About two years ago I started exploring the concept of habits and how they can help us find balance, become healthier, happier and also more successful.  For me, routine has always been something that gave me comfort and made life that little (sometimes a lot) less stressful, especially morning routines.  When my morning is organised and I start the day with ease, I end up being more productive, I eat healthier and just feel better generally.

Let’s face it, life is stressful enough, on a daily basis, we are bombarded with questions and we have to find the answers.  On top of that we have our daily decisions to make like what to wear to work, what to eat for lunch, whether you should have oats or toast for breakfast, and if you should have that extra coffee in the afternoon.

When it comes to successful people they all seem to have a morning ritual, which they say keeps them productive, healthy and happy.  You may have heard that Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, wears the same T-shirt everyday as “it is one less decision to make”.  Oprah Winfrey, wakes up every morning at 6.02 without an alarm (she says it’s alarming, we agree right!) and her first thought is “Oh, I’m alive. Thank you!”.  She has a coffee or chai tea, gets herself to the gym, then follows this with 10 to 20 minutes of meditation time, before starting her work day.  Barack Obama starts his morning ritual 2 hours before any scheduled event or meeting.  He starts with a workout for 45 minutes, then has his green tea or juice, he spends minimal time on smaller decisions like what to wear or what to eat for breakfast, and who would have thought, he abstains from reading the news first thing in the morning to avoid any negativity first thing in the morning.

If you already have a few morning rituals that keep you going throughout the day, make you feel happy, balanced and productive, then keep doing them! If not, or if you want to adjust or add a few things to your current routine, try a few of these rituals:

  1. Wake up with one alarm (and avoid pressing snooze) - of course this only applies if you are setting an alarm),  personally I need an alarm, as much as I wish I could just wake up like Oprah at 6.02 on the dot every morning, I don’t think I have quite trained the body to do that (something on the to do list?).

  2. Lemon and water -  This is a must for me no matter where I am. Drinking warm water with lemon helps wake up the digestive system, improves blood circulation and resets the body.  While you are asleep the liver is working hard to detox help the body reset and restore, so when we wake up we might be feeling a little dehydrated and needs to be rehydrated.  That is where water and lemon comes in…

  3. Meditate - sit in stillness for 10 to 20 minutes at least in the morning, or go for a meditative walk for 10 to 20 minutes, just listening to your breath. Meditation has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, and increase productivity throughout the day. If the idea of meditation is a little daunting  then just think of it as either sitting in stillness or just being present when you take a walk outside.  

  4. Move - get up in the morning and do something, whether it is low intensity exercise like yoga or a power walk or high intensity training. It doesn’t have to be for long.  Most of us know that exercise can improve our health but what you may not know is that exercise can increase your brain cell functioning and actually gives you more energy, through increased production of ATP (a biochemical needed for the storage and use of energy in the body).  Giving you more physical energy and also brain energy, and of course a boost in mental productivity. On top of this, working out in the morning gives us a sense of accomplishment and sets a positive tone for the rest of the day.

  5. Make your bed - I know it may sound silly but making your bed in the morning may change your life. Why? It has been shown that this regular household chore can lead to increased happiness, health and productivity. How? Making your bed in the morning sets you up for the day and is the start of making good behavioural choices for the rest of the day.

  6. Eat a healthy breakfast - having a wholesome breakfast helps kick start your metabolism and digestion. A breakfast made up of carbs, fats and protein will not only give you energy and improve cognitive function, but will also create a healthy mindset for the rest of the day.

  7. Connect with someone in the morning - reach out to someone in the morning, whether it is your partner, your friend, colleague, family member, or even the barista making your coffee!  Every morning I make a conscious effort to connect with someone close to me, either by going for a walk with a friend, talking to my partner or calling my mother on the way to work. When we connect with another we become energised which it can help motivate us through the day.

  8. Set a plan for the day - Before starting work I set a to-do-list for the day.  Setting a plan leads to greater productivity and reduced stress.  It is a process of organising and prioritising what will get done, so when your boss says, ‘“Can you do this for me urgently?”, you can quickly reprioritise  and not get yourself into a panic. In this list I also include any workouts, meetings or catch ups I have, along with work tasks.  Ticking things off my list makes me feel accomplished and productive.