On Making Mornings Sacred: How To Intentionally Stop Scrolling And Ritualize The Mundane

On Making Mornings Sacred: How To Intentionally Stop Scrolling And Ritualize The Mundane

By Taylor Neal

We all have some form of morning routine, whether intentional or unintentionally.

Some of us start our day by hitting snooze 17 times and letting out a couple of groans before planting our feet on the floor. Maybe you’re a roll out of bed, throw on some clothes, and head straight to work all within 15 minutes type of person, and if it works for you then hey, it works. That quick to be up and out the door lifestyle has never been for me.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved having lots of time in the morning. I have always really valued this sacred, quiet time of day, it’s what most grounds me into myself. I think it’s important to ritualize the mundane in everyday life, so I look at my morning coffee as my personal welcoming of the day ritual. 

What has changed for me in the past year however, has been an intentional shift in what I spend this time in the morning actually doing, or not doing, to create a morning routine that brings me into my most vibrant, glowy self each day.

The shift in my mornings that has had the largest impact on how I feel for the rest of the day, has been my decision to change my relationship to my phone. 

Resisting The Scroll

For years, as I’m sure many of us do, I was a morning scroller. I would wake up, make my coffee, and sit in bed for at least half an hour responding to texts and emails, and scrolling various social media platforms, while I woke up and let the caffeine take effect in my body. 

As my work days are usually quite full and busy, I always felt that this time in the morning was when I got to indulge in the online world and mindlessly giggle at reels and memes from my friends. I felt there was no harm in having an hour of mindless media consumption before I had a list of obligations to attend to. And I was right, there is no shame in it. 

But I never really took the time to consider how this immediate consumption of social media as soon as I opened my eyes, was affecting how I felt throughout the rest of the day. Perhaps I was choosing not to consider it, ignorance can be bliss afterall. 

I have read several studies by reputable publications such as The Yale School of Medicine, The Government of Saskatchewan, The University of Queensland, and many more, that have come to the conclusion time and time again that screen time affects our mental health, causes us to internalize external conflicts, lowers self esteem, and so many more implications. I just never thought some mindless morning scrolling could actually be impacting me. 

The first time I gave my morning routine proper thought was when I was living in a cob house in a garden in California, where I didn’t get wifi or phone reception in my bedroom. To access the internet I had to venture into the main house. This severely disrupted my ritual of morning coffee cozy in bed, so I opted for reading in bed while I drank coffee instead. 

Immediately, I noticed a difference in the way I felt starting the day. Firstly, I noticed time went by much slower. 

When I spent my mornings scrolling, somehow 45 minutes would fly by in an instant. All of a sudden I would be rushing to get out the door because I had been so consumed by my phone. This always felt silly, because I intentionally gave myself so much time, and somehow I was alway still running late? When I opted for reading instead, I felt the clock was somehow moving slower, and I was ready to get up and start my day in half the time it took when I was on my phone. 

I also found myself beginning each day feeling much more clear headed in general. 

When I jumped right into responding to texts and scrolling my IG feed, I felt before I had brushed my teeth like my head was already moving in 35 different directions, and it wasn’t uncommon to feel the tension of anxiety in my chest as I got ready for the day. Without my phone, I began the days quietly, not only in the physical space, but quiet mentally as well. 

Honestly, I attribute this clear minded state, untainted by morning social media, to the way poetry would come to me during that two month period. I wrote my entire poetry collection, My Body Is An Orchard, during that time. 

Side Effects of Scrolling 

When I got back into the city that fall though, naturally my phone habits gravitated back toward the morning scroll routine for a while. 

The first thing I noticed once I was back on socials in the mornings was something I hadn’t expected at all; a giant drop in my self esteem. When I was beginning my day with my thoughts and feelings only, I felt so confident and secure in my body - there was nothing else to worry about during my sacred time, my mind was peaceful. 

The second I started going straight to my phone again, I found myself second guessing everything about my life, as soon as I opened my eyes. Subconsciously, I was sitting there trying to prepare for my day, comparing myself to everyone else on the internet, suddenly feeling like I needed to cut my hair and buy an entire new wardrobe and change careers and do more with my life. I started questioning everything immediately each day, which brought the anxiety right back into my chest while I brushed my teeth and rushed to get out the door, running late again too. 

After a month or so, I made the intentional decision to go back to phone-free mornings. I decided to turn my phone off overnight, only to turn it back on once I had grounded into my body and gone through the rest of my morning routine. Of all the practices I have integrated and released over the years, this decision has been one of the most pivotal, and lasting, shifts for me. 

Instead Of Scrolling

Similarly to the first time I was without my phone in the mornings, the first thing that happened when I made this intentional shift was that I found myself with so much more spaciousness in the mornings. I was still waking up at the same time, but time seemed to move slower without my phone distracting me, which gave me more time to indulge in other practices, such as stretching, writing in my journal, or having more fun with choosing my outfit. 

Instead of my phone, I now reach for:

  • A consistent 20-minute morning yoga routine that I had only ever dreamed of having time for on weekdays in the past. The gentle movement and body connection allows me to feel where I’m at physically that day, and it helps release any tension or anxiety before I start moving at a quicker pace. 
  • Indulging in my skincare routine, which is relatively new for me. I’ve gone through phases with using products and then rejecting all products over the years, and at different times in my life both avenues have felt equally aligned, but now that I have extra time in the morning I am finding it quite therapeutic and joyful to indulge in self care in a slow, careful way. 
  • Using my Gua Sha on my face recently, it makes me feel like I’m glowing. 
  • Pulling tarot cards to spend some time reflecting before I get going.
  • Writing in my journal whatever comes to mind first thing (Morning Pages practice).

And honestly, some days, I like to just spend a little longer cuddling with my partner before I get moving, because intimacy is also extremely nourishing. 

Now this is not to say that my morning routine is superior, we will all find things that feel good for us to begin our day. The goal in my writing this piece, is really just to remind you that you deserve to begin each day feeling like the most vibrant, nourished, peaceful, version of yourself, so if you ever find yourself with morning anxiety like I did, perhaps it could be beneficial to re-evaluate how you’re welcoming each day. 

Suggestions For Morning Practices To Integrate This Year

If you’ve found yourself resonating with the idea of ritualizing your mornings instead of scrolling into your days, below are some suggestions for practices to integrate as we enter a new year. At the foundation of all of these practices, really, is to find some sort of mind-body connection to help ground you into your body before starting your day. 

The goal, ultimately, is to quiet the mind so we can hear the body, learn what is needed by the body, and move into our day with a connection to the body that feels nourishing and clear. Without sounding too buzz-wordy, the goal really is to begin the day with mindfulness. 

Here are just a handful of ways to move in that direction: 

  • Morning Pages: A writing practice founded in free writing, where you reach for a journal each morning rather than your phone and write down anything that comes to mind (about your dreams, your feelings, your day ahead etc) for an allotted period of time (roughly 5-10 minutes)
  • Reading: I mentioned this one already as my go-to, because I have always been an avid reader and I enjoy the way what I read in the mornings impacts how I think and go about my day. I also enjoy how much reading I get done. 
  • Morning Meditation: A great way to silence the mind and check in with the body and spirit. There are some great apps such as Calm or Insight Timer that offer wonderful guided morning meditations. 
  • Self Lymphatic Massage: This is a form of gentle self-massage that helps the drainage of the body’s lymph nodes and the movement of lymph fluids around the body, which aids in the feeling of glowiness in the skin and releasing of tension in the body. There are lots of examples available online to guide you in this practice.
  • Gentle Morning Yoga: Like I mentioned, this doesn’t have to be anything too involved. Just some gentle stretching and deep belly breaths will bring you into gradual connection with your body as you start your day. 
  • Masturbation: It can be so juicy and healing to begin your day with a solo sex session, to connect immediately to your body and pleasure in a safe, intuitive way. Try taking the pressure off of bringing yourself to orgasm, and instead enjoy the sensations of self touch, slowly, as your body wakes up. 
  • Ritualizing The Mundane: Everything can become a ritual if you make it one. Try looking at washing your face, brushing your teeth, having your shower, getting dressed, packing your lunch, and whatever other tasks need to be done in the morning as each their own ritual. What happens when you become intentional about these actions? If they each have their own chunk of time and structure to inhabit? Do your outfits become more playful? Does your lunch become more nourishing? How does the warm water feel on your skin in the shower? 

Whatever feels nourishing for you in replacing the scrolling is valid and important, so I encourage you to have a check-in with yourself; what do you wish you had time for in the mornings? How can you ritualize your morning routine?


Taylor Neal (They/She) is a Canadian multidisciplinary artist, writer, yoga and dance instructor and frontline sexual assault response worker, who uses creation and multimedia to gain deeper understandings of authentic human experience. Practically, Taylor combines their background in dance and performance, their passion for the written word, and their curiosity within contemporary visual art and photography, with their studies in Communications, Art History, Feminist Theory and Design for Theatre at Concordia University, and Fashion Design at RMIT University. Their cumulative artistic, somatic, and literary practice comes together as a holistic exploration of identity, movement, sexuality, and how the embodied subject navigates space and the natural world.


Further Reading

5 Ways to Practice Self Care for Free

How To Cope With Stress & Live In the Moment words by Griffin Wynne (they/them)

How to Stay Sane When You’re Feeling Overwhelmed

5 Ways to Feel More Confident Naked 
7 Simple Ideas to Sexify Your Self Care Routine

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