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Morning rituals: Starting your day off with a positive charge

June 30, 2021
By Bill Howatt

EDITOR’S NOTE: ‘Mental Fitness: The next frontier in workplace mental health’ is a weekly series, in partnership with Dr. Bill Howatt of Howatt HR Consulting in Ottawa. This series takes a deeper look at mental fitness — an approach to prevent mental harm and promote mental health.

Most of us start each day by leveraging a pre-set, automatic morning routine that takes little mental energy to run. These routines are pre-programmed habits we follow from the time we open our eyes until we begin our workday.

Do you feel rushed, tired, and not fully charged as you begin most days? If so, you are not alone; many people start their day mentally tired.

Your mindset — the coloured lens and paradigm through which you view the world — dramatically shapes your emotional well-being and mental health.


Your physical and mental energy levels influence your mental state: the words you say to yourself and those spoken by others, your belief system about your self-worth, and what you spend most of your energy thinking about.

You can positively influence your mindset by developing your mental fitness. Adopting a morning routine designed to sway your mental state is a microskill that can positively influence your mindset. It can charge your mental battery to make better decisions to avoid activities that drain it.

Create your morning ritual

“Creating a positive mindset does not happen by chance; it happens through intention.” — Dr. Bill Howatt

Personal development experts Tony Robbins and Arianna Huffington advocate the positive benefits of adding a mental fitness morning routine to start the day with the right energy and mindset.

Research suggests there are positive benefits to creating a mental fitness morning routine. Included are an increased sense of control, lower stress, good health habits, increased energy, and strengthened relationships.

Before creating your morning ritual, consider the following:

Purpose: How can a mental fitness morning ritual help create a positive mindset?

On average, we have about 25,000 mornings in our lifetime. When we decide to improve our mental state, we accept that each day is unique and an opportunity to improve, learn, and live a fulfilling life. A mental fitness morning routine can help ensure you are not living on autopilot and are proactively impacting your mental state.

Time: How much time is required for an effective morning ritual?

Not a lot. You need a plan and a commitment to follow your routine 90 per cent of the time, whether working or on vacation. You need to train your mental state to be what you want it to be.

An example of a simple, 10-minute morning routine:

  • two minutes in a cold shower to create energy
  • two minutes to write out what you are grateful for
  • two minutes of journaling focused on what you want to accomplish for the day regarding work, life, and mental state
  • two minutes of deep breathing to relax your mind
  • two minutes running on the spot to increase your heart rate.

It’s not how long you do it that counts as much as the quality of your focus and consistency. The 10 minutes spent on your ritual can positively influence your emotions and thoughts to create a positive mental state through habits.

Outcome: How do you want to be feeling and thinking as you start each day?

Yes, this question implies accountability and choice. You can choose if you would like to influence your mindset to directly impact how you interact with the world and your emotional well-being. Your mind will follow your mental energy, whether positive or negative. Too many focus on negativity and end up practicing to become negative. A different outcome requires new habits focused on the kind of mental state you would like to have.

Tips for launching your mental fitness morning routine

Preparation: Know your why, how much time you will dedicate, and your desired outcome. Be specific.

Plan: Create your mental fitness morning routine version 1.0. Make it simple and enjoyable. Picking things whose benefits you are interested in learning about and do not dread trying. Leverage is important.

If you see your morning routine as hard, it will never get anywhere. You must see its benefits and look forward to making it flourish. Get a baseline of your mental state positivity on a scale of one (low) to 10 (high) and measure it weekly.

The goal is to get your mental state as close to 10 as possible, knowing there is no perfection and that positive experience will come with challenges. Your mental state can help you be more prepared.

Begin: Launch your morning routine. For the first 90 days, focus your energy on following your plan and weekly measuring how it is impacting your mental state. It’s your plan; you can add and take things away.

What is important is you are aware and tune in to your thoughts and emotions regarding how taking time each morning can help set up your mind and body for the day.

Dr. Bill Howatt is the Ottawa-based president of Howatt HR Consulting.

If there is a particular microskill or topic you would like to see Dr. Howatt write on that supports employees’ mental health in the workplace, please send your request to Talent Canada editor Marcel Vander Wier.

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