One misconception about self-care is that it’s selfish. But the reality is self-care can improve your mental, physical and emotional well-being, help you keep a job, and become more productive. Self-care when done properly can be one of the best ways to start your day.
Self-care is an intentional act that creates a positive impact on one’s well-being overtime whereas self-indulgence is more spontaneous and motivated by emotional decision making that is only temporary. Rather than setting multiple alarms and not having the urge to get out of bed in the morning, practicing self-care will leave you feeling more productive and revitalized to tackle your day.
Here are eight self-care practices to your morning routine:
1. Set Your Days Intention
While this one may seem like a no-brainer, oftentimes many of us are so focused on daily stressors that we don’t stop long enough to be mindful.
Rather than frantically jumping out of bed and rushing to grab a morning cup of coffee before work try setting your day's intention. Think mindfully about how you will show up in every day activities and the energy you want to lead with.
The beauty of setting your intentions is that if you do this everyday the possibilities are endless. The more positive your intentions are, the more positive your attitude will be and you’ll be more likely to accomplish your goals.
2. Stay Off Social Media
This one may be a more difficult habit to break but it will be beneficial to your overall health and well-being in the long-term.
Social media early in the morning can be draining causing more harm than good. According to the Harvard Business Review, “both liking others’ content and clicking links significantly predicted a subsequent reduction in self-reported physical health, mental health, and life satisfaction.”
Taking the time to stay off social media or limiting your phone usage in general can be a restorative activity to improve your mood, concentration, and productivity. This will give you more time to focus on more self-care and check in with your current mental state.
Another self-care activity you can incorporate into your self-care morning routine is meditation. Meditating can help to reduce stress, increase mindfulness and improve immune health.
According to a Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences review, studies found that, “tentative evidence that mindfulness meditation is associated with changes in select biomarkers of immune system activity.”
If you have three to five minutes you can meditate. Make sure to turn off all your distractions and find a quiet space to focus on your breath and calm your mind and body.
4. Journal Your Thoughts
Taking some time to journal in the morning can help you identify negative thoughts and recognize your triggers.
When you journal you are more aligned with your emotions and thoughts which can give you more control over your behavior.
Journaling can help reduce anxiety and depression by giving you tools to find clarity and solve stressful problems. Just putting the pen to paper and letting whatever thoughts come to mind flow out of you can provide a sense of relief and improve your well-being.
5. Practice gratitude
When we take some time to thoughtfully reflect on the things we have in the present moment instead of what we lack we can find more happiness.
Practicing gratitude can help you express more positivity, deal with adversity, focus on good experiences, and build stronger connections with others.
Instead of constantly seeking something new in hopes that it will make you happier, try practicing gratitude by appreciating what is already yours.
Writing down and listing what you are grateful for as well as thanking people who are important to you will give you a more optimistic outlook on life.
6. Positive affirmations
Saying positive affirmations every morning will help you start your day off right. Positive self-talk can help boost confidence and increase productivity using a positive mindset.
Whether you are looking to improve your self-esteem, get a new job or want to take more control of how you spend your day, positive affirmations can help get you there.
Repeating phrases such as “I have all I need to make today a great day” or “I accept myself just as I am” will allow you to release negativity and overcome bad habits.
Finding a book to read that interests you can help improve memory, focus and reduce stress. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes a little reading everyday can go a long way in terms of your mental health.
Studies show that “informal cognitively stimulating activities, such as reading…may lower risk of Alzheimer's-related cognitive impairment and dementia.”
When you read you are able to stimulate your brain early in the day and improve your concentration and health.
A morning stretch will help relieve tension and stress in the body from the night before.
Stretching is a great way to be in tune with your body, increase your blood flow and prepare you for any physical activities you might do throughout your day.
The more you stretch the less likely you’ll feel aches and pains and the more flexible you’ll become. Any movement you can do big or small will help increase your mobility and reduce stress.
While you may not have time to squeeze in every activity into your morning if you try at least a few you are more likely to feel more confident to start your day.
Black, D. S., & Slavich, G. M. (2016, June). “Mindfulness meditation and the immune system: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4940234/.