The Being & The Doing EPISODE 27:
Morning Rituals to Start Your Day
Your morning rituals are a key to starting your day on a positive note. With a busy schedule, it’s easy to hit the snooze button or jump straight into the day’s to-do list without a moment of pause. In this episode we explore simple morning rituals and habits to help you set your day up for success.
*A full transcript is at the bottom of the page.
[Blog] How to Start Your Day
Check out this blog with more tips for starting your day right.
[Blog] Tips for Starting Your Work Day
Here’s another blog with 5 tips for the workplace.
[Tool] Online Journal App
Here’s a quick and easy journalling tool if you are not a paper and pen kinda person
[Blog] The How To Guide to Setting Daily Intentions
Curious about making daily intentions more successful. Check out this step-by-step guide.
Something to think about:
Consider your current morning rituals. How well do they set you up for success?
Something to try:
Start with a simple ritual this week. Before you get out of bed, pause and take 3 conscious breaths. If you want to extend this practice, then sit on the edge of the bed and take another 3 conscious breaths. If you are really committed, then stand and take 3 more breaths.
Notice what difference this makes to the start of your day.
You can grab your FREE homework Awareness & Action guide HERE
Scroll on down to the comments section and share your thoughts on morning rituals….
What is your favourite morning ritual?
What gets in the way of starting your day with positive rituals and routines?
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CREDITS: The Being & The Doing podcast is produced by Neela Bell. Voiceovers by Jason Harris. Music is GoodMorning Sunshine by Yoav Alyagon and Firefly by Scott Buckley.
Full Transcript of the Show
Laurel: Hey, lovely ones. Welcome to Episode 27 of The Being and The Doing. I’m here with my lovely producer and sidekick, Neela.
Neela: Hello everyone.
Laurel: And today we want to talk about ‘be in conversation’ on the topic of ‘starting your day.’
Neela: Yeah. I can’t wait to hear this one.
Laurel: Starting your day. So, I’m a big believer in morning rituals and if you Google about morning rituals, you’ll see like ‘here are the morning rituals of successful people’ and all of that. And I think it’s true that if you have a consistent morning ritual, it does help set you up for success and that’s because our morning rituals set the tone for the day. Because if you get up in the morning and it’s kind of a gong show, a bit of a free for all, that has an impact on how you’re going to approach your day as it’s unfolding. And if you have a morning ritual that sort of sets the tone for how it is you want to go through the day, you probably are going to engage differently.
Now, does that mean there’s some guarantee, a magic elixir that means your day is going to unfold beautifully? No, and I think that it will help you deal with whatever unexpected chaos comes throughout your day. So you’ll be able to roll differently with obstacles and complications that might come apart as the day goes on.
Neela: Yeah. When you told me we’re going to chat about this today, I was actually very excited because it has been an actual focus of mine is to change a little bit of my morning routine and I’ve made some changes already, but there are a couple things that I’m interested in adding, so I can’t wait to get the advice and to get a little bit of, you know, like what’s even some great ideas.
Laurel: Yeah. Well, I’m imagining. I’m glad you’re excited, Neela, but I’m imagining some people think, “Oh, yeah, great, morning routine ritual. I don’t have time already. And now we’re going to add in some things or a bunch of things and I don’t have time for that.”
And it really isn’t about the length of time. Like if you have, you know, a chunk of time, that’s great. And it might be more about stopping doing some things that you’re currently doing and adding something new, switching it up so it’s not actually taking any more time; or adding something that, from a time perspective, is not actually that big a chunk of time. Because it’s not really, Oh, you have to devote 15 minutes or 30 minutes or an hour or whatever it is; unless you have that time.
Like everything that we talk about, it’s about the consistency of it. Because I don’t know, sometimes I let my morning ritual go, you know, I don’t do what I am suggesting to everyone else does. I let it go and then I really notice it. So it is about the consistency of ‘this is what my morning ritual looks like’ and just doing it day after day after day so that it does become a routine, ritual, habit. What do you find gets in the way of being consistent with a morning ritual?
Neela: Well, a couple of things, actually because I’ve been doing a little bit thinking about this. One of the things that have been a stumbling block for me has been my sleeping patterns. So it’s like when, I don’t want to say exactly when I hit 50, but it was in the 50 zone, my sleeping hasn’t been super great all the time or I’d wake up in the night or blah, blah, blah. Right? So my morning time has always been a struggle. And so like, it’s only really been recently where I’ve taken a look at my caffeine, I’ve looked at some other stuff and my sleeping’s been a little bit better. So I am sleeping right till, you know, maybe five-ish or something like that. And instead of laying there getting all mad about the fact that it’s five, I’ve started to like embrace this idea of, wow, I have this hour before my kids are going to have to get up and get ready for school and stuff. What could I do in this hour besides sit here, beating myself up about the fact that I’m not sleeping?
So actually I’ve shifted from a kind of sitting there in this negative headspace and I’ve started doing a few things in that, in that little hour, that little golden hour, I think of it now. I mean, I haven’t gotten huge things accomplished, but I did do a little bit of a journal, started doing some gratitude journal in the morning and I’m thinking about maybe doing some exercising stuff, which I used to do back before the kids, back in the day. And I really want to do that again. So, yeah. So, I feel like I wanna make use of this time and just kind of embrace what is, instead of wishing I was sleeping different; you know what I mean? I’m just gonna embrace what is and take advantage of the morning.
Laurel: Yeah. And, actually, I think that’s a really good point that sometimes the resistance to creating a morning ritual is, you know, I’m tired and, you know, I don’t want to get up anyway. The idea of, Oh, I’m going to get up earlier. Like I don’t feel like I’m getting enough sleep. And that’s a really good point of, you know, the day has a start, but the day also has an end. So if we can be thinking about how do we end the day which is actually just as important as how we start the day. If we can look at how we end the day and how we go into our sleep and, you know, have better sleep hygiene, you know, are we doing what we need to do in order to have better sleep so that we kind of make it more possible to be able to create a morning ritual without feeling like, you know, I’m just going to keep hitting the snooze button or I’m laying there dreading, I don’t want to get up, I don’t want to get up that we can make better use of that time?
Neela: Or thinking also, that it has to be a big thing.
Laurel: Yeah, exactly.
Neela: I think that’s when one of my things that has really blocked me from thinking about when I think about the exercise thing like, I think about this big routine that I have to do in the morning and that’s kind of getting in the way as opposed to maybe thinking of like, what are the small things I could do that I might actually do? Like lowering my expectations on myself of what I have to do, to call it, exercise. You know what I mean?
Laurel: Exactly. And, that is it. Like it doesn’t have to be big. It has to be ritual and routine. So I think the first ritual that is sort of a low entry kind of ritual to have is to just take three conscious breaths. So when you wake up, whether you wake up to some sort of an alarm or if you naturally wake up, before you reach for anything else before you’re reaching for the phone…okay, maybe you’ve got to shut that alarm off, but you turn that off. Now before you do anything else, before you flip the phone over and start scrolling to see, what’s happening out there in the world, before you do that, before you put your feet on the floor, anything just to allow yourself to awaken into the day differently by taking those three conscious breaths of taking an inhale and noticing that and noticing the pause and then noticing the exhale and then the pause before you inhale again.
And just three breaths; again, nothing magic. It’s just three feels like a nice number to just do that. And in that, being able to also take a sort of a quick inventory of what’s going on in my body. You know, you’ve been laying there for whatever length of time, maybe stretching a little bit, like just a gentle stretch through your legs or your knee up to your chest, just a kind of waken things up a little bit and then swing your feet over onto the floor and maybe that’s it. Maybe that becomes just a new ritual of before anything else, I’m just going to pause and take three conscious breaths.
You could build on that. As you swing over, you’re now sitting upright feet on the floor, maybe take three more conscious breaths before you stand up and one extended more. Now you’re standing, take three conscious breaths. Okay, great. There’s a ritual of nine breaths that will not take you very long. You don’t have to plan on having to get up earlier to do that. And it just allows you to settle into the day differently than, you roll over, you look at your phone and you either see all the things you have to do or what cuckoo thing is going on in the world or whatever. Simple; like easy, easy peasy ritual.
So it kind of goes along with that idea of yours, of what is enough to do that I can call it this thing. Well, whatever you do is enough, right? Whatever you do is enough. That’s good. That’s a good place to begin. And you know, there are other things that you can do. So that’s part of my morning ritual is my conscious breaths before I actually get out of bed. You know, some people do some sort of a grounding ritual and so when I mean grounding it kind of allows them to feel settled. Like settled into themselves or their body to kind of reconnect to things that are important. Because when we sort of, you know, launch ourselves out of bed into our day, in the to-do list, we’ve missed that opportunity to sort of reconnect for a minute about what is actually really important.
And you know, for use the word grounding ritual really just depends on what it is that makes sense for you. So that might be a little bit of meditation. It might be maybe some journaling, could be part of a grounding ritual or even just sort of that kind of quiet reflection. You know, sometimes you could use, you know how you get those books that have like a daily quote, you know, like those books, you know, maybe you keep that on your bedside table and you begin just with sort of a quote or a positive thought and okay, I’m just going to kind of sit with that for a minute.
Or on the flip side, you could have something that’s a more energizing ritual, something that kind of infuses you with like the energy to take on the day. And that might be something that is more movement-based. You know, like maybe there is some yoga, like, you know, if you’re doing a sun salutation. I don’t get the juices flowing in the morning and that being said, yoga might for you also be a grounding ritual. So it’s really what is the effect that it has on you, not you need to do this, this, this or this.
One thing that I really encourage people to do too is about intention setting. You talk a lot about setting an intention for the day and I’ve written lots about that or talked lots about that, I’ve talked about on other podcasts. So in the show notes I’m going to put a link to a blog that really kind of walks you through the whole idea of intention setting. But really what we’re doing there is sort of creating the vision for the day. You know, my intention for the day is to be this.
So my intention is not to check 20 things off my list; that’s not our intention. Our intention is okay for today I want to be…and then I’m filling in the blank with some sort of quality or you know, that really is the ‘being’ part of ‘the being and the doing’. How do I want to show up? Well, today I would like to be calm; today I would like to be playful; today I’d like to be lighthearted. You might think for a minute; like what is this day about and what would the quality be that would actually serve me as I go through the day? I don’t know, have you ever done that kind of intention setting in the morning?
Neela: You know, it’s kinda sorta. I was going to say, I like the idea of like you’re matching it to what’s actually coming that day. Like, let’s say it’s, you know, an event that sometimes stresses you out and today, I’m going to focus on bringing my best self to this event. You know, so you’re thinking of that, but I was going to say I have those, you know, they’re kind of like these cards you pull out, you know what I mean? They’re like a deck of cards. They’re like these little cute little cards. And I often do them, but you know what? They’re not by my bed. What a great idea. Why not have, they’re in this cute little pretty dish and then every time I pass by the dish, which I think is, you know, across my room somewhere on my bookshelf or something and I love them. I love pulling one out, cause it always seems to, I don’t know if this is like astrology, you know where you read your sign and you go, Oh yeah, that’s totally me.
Laurel: Of course. Oh wow! How magical. Wow! Ooh, they’re magic.
Neela: I have often pulled a card and went, Oh, that just totally matches me. You know or I looked at that card and then later in the day I think, Oh wow, that really did match today.
Laurel: And so you know, what’s going on there, Neela? Is you’re creating your own reality cause you seeded that idea, which is the whole idea of intention setting when it’s not. No. Do we have some sort of, you know, magical, mystical powers that, you know, I’m going to just open this up. No, but we’re putting that idea in our head and our heads are full of lots of thoughts so we might as well put a useful one in there. I’m putting that in there. Now, the other non-magical piece of intention setting is I can’t just go, okay, today I’m going to be, you know, a patient. That’s the quality I think that would be good to bring to the day and now magically I’m going to be patient. No, the whole point of intention setting is I need to sort of remind myself as I go through the day, be patient.
Maybe I actually, you know, write my little intention on a sticky and stick it somewhere so that it reminds me or when I feel like I’m not being patient, “Oh, yes. Today it’s my intention to be patient. So let me just take a breath and let me step back into being patient.” Because sometimes I think intention setting is one of those things that sounds kind of woo-woo, like this. Ooh, just say it and now cosmically everything will align. Well, okay maybe, but I’m a big believer in; okay, and.. do something to put that in motion. You know, it’s sort of that idea of pray and row for the shore.
Neela: Like in your programs and whatnot, like you do need cueing. Like you do need cueing to come back again, come back again, come back again; because you drift, you know what I mean? You’re drifting back, you look at the card or the sticky note or whatever and it cues you back to the behavior that you’re trying to reinforce in yourself.
Laurel: Great. I mean, intention setting could be like literally a two-minute activity or it could be like a 15-minute activity, depending on like how long you want to sort of sit with that or, you know, journal on it or whatever. You get to create how much time you want to devote to that particular thing.
One of the things that I think makes a great ritual that is sort of, it’s kind of the being and the doing all wrapped into one activity and that’s about making your bed mindfully. So, I know some of you out there are going, okay, Laurel, I don’t make my bed. I’m just inviting you into this idea that there is if we think about that our space has an energy to it, when things are disorganized, an unmade bed is a disorganized thing.
It does have an energetic impact. And so, the way you can take making your bed as a morning ritual, and we’re thinking about this mindfully, so I’m being present to how I’m doing this and it’s about sort of that recommitment to kind of creating order to self-care, to you know, creating a sense of calm while I make the bed. And you know, it’s kind of that idea about little things like that actually matter.
If we take care of the little things, often the bigger things kind of take care of themselves a little bit. But it is that idea of, you know, just the simple act of making my bed means that I’ve paid attention to that. And you know, let’s say you have like a not great day, how lovely to come home at the end of the day and step into your bedroom and the bed is all made. It’s just kind of a (sight) great. It’s sort of like, you know, you don’t do the dishes at night and you get up in the morning and the kitchen is like, and it’s just kinda like, aahhh.
So making your bed mindfully is a great morning ritual and it’s practical because now you’ve actually got a task done. So if nothing else, you got one thing done today, you made the bed.
Neela: For us bed makers, compulsive bed makers, which I am, yeah. And I think if you’re doing the thing anyway, why not do it?
Laurel: As a ritual.
Neela: As a ritual and because it’s so easy to do. Well, it’s easy to do as long as you have that. If you remember that’s going to be a thing you do when you want to do every day. And so you don’t do it the first day and then you forget the rest of the days. So again, that might mean I’m just thinking for my own self, how am I going to make a few of these? I mean I’m not going to try to do all 20.
Laurel: Please do not.
Neela: Yes, I know. Cause that’ll happen day one. Right. And then, you know, day two, it’ll be, I remember three of them. A week later, I’m back to, you know, but I do like the idea of maybe I’ll get a sticky note beside my bed just for the first little while till it’s more automatic where I’m going to write, I don’t know why I’m saying this out loud but I am, cause I really like some of your ideas for me personally. So I’m gonna make a little sticky note and I’m going to talk about mindfully making the bed since I’m a bed maker anyway and about the breathing, I think. And I’m going to move that card dish on the other side of my bed cause these are all small little things. And so, by the time I’m up and dealing with the kids and having my shower, I think I’ll feel like I’ve accomplished something already, which always feels really good to me when I can sort of like go, Oh.
Laurel: And you’ve set a tone. You set a tone for how to approach things. You know, there’s another like, so for some people who want something, you know, a little meatier to do, you know, maybe you’re going to get up and go for a walk and you take a 15, 20-minute walk. So, I mean that’s a bigger commitment cause now I have to get up and get dressed and go outside and you know, whatever. Okay. That’s a more meaty kind of thing. Journaling or journaling in a with an activity that’s kind of longer, more structured. So if lovely ones, you’re not familiar with the work of Julia Cameron, really run and read anything that she’s written. So she writes about creativity and about writing and how to make writing accessible for people in ways to be able to journal.
And you know, sort of on that idea that we are all creative beings and so how it is we express our creativity. And she has a technique that’s been around forever that she created called Morning Pages. And so the way that Morning Pages work, they’re three pages longhand. So you’re actually writing with a pen. And I know like for some people that are like a what? A pen and a piece of paper? Because they’re used to having the computer in your hand might feel like, wow, that seems like a lot. But it’s just this stream of consciousness writing.
So the idea is you’re going to do it very first thing in the morning. It’s about kind of clearing your mind. You’re not trying to get anywhere. You’re just literally having a stream of consciousness. So you could be writing like, I have no idea what I’m writing. You know, like this just seems like a silly thing and you just keep writing three pages that you’re filling in and they’re just for your eyes only. And it’s just whatever thoughts are in your head that are crossing your mind and you just kind of dump that out.
When I was teaching a client this technique and she said, I really liked this idea. She says, but I feel like I don’t want to start with an eight and a half by 11 size page. I want a smaller page cause that feels big. So yeah, if you want a smaller size page, okay. But it’s the idea of just, you know, stream of consciousness writing for three pages. And what it does is it just kind of help to clear all that stuff that’s rambling around in your head. ‘Oh my goodness, I have so many things to do. Dah, dah, dah, dah.’ And you’re just writing, writing, writing, writing, writing without trying to solve anything or organizing it or figuring it out or overthinking it. You just write three pages of anything on the page and then the next day you do a whole new three pages.
Neela: Wow. Cool. I do love paper. Like I do love, I think because I spent so much time on the computer as you’re a tech person and in my other business stuff, I’m pretty techie, pretty nerdy. I’m on the computer and on my phone a lot. So I love holding, like it just feels, so, I don’t know what; it’s the tactile feeling of holding a beautiful journal in my hands and a nice pen, you know, the joy of a beautiful pen. I did do some journaling a little while ago as a kind of a morning ritual that I feel like it ran its course. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I was doing a gratitude journal and I was writing things that I was grateful for every day because I was waking up in this, like, I think I mentioned earlier in a bit of a funk, you know what I mean?
Waking up, feeling grouchy, and I thought, ah, no, I’m not starting my day, every day like that. So, I knew that would help with that. Just like, you know, 20 years later, Laurel, I’m listening to you and doing your stuff. So I knew a gratitude journal was going to help. And so I did that and I used an app and the app I used, which I have used before, which I think I can pretty safely recommend to your folks would be an app. It’s actually a website, but you can also access it now as an app. It’s called Penzu. And it’s this really pretty little app, which opens up this simple thing, which looks like a piece of paper and you can customize it and make it look pretty and stuff anyway. And it’s just a way of writing and it creates a little journal on your phone.
And so I use that for a while and I sort of feel like I got out of my little funk, but I did realize journaling was not going to be, that’s just not my thing, you know? I know some people love it and that was one of, I thought it was a useful tool. And then, I think it kind of ran its course.
Laurel: Yeah. You know, I think that is…
Neela: You know, I think you should have an app, by the way; Laurel Vespi. It’s you sister. Okay, we’re gonna come back to this later. Okay. Sorry. Go on.
Laurel: Okay, yes. We’ll put that on the to-do list. We need an app. Yeah, there are lots of apps and there’s lots of apps that you can use for your morning ritual. So it’s, you know, like, you want to do a little meditation, there’s all kinds of apps that are out there that are great little apps to use with meditation or this Penzu one. We’ll put a link in the show notes for people there. So it’s really about first asking yourself this question of what is it that would help me to set my day up for success in terms of being able to set the tone or being able to reconnect with what’s important?
It really is the big being piece so that then when you take on the doing of your day, you have set it up in a more conscious and intentional kind of way. I think that thing about journaling really is people create so many rules and expectations around journals and that it becomes an obstacle to the act of actually doing journals. We have so many rules about what we think that should look like. So if your journaling is on an app rather than with a piece of paper and a pen, great, it doesn’t matter. Being able to get our ideas out of our heads and make them visible, whether that’s on a piece of paper or you’re writing on an app, that’s what the act of journaling will do.
So in the last episode, in the interview with Anne Bokma, the woman who had written the book about spiritual but not religious, she talked about a morning ritual. That was one of the spiritual practices she was working on. And what she added in was reading in the morning as part of her morning ritual. Because as a writer, reading is a really important thing for her, but she found that she was tending to leave that to the end of her day. And you know, what happens by the time we get to the end of our day, we’re too tired or whatever and we don’t actually make the time to read. And so, she moved that to the beginning of her day and part of her morning ritual was to spend some time actually reading.
And so that’s a great thing too. Like, you know, if you even 10 minutes or 15 minutes or whatever time you have reading something, particularly if it’s something sort of uplifting or if we’re thinking about that, this is about setting the tone for the day. Like, can I move my reading up as a part of the morning ritual? So here’s the thing. There are all kinds of stuff that you can do for a morning ritual. It’s asking yourself that question of what is it that’s going to help me set my day up for success? Help me be connected to what’s important, have that positive focus? And do that, whether it’s a little thing or whether it’s a meatier or longer thing, it doesn’t matter. It’s the consistency of doing it day after day.
And I did write a blog about starting your workday because there is sort of another start that happens to your workday. So you have the start when you get out of bed, like in the day, but then if you’re going off to work, there’s also a start to your workday. So I am going to put the link in there too, to that blog that gives you some ideas about, you know, creating a mini ritual about how it is that you start your day at work too. Because again, you’re going to be more focused setting the tone there.
So, for now, it’s homework time because I always want to leave you with a little bit of ‘being and doing homework’ so that you can take these ideas and actually do something with them. It’s great that you’re listening, I love that you’re listening but I want you to work with these ideas. So something to think about, something to try. Your something to think about question for today is I want you to think about your current morning routine, whatever that is. And maybe you don’t even realize, like do I even have a routine? Yeah, you do. There’s a way you engage with the day, at the beginning. So think can think about that. Maybe you might even have to sort of walkthrough, well, what is it that I actually do? Cause it might be so habitual that you aren’t even aware of what you’re doing. So I want you to consider your morning routine and then I want you to be in conversation with yourself about does this start to my day, set me up for success? And there may be pieces of it that do, and there may be pieces of it that don’t. And maybe it’s like, yeah, actually it does. Great. So how can you sort of lean into that? Or maybe there’s something else you can layer in.
And then, something to try. So, we’ve talked about like a bazillion ideas here. Everything from just, you know, taking three conscious breaths to like going for a walk or doing morning pages or whatever. For, the next week, I really invite you to try three conscious breaths. So low investment of time and energy, you’re breathing anyway. I just want you to pay attention to it. So starting with that three conscious breaths, just when you begin your day. And you know, if you’re a keener, then you know, swing your legs over, sit on the edge of the bed, take three conscious breasts, then stand up, take three conscious breaths and see what shifts for you or how does that help you then begin to engage with the rest of what it is that you’re doing.
Neela: Hmm. Interesting. I like it.
Laurel: Cool. So that’s it for today. So just a quick reminder to subscribe wherever it is that you are getting your podcasts. I don’t want you to miss the next episode.
Neela: Keep those comments coming.
Laurel: Yeah, good point. You know, if you go to the show notes and you scroll down, there’s a comment box there and you know, put your comments in like, Hey, what’s your morning ritual? Or you know, what are your obstacles to the morning ritual? And then we can have a conversation and share some ideas. Cause I bet you have things that you maybe do that are like, wow, that’s a cool idea and you’ve shared it and that now we all get the benefit of that. So yes, indeed. Please make sure that you share your comments.
So until next time, lovely ones, let’s just pause, take a breath and go and enjoy this beautiful day that’s in front of you.
Outro: You’ve been listening to The Being and The Doing with your host, Laurel Vespi. If you liked this podcast, stop whatever you’re doing, unless you’re driving, and hit subscribe, leave a review, then share this episode with a friend. Thanks for your support.