If, like me, you consider yourself to be a night owl, you’ll understand the perils of early mornings all too well. When you wake up in the morning and pick up your phone to scroll through Instagram only to see how all of the morning people out there have already done a full workout, made fancy porridge, curled their hair and applied their makeup, the pang of guilt can make for quite a negative start to the day.
However, after years and years of pushing my snooze button to the limit and giving myself the 34 minutes of getting-ready time that I know I need, I’m frankly fed up of starting my day off in a flap. Consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic Elena Touroni explains, “If you have a rushed morning, your stress levels are likely to be heightened by the time you start working. This is likely to impact concentration levels, productivity and the quality of your work.”
So to help bring some structure (and zen) to my life, I asked some of the top experts in the business to outline the morning rituals worth considering for a more productive day. Including a thorough skincare regimen and a good old-fashioned stretch, this is the perfect way to start your day, according to the experts.
Make a List
Okay, this is something we can all definitely do. Nothing gets me feeling productive quite like a good list. Sticking to said list is a whole other situation. However, it seems that any downfalls could be a result of when you sit down to write it. Psychologist and author of The Little Book of Self Care, Suzy Reading, explains, “A smooth morning starts the night before. Lay out your clothes and make a to-do list that can wait for you until the morning. Commit it to paper so it doesn’t circle about in your brain.”
This simple but cute notepad makes for the perfect bedside table accessory.
If you like to organise your days a little more thoroughly, this planner is ideal.
Take It Slow
When it comes to actually opening your eyes, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed the minute your brain kicks into gear. The key to a calm start, however, is to overpower the stress. “When you wake, before you start scrolling or let your mind return to your to-do list, think of one thing in your day that you are looking forward to, even if it is sliding back into sheets at the end of it! Feel the energy and optimism this brings. Before you think about hopping out of bed, close your eyes and immerse yourself in your senses. Feel your body cradled by your bed and the comfort of being wrapped up in your covers,” says Reading.
To further minimise the risk of a stressful start, it’s important to reassess the way in which you’re waking up. Michael James Wong, sleep and relax ambassador of Rituals and founder of Just Breathe, advises, “Get yourself a kind alarm clock. Starting the day with a blaring noise isn’t a great way to begin the morning. No one likes the feeling of rushing and urgency before you need to leave.” I’m loving my recently purchased Lumie light, which wakes you up gently by mimicking a natural sunrise.
Waking up in this chic linen bedding from H&M makes for the happiest of mornings.
Wake up gently thanks to this sunrise-mimicking alarm clock. It's totally changed my early morning game.
Your morning skincare routine might feel like yet another thing to add to your stress-inducing list of things to do, but it turns out allowing yourself the time to enjoy it could make all the difference. “Start the day with a loving touch and you’ll get the oxytocin circulating—a calming, feel-good hormone. Our beauty regimen not only helps us feel put-together but changes our brain chemistry,” says Reading.
So what’s the trick? “Rather than slapping it on, tenderly apply your moisturiser, body lotion or makeup. Imbue this action with real care and self-compassion, reminding yourself that you can be your own safe place too,” she says.
The luxurious slip of this balmy cleanser makes it perfect for a quick morning face massage. Plus, it smells divine.
This rich face moisturiser is totally fuss-free, but it will have your skin looking awake and glowing in no time.
No morning skincare routine is complete without an SPF. This one takes away the ick and glides onto skin in the most wonderful of ways.
Make your morning bodycare routine that little bit more joyful with this fresh, neroli-scented lotion. It will leave limbs feeling beautifully soft and smelling heavenly.
Consider Food and Drink
If you don’t consider yourself to be a breakfast person, listen up. Whether you work from a desk, your sofa or are up on your feet all day, the benefits of a nutritious breakfast go far beyond the physical. “Nutrition feeds your mood and mental clarity just as much as your body,” says Reading. “Aim for a good source of protein. Think of it as brain food. Get some good nutrients in with fresh, whole foods. You can’t beat eggs, avocado and a wholemeal carb for sustained energy,” she adds.
And the good news is no one is suggesting you give up your morning coffee or tea. However, it might be worth assessing exactly when you’re consuming it. “Get your caffeine ritual in before noon. Caffeine has a half-life of five to seven hours, so even if you think it doesn’t affect your ability to get to sleep, it is impacting the quality,” advises Reading.
Invigorate the senses with a warm cup of this zingy ginger tea.
With a hint of chocolate and hazelnut, this is one of the most comforting morning brews out there.
Stretch and Breathe
If you wake up and insist on lying in bed for a further half an hour, waiting for your mind to come around, it turns out you’re doing it all backward. "Humans are one of the only species that don’t wake up and immediately have a stretch and move about. We have become sedentary, and so, we must remember to move in the morning,” warns Wong.
The best way to get moving in the a.m.? Reading advises turning your morning stretch into a ritual. “Stand firmly in your grounding and take a deep breath in through your nose, raising your arms outward and up above your head. Look up to your hands and feel this lift your mood. As you breathe out through your nose, slowly lower your arms back down and look forward with a sense of focus,” she says. “Light a candle or spritz some room spray for extra power. Scent can be such a simple way to transform your mood.”
Zingy and citrusy, a few spritzes of this in the morning are enough to turn any bad mood around.
Harnessing the calming scent of green vetiver, this earthy-smelling candle fills the room with the most beautiful aroma before it's even been lit.
This is one of the happiest, feel-good perfumes out there. If you could bottle the smell of citrus fruit, fresh flowers and suncream, Sundazed would be the result.
Finding the time to actually get out of the house before you start the day can be tricky for some currently, but experts warn it is not a ritual to be overlooked. "Get some sunlight and fresh air early in your day. Effortlessly change the vibe in an instant with your own music playlist. Letting light in and surrounding yourself with nature can help boost your circadian rhythms,” says Reading.
Stick on your go-to playlist, pop in these wireless headphones and set off on a walk to invigorate the senses.
Keep track of your step count on your morning walk with this chic smart watch.