Why is it important to have a morning routine? For me, dedicating an hour or so to myself each morning sets me up for my entire day. If I wake up and immediately check my phone, or snooze the alarm five times, I find it much harder to be productive throughout the day. In the past, when I used to wake up at the last possible moment before work, I'd often feel rushed, distracted and a bit anxious about everything I had to do that day. Not every day is perfect, but when I make an effort to do my morning practices that wake up my mind, body and spirit, I feel much more relaxed, centered and ready to take on the day.
1. A mindful morning routine starts the night before. So first, ask yourself if you are more of a morning or night person. If you're a morning person like me, then you normally have more energy in the morning, so I invite you to choose a bedtime that allows you a full 8 hours of sleep, plus at least an hour in the morning to yourself before you have to start work or other obligations. For me, I've found that going to sleep at 9:30pm and waking up at 5:30am gives me enough sleep and time for my morning routine before work around 7am. If you're more of a night person, and normally have more energy and motivation at night, then your morning might start a bit later and depending on what you do for work, you may have less time for a morning routine. That's totally fine too, I would just like to invite you to experiment with sleep and wake times to find what works for you.
2. Welcome gentle stretching and deep breathing before you get out of bed. Assuming you've chosen a bedtime that allows you 8 hours of sleep, you should wake up feeling well-rested. Although you may still want to hit snooze a couple of times, know that your body has gotten enough rest and with a little effort, you should be able to skip the snooze and embrace the new day. After turning off your alarm, I invite you to sit up in bed, lean forward gently over your legs, stretching the back of your neck, and take a couple of deep breaths. This is such a simple stretch but coupling it with deep breathing helps to wake up your body in a relaxed state. This is also a great time to do some neck rolls, maybe stretch your arms over your head, do some gentle seated twists and any other movement that feels good. Then find stillness again, close your eyes for another minute or two and take another 5-6 slow, deep breaths. This is where I like to think about something I'm grateful for this morning, whether it's my comfy bed, another day of life and health, or something specific that I look forward to that day.
3. Take care of bathroom necessities and hydrate. Take your time standing up, walking to and using the bathroom, splashing some water on your face and brushing your teeth, knowing that you're not in a rush to get anywhere. Some people prefer to wait to brush their teeth after breakfast; do whatever works for you. I just find that brushing my teeth (and also tongue-scraping) and splashing water on my face helps to wake me up. If you like to shower first thing in the morning, this is a perfect time to do that too. I prefer to shower at night since I often take a yoga or fitness class during the day. Then, if you have any pets like I do, this is a good time to feed and walk them, depending on the schedule you've established. Also, hydrate! There will be plenty of time for coffee and breakfast later on, but for now just get in some good ole' H20 to rehydrate you.
4. Movement in the morning gets the energy flowing. Next, I invite you to welcome some gentle movement into your body, whatever that looks like for you. For me, that's a slow and delicious yoga flow on my mat that starts with lying on my back, pulling my knees into my chest, twisting to one side then the other, and eventually sitting up and continuing on to flow for about 30 minutes-1 hour. If you prefer to do a more energetic flow or workout early in the morning, that's great too! Whether you like to follow a fitness video at home, or head over to your local gym for a sweat sesh, do whatever feels good to you. Another fantastic idea is to go for a walk or jog in your neighborhood or at a park. In the warmer months, my morning routine definitely includes a walk out in nature, but during the winter, I usually save that for the middle of the day when it's warmest. I've found that moving my body first thing in the morning is super important for getting the energy moving before I have to sit at my desk to work where I'll be sedentary for a few hours.
5. Meditation and deep breathing exercises help us observe what's going on internally. After a bit of movement. I highly recommend finding stillness again before going about your day. It doesn't have to be a long meditation; 5-10 minutes is plenty. It's just a wonderful practice to calm your mind, take some long, deep breaths, observe what emotions are running through your mind, and set an intention for how you want your day to go. There are hundreds of guided meditations on YouTube and on apps such as Insight Timer and Calm, but you may already have a practice and prefer to sit in silence. Depending on how much time I have and what my body and mind are asking for on any given day, I will make my yoga flow longer and meditation shorter, or the other way around. The more you do these practices, the more you begin to hear your intuition speak and the less reactive you become to everyday occurrences like traffic, negativity at work, stressful meetings, etc.
6. Writing our thoughts down gives clarity on what we may be experiencing. Another fantastic practice to incorporate into your morning routine is journaling; writing freely about whatever you want, knowing that no one is going to read it. Maybe you'll write about any feelings or fears that you observed during your meditation, or maybe you had an interesting dream that you want to jot down. Perhaps you may simply want to write about something you look forward to that day, or any feelings of gratitude and love that are coursing through you. There are no rules to this, it's simply a tool for you to begin to deepen your awareness of your internal self.
7. Warm drinks and breakfast to fuel the body. Now that your mind and emotional body have been taken care of, it's time to nourish the physical. This is when I'll head over to the kitchen and make some tea or a warm matcha latte. Rather than starting off with coffee on an empty stomach, which I've noticed gives me jitters and a bit of anxiety, I'll opt for a non-caffeinated drink and save the coffee for later on, if at all. If you work outside the home, this might be when you make breakfast to either eat before you head out, or to take to work. Since I work from home, I personally like to start my workday with just my drink, and after about an hour or so, I'll take a break to make breakfast. I've found that I am more focused and productive on an empty stomach, and I like looking forward to a break for breakfast after getting a little work done.
*Extra tip: Get out of your comfy pajamas, even if you work from home.This has made a big difference for me in signaling to my body that it is time to work, not relax.
**Notice that nowhere in this morning routine practice does it say to pick up your phone and scroll through social media, emails and texts. I can't stress enough how big of a difference it makes to hold off on checking your phone until after you've done your morning practices. It is an act of self-care to choose to put yourself first; taking care of your emotional, spiritual and physical nourishment before checking up on what everyone else is doing with their lives, and what is being expected of you that day. Try it for a week and see how much of a difference it makes in your mental state and reactivity.
I'd love to hear about your morning routine! What are some practices you love to do every morning to set yourself up for a joy-filled and productive day?