Ever notice that our morning moods tend to set the tone for the rest of the day? If we feel well-rested and inspired, our day tends to unfold far more positively than if we were to wake up sleep-deprived, rushed and cranky. One way to make an investment for a positive, inspiring day is to start our mornings fully aware of the present moment.
Here are eight possible morning activities to create a mindset of present awareness that will give you the mental and spiritual alertness to truly appreciate the beautiful fleeting moments that you will discover on your own for the rest of the day.
#1. Wake up consistently early
Wake up early and avoid hitting the snooze button. This will give you more time to ease into the day and avoid feeling rushed or stressed.
Early is subjective for everyone, depending on the kind of schedule you have. (I tried joining the 5AM club for maybe two weeks before realizing that it is really impractical for my own personal schedule.) For me, “early” is whatever time that is not the easiest to wake up to, but well worth the effort to do all the things in the morning – be it journaling, exercising or cooking a big breakfast – that will help you feel truly alive and focused for the rest of the day.
#2. Meditate, even if it’s only for two minutes
Start your day with some mindfulness exercises such as meditation or deep breathing. This will help you focus your mind, reduce stress, and increase your awareness. So, as soon as you get out of bed, sit in a comfortable position (away from your bed, to avoid the temptation of going back to sleep). Rather than mentally rushing through the daily to-do list or remorse over your poor quality of sleep, allow your mind to soak in the subtle noises that can only come from the start of a brand new day.
Do you hear birds chirping, other family members cooking breakfast? Focus on your in breath and out breath, one lungful of air at a time. You’re now meditating. Do this every morning, and your days will feel sharper, clearer and more full of life.
#3. Avoid technology for the first hour
Resist the temptation to check your phone or laptop first thing in the morning. Instead, take some time to do something else such as journaling, reading a book or spending time with your loved ones.
#4. Exercise in the morning
A light exercise such as stretching or yoga can help you wake up your body and get your blood flowing. It can also improve your flexibility, reduce stress and improve your posture.
Getting your heart beating and your body moving early in the day gives you the natural high to stay focused and present for the rest of your long and busy day.
#5. Really look at your coffee and tea (and other breakfast drinks)
Yes, really. When you are pouring milk into your coffee, pay attention to the swirls the milk makes on the dark liquid surface of your drink. When you drop a tea bag into boiling water, watch the tea ingredients create a mist in the clear water.
Smell your coffee. Savor your orange juice. Whatever you drink in the morning, it is just as alive and deserving of attention as everything else you do in your life.
#6. Journal, draw, play an instrument, listen to music—be creative
I’ve found that being creative in the morning is one of the best ways for me to feel present for the rest of the day. Before I begin the rest of my day, I make a point to spend at least a half hour to drawing in my sketchbook — because making art is my passion and it the activity I can lose myself in doing. Why wait until I am tired at the end of the day to do what I love?
#7. Water your houseplants
I didn’t think much about houseplants until I moved in with a college friend who happens to own a fantastic collection of houseplants, potted herbs and other lovely, green, leafy things.
Sharing your breakfast with a potted plant on your kitchen table really makes you appreciate the minor miracle that exists even in the most commonplace living things. Seeing new leaves uncurl, watching older leaves wilt, noticing the subtle changes the plant undergoes with the changing weather — it really puts things in perspective and helps you stay present.
#8. Set your intentions for the day
Take a few minutes to think about what you want to achieve during the day and that you will feel good about having accomplished when you go to bed tonight. This can help you stay focused and motivated