How you start your mornings sets the pace and tone for the rest of the day. According to mindfulness and breathwork coach Zee Clarke, having a morning routine is key to cultivating self-discipline and staying grounded.
Clarke says that before having an intentional morning routine, the first thing she did each morning was pick up her phone. Turning off your alarm clock turned into checking emails and notifications, scrolling through social media, and “dozing off” your responsibilities.
Clarke recalls a time when her morning dose of social media took a terrible turn and destroyed her entire day.
“Once, as images of police brutality saturated the news, I received a news notification. I clicked on it and then suddenly I saw 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant getting shoot and kill by the police, on my phone, in my bed,” she told CNBC Make It. “It was the first thing I saw when I woke up in the morning, which ruined my day.”
Although being strict about her morning routine has been a “journey,” Clarke says making key adjustments to her routines has made her more mindful and productive throughout the day.
Here are 4 important things Clarke says she does every morning:
According to Clarke, taking the time to acknowledge how you feel each morning helps you stay aware of yourself.
“I’m going to be like, ‘Hello, Zee? How are you? How are you feeling today?” And that can help me understand what’s going on with me. Maybe I woke up tired, so maybe I’ll make different decisions for the day in terms of what I’m doing. Or if I’m happy or overwhelmed or sad, just acknowledging that can allow me to be aware of it so I can change my day to take care of myself.”
Clarke does her daily checks in her head, but feel free to speak out loud in third person as well.
It’s totally normal and can even help you “build motivation, calm your nerves, and analyze situations,” according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Set an intention for the day
We all have goals or tasks that we plan to do, but put aside to complete another day.
According to Clarke, setting an intention for the day is a great way to hold yourself accountable and focus on achieving those goals.
Your intention can be professional, like finishing a project or presentation before the end of the day, but it can also be personal.
“Maybe it’s something you’re working on within yourself, like today I’m going to try to be more patient with people, or today I’m going to try to do an act of kindness. If you intend to make this happen, you will try harder to pay attention to these things.”
Drink water first
Many of us like to wake up to our morning coffee or tea for an energy boost. However, Clarke says the first thing she consumes when she wakes up is water, and she urges others to do the same.
Clark shares that “drinking water first increases your energy levels, boosts your metabolism, lubricates joints and minimizes pain. It’s also good for the skin and flushes toxins from your system.”
Breathing and meditation
For all of us, breathing is like second nature. But many people don’t know that breathing exercises can help regulate stress, release anger, and reduce anxiety.
Clarke uses the three-part breathing method to stay grounded and in tune with her body.
“I breathe in. I feel the air go through my throat, fill my chest, fill my belly, then when I breathe out the air comes from my belly, through my chest and through my throat. And when I say these things, “throat, chest, belly”, it forces me to breathe slowly.”
Clarke also meditates every morning to “clear her head and be present.” When meditating, she focuses her mind on specific parts of the body, starting with the top of her head. As she focuses on the rest of her body, she is able to relax each part of herself one by one.
“I literally name the body part in my head and then pay attention to that area. And sometimes I don’t even know that I’m clenching my jaw or holding tension in a certain area. So I go over and I tell myself to relax.”
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