The way you start your day can determine the quality of your experience from morning until night. A rushed, frazzled, unintentional launch into your first hours will often lead to more of the same as you transition into the afternoon and evening. But when you take the time to put a self-nourishing, digitally detoxed, energizing daily ritual into practice as soon as you wake up, you can create the conditions necessary for a positive mood paired with optimum productivity at work.
Try these five morning rituals to help you avoid a bad day at work and steer yourself toward an awesome start:
Hone In on You First
It can feel almost impossible to nurture yourself in the morning and pay attention to what you need most – particularly if you’re in a caregiving role with children or other family members. But if you allow yourself to spend your first morning hour making “you” the center of your attention, then you can enter your day feeling much more centered, grounded and prepared. If you generally wake up and propel yourself into busyness, whether it’s checking your phone and social feeds, making food for people in your household, or listening to the news, set your alarm to awaken an hour earlier to create some time for your own thinking , planning and reflection. In a notebook, journal or even on your laptop, you might use this hour to:
- Map out your day through notes, prioritizing and calendaring.
- Spend time on weekly and monthly goal setting.
- Brainstorm creative ideas.
- Plan next steps for personal projects before reviewing work projects.
Devote Time to Meditation
Busy people may need meditation the most, but often feel the least inclined to set aside time in the morning for this type of “unproductive” self-care. If this describes you, consider the fact that a specific type of meditation, called Kirtan Kriya meditation, has been shown in multiple studies at UCLA and the University of Pennsylvania to decrease stress while boosting memory and cognitive function – all great ways to improve your daily work experience. The simple, rejuvenating practice involves repeating a mantra out loud, then in a whisper, then silently, in conjunction with finger movements. By doing this repetitive physical and mental exercise, research has shown that people experience improvements in feelings of resilience while decreasing their depression, anxiety and perceived burden. Whatever type of meditation you do – it could be simply focusing on your breath for a few minutes – you’ll help clear your mind to set a positive tone for your workday.
Exercise and Fuel Your Body
During hectic times, in addition to neglecting building strong mental habits, it’s easy to omit essential steps that enhance your physical well-being, such as physical activity and eating nutritiously. Create a morning ritual that involves exercise and get this important to-do checked off your list before work; Waiting until after your workday to try to squeeze exercise in is risky since you’ll likely be more tired and other things may vie for your attention. An early morning workout ensures you get it done ahead of your work and responsibilities. Be sure to leave enough time before or after exercising to eat a healthy breakfast. While you may be tempted to skip it when you have a lot to do, this is a false economy, since starting the day with an empty fuel tank or suboptimal breakfast choices can quickly segue into feeling tired and unmotivated at work.
Start a Gratitude Practice
Bad days begin with negative thought patterns, so the best way around them is to start your day more intentionally. One of the best morning rituals to help you avoid a bad day at work (whether you’re working from home or have returned to the office) is to center your mind on gratitude. This may sound intimidating but it can be quite simple. Instead of letting your mind hijack you and lead you in directions that tank your mood, you can choose what to think about, zeroing in on things in your life that you feel happy and grateful for. Your gratitude ritual might involve writing out three things that happened yesterday that went particularly well, or bringing to mind the people and situations that you are thankful are in your life.
Read and Reflect
Much of the reading that many people end up doing each day reinforces negativity and stress. Whether it’s reading an annoying email pressuring you to do something, scrolling through social media and seeing an upsetting post, or catching up on news reports that make you feel anxious, this type of reading is not a good way to begin your morning. Instead, choose something inspiring to read that helps you feel energized and empowered. Whether it’s a self-help book on a topic of interest, a fiction book that makes you feel good, or magazine articles that provide guidance about things in your life that you want to think through, intentionally reading for pleasure can help you begin your day from a higher place than just absorbing the words that cross your path on the average workday. Carve out time in your morning to reflect on what you’ve read, jotting down key points in a journal, if it’s helpful.
On weekdays, getting through all five of these morning rituals may be too much to strive for – but even doing one or two can help you have a successful workday. Practice with alternating days for each ritual or doing several of them on the weekend until you find the right pattern that works best for you.