Even in the busiest, most hectic, and most stressful times in my life, I've always done three things at the start of each day. Part of this has been habit, but another part has been intention. Certain actions can set me up for a day that feels like I can win. They can ground me before I let the anxiety about the day ahead get a firm hold on me.
I’m aware of some very successful people who have adopted long-standing morning routines in order to remain grounded, though their own exercises aren’t the same as mine. For example, Tony Robbins begins his days with a hot-water-cold-water exercise, a breathing ritual, and 10 minutes of gratitude. Marie Forleo, too, starts her day with meditation, then gratitude, and for her third habit, actually at night, she takes 4-5 minutes to plan out the subsequent day, so that she can go to bed satisfied that the next day has sequence and structure.
For me, the rituals are all in the morning. Although there are other things I like to do daily if I can, these three occur every day, regardless of how much I have on my plate. Keep scrolling to the end after you read them, because I’m going to talk about how you can apply this same 3-ritual concept to your own lifestyle, to keep yourself grounded, and to restore confidence even when your life can feel out of control.
1 - After I wake up, the first thing I do is get water into my body.
From physical trainers to nutrition specialists to doctors, this is something that health experts in every area recommend all human beings do. My friend Holly, who owns her own acupuncture practice and also teaches yoga, is adamant that one of the best things a person can do to keep his or her liver—and thereby the rest of her body—clean is to have lemon water at the start of the day.
I adopted the practice of warm lemon water after years of starting the day with green tea, and after 10 days found that my need for caffeine was lower, my skin was brighter, and I even felt a little more accomplished than when I simply put a tea bag in a mug. That extra lemon slicing step took more conscious effort, and empowered me just that little bit more over the rest of my day.
2 - I eat enough, and I enjoy the process of eating.
About two years ago I started deliberately planning out my breakfasts for the week so I could be sure I would get enough protein, carbs, and antioxidants to hold me over until the next time I’d have a chance to eat. Even though preparing the meals at first meant I had to get up earlier each day, the exchange was worth what I received in benefits: I had more energy to do the tasks required of me at work; I was kinder to the people around me because I wasn’t hungry; and I had greater focus to do my work well, because of the energy boost and also because I wasn’t distracted by thinking about when I’d get to eat.
Planning out how to make my breakfasts tasty in addition to nutritious also helped me to look forward to getting up early to make breakfast and helped me to enjoy the process of eating and not begrudge it. Over time the way I prepare meals has evolved (I am now learning how to do them in bulk in advance), but I haven’t allowed that to inhibit the grounding process of being excited to eat and grateful for my food.
3 - I take care putting myself together for the day.
Depending on who you are and what matters to you, this could look very different for you from how it looks for me. I am not always patient enough to style my long, thick hair, for instance; but every morning I put 15-20 minutes into doing my makeup. Even when I tell myself I’m going to be quick, I end up slowing myself down and putting my best care into the process. When I’m done I take a moment to step back and look at my reflection in natural light, and appreciate that I’m about to go into the world looking my best.
Over time I’ve also developed a system for “dressing for success.” I've expanded the radius of my comfort zone to include the attire that the woman I want to be would be comfortable wearing. It didn't take long before I felt more myself than ever. When my morning look comes together, I get to leave my house confident that I look professional and ready to take whatever life is going to throw at me that day—and on top of that, I am hydrated and well-fed. I feel in control and empowered.
For me, having morning routine is ultimately about two things: First, that I have set myself up to win. If a day goes south after I’ve done all I can to prepare my body and mind for anything, then I don’t have to wish I’d just done something differently or feel any sense of failure when I can't knock it out of the park. Some days just don’t go well—and I believe a lot of bad days actually go better because I enter them confidently.
Second, that I enter my day able to focus on whatever that day requires because I’m not distracted by fundamental needs. There’s a theory among psychologists called the Hierarchy of Needs, which wise business leaders look to to ensure their employees are equipped to work at their best; in a nutshell, the Hierarchy of Needs says that if a person is hungry or exhausted, feels endangered or intimidated, is worried about a friendship or loved one, or perceives himself to be unappreciated or slighted, then depending on the degree to which that discomfort has permeated the mind and spirit, he might not be able to perform optimally in any other area of life, including work.
I am blessed to be in a position where I can control whether or not I’m fed and hydrated, and whether or not I look nice when I go out to deal with clients. I could choose not to take care of those things, but then I wouldn’t be setting myself up for success.
There are probably things in your daily life that you have control over but haven’t chosen yet to engage in order to set your own day up for success. Would asking BibleGateway.com to send you a “Verse of the Day” help remind you of what’s most important? Would saying “I love you” to your spouse on the way out the door ease your anxiety a little? Would setting aside an hour for a tea break every afternoon between three and four o’clock help you unwind before resuming work or heading home?
A big clue into what rituals might benefit you is knowing how you want—or don’t want—to feel. (I’ve heard excellent things about a program called The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte, which could help you answer this question.) Think about when you are at your best and at your worst. How do you feel in each situation? What can you do to ensure you feel more often the things you want to, and decrease your odds that you’ll feel the things you don’t?
I encourage you to start looking for the things in your life that make your heart a little happier, and your day a little smoother, and consider making those things a part of your daily routine. Feel free to take any of the rituals on my list if they will truly benefit you—but be sure to ask what’s right for you. I look forward to hearing what you come up with! Comment below, or come catch me on Instagram, at @alexisthegreek.
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