Photo by Andisheh A on Unsplash

Relax, it’s too early to be so serious!

How we wake up and the first thoughts of the day can and often set the tone for how the rest of our day will go. However, there has been a recent trend in the morning routine being something that has to be done a particular way, and rising to beat the roosters is the way to win the day.

Now that’s a ton of pressure that is sure to just complicate your mornings and could, for some add even more stress that you aren’t living up to your potential because sue you just can’t seem to get up at 4 AM every day. Well, the good news is, you don’t have to chase the superhuman productivity goal to have an amazing morning.

Start with a few deep breaths

This first tip was provided by a yoga teacher I met on a plane from San Diego back to St. Louis a few years ago and it stuck with me. It’s simple and easy for just about anyone to do. Right after you open your eyes to get up or even right before you open your eyes, take five deep breaths. Not too hard or trying to fill your lungs in one shot, but a deep breath like a before a sigh. Then simply let it go. Then again and with each breath think about something that gives you complete joy. That’s it, you’re done with the first ritual. There are no expectations here it’s just a way to stop the conversations we start to have when waking up about not getting a good night’s sleep or what you have to do for the day and you’ve only spent a couple of minutes before you’ve gotten out of bed.

Write or say one thing you’re thankful for at that moment.

Gratitude is a powerful way to change your mood and to get you focused on the most important things in your life. You could keep a gratitude journal with according to Psychology Today there are several health benefits associated with gratitude, but for this practice, I’m not suggesting you start a new thing you have to keep up with, I’m suggesting you focus on one thing you’re grateful for at the moment. In doing this over the past few years, especially in the past few months it helps keep me from focusing on the things that I can’t change as soon as my day starts.

Think of these rituals as small well intentioned ways to distract you just enough from the bad habits you may have developed. For example, there have been plenty of times where you’ve jumped out of bed and the first thing on your mind was the last conversation you had with your boss or the last criticism someone tossed at you the previous day. Interrupting them with positive actions over time can change what you focus on when you wake up.

Leave the phone untouched for 60 minutes

60 minutes isn’t a long time to not look at your phone, is it? It will feel like an eternity when you first try it. But trust me it’s a “short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loop” according to Chamath Palihapitiya, former VP of User Growth at Facebook in a lecture at Stanford. If you give that some serious thought, it’s like someone else has planned your morning and you give them that control as soon as you check your phone.

Checking what’s happened overnight can easily have you rushing through the rest of the morning responding to every priority you didn’t set. Instead, try spending that time to yourself without the distraction of email and social media updates. You’ll have plenty of time for that for the rest of the day.

So what do you do at this hour? I recommend a few things that can fill this time. Remember all three things are done within the first hour. I call them Rise Rituals and vary the second two depending on the day and my mood. In your bigger block of time, this can be a long shower or taking time for a warm towel on the face (for men) after a shave. I use this time for self-care. A few push-ups or some light yoga stretching like the child’s pose, happy baby, and pigeon pose. If you sit like I do most of the day some stretching can really help with mobility.

Whatever you choose to do it’s up to you but I encourage you to choose yourself and develop your own Rise Ritual the rest of your day will thank you.