Whoever wrote the playbook on “mornings = hustle” has a lot to answer for. Because while you *can* technically rise at 6am and pack in a pre-work jog or email blitz, it’s hardly the most relaxing way to usher in your day.
Instead of racing for the train, or even brushing your hair, 2022 could be the year when you learn to ease yourself into the day. With the return of work from home offering extra breathing space for many of us, a “good” morning routine could now mean dialling down rather than revving up.
If your working day allows it, this golden window of pre-work time could become a opportunity to slow things down and go easy on yourself, reaping the benefits of self-kindness. As always, it’s the little habits that make a difference, too. Small, incremental steps can pave the way to a calmer day overall and even improve the quality of your sleep.
Here are five everyday ways to get you started with a more soothing, friendly morning routine – the kind you’ll actually want to get up for.
Light a citrus-scented candle
There’s something deeply soothing about the ritual of lighting up a candle; especially on a dark winter’s morning. You can take your pick of scents but research shows that citrus aromas are particularly powerful when it comes to easing stress and anxiety.
The smell of lemon, for example, is a proven mood-enhancer, while the scent of mandarin oil is known to promote feelings of positivity; as well as aiding digestion. All in all, an excellent and calming way to begin your day. You could even try some gentle stretches as you go.
Start the day with a warm bath
Many of us are in the habit of earmarking baths for an end-of-day wallow; but you could reverse the routine for a reward first thing. A mere 30-minute soak in a warm bath has a striking effect on wellbeing, according to science, with time in the tub emerging as an undervalued tool in a growing body of research.
By starting your morning with a bath, complete with delicious-smelling bubbles, you are setting the tone for a serene and cosy day ahead. It’s also an ideal slot of time, minus your phone or other distractions, to really be present and unwind for any challenges ahead.
Have your morning coffee outdoors
If you’re grabbing a cuppa on the move, this will happen naturally. But even if you’re at home, it’s a great idea to head outdoors for some quiet time alone under open skies. Better still if you can decant your latte into a flask and head on a quick walk as part of the ritual. That little snippet of me time between waking up and work could make all the difference to your mindset.
Listen to some relaxing classical music
Less stress, better sleep, lowered blood pressure. The health benefits of listening to classical music are well-documented; so much so that Transport for London use it to give stressed-out commuters a mood boost.
And, just as ambient classical tracks are great for getting to sleep, they’re also an unexpectedly soothing way of heralding in a new dawn. Forget a hectic stream of news and instead tune into some tranquil Chopin, or mesmerising Mozart, to get your day started in suitably atmospheric style.
Hit snooze whenever you can
Lots of research out there suggests lie-ins can be beneficial for wellbeing and overall health; but why wait for the weekend to catch some extra shut-eye? With the pandemic sparking a sharp rise in sleep difficulties, many of us struggle to get enough rest time as is. Given how crucial sleep is to energy levels and mood, gifting yourself an extra helping of it can only be a good thing.
So, if you can wrangle it, an extra hour in bed each morning is probably well worth the time lost on any other activity. Plus, if you’re struggling to get out of bed, maybe that is your body signalling that you need more rest time to begin with – a cue you’re best off listening to. Healing, here we come.