A healthy morning ritual can set you up for a successful day. Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

The Importance of Morning Rituals: Q&A With Our Wellness Experts

Starting the day off with the right morning ritual can set us up for success throughout the rest of our day. But what does it take to build a successful morning ritual? How do healthy morning habits influence productivity, energy, and emotions? Whether we know it or now, each of us has our own set of morning rituals, and in this article, we will explore how to make the most of the morning, look at practical examples, and see how our Wellness Experts start their days off.

A healthy morning ritual can set you up for a successful day. Photo by Julian Hochgesang on Unsplash

The phrase ‘so-and-so must have woken up on the wrong side of the bed’ is a perfect example of how important the first moments of our day can be. Whether we finish the day with plenty of energy and little stress or hit the bed exhausted at the end of the day having pulled out half of our hair from dealing with stress often depends on the choices we make in the first hours of the day.

And, while it’s not necessary to follow the exact same steps day after day, building healthy morning habits and following a morning ritual can help us to have more energy, less stress, and feel more fulfilled.

But what exactly do healthy morning habits look like? Let’s take a look:

Table of Contents

How Different Activities Affect Us Throughout the Day

A morning ritual is built from a combination of choices that affect us throughout the entire day. From what time we wake up, to what we eat, to the decision to work our or read the newspaper, every choice we make in the mornings is an opportunity to set ourselves up for success.

There are many activities that you can do to create your own morning ritual. Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash

Learn to Love Your Morning Alarm (Even on the Weekends)

As much as you might hate the sound of your alarm in the morning, sticking to a schedule and waking up at the same time every day helps your body’s internal clock know when its time to transition out of deep sleep cycles and into a lighter cycle, making it easier to wake up without feeling groggy in the morning.

A Healthy Breakfast for a Sharp Mind and Plenty of Energy

It’s often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day… and this isn’t just some marketing technique invented by companies trying to sell you more bacon and eggs. Having a healthy breakfast can give your body and brain plenty of nutrients and energy to make it through the day without feeling so tired. And including healthy items high in fiber can also help you to feel fuller for longer, making it easier to resist those unhealthy ‘snacks’ that might be sitting in the office breakroom.

Proper Personal Hygiene Helps You Start Your Day Feeling Fresh

While it might seem like common sense that showering and brushing your teeth every morning is a good habit to have, personal hygiene goes far beyond simply making sure you fix your bedhead. Starting the day with a fresh shower, and making sure you take care of personal grooming and getting dressed appropriately for the day can help you feel confident and calm.

Working Out Might Help You Feel More Energetic

Our bodies have evolved over millions of years to be efficient with how we use and store energy. The thing is… our bodies main mechanism for ‘efficient’ use of energy is to put our bodily systems on standby when they aren’t in use, so it has plenty of energy left over when we need it… systems like digestion, healing, and more. But when we work out regularly, our bodies know that at some point soon, we will be expending lots of energy so instead of shutting down, it keeps things idling at a slow burn throughout the whole day, meaning you have more available energy.

Practicing Mindfulness Can Help You Feel Calm and Balanced

Meditation, journaling, breathing exercises, any kind of mindfulness exercise really, can help you to feel more relaxed, balanced, and in control. By spending a few minutes each day organizing your thoughts and emotions, it can become much easier to deal with stress and unexpected events throughout the day.

Successful Morning Rituals from Our Resident Wellness Experts

But there is no single morning ritual that works for everyone. Each person is different and has unique physical and mental strengths and weaknesses to consider. While one person might prefer to work out first thing in the morning, another may find that just doesn’t work as well for them.

To highlight how different morning rituals can be from person to person, we have asked the hosts of our Video Coach sessions about how they start their day and how morning rituals affect their mental, physical, and emotional performance throughout the day.

Here’s what our resident Wellness Experts had to say:

Brendan: Starting the Day with Calm and Balance

CogniFit Video Coach – Brendan

Q: What does “Morning Ritual” mean to you?

“Because “neurons that fire together wire together”, I focus on establishing a series of habits that benefit me and help reinforce important cognitive areas. If you create a ritual of beneficial actions that you carry out every day, it becomes effortless rather than an act of will. So, we carefully design a series of habits. They are the habits that are most useful.”

Q: What is the very first thing you do when you wake up?

“I meditate using the Zazen technique. After that I have my coffee and check my plan for the day, which I make the night before. I then have breakfast and take time to watch videos connected to my job, so that means I watch a lot of psychology and philosophy. I will generally work for an hour or so and then I go to the gym. I do boxing most days, after that, I will typically do Qigong for half an hour and then head back home. After than I’m working all day. Of course, after that comes the evening ritual – Another meditation and I plan my next day (on my google calendar).”

Q: What is your perfect weekday breakfast to get you ready for a productive day? What would be your perfect weekend breakfast for a day full of outdoor activities?

“I like this question. During the week, I alternate between oatmeal (filled with fruit) and fruit. At the weekend, it’s one day fruit and one day… wait for it… bacon and eggs. Hey, it’s only once a week.”

Q: Do you check the news, listen to podcasts, or read books as part of a morning ritual?

“I used to be big on the news, but I decided that it was becoming an unhealthy habit. So much ‘news’ is designed to make you feel angry or stressed about the topic de jour, so I gave it up. I do however enjoy listening to Podcasts as part of my morning ritual. There are many podcasters or youtubers that offer great material. But I always focus on listening to or watching content that gives me a step up in my job or that gives me a perspective that can be applied to the betterment of life. As for books, that certainly COULD be a part of a morning routine but for me that is something I prefer to do during my commute on public transport or as part of my ‘wind down’ time in the early evening.”

Q: How does your morning ritual change from weekdays to weekends?

Well, I like to take my time on the weekends. I can spend more time doing my meditation, reading, studying, and going to the gym. It makes for a much more relaxing morning ritual when I can spend half the morning on it.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about your ‘morning ritual’?

I have just re-introduced journaling to my routine… it’s so new that I am still figuring out how best to fit it in to my current routine. It isn’t a habit yet. But it is one of the healthiest things I think you can do. At first you might think ‘Oh, but I’m not a writer, I wouldn’t know what to say!’ but soon you sit down with your pad and a thousand thoughts pop out of the darkness of your mind and clamor to be heard. It makes for interesting reading too. It creates a portal for the unconscious mind to express itself. Each word you write seems to invite another. You’d be amazed what comes out. For this, it’s nice to have a comfortable writing desk… and a coffee. It’s so relaxing.” 

Cristina: The Early Bird Gets the Worm (and Plenty of Energy)

CogniFit Video Coach – Cristina

Q: What does “Morning Ritual” mean to you?

“For me a morning ritual means a practice dedicated to your well-being. A moment that you dedicate to yourself.”

Q: What categories of activities (food, exercise, hygiene, reading, etc.) should be considered as part of a ‘morning ritual’?

“Mind, body, spirit & soul are what I feel should be prioritized for holistic health & balance. An activity for your mind that allows mental stimulation and focus, an activity for your body that consists of movement and energy to be created, & an activity for soul where you can tune into your inner-world, and an activity for spirit where you can receive guidance and inspiration for your day.”

Q: What is the very first thing you do when you wake up?

“I hydrate and begin with setting an intention for the theme of my day.”

Q: Do you do any type of exercise or workout (cardio, yoga, weights, etc.) in the morning?

“Yes, I attempt to do a yoga or movement practice.  It varies between yoga flow or cardio—depending on what my body is asking for. I let my choice of movement practice be very intuitive.”

Q: Do you do any type of mindfulness or meditation in the mornings?

“I enjoy putting the band Muse on the stereo and doing meditation and track my brain waves.”

Q: What is your perfect weekday breakfast to get you ready for a productive day? What would be your perfect weekend breakfast for a day full of outdoor activities?

“I am a huge fan of intermittent fasting, so I usually begin with a smoothie before introducing any meals into my day.  For brunch this often includes avocado toast on sourdough and a ‘liver rescue’ smoothie (dragon fruit, banana, blueberries, raspberries and mineral water).”

Q: Do you check the news, listen to podcasts, or read books as part of a morning ritual?

“When I am inspired, I do like to read my book and listen to a Spotify playlist of upbeat music to help me get energized. I avoid engaging with the news in the mornings and try and dedicate one hour without looking at my phone.”

Q: How does your morning ritual change from weekdays to weekends?

“I am definitely more disciplined Monday to Friday due to my working hours and schedule—so my morning rituals begin from 8-9am before I begin my work activities.”

Q: Is there anything else you would like to share about your ‘morning ritual’?

“My morning ritual is mine. I suggest you create yours around what inspires you to feel good.”

As you can see, the choices we make each morning play an enormous role in how we feel throughout the day. Making healthy choices and building better habits can create a virtuous cycle that helps us feel more productive, more energetic, and less stressed.

Luckily, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to what makes a great morning routine. So for those of us who find it impossible to wake up early (and I’ll not even mention trying to skip that morning coffee), having a healthy breakfast and practicing mindfulness exercises can still make a huge difference.

(But you should really try to stop pressing snooze on that alarm… Yes, even on Saturday.)