It’s the beginning of the year and many of us start thinking about how to take better care of ourselves in the year ahead. You may even have a goal to practice radical self-care. So where do you start?
Why not start in the morning, as you start your day? Let’s look at some options that you can pull together into your own morning ritual. Just keep in mind that this will not and should not necessarily look the same each and every day.
You’re going to travel sometimes, you might sleep in one day, and life will bring hundreds of other variations to your mornings. The key is to have a set of rituals you can draw from in whatever combination feels right that day. It’s like cross-training for your self-care.
Browse these 10 options, and see which feel right for you to try:
- Love your body – Instead of disconnecting from your body, tune in and appreciate all it does for you, by gently applying your favorite lotion or skin cream.
- Engage your mind – I read a suggestion somewhere to read one or two pages of a biography of someone you admire every day. By the end of the year you’ll have read a book or two, and in a few years you’ll have read several books you wouldn’t have read otherwise. You can also look for daily meditation books (I recommend Pema Chodron) that have simple, accessible messages that can provide inspiration, support, and hope all through the day.
- Stretch your body – Aim to do one yoga pose every day – my favorite is called the supported bridge, which helps open up the front part of the body and balances out the effects of sitting all day. A close second is legs up the wall because it’s so naturally meditative that you don’t even have to try; you just relax into it.
- Quiet your mind – Instead of keeping the phone by the bed, turn it completely off (or to airplane mode) an hour or two before bed, leave it in another room, and use an external alarm clock. Use the first waking moments of your day to turn inwards, rather than outwards by checking email or social media. I know I sleep much better when I do this.
- Express your appreciation – Building on the practice of a gratitude list, write a handwritten note to someone in your life to tell them specifically why you appreciate them. Focus on work one day, family the next, and expand to all of the people who’ve been supportive or helpful.
- Escape to the outdoors – Spend time outside, even if the weather isn’t perfect. The change of scenery and fresh air can do wonders for your state of mind. Take a walk, not to burn calories but to move your body and be out in nature.
- Create something new – Make a collage of images from a magazine (you could turn these into a vision board), or use an adult coloring book or watercolor book (watercoloring lets you give up a little control but you can still contribute to the design). Creativity can fire up your thinking, soothe your soul, and boost your self-esteem.
- Tune in – Listen to a podcast or music while you move through the first moments of your day. Be deliberate with your choices so you’re filling your ears and mind with positive energy to fuel your day.
- Connect – Share a morning moment with a friend, family member, or furry friend. Hugging someone or stroking a pet’s fur can release powerful feel-good brain chemicals that can boost your mood for the day. When you’re on your own, make a phone call or have a video chat and talk about your intentions and gratitudes for the day.
- Nourish your body – When it’s time for your first meal of the day, eat it mindfully, appreciating the sights, tastes, textures, smells, and sounds of your experience.
Your morning routine needn’t be the same every day. In fact, when you take away the pressure of a morning ritual checklist, you can sink into a unique combination that will deliver just what you need on any given day.