Breakfast Souffle & Coffee at Panera Bread

Wake Up to a Morning Ritual

Simple ways to set a positive tone for your day.

You think your mornings are hectic? Check out Jen Hackett’s a.m. routine: She’s up at the crack of dawn to feed the horses at her family farm in Palmyra, Pennsylvania. She scans her e-mail for urgent messages - she’s an in-demand book editor with a busy freelance practice. She takes her two dogs - Sophie and Jasmine - out for a morning walk, checks in on her elderly mom, and prods her teenage daughter Morgan out of bed and off to school. 

And somehow, she veers away from chaos toward a tranquil, productive day. For Jen, it’s all about the morning ritual - and that’s all about Panera Bread®.

After she drops Morgan off at early morning music rehearsal, Jen heads to the Panera Bread bakery-cafe in nearby Hershey, Pennsylvania, for a cup of tea and a pastry or breakfast sandwich. “I’ll often bring work along to do while I’m there,” she says. “I can catch up on e-mails, proofread a couple of chapters, gather my thoughts, and organize my work plan for the day.” Those Panera Bread mornings, she says, always seem to lead to more productive days.

Morning rituals like Jen’s are a great way to start your day, according to Dr. Ramani Durvasula, a clinical psychologist and professor at California State University in Los Angeles. “Ritual grounds us and mentally prepares us for the day,” she says. “It builds a sense of efficacy within us, giving us the sense that we can take on the challenges of the day. With a morning ritual, you start your day from a place of efficacy - so if life throws you a curveball, it’s a lot easier to handle.”

Bet you’d like to trade in the morning chaos for a bit of tranquility. Here are some easy tips from Dr. Durvasula to help you create your own morning ritual.

Examine your morning routine

Because your mornings are often on autopilot, chances are, you have more of a ritual than you realize. “Step back and think about what you already do, what works, and what doesn’t,” she says.

Do something that makes you happy

We tend to think of our morning routines as being very task-oriented. But what about tossing one pleasurable activity into the mix? Send a text that says “ I love you” to somebody you care about, or, like Jen, have a special cup of tea or coffee, spend a few minutes meditating or praying, or take a walk around the block. “That way, you’re starting your day from a position of self-care rather than a position of drudgery,” Dr. Durvasula explains. “Build one small, pleasurable thing into your morning ritual.”

Get organized

To make your morning ritual happen, you need to organize the nuts and bolts of your household. “Figure out ways the structure of your household could be better,” suggests Dr. Durvasula. “If you pack the lunches or lay out the kids’ clothes the night before, you’ll free up your morning. Organize your environment as best you can to leave space for new habits and rituals.”