How many articles have you read about how the most successful people have an established morning mindfulness routine that includes:

  • Running 5 miles
  • Drinking a green smoothie
  • 30 minutes of meditation
  • Writing in their journal

… all before 7 a.m.?

We’re not all morning people (I certainly am not!) but that doesn’t mean that we can’t start our day with intention. Whether you wake up to the sounds of a child’s voice, a partner’s snoring, or a wet puppy dog nose in your face, you can still focus on your mental and physical wellbeing to start your day.

I often start each yoga class with an invitation for participants to set an intention for something they’d like to experience, cultivate or receive more of both on and off their mats. This is something – a word, mindset, phrase, feeling, etc. – that they can come back to when their minds start to wander.

Every person’s intention is different and can change each time they practice, depending on what they need in that moment.

Using this same principle and setting an intention for each day helps you focus on yourself before the day gets ahold of you. It also gives you something to refer back to you when your mind wanders throughout the day.

Below are my favorite ways to put this into practice.

4 Moments to Start Your Mornings with Intention

1. When you first open your eyes.

Here’s how it normally goes:

  • With your head still on the pillow, you open your eyes and your mind immediately starts to scan through the list of things you need to do that day.
  • You reach for your phone and take in a bunch of information before you’ve had a chance to check in with yourself.

Instead, try:

Move a little and before you get out of bed, take a moment to check in with yourself: How are you feeling mentally? How does your body feel? What would you like to experience (not just do) with your day?

This may be the only time that you’ll have with yourself that day and even if it’s only 5 minutes, it’s time well spent. Over time, checking in with yourself before you spring out of bed becomes a habit of self-compassion and of extending the same care and attention to yourself that you do to others.

2. Standing in front of the mirror.

Your bathroom rituals can become a mindless routine that you do every day or a moment of mindfulness as you focus on each individual task.

Something as simple as washing your face and slowly applying moisturizer, hearing the running shower water, feeling the swish of mouthwash, tasting toothpaste and smelling the scent of your favorite perfume can help you tap into your 5 senses and get out of your head as you slowly prepare to face the day.

3. As you’re getting ready.

Before you step outside your bedroom, take a body scan of how you feel from head to toe. You might also try gentle movements: wiggle your toes, make circles with your ankles, march in place and swing your arms from side to side.

Think of one way that you can care for yourself that day, no matter how small it might seem. Set an intention to do that one thing. It might be as simple as drinking a cup of water with lunch, actually eating lunch, closing your eyes for 5 minutes of mindfulness or taking a walk before bed.

If you get to the end of the day and realize that you didn’t reach this intention, there is always tomorrow. What matters is that you took time to consider your own needs.

4. Before you start your workday.

On a typical workday, what’s the first thing you do when you sit down at your desk? Do you check your email, scan through your to-do list, review your calendar or all of the above?

The day can quickly consume you so it’s important to take a moment to breathe and take in your surroundings, signaling to your body that it’s time to work. This is especially important if you work from home and the lines between personal and work life are blurred.

Before you log on, clear the clutter from your desk and revisit the intention you set at the beginning of your day.

Good news! You don’t have to be a morning person to start your day with intention and mindfulness. Many aspects of your morning routine can be made into a practice of mindful intention.

You may not achieve everything on this list and that’s totally fine – find what works for you and repeat it until it becomes second nature.

If you’re looking to take your mindfulness practice into your workday, check out this article on Practicing Mindfulness at Work.