"Make each day your masterpiece." John Wooden

I used to begin my day by pressing the snooze button about four times, scrolling through Instagram and email for a few minutes, dragging myself to the shower, smearing some makeup on my face and running out the door without breakfast. While it might have gotten me out the door in a timely manner, it did nothing for my mental well-being!

Recently I started to begin my day in a more mindful way. I've noticed that when I take time to center myself in the morning, that calm energy reverberates throughout the rest of my day. Morning self-care practices help us stay more calm, centered and focused. In turn, this helps us to be more efficient, effective and creative. Commit to at least one of the below rituals for thirty days and see if your mornings aren't completely transformed.

Below are 5 simple self-care rituals that you can easily integrate into your morning routine:

1. Intention Setting. Before I get out of bed or check my phone in the morning, I like to set an intention. "Intention setting" is different from goal setting. An intention is an expression of our soul's desire for that day. It could be something like: "Allow me to accept what life brings to me with equanimity and grace," "Allow me to make the time to be creative today" or "Provide me the space to take life less seriously today."

2. Meditation. I've written about meditation before, but it bears repeating. I've found nothing more effective to start my day off on a positive note than the practice of meditation. Meditation also has a cumulative effect: the more often you practice, the greater the results. A daily meditation practice has helped me cultivate inner-peace and has given me more access to my creativity.

3. Gratitude. A gratitude list is a great way to both start and end your day. Making the time to jot down three things that you're grateful for every morning is a quick and easy way to connect with your higher self. There is even a journal specifically formatted for writing daily gratitude lists. It's called The Five Minute Journal and I highly recommend it if you're someone who would like to start a gratitude journal but have never done so before.

4. Affirmation cards. I am a huge fan of affirmation cards. Many "self-help gurus" make them, but my favorites are Louise Hay's "Power Thought Cards." Every morning, after my meditation, I like to hold these cards in my hands and ask that I be guided to pick a card that will serve me today. I then close my eyes and shuffle the cards until I feel moved to stop. I pick one out of the deck, open my eyes and read the card. One of things that I like most about these cards is that unlike Tarot Cards, all of the cards in this deck are positive and inspirational.

5. Mindful Eating. Many of us don't take the time in the morning to sit down for five to ten minutes and simply eat our breakfast. And even if we do, it's often in front of the computer or our smartphone. It's a gift to your body and mind to eat mindfully and simply focus on the action of chewing before getting caught up in the daily rat race. We place a huge value on multi-tasking in our culture, but there are enormous mental benefits to single-tasting.

While you often can't control the events in your life, you can help yourself approach your day with some self-care. If we start our day mindfully, we have a much better chance of staying centered no matter what the day brings.

Author's Bio: 

Sarah Koestner is fascinated by how creativity and spirituality overlap. She spent many years as a professional actress and now facilitates others in getting touch with their creative selves, through spirituality, inner-work and the willingness to leap.