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Unlocking Inner Peace: A Morning Ritual for Optimal Mental Health

In the realm of mental health, the question often arises: What does it truly mean to be mentally well? While responses like "happiness" and "self-esteem" continue to hold their place, a new sentiment is emerging with increasing resonance: "peace" and "calm."

In a world characterized by ceaseless noise, constant stimulation, the weight of stressors, relentless ambitions, and the unrelenting yardstick of comparison, it appears that tranquility and serenity are now stepping into the spotlight, gaining prominence alongside the cherished ideal of happiness.

When we strive to nurture our physical health, experts routinely emphasize the significance of a wholesome breakfast to stabilize our glucose levels in the morning or the value of morning exercise, given the challenges of finding time later in the day. But what about our mental health and inner peace? Wouldn't it be equally enlightening if the first fuel our internal engine received each day were that of tranquility and serenity?

Undoubtedly, stressors will make their presence felt throughout the day, often unexpectedly and beyond our control. We encounter anxiety triggers in the form of news, social media, unforeseen challenges, or the reactions of other stressed individuals. While we might not be able to prevent these triggers or our initial reactions to them, we can, however, regulate our responses once we identify them.

Perhaps, though, we are overlooking a fundamental step. If we acknowledge that anxiety, the state of alarm, or stress will inevitably manifest during the day, why not commence our journey from a foundation of greater calm and serenity?

Embracing the emotional benefits of commencing our day with less activation of the sympathetic nervous system, we also stand to gain cognitive advantages—how we perceive and interpret the world around us. If we allow our day to begin by focusing on sources of anxiety that undermine our mental health, we are likely to activate what psychologists call the "confirmation bias"—our tendency to seek information that confirms our existing beliefs and perceptions. Consequently, if our day doesn't start with a dedication to cultivating calm and mental well-being, we are more prone to "over-identify" potential threats.

In the absence of cultivating calm and mental health at the outset of our day, we venture into the world with lenses that are scratched and uncomfortable, rather than ones that provide a clear, pleasant perspective.

So, how can we accomplish this? We have no intention of burdening you with yet another obligation or a demanding morning routine. Here are some straightforward steps, each requiring no more than five minutes of your morning:

  1. Mindful Breathing: Find a quiet place, close your eyes, and take 15 deep breaths. Count "1" on each inhalation, "2" on each exhalation, and continue until you reach 30. Observe the air's journey through your nostrils, throat, the rise of your chest, and the expansion of your abdomen. Inhale calm, exhale fears and worries, preparing your mind for a tranquil start to the day.

  2. Morning Gratitude: Reflect on three things you're grateful for related to today, no matter how small. Put them into writing; this act will attune your already calm mind to positive energy. Scientifically proven, morning gratitude practices enhance mood and self-esteem for consistent practitioners.

  3. Light Stretching: Dedicate a couple of minutes to connect with yourself by gently stretching your back, legs, arms, and neck. This stimulates circulation and self-care, awakening your muscles in a gentle manner to greet the new day.

  4. Relaxed Planning: In a world of constant stimulation and ever-evolving standards, it's easy to set countless goals and feel disheartened by unmet expectations. Remember, at the end of the day, you're the sole arbiter of whether you enjoyed or endured it. Allocate a few final moments to jot down only two or three daily priorities. Embrace the day, savoring the knowledge that tomorrow will offer fresh opportunities. Today, focus solely on these priorities, as well as nurturing your calm, well-being, and mental health.

If you find your mood consistently low or live in a perpetual state of alertness, we extend an invitation to explore psychotherapy sessions at our center in Madrid or through online therapy. In the interim, we encourage you to incorporate these five-minute practices into your mornings, either as a remedy or a preventive measure. As we emphasized at the outset of this discourse, mental health encompasses the vital qualities of inner peace and tranquility.

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