This article exists as part of the online archive for HuffPost Australia, which closed in 2021.

Morning Rituals Can Have A Huge Impact On Your Life

The Way You Spend The First Hour Of Each Day Really Matters. Here's Why
Unmade bed in the morning
Sylvia Serrado via Getty Images
Unmade bed in the morning

You've hit snooze five times -- ruling out the possibility of washing your hair -- again. You remember that important midday meeting while running out the door -- making you wish you'd ironed your shirt (there's no time to actually do it). And those people who manage to make it to the gym at the crack of dawn? Well they’re just overachievers.

Sound familiar? Mornings can be a mad scramble, but they can also set you up for a positive and productive day. Nespresso has done some research into Aussie morning rituals to discover that 7 in 10 Australians state their morning ritual is important in ensuring that they have a positive start to the day. Yet 8 in 10 say that at times they feel so rushed that they don’t take the time to prepare for the day.

Changing your morning ritual --and your attitude toward it -- can have a huge impact on your whole life. Dr Suzy Green, Clinical and Coaching Psychologist and Founder of The Positivity Institute offers these 10 tips on how Aussies can have more mindful mornings. Better yet, you don't have to do all 10.

1. Commit time to having a morning ritual

Spend some time considering your motivation for implementing a positive morning ritual -- which of your core values would motivate you to wake earlier and make time? Is it because you value your health, success or general wellbeing? Research tells us that unless we’re really clear on the benefits of change and they outweigh the costs, we’re unlikely to create meaningful change.

2. Avoid the snooze button

Make a no-snooze commitment! It might be a challenge at first, but it can take up to two months to make or break a habit so make sure to stick with it. Make your mornings easier by preparing your clothing, gym kit and to-do list before you go to bed. This will allow you to remove any minor decision-making and instead focus on setting a positive mindset for the day.

3. Master meditation

John Kabat-Zinn, researcher and creator of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction recommends that you top and tail your day with mindfulness meditation. If you’re new to the idea mediation, ease yourself into. Find a quiet space and shut out the stresses of the outside world for a couple of minutes, while focusing on your breathing, body and emotions. Even five minutes will do wonders. As you become more comfortable, you can increase the time you spend doing this and adjust according to your own morning ritual.

4. Salute the sun

Have you ever heard the saying “flexible body, flexible mind”? Work towards achieving a flexible body by learning some simple yoga poses or stretches that you can do when you wake up. While doing your stretches, imagine that your mind is also being stretched. Not only will your body thank you for it, but it will also help you avoid that snooze button.

If you don't have a mountain handy your living room will do

5. Set your intention

Coming out of your meditation and stretches, think about setting an intention for the day. This could be something specific that you want to accomplish, or a personal quality that you want to further develop -- such as patience. Write down your intention on a note and keep it in your wallet or on your desk so you’re constantly reminded of it. Intentions can sink into your unconscious, thereby priming you to act on it, without you even being aware that you’re doing so.

6. Cull your to-do list

Don’t over do your to-do list -- overpromising will only lead to stress. Instead, select some “small wins” for the day -- perhaps the top three activities you’d like to achieve. Our brains like to work to targets, so if you can take five minutes to prioritise the important tasks for the day, you’re more likely to achieve them. There’s also no better feeling than ticking off completed tasks!

7. Write it out

Journal writing is a great way to express emotions, particularly for those of us who find it hard to talk about feelings. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way believes that the act of creating a few “morning pages” of longhand writing helps you clear the mind in preparation for the day ahead. Morning pages provide clarity, comfort, as well as prioritise and synchronize the day at hand. Like a shower for the mind, they help to wash off anything on the surface -- or just under the surface -- to give you a fresh start to the day.

You might want to make sure your pencil is sharp

8. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude

Gratitude is simple, powerful, and scientifically proven to boost your mood. Use a journal to identify five things that you’re grateful for every day -- think about the small things like sitting in the sun for 10 minutes or enjoying a cup of coffee with a friend.

9. Uplift yourself

Take a moment to read or listen something uplifting or inspiring. Research from the Positive Emotions Lab shows that positive moods lead to increased creativity, improved immune function and greater resilience. Listen to your favourite tunes while getting ready, or read a daily affirmation to spark some positivity for the day.

10. Give yourself a morning heart-starter

Enjoy five minutes to yourself over your morning coffee. Most of us already enjoy a morning brew, but taking the time to treat ourselves and gather our thoughts sets us up for the perfect day ahead. Think of it as your calm before pressing the “go” button for the day.

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