The Benefits of a Morning Ritual

I used to be a serious night owl and when I had to get up at a time I considered early—before 8:30 or so—I started the day in a really terrible mood, which often enough would last for hours. As I have worked for myself for decades, that wasn’t much of an issue for the longest time. But when I moved to the U.S., bringing a lot of German business with me—in other words, clients now in a time zone nine hours ahead of me—I had to wave goodbye to my routine of going to bed and getting up late. With what felt like an incredible amount of discipline and willpower, I changed my schedule to get up around 6:30 am, but I can tell you, you wouldn’t want to be around me before ten or so because I was just the grumpiest person ever.

But since those sad—and quite honestly, terribly exhausting—days, things have changed a lot, and for the better. That’s because I made a single important change: I established a morning ritual. Sounds too good to be true? Not so. It’s really that simple. And believe me, if I can do it, anybody can. Seriously, most days now I fly out of bed right after my 6 am alarm because I am so excited to start a new day.

If you are wondering whether a morning ritual may be a good idea for you as well, here’s what you need to know:

What is part of a morning ritual?

Pretty much anything that brings you joy and/or peace of mind is a good option. That can be doing sun salutations, sitting outside with your cup of coffee or tea to watch the sunrise, meditating, reading a book you love, journaling, going for a run… whatever makes you feel good and allows you to connect with yourself and the world before the everyday hustle and bustle begin. And please be kind to yourself: It may take some experimenting and tweaking before you find a ritual that really works for you. (Also be kind to other members of your household who may need a while to get used to and respect the time you take for yourself.)

How much time should a morning ritual take?

There’s no ‘should.’ It’s completely up to you and, realistically speaking, your schedule. My morning ritual takes a good 30 minutes, plus another 30 minutes to walk the dog—so I am awake for about an hour before I am ready to face the world. It also depends on how much earlier you are willing to set your alarm. Personally, I still can’t wrap my head around getting up before 6 am, so expanding my morning ritual is not an option for me at this point. But who knows? Maybe by next year, I’ll have transformed into one of those magical creatures who jump out of bed at 5 am chipper as a bird and calm as a Buddhist monk. Miracles do happen, so let’s wait and see …

When do I know if the morning ritual is doing the trick?

Sometimes a small change makes a huge difference right away. For me, that was not checking emails first thing in the morning. I immediately felt more relaxed. Other things can take a little longer. Morning journaling, for instance, may not feel beneficial for a while before suddenly the deep insights start pouring out on the page. Trust your intuition and give yourself some time before dropping something or discontinuing the experiment altogether. If you strike gold with your morning me-time, it has the magic power to change your entire day.

Oh, in case you’re curious about my specific morning ritual: I get up, say a few gratitudes and affirmations, put the kettle on, and meditate until the water is boiling (yep, I love efficiency). Then I grind beans, make a pour-over, and write my morning pages. My second cup of coffee comes along to the park when I walk the dog. By the time I’m back, I am usually wide awake, in an excellent mood, ready to start my day, and prepared to interact with other humans.

Do you have a morning ritual? I’d love to hear about it! Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments.