How you spend the first five minutes after you wake up sets the tone for the rest of your day – including your time in the saddle. Modern technology has made it easy to turn off our alarm clocks and reach for our smartphones. Studies show that checking social media in the first half hour of your day leads to an increase in depression.
Rather than reaching for your phone and mindlessly scrolling through other people’s lives, what if five minutes could change the whole outcome of your day? What if you suddenly had abundant energy first thing in the morning – even if you are not a morning person?
As a small business owner and equestrian, my life is busy, and I rarely take time for myself. My lifestyle requires me to be a morning person, so I came up with a ritual that takes only five minutes but sets my day on a positive course. It clears my mind and increases my energy so that I feel like I can take on anything. This is the easy routine I use to start my day on the right track.
Minute 1: Meditation
Before you open your eyes, spend the first minute of your day meditating. Lay on your back in your bed with your hands by your sides and your legs shoulder-width apart. Breathe in deep through your nose and out through your mouth. Count your breaths and clear your mind.
Meditation is a very powerful tool that is underused by equestrians. Spending the first minute of your day mediating grounds you and gives you inner peace. Most importantly, it makes you present. Too often we find ourselves lost in the thoughts in our heads rather than focused on what is happening in the “real world.” I am especially guilty of this in the saddle. Starting my day with meditation keeps me more in the world and less in my head.
Minute 2: Stretching
Gently bring yourself out of your meditation and open your eyes. Without getting out of bed, move your body and stretch your limbs. You can do any combination of stretches that feels right for you, but stay laying in bed to do them.
I like to work from my head to my toes. I start by tipping each ear to my shoulder and then my chin to my chest. Then I cross one arm across my body for a shoulder stretch, and repeat with the other arm, followed by wrist rolls both directions. I bring one knee to my chest and cross it over my body for a back and glute stretch. Repeat with the other leg. I end my stretching with ankle rolls and flexing and pointing my toes. If my abdominal muscles are tight, I roll onto my stomach and push myself into cobra or upward facing dog.
Stretching gives me the chance to evaluate my body for the day. Am I stiff? Do I have pain anywhere? This makes me more self-aware so that I know how much my body can handle today and where I should focus my energy.
Minute 3: Gratitude
Everything in the Universe is energy, including your thoughts. What you think about is what you will attract into your life – either positive or negative. Gratitude shifts your mindset from a state of lack to a state of abundance.
I keep my Live Whale Planner (buy it here) and Pilot G2 pens (buy it here) on my nightstand. My Live Whale Planner has space every day to write three things I am grateful for. I do this first thing in the morning to remind myself how far I have come and how good my life is. Even when things are rough I always find three things I am grateful for.
Minute 4: Inspiration
Always be continually learning. I want to be a little better every day than I was the day before, so I spend my fourth minute reading inspirational words. Although you could choose an app to give you a daily inspirational message, I avoid touching my phone in the morning. I prefer to read a book.
These are my top picks.
Inspirational Horse Books:
Other Inspirational Books:
Minute 5: Increase Your Heart Rate
The final minute of your five-minute morning routine gets your blood flowing. This increases your metabolism and energizes you for the day. When our ancestors were chased by predators, they did not do a moderate 45-minute cardio routine to escape. They ran as hard as they could for a minute or so to escape death. Our bodies are designed for short bursts of intense exercise, so go all-out for the whole minute.
Jump out of bed and start some enthusiastic cardio. This can be any movement you choose. I do jumping jacks, but other options are high-knees, burpees, pushups, or sit ups. As long as you keep moving, anything goes! Be sure to move intensely for the whole minute.
Start Your Day
After my five-minute morning routine, I officially start my day by jumping into a cold shower. I will admit that at first this was miserable, but this little habit has given me so many benefits that I stick with it. A cold shower increases your alertness and your metabolism. Studies show that this habit alone can help your body lose up to nine pounds a year! Yes, I would rather linger in a hot shower, especially on a cold day, but as a small-business owner and equestrian I have a lot to accomplish, and the right routine helps me get everything done. The cold shower is an important part of this.
Taking five minutes for yourself at the beginning of the day sets you up for success. Meditate, stretch, feel gratitude, be inspired, and get your heart pumping, and the benefits will put you in the right mindset for success in the saddle and everything else you do.
How do you start your day? Let me know in the comments below!
Welcome! I've been a freelance writer since 2002 and have numerous horse-related articles published in print and online publications. I have a Bachelor of Science degree from Rocky Mountain College with a major in Equestrian Studies and a minor in Business Management. My current business ventures include High Plains Arena and real estate investing.