This critical hour sets the tone for your entire day.


The Most Important Hour of the Day

For so many, our day begins like this. An blaring alarm clock jolts us awake at an early hour, and we wave our hands in the dark to hit the snooze button. Just 10 more minutes, right? Then, we press snooze a few more times, calculating in our heads just how much time can be saved by cutting down what needs to be done before we head out the door. Who needs a five-minute shower when it can be done in two? That healthy morning smoothie we were going to make? A doughnut at the office will do just fine. We become increasingly anxious, and are dipping in and out of a half-conscious state. Finally, we realize we’re past the point of no return, jump out of bed, do the bare minimum to get ready, and rush out the door in a state of panic. It’s not even 8am, and we’re already stressed out.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We are in control of our lives and the minutes, hours, and days that make up our lives. This first hour of the day is the most important hour, as it sets the tone for the entire day ahead. So let’s change it. When we start strong, we pave the way to go strong and end strong, but it all begins with hour number one.

Of course, there are myriad reasons to feel overwhelmed these days. In the era of business that never sleeps, constant family demands, social media bombardment, financial strain, political disillusion, and poor health, it’s no wonder that we, as a country, are exhausted and anxiety-ridden. But this is the world we live in today, so we need to focus inward and take the best possible care of ourselves in order to thrive amidst whatever life throws our way.

So how do we begin our day feeling calm, energized, and happy? It starts with creating a morning routine that makes us feel our best and propels us into a spectacular day ahead. We may need to go to bed and wake up slightly earlier to create the space to make this happen, but the rewards are extraordinary. After experiencing a morning ritual that is actually pleasurable and something you even look forward to, you’ll never want to go through that crazy, frantic
start to your day again.

Here’s how the first hour of my day looks. It took some fine-tuning (I now try to be in bed by 11pm during the week so my mornings can be as relaxed and enjoyable as possible), but this first-hour ritual is what lays the foundation for a healthy,
happy, productive day.

Colleen's Morning Ritual:

  1. Wake Up Naturally. This may not be something you can implement right away, but I believe in waking up naturally instead of being jolted out of bed by an alarm clock. I’ve been waking up this way for 15 years, and, for me, it is the most critical element of my morning routine. The key is to get on a schedule where you go to bed at approximately the same time each night and get the full amount of sleep your body needs (I love eight hours). Your body will then act as its own alarm clock, and you will wake up feeling refreshed and invigorated for the day ahead. Even when I’m out late or have trouble falling asleep, my body is so accustomed to waking up at a certain time that I still wake up when I need to. And there’s a bonus to getting the sleep we need—
    we become less dependent on things like caffeine and sugar to get
    us through the day!

  2. Practice Gratitude. After opening my eyes, I spend five or 10 minutes in bed thinking about all of the things I am grateful for in my life. Since I typically feel rested and energized at this point, reflecting on the good in my life (and what I have to look forward to) is another way I set the stage for the rest of my day. By starting out with positive thoughts, I am already in a good place.

  3. Drink Lemon-Vinegar Tonic. Years ago, I read about the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, and it always intrigued me. So last year, I decided to incorporate a daily tonic of fresh lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and warm water—and now I love it! Studies show that it restores alkalinity in the body, is a natural antibiotic, lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, clears up skin, and even whitens teeth. Regardless of the claims, it makes me feel good and jumpstarts my metabolism, so it’s now a part of my morning routine.

  4. Take Walk or Run. On days that I work from home, I always head outside for an invigorating walk or run—ideally in a park or on the beach. Being in nature and breathing fresh, morning air is a wonderful way to get my body moving and ready for the day ahead. If I’m working at the office, I incorporate walking as part of my commute.

  5. Enjoy a Hot, Steamy Shower. Yes, I love hot showers and like to make them feel like a mini spa session (after all, every day can feel luxurious!). Before taking a shower, I use a dry skin brush to increase circulation, stimulate my lymphatic system, and exfoliate dead skin cells—and it feels amazing! I then shower, shampoo, and shave using clean, plant-based beauty products (more on that in the near future).

  6. Use Natural Beauty Care. I’m a huge fan of coconut oil and use it in many different ways. After showering, I rub coconut oil all over my body and then do my hair and makeup using chemical-free vegan products. I am somewhat of a minimalist and try to keep things simple, but I definitely have some favorites that I’ll be sharing with you soon!

  7. Eat a Healthy Breakfast. At this point, I feel great and am ready for a delicious, healthy breakfast. If I am going into the office, I’ll have my smoothie (check out my current go-to blend, my Best Superfood Smoothie) while briefly checking my email, social media feeds, and news headlines. If I’m working from home, I’ll often have a bowl of organic grapefruit, blueberries, raw almonds, and goji berries before having my smoothie an hour or two later.

  8. Prepare a Healthy Lunch. If I am bringing my lunch to the office, I’ll pack some chopped vegetables and a baked sweet potato, a bowl of soup and grains, or leftovers from dinner. A few times a week, I’ll replenish my office stash of fresh-pressed juices, raw nuts, and fruit to keep me energized throughout the day. I’m all about making healthy food fast, so I pull together my lunch and snacks in less
    than 10 minutes.

  9. Head Out the Door! After a good night’s sleep, waking up naturally, a morning walk, a natural beauty routine, and a healthy breakfast, I am ready to take on the day and manage whatever stressful situations come my way. I know there will be plenty, but I have laid the foundation to be strong, energized, and live as fully as I can.

As I get older, I want more joy and less stress in my life. Creating a first-hour ritual that sets the tone for the rest of my day helps me achieve that. I hope I can inspire you to create your best morning routine. Remember, minutes turn into hours, hours turn into days, and days turn into our lives, so let’s ensure the way we begin our day is the best expression of ourselves.