How you start your mornings sets the pace and tone for the rest of the day. According to mindfulness and breathwork coach, Zee Clarke, having a morning routine is essential to cultivating self-discipline and staying grounded.
Clarke says that before having an intentional morning routine, the first thing she did every morning was grab her phone. Turning off her alarm clock spiraled into checking emails and notifications, scrolling through social media, and "snoozing" her responsibilities.
Clarke recalls a moment when her morning dose of social media took a terrible turn and destroyed her entire day.
"One time, when footage from police brutality would saturate the news, I got a news notification. I clicked on it and then suddenly I watched 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant get shot and killed by the police, on my phone, in my bed," she tells CNBC Make It. "That's the first thing that I saw waking up in the morning, which ruined my day."
Though being strict about her morning routine has been a "journey," Clarke says making key adjustments to her habits has made her more mindful and productive throughout the day.
Here are 4 important things Clarke says she does every morning:
According to Clarke, taking time to acknowledge how you feel every morning helps you stay self-aware.
"I'll say to myself, "Good morning, Zee? How are you doing? How are you feeling today?" And that can help me understand what's going on with me. I might have woken up tired, so maybe I'll make some different decisions for the day in terms of what I do. Or if I'm happy or overwhelmed or sad, just acknowledging that can allow me to be aware of it so that I can shift my day to take care of myself."
Clarke does her daily check-ins in her head, but feel free to talk aloud in the third person as well.
It's completely normal, and can even help you "build motivation, calm your nerves and analyze situations," according to Cleveland Clinic.
Set an intention for the day
We all have goals or tasks we plan on doing, but push aside to be completed on another day.
According to Clarke, setting an intention for the day is a great way to hold yourself accountable and focus on making those goals happen.
Your intention can be professional, like completing a project or presentation before the day is done, but it can also be a personal one.
"Maybe it's something that you're working on within yourself, like today I'm going to try to be more patient with people, or today I'm going to try to do one act of kindness. If you set an intention on making that happen, you'll make more of an effort to pay attention to those things."
Drink water first thing
Many of us like to wake up with our morning coffee or tea for a boost of energy. However, Clarke says the first she consumes when she wakes up is water, and she urges others to do the same.
Clark shares that "drinking water first increases your energy level, boosts your metabolism, lubricates the joints and minimizes aches and pains. It's also good for the skin and flushes toxins out of your system."
Breathwork and meditation
For all of us, breathing is like second nature. But many people don't know that breathing exercises can help regulate stress, release anger and reduce anxiety.
Clarke uses the three-part breath method to stay grounded and in tune with her body.
"I inhale. I feel the air go through my throat, filling up my chest, filling up my belly, and then as I exhale, the air comes from my belly, through my chest, and through my throat. And when I say those things, "throat, chest, belly," it forces me to breathe slowly."
Clarke also meditates every morning to "clear her head and be present." While meditating, she focuses her mind on specific body parts, starting at the top of her head. As she shifts her focus down through the rest of her body, she's able to relax every part of herself one by one.
"I literally just name the body part in my head and then pay attention to that area. And sometimes I might not even know that I'm clenching my jaw or holding tension in a certain area. So I just go through and and tell myself to relax."
Sign up now: Get smarter about your money and career with our weekly newsletter