They say that the most important meal of the day is breakfast. It gives your body the fuel it needs to start the day right. So it seems to make sense that the most important “mental meal” is first thing in the morning. My “mental breakfast ritual” helps me mind my mind every day. It goes something like this.

My internal alarm is set somewhere between 8-8:30 am. Sleep is a big part of how I mind my mind so I let my body tell me when it’s ready to get out of bed.

“Well, THAT must be nice!” some of you might say.

My short reply. Yes. It is nice.

My wife Linda typically wakes up at an ungodly hour, exercises, takes the dog out, sometimes even goes to the market, and makes coffee before I get out of bed. That’s HER ritual. If her mental breakfast is organic granola, mine is Fruit Loops. There are many a morning when the beeping of the coffee maker is my alarm.

My day usually starts with my “morning constitution”. It’s like clockwork. “Well, THAT must be nice!” some of you might say. Again, yes, it is nice. Remember to appreciate the little things in life.

I then stumble into the kitchen moaning and groaning. This is actually a big part of my ritual. But in my own way I’m releasing pressure and steam. Like you do in yoga class but without the yoga or class part. I’d have to get up early for that. The groaning also sends a message to our dog Rye telling him dad’s up. He clicks up the stairs to greet me in the kitchen and starts whining. Now there is a chorus of groaning and whining. Lucky Linda.

Next is the morning kiss and hug. It’s another way to set the heart right.

After Rye gets his lovin’ I don’t forget Linda. She needs lovin’ too.

I savor the pungent smell of the coffee and slowly pour cream and sugar into it. Every time I do this I think of coffee aficionados judging me and I laugh in my head, ha ha ha, I don’t care! Somehow this makes me feel good. Usually I’ll sit with Linda as we sip our coffee and I’ll ask her about the boat she built while I was sleeping. Seriously though, she’s done so much by the time I get up and she’s bursting to tell me everything that’s in her head. That’s when I need to gently remind her that I need a few minutes. And by a few, I mean thirty.

After my first cup of coffee my day begins to officially start, like that cold engine that keeps turning over and over and then suddenly kicks in. Also kicking in is my second morning constitution. Yes, it is nice. Coffee, you know. By my second cup I am at my laptop clicking on the news. As I’m writing this I realize this is NOT a good part of my ritual. Talk about a buzz kill. Maybe I’ll try clicking on The Far Side website instead. Which brings me to an idea! Write down YOUR mental breakfast ritual. You just might discover something that you shouldn’t be doing (as I just did).

Now, I want to acknowledge that I am fortunate. My work as a graphic designer is very low stress. I make stuff look pretty on paper and computer screens. My biggest stress is attending Zoom meetings, which I don’t do very often. I don’t do meetings well. I sit next to Linda, amazed at her intelligence and speaking skills as she does all the talking while I try to think of something smart to say. I fail miserably by spewing out cliché lines like “well, it’s all across the board…” and “I think the bottom line is…” or use fancy technical design words like “font” or “typeface”.

Sometimes Linda has early Zoom meetings with her clients and doesn’t have time to take the dog out. So occasionally I take Rye out for HIS morning constitution. This would be the last part of my mental breakfast ritual. I like it. It gets me outside and I lamely count it as “exercise”.

The bottom line is (heh, heh) that everyone should have a mental breakfast ritual, whether it’s exercise, quiet meditation, music, reading, or quality time with loved ones. MY ritual lasts about an hour, but not everyone has that kind of time. Even a 5 minute ritual could be a good way to start your day.

It’s all across the board, really.

Mark Quon is a guest blogger and social media administrator for Mind Your Mind Central Oregon.

Photo credit: “Froot loops 0106” by marcia-oc is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0