Good morning! How do you welcome each new day? I am going to share my Morning Ritual because I passionately believe how you start your day is vitally important to managing stress and improving your energy at the get-go, every day.
Recently, I was honored to give a presentation at Lakeside Chautauqua: “How to Manage Stress During a Pandemic.” The emotional contagion of stress is as important as the viral contagion of COVID-19, in my opinion. I reviewed the array of research and advice from experts of the top 5 or 10 or 17 things people could do to better manage stress during the pandemic and constantly changing landscape of advice.
I chose a different approach. In my opinion and experience, focus and consistency are paramount. The ONE most important thing to do is carve out the first 32 minutes of the day for a Morning Ritual.
I am sharing my Morning Ritual as an example to get started and encourage you to create a Morning Ritual that works for you. Start simple, grow, and evolve your Morning Ritual.
My simple philosophy and the foundation of my Morning Ritual is:
How you start your day is how you live your days.
How you live your days, is how you live your Life.
Over the past 10 years I have been developing my Morning Ritual. I started slowly, with simply saying 3 gratitudes. Over time I added a morning meditation practice, learned from well-known and highly respected teachers such as Deepak Chopra, Robin Sharma, Brendon Burchard and Vishen Lakhiani and followed the latest research in neuroscience and the science behind why how you start your day is so important.
The most important point: Make how you start your day Sacrosanct. Make YOU the first priority of your morning. I intentionally use the word "Ritual” because it is more than a routine. The start of my day is sacrosanct.
The second, and equally important point, is to be consistent -- do your Morning Ritual every day, without fail. To be honest, I get thrown off track occasionally. However, I find that when I get caught up in the rush and crush of events – that is exactly when I most need to get back to my Morning Ritual. Consistency! Make it fun! Own how you start your day!
The foundational elements of my 32-minute Morning Ritual are:
I strongly encourage you to create, re-energize, or strengthen your own unique Morning Ritual. Get started now! If not now... when? Seriously and gently, what is your excuse?
This Blog is about the what and why, as well as some variations on the theme, behind each of the foundational elements of my Morning Ritual.
You may also want to pull-up the YouTube link to my Lakeside Chautauqua presentation: How to Manage Stress During a Pandemic. Many thanks to Stacy Maple, Director at Lakeside Chautauqua, the Grindley Aquatic & Wellness Campus and the Lakeside Livestream Crew 2020 for the invitation and video taping of my presentation.
Smile & Hydrate:
As I walk up the stairs to my Loft in the morning, I Smile. I can feel my smile radiate across my entire face and illuminate my space. You know, smile with your mouth, eyes, cheeks & ears. Lol. If you are still groggy or got up on the wrong side of the bed – fake it! The mind-body is so inextricably interconnected, your smile will trigger the brain to release neuropeptides to help fight off stress. You will get the feel good hormones like dopamine and testosterone for men and serotonin and oxytocin for women in play.
I also drink an 8 ounce glass of water. It is important to start the day by flushing the toxins from our body and our brain. One of the reasons a good night’s sleep is so necessary for a highly productive day, is that the brain appears to release toxins overnight. So, flush it out! I often add 1 teaspoon of homemade Himalayan salt water, also known as sole water, courtesy of my massage therapist, to enhance the detox effectiveness.
Stretch & Move Your Body:
Choose your favorite exercise, something you love to do, and something you look forward to doing. I have a great stretching routine starting with a Sun Salutation, shoulder rolls, neck stretches, flowing on down through my hips, legs ankles and feet. I am waking-up my body – gently. For variation, to keep it interesting, I may add/substitute push-ups, planks, marching in place or going up and down the stairs several times. Getting your body moving, right away, is all about generating energy, and continuing the internal detox after a night’s sleep. I find that generating energy improves my positivity and self-confidence.
What is your favorite form of exercise? Yoga, perhaps. Pilates. Qigong is fun. Jump rope, or not. Put on your favorite music and dance. This is play time!
The science behind why moving your body first thing in the morning is extensive. Just check it out on Dr Goog’s…. you know, Google.
Meditation & Centering:
The benefits of meditation have been scientifically validated for many years. However, preconceptions of what meditation is or is not, abound. Find a comfortable place – as one of my favorite teachers, Davidji says, “Comfort is queen.” Personally, I use my large comfortable chair or lay on the floor. Now is the time I embrace deep diaphragmatic breathing -- in through the nose and out through the mouth, and affirming: I breathe in light and breathe out darkness; I breathe in calm and breathe out overwhelm; I breathe in forgiveness and breathe out blame; I breath in love and breathe out pain; I breathe in love and breathe out love. Like everyone else, my mind wanders – and I let my breath bring me back to center.
There are many forms of meditation – guided meditation, mantra meditation, walking meditation, music meditation. Personally, I believe prayer can be a form of meditation.
As you may already know, my personal go-to meditation app is Insight Timer. A few of my favorite teachers and short centering meditations, in no particular order, are:
With more than 55,000 free and music tracks and a wide-range of teachers and styles on Insight Timer, I recommend that you experiment and find the voice/message that resonates with you, that best opens and quiets your mind. There are also many 10, 20 or 30-day Courses with terrific content. Full disclosure, I upgraded to Member Plus for a modest fee to access all the courses and other benefits.
When you start the day centered, your body-mind knows what it feels like to be calm and centered. Then, when things get off course – you already know where and how to come back to center.
Gratitude & Growth: I have evolved my daily gratitude practice over the past 10 years, starting by silently saying 3 gratitudes, to saying 5 gratitudes out loud, to Journaling 5-10 gratitudes every day. I highly recommend a Gratitude Journal because it imprints a feeling of grace and gratitude more strongly on your neural networks. A daily gratitude practice can turn a single lane highway into a super highway in your brain over time.
There are so many things to be grateful for: running water, a good bed, a hot shower, a roof over our heads, our sense of taste or smell, our hearing, the family, friends and pets in our lives. Look outside at nature and be grateful for the rain, as I was last night. In the darkest of moments, you may find that you can draw on your gratitudes for strength.
Gratitude is a thought, a smile, an act, a touch – an attitude, an energy that lifts you up and lifts everyone around you.
There is a growing body of research which indicates a consistent gratitude practice will materially improve your mental health and outlook on life.
I add Growth because this can also be a time to reflect on what you want to stop doing, what you want to learn and how you want to grow -- mentally, emotionally and/or spiritually.
Intention & Priorities: Now I am ready to tackle the real world. The first thing is to set an intention. If you follow me on Facebook, you will usually see my intention posted with a famous quote against the backdrop of the sunset from my Lake House overlooking Lake Erie. Right now, my intention is Kindness. Check it out: Facebook @alisonlanzafalls.
I then turn my focus to the 1-Page Productivity Planner from my High Performance Coaching™ Practice. On this one page, I have my top 3 priorities for the week as well as the one thing I must accomplish before the day is done. Energy flows where focus goes. I update my 1-Page productivity planner every Sunday evening.
I also ask a motivational question, such as: Who can I surprise today? Who needs me on my A-game today? What situation is likely to stress me out today and how will I deal with it from my best self? These questions are used in my High Performance Habits Coaching™ and are included in Brendon Burchard’s “The High Performance Planner.” It may be the best planner on the market right now, in my opinion.
I trust you immediately see how all these foundational elements fit together. Detox; Detox & Energy; Energy & Centering; Energy & Spirituality; and Energy & Focus.
I am presenting a framework, rather than a formula. For that reason, I left the math of my 32-minute Morning Ritual to the end. The foundational elements of my 32 minute Morning Ritual are:
Experiment and evolve your practices. The foundational elements are … well, foundational. Start with one or two. However, there is exponential value and energy as you put all the foundational elements into play, in my opinion.
However, the timing is fungible. For example, sometimes I combine the meditation & gratitude elements. Sometimes I add books to order or documentaries to review later in the day or over the weekend in my Gratitude Journal. I am always grateful to be learning and growing and supporting others on the journey. Sometimes I truncate the time spent on top priorities – because the top 3 priorities of the day are so clear. I will often devote an hour to my Morning Ritual – it is just that important to me. At the same time, I want to demonstrate the how and why a Morning Ritual is doable in 32 minutes.
I mix things up. I do this intentionally, so that my Morning Ritual does not become a routine. It stays FUN!
For examples of alternative morning routines and rituals, I invite you to refer to my August 14, 2018 Blog: Create Your New Morning Ritual August 2018.
In closing, I encourage everyone to put ourselves FIRST in our day – get up 30 minutes earlier if that is what it takes. No excuses.
May this inspire you to create your Morning Ritual -- it may just change your life. I know it has changed my life for the better.
Till next time,
May you be happy now and always.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.