6 Mindful Ways To Start Your Day
Here’s how to set yourself up for the day ahead with clarity, intention and gratitude
With the mornings getting brighter as we move deeper into spring, now's the perfect time to refresh your morning routine and introduce a few new healthy habits. The way you enter your morning has a huge impact on your mindset and energy levels for the rest of the day.
Keen to kickstart your day with vitality and purpose? Here are our top tips for how to do it right.
1: A quiet moment
Taking the opportunity to sit still check in with yourself offers a quick and easy way to set the stage for a calm outlook for the rest of the day – before getting drawn into your ‘To Do’ list. Patanjali describes yoga as ‘the calming of the fluctuations of the mind’. We can apply this definition to our meditation practice, too.
If you’ve never meditated before, apps like Headspace and Insight Timer offer plenty of free content, including guided morning meditation practices. Plus, there are countless free meditations if you pop a quick search into YouTube.
If guided meditations aren’t your thing, simply spend ten minutes tuning into the feel of your breath as it moves in and out. Notice the subtle physical sensations that arise with every inhale and every exhale. Allowing yourself these moments of quiet calm at the start of the day creates the opportunity to establish a more focused and optimistic mindset.
Beginning your day with an elevated emotion, such as gratitude, puts you straight into a positive state of mind. Counting your blessings ensures that you acknowledge the positive things in your life, rather than getting caught up in a negative tailspin as soon as you wake up.
Research suggests that practicing gratitude promotes good mental health by increasing optimism and overall life satisfaction – so what are you waiting for!? Grab a pen and paper – or even invest in a gratitude journal – to jot down a couple of things you can be thankful for each morning.
You don’t have to come up with anything too weighty or profound. What you are grateful for could be as simple as the sun shining outside, the morning cup of tea you’re about to drink or even quality time spent with friends, family (or pets!).
3: Be intentional
Setting an intention for your day brings a greater sense of purpose into everything that you do. If you’ve taken the time to write down something you can be grateful for, why not commit to setting an intention as well? Writing it down will help bring clarity to whatever your goal is.
Take a few moments to visualise your intention coming into fruition, as well as all the tiny steps you’ll take to get there. For example, if your intention is to go outside and get some fresh air, visualise yourself putting on your shoes and heading out the front door. Visualise taking those first few steps out onto the street and setting off on your stroll. Directing energy towards your goal will help ensure that you see it through.
4: Awaken the body
Practicing mindfulness means bringing your attention to how you feel physically, as well as mentally. If you’re jumping out of bed in a rush to get to your desk, there’s no space or time to ease your body into the day with compassion.
Taking a few gentle stretches each morning can help to ease away stiffness, tension or aches and pains that arise as a result from lying down all night. Movement can be invigorating, too, boosting your energy and helping you feel more alert in the tasks you undertake.
A few simple neck stretches might do the trick, or if you have time, flow through a few sets of sun salutations. If you’re in need of a little inspiration for a gentle yoga routine to start to open up the body, check out this 15-minute video.
5: Mindful eating & drinking
At least 60% of the body is made up of water. It helps to lubricate the joints, keep the skin plump and plays a vital role in transporting essential nutrients to cells throughout the body (via your blood). To feel your best, it’s important to stay fully hydrated throughout the day.
Every time we breathe out, we release tiny droplets of moisture in the breath. Think about how many exhales you take during a whole night’s sleep and how much of the body’s water content might ebb away. That’s why hydrating the body first thing in the morning is a healthy habit to build into your routine.
If knocking back a plain glass of water gets boring, mix things up by adding a slice of lemon, lime or even cucumber to keep your taste buds entertained.
6: Resist the urge to reach for your phone
Try keeping your phone either switched off or on airplane mode until 9am. Though it may be tempting to see what new notifications have popped up overnight, it’s all too easy to get sucked into digital life and all the stress that comes with it. Delving into emails, What’s App and social media puts everyone else’s agenda ahead of your own, immediately tying up your mental energy before you’ve had chance to check in with your own goals for the day.