The way your morning starts can set the tone for your entire day. A combination of simple actions that form a "morning routine" could be a critical determining factor for how you feel, and how you perform throughout the day. It could be the difference between feeling stressed and playing "catch up" all day versus finding your "flow" as things fall into place more easily.
A combination of actions repeated daily forms the basis of a routine. Done well, it can have a hugely positive effect on your overall lifestyle. Your morning routine has the potential to offer several powerful benefits, ranging from increased productivity to lower stress levels and better overall mental well-being.
The best news is that a morning routine is not only for those who have plenty of time on their hands. Parents of small children can breathe a sigh of relief because it doesn't need to include an hour-long journalling ritual or meditation session! And no, you don't even need to consider yourself a "morning person" to enjoy the benefits a morning routine can bring.
There are endless options when it comes to how your morning routine can look. You can design your own, in line with your personal preferences, lifestyle considerations, commitments, and the time that you want to allocate for it.
Let's take a look at a few possibilities to get the ideas flowing. Then, you can create the routine that best serves you and exactly what you need to start your day off right.
It's a super simple concept that only takes a few minutes but it could make a big difference in how you feel. Start the day with a glass or two of water to give your body the hydration it needs for optimal functioning. Some people enjoy adding a bit of flavour with a squeeze of lemon. You could also pour yourself a non-caffeinated herbal tea as an alternative hydration option.
2. Wake up at a consistent time each day
There's a societal belief that people who wake super early are always more productive. However, that's not going to be the case for everyone. Maybe you consider yourself a "night owl" and enjoy more productive hours later in the day. If so, getting up at 5 a.m. might force you into a pattern of restrictive sleep where you feel like you're dragging your heels each morning and experiencing sleep deprivation.
Instead, aim to wake up at a time that feels natural for you — consistency is the key. Yes, this ideally means waking up at the same time on weekends as well. Setting an early morning alarm that pulls you out of a state of deep sleep may not be the best start to your morning routine. Start by establishing consistent sleep and wake times to help you get out of bed more easily.
If your natural wake time means you're rushing out the door to get to work on time, try gradually making your bedtime a little earlier. After your body has caught up on the sleep you need you'll be able to start waking a little earlier to allow yourself the time you need to start your day in a relaxed way.
3. Soak in some natural light
Exposure to natural light in the morning helps to tell your body that it's time to wake up. Obviously, the sun is going to be up later during the winter months. You can still be mindful about opening the blinds or exposing yourself to natural light in another way, as soon as you can.
4. Hold off on checking your phone
Having the discipline to hold off checking your phone until a specific time can have a big impact on how your day starts. Checking emails, messages, and engaging on social media platforms first thing in the morning could end up sending you down a very reactive path throughout your day.
Depending on what news is waiting at the end of your device, you could feel overwhelmed, stressed, and in a negative state of mind before your day even begins. Be intentional about when you are going to use various information platforms. And, before you do so, consider how you can fill your brain with some positive information that you have a little more control over. The next point offers some suggestions.
5. Cultivate a positive mindset
Choose a technique that helps you to establish a positive mindset for the day. Include it as part of your morning routine to help start your day in a positive mental and emotional state. Ideas for an optimistic and confident start to your day include:
- Saying or writing positive affirmations
- Listening to or reading something inspirational
- Taking 5-10 minutes to meditate
- Reminding yourself of your goals and setting an intention for the day
- Expressing gratitude
- Doing something fun or creative
6. Move your body
Maybe you've decided that an early morning exercise session is a great start to your day. Even if you prefer to leave your workout until later in the day, a little bit of movement to get your blood flowing and wake your brain up can make a big difference to how you feel, both mentally and physically.
A few ideas for your morning routine that don't require you to launch into a full workout include:
- 5 minutes of gentle yoga postures or stretches
- A short walk outside
- Walking or biking to work
- Parking your car a few blocks from work to walk the last part
7. Nourish your body
Whether you do well on a nourishing breakfast earlier in the day or prefer to start your food intake a little later, make a conscious choice to choose nourishing options. Doing so can help boost your energy levels and help pave the way for additional healthy choices throughout the day.
This is a morning habit that requires a little forethought and planning. Considerations include:
- Planning shopping times and a grocery list to ensure you have healthy options on hand
- Allowing enough time in the morning to prepare and eat healthy food. Make sure that you sit down to eat and focus on your food rather than eating at your desk or in the car
- This habit could also begin the night before. For example, you could prepare some overnight oats or a chia pudding the night before, so your healthy meal is ready to go first thing in the morning
8. Reattach to your work
You might have a great evening routine in place for winding down from your day and disengaging from work. Have you also considered how you are re-engaging with your work in the morning?
Reattachment to work in the morning is a simple strategy that can help improve focus and engagement throughout the day. Being intentional about the way you approach your workday can help ensure the important tasks get done and you're not getting distracted.
Reattaching to your work is like an extension of starting your day with a positive mindset, only it's work-specific. Get set for a productive day ahead by implementing one or more of these ideas:
- Reflect on your work goals. What is the most important task you need to do today to move closer to them? What are the actions you will take to move forward?
- Make a commitment to do the most important task(s) first so that they don't end up getting missed out altogether
- Write down or mentally reflect on the positive aspects of your work. What are the ways you are making a positive impact? Which things do you enjoy the most and what aspects of your work are you grateful for?
Your morning routine doesn't need to be complicated, or time-consuming. It consists of habits that fit into your personal lifestyle and help contribute towards a more positive and productive day.