The Power of a Morning Routine
Too many people wake up each day to a barrage of responsibilities that dictate the flow of their mornings. For example, you need to make yourself breakfast, get ready for work, and if you have kids or pets, you need to care for them - take them to the bathroom, ensure they are fed, and the list continues. Sound familiar? We’ve been there, and the truth is this laundry list of morning chores can be simplified so that you can handle everything on your plate each morning AND have a moment just to breathe and enjoy that cup of joe before you’re on the go. This might sound too good to be true, but I can assure you it’s not. It all starts with a healthy self-care routine.
The perfect morning routine will help promote wellness, decrease your stress levels, and make you successful for the rest of the day. From avoiding social media to drinking water and listening to a podcast, there are various steps you can take to create a morning routine that works for you.
Below, I share some of my healthy morning habits, as well as tips and tricks for creating a routine that sticks — and what to do when you falter. Some of the habits in my routine will resonate with you, while others may not. So as you read on, keep in mind your own lifestyle and health goals, so you can create a morning routine that will work best for you.
Make your alarm work with you, not against you
The first step to kicking your day off right is adjusting your sleep schedule to ensure you have enough time in the morning for yourself and your responsibilities. For example, if your kids get up at 6:30 a.m., this means getting up before them. Or, even if you don’t have kids or pets to care for if you usually get up at 7 a.m. to scramble out the door by 7:30, it’s time for you to start your days earlier. That said, sleep is important – don’t slack on the number of hours you get in at night – complete those REM cycles and adjust not just the time you wake up, but the time you hit the pillow. A.K.A, there is nothing healthy about being sleep deprived, so aim to get at least seven hours of sleep.
Ease all the way in
Working for myself has made it easy to lull myself out of sleep because I am not rushing into the office. Whether you have this option or not, easing into your morning can instantly help you feel more motivated to open your eyes and let your body properly wake up when you have some time to lounge in bed without jumping up. After a few minutes of lounging, I suggest following these steps:
- Open your curtains or blinds and let the natural light energize you. Exposure to sunlight in the morning can improve your alertness and energy during the day.
- Put some upbeat tunes on, even if it’s just background coffee noise – just trust me on this one.
- Do some light stretching to get your blood flowing.
These small things can help you start the day in a positive mood rather than feeling stressed about getting up and out the door. And remember, no one is perfect; if you miss a day, that’s okay; try again tomorrow.
Research shows that those who eat breakfast have more energy than those who wait until lunch to eat. While coffee will help jolt you awake, your body will eventually crash without food. You don’t need to feast first thing in the morning — a healthy snack and lots of water are all needed to start the day. My go-to’s consist of matcha, greek yogurt and berries, protein banana pancakes with a smear of peanut butter, or avocado toast. Think quick but delicious and hearty, as this truly is the day's most important meal.
Breathe in a new day
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? If you are like me, you might have answered, “Reaching for my phone.” If that’s you, how many minutes do you spend each morning scrolling and potentially letting stress build first thing due to what you find on the news, social media, or checking messages and work emails? I am still working on this tip, but I think it is timely and relevant for all of us to try incorporating and stepping in our morning routines to set the tone of the day ahead. How have I begun tackling this? First, I leave my phone downstairs on the charger versus on my nightstand and within reach. Another thing I have tried is making a deal with myself. Before reaching for my phone, I take six long, deep breaths as this helps to focus my attention on the power and blessing of waking up another day, versus potential negative feelings towards whatever I might come across on the screen.
Get your Rory Gilmore on
If you are anything like Rory Gilmore or myself and can easily get lost in a book, it is great to start incorporating it into your morning routine if you haven’t already. Not the getting lost so much, but stimulating the brain first thing into something positive instead of reading your overflowing to-do list. The power in this tip? I incorporate it throughout my day as mini mental breaks from my day-to-day, bringing my focus onto one thing rather than the usual eight things I find myself multitasking on. This type of focus makes our minds more nimble and creative. If reading isn’t your thing, turn this one into self-care – take a hot shower or bath to relax, apply a morning face mask to hydrate your skin, and make this one entirely authentic for who you are and what you can keep going week after week.
There is a reason we instinctively stretch when we first wake up – our bodies crave movement after being sedentary. So why not direct that instinct to be as productive as possible?
Rather than only doing a quick good morning stretch in bed and then going about your day, set your body right and prepare it for daily activity. Maybe you don't have the time to fit in a full workout, and that's okay. Instead, sneak in exercise by stacking it onto other existing morning routines. For example, I do squats during the two minutes I brush my teeth. And if you have the time, this is another opportunity to make this entirely your own. My go-to's include a variety so that I don't get bored with the same old thing – I go on leisurely walks, use ClassPass to broaden my horizons, work with a personal trainer two days a week, and take a yoga class on my rest day. Whether you work out every day or a couple of times a week, adding exercise to your morning routine helps to alleviate mental fatigue.
Running on repeat
This is the hardest part, but seriously. Establishing a morning routine, or any routine for that matter, takes work. And we get it; life is hectic, so if you find yourself sleeping in one morning or forgetting some new habit, don't be too hard on yourself…and don't give up. Start the next morning and the morning again after that until one sticks. (You might want to read this twice!)
Here are additional ideas to incorporate into your daily morning routine to help you find what works for you:
- Meditate (I highly recommend the Calm app!)
- Cultivate an attitude of gratitude with morning affirmations (I am enough!, I can do this!)
- Perform an act of kindness (I started leaving quotes on the mirror for my SO to find every morning)
- Do a crossword puzzle or round of Soduko
- Set up a call with someone who motivates you at least once a week
- Drink a glass of water with or without lemon before reaching for your fav caffeine bevy
- Make your bed
Whether you incorporate any of these habits, tips, and tricks outlined or create a list of your own – they have the power to take your morning routine from good to great. So, choose a routine that sparks joy in your day, gets you excited for the day ahead, and gets you focusing on the most important thing in your life; you. Trust me here – your overall health and self are worth it, so don't lose sight of the power of what a morning routine can do for you so you can invest in others.
Are you ready to kick-start your morning routine? If so, what's the first thing you are going to try?