accomplished throughout the day. So, if you have time in your morning routine, clean the space in which you sleep, such as your bed and nightstand.
Then we must take care of our bodies. If you enjoy a shower in the morning, feeling cool water against your skin can help invigorate your body for the day's events, or a warm relaxing shower can help your muscles relax and help inspire peace and relaxation. You could even try both; start with a cool shower and adjust the heat towards the end.
Try to continue with the idea of practicing gratitude and be mindful of the resources and products you use in this step. Not everyone has access to premium products, and the truth is we don't always need them. Simple soaps and toothpaste are all we really need, and we can always show appreciation towards them if we wish.
5: Nourish your body with what fuels you
Depending on your diet and nutritional requirements, breakfast could be an essential part of your day. The key here is to find foods and drinks that nourish and invigorate you. Many of us enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning, which is absolutely fine if it works for you. If you find that coffee is causing you to have a mid-morning slump when you need to be productive, consider cutting it out.
It's necessary to listen to our bodies, as we have different requirements for fuelling ourselves. Instead of telling you the foods that we think might help you have a more productive day, this section wants to convey the importance of eating with intention and focus. Sip your drinks and chew your food properly; appreciate the flavors and ingredients you have taken the time to prepare and be in the moment.
If you are having trouble deciding what foods are good for you, it might be a good idea to talk with a nutritionist to create a bespoke diet that suits your body.
And if you have time
If you have time in your morning routine, introducing a form of fresh air such as a short walk or even just opening a window in your home and breathing deeply for a moment can also help invigorate you.
You can also introduce meditation into your routine. Research on meditation indicates we can attain a variety of health benefits by participating in meditation. When we think of meditation, we often think of it as a time-consuming practice; but realistically, you can feel the benefits of meditation with just a few minutes per day.