5 intentional ways to start your day
I'm not a morning person. I've never been someone to leap out of bed the moment the alarm goes off and I doubt I ever will be. So I work within my parameters and, over time, I've found ways to begin my day that work for me and give my day a more mindful, intentional start than it might have otherwise. (Spoiler: it doesn't start with yoga, that comes much later in the day for me.) These aren't actions that take up extra time, no need to set your alarm any earlier, it's more about your mental approach to the day as you go about your morning routine.
So, here are five ways that you can begin your day on a more positive, nourishing note. You can try one, several or all of them, whatever you feel fits with you and your schedule.
Before you get out of bed
You're awake, just about, you know you need to heave yourself out of bed but before you do, take a moment to practise a little loving-kindness. This ancient meditation extends kindness to yourself and to others, and while it seems very simple it can really improve how you feel at the start of the day. First of all, picture yourself lying in bed and repeat these words to yourself a couple of times:
May I be safe
May I be happy
May I be healthy
May I live with ease
Then, imagine someone you love and repeat the words again, replacing 'I' with 'he' or 'she'. Finally, hold a wider group of people in your mind, perhaps your work colleagues, your neighbours or village, and repeat the words again, replacing 'I' with 'they'.
This is a shortened, simplified version of loving-kindness meditation but it gets across the basic points of extending compassion to yourself and others. Taking a few moments to say these words will give your day a more positive intention than simply rolling out of bed with a groan.
In the bathroom
Choose one of your daily rituals such as brushing your teeth, washing your face or hair, and make it a mindful activity. Rather than thinking about everything you have to do today focus your attention on what you're doing in that moment. Feel the tube in your hand as you squeeze toothpaste onto your brush, watch how your mouth changes shape as you move the toothbrush around, notice how the toothpaste tastes and smells. You don't need to have an opinion on what you're doing or judge your brushing technique, this is simply about noticing what's taking place as this moment, just as it is. Your to do list will still be there when you finish in the bathroom, there's no need to mentally bring it in with you, into this time.
As you get dressed
You could make this into another mindful activity, focusing on the action of putting on clothes, or you can use this time to practise another positive intention – gratitude. Think of something, or several things, that you're thankful for in your life right now. The more specific the better and it can be as seemingly small as you like, no need to hunt for something momentous. You could be thankful that your child slept until past 6am or that you feel prepared for today's meeting or that the sun is shining. Think about why you're thankful for this and let yourself soak in the gratitude. It's easy to leap forward into imagining the day ahead which could cause us to worry and feel apprehensive. This short gratitude practice reminds you of what is already good about your day, before it's barely begun.
While you're getting ready
It may feel like your morning is off at a breakneck pace already but you still have the rest of the day stretching ahead of you. What do you want to do today, what would feel like an achievement or simply enough? It doesn't need to be a big goal or work win, your one aim for the day could be to take a 20 minute lunch break. Or to clean the bathroom. Or to be kind to yourself. What is one thing you could do today that would feel like success, however small, and in whatever shape? Create that one intention for yourself.
Before you get down to work (in whatever form that takes for you)
Following on from creating a specific intention for the day, take a moment to consider how you want to feel and create an affirmation or mantra to remind yourself throughout the day. For example, if you're feeling nervous you could give yourself the affirmation 'I am brave' or 'I am strong'. There are lots more ideas for affirmations in this blog post.
Creating a mantra can be a useful tool to remind yourself of how you want to feel or behave. For example, if you think you're going to feel tense and stressed, adopt the mantra of 'Breathe in, breathe out'. If you're feeling under pressure, from yourself or someone else, you might find the mantra 'Nothing needs to be perfect' helpful. Think of a message that you would love a friend to say to you today, something that would help you right now, and say it yourself. Jot it down on a piece of paper or in your phone so you can reference and repeat it throughout the day.
There are many more ways you can start your day with mindful intention, I want to give you just five doable suggestions to get you started without overwhelming you. Everyone has their own morning routine, schedule and time constraints to work within so try out the different ideas and see what works for you. If you'd like to share how you begin your day with intention I'd love to hear it, feel free to share in the comments below or on my social media posts.