Do your mornings set you up for success?
How we start our day can have a massive impact on how the rest of the day unfolds. Are you aware of the benefits a morning routine can bring to your life?
Let me start by asking some questions.
Do you start your day already feeling slightly stressed and overwhelmed? The day has only just begun and somehow you already feel unsettled, like everything’s being done at the last minute. Or perhaps you feel like the morning is filled with things to do that you don’t enjoy and it sets you off on a negative start, feeling grumpy and unsatisfied.
However we start our day, chances are the rest of the day will follow suit and we’ll carry this sense of unease, stress, dissatisfaction, negativity with us…unless we do something about it.
Enter the morning routine…
The benefits of having a morning routine
There isn’t anything mysterious about the concept of a morning routine. It’s what is says on the tin.
A morning routine is a set of tasks, chosen activities or habits that you do in the morning, every morning, to start your day. But why should we bother having one?
Did you know that, according to NorthWestern Medicine, people who don’t have any sort of routine are more likely to suffer from symptoms of stress, have ineffective time management, and are more prone to poor eating and sleeping habits? Who would have thought that not having a morning routine could have such an impact on so many aspects of our lives?
Depending on what your morning routine consists of, it can help to reduce stress, increase your productivity, improve your overall health, including your mental health, as well as help manage your weight. What’s not to like?
What do you want out of your mornings?
Before you can start to create your perfect morning routine, you need to be clear on your intention.
What do you want to get out of your morning routine?
Do you want to feel more calm and at ease? Do you want to be more productive? Maybe you want to focus on your overall health. Perhaps you just want to be happy and have more time to do the things that bring you joy. You could even want time to be more creative.
Whatever your reason may be for having a morning routine, figure it out as that will help you decide what to incorporate into your morning.
Good morning habits that everyone should have
While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to morning routines, there certainly are habits that everyone should get into that have proven to be beneficial. These are simple habits that anyone can incorporate into their mornings, no matter how busy they may be.
1) Have a glass of water when you wake up in the morning
After a night’s sleep, your body is naturally dehydrated, even if you don’t feel thirsty. Having some water when you wake up will rehydrate your body and help you feel more alert.
For more tips on the benefits of drinking water when you wake up, check out this post on Develop Good Habits.
2) Take a few deep breaths
Before jumping out of bed, take a few deep breaths, inhaling through your nose. This will help to oxygenate your body for maximum alertness and can help your body to feel refreshed, awake and ready to tackle the day! It is also a fantastic way to start the day feeling grounded.
3) Wake up at the same time every day
Try to wake up at the same time every day. Waking up at the same time each day helps to put your body into a routine and keep it on track. By having set sleeping hours, it helps to set your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up in the long run.
Depending on your age, according to the Sleep Foundation, adults aged 26-64 should aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep each night for optimal health. Decide what time you want to wake up and make sure you are in bed and ready to sleep in time to get the minimum 7 hours of sleep for optimal health.
4) Start with a positive thought
Make the first though of the day something that starts your day off in the right direction. Instead of waking up with thoughts like, ‘Today is going to be stressful with all the meetings at work,’ or ‘I’m dreading starting on the pile of dishes waiting for me downstairs,’ create a habit of having a positive thought first thing.
‘Today is going to be a great day.’ ‘I feel happy, refreshed and ready to take on any challenge.’ ‘I’m grateful for all that I have in my life.’
Even if this doesn’t feel natural at first, stick with it and you’ll see the effect it can have on your day. If you change only one thing about how you start your day, make it this!
What NOT to do in your morning routine
Like having things that are beneficial for everyone in the morning, there are also some things that we all should avoid if we want to get our day off on the right track.
1) Don’t hit snooze!
Research by the Sleep Clinic Services shows that people who regularly use the ‘snooze’ button actually wake up feeling more tired and groggy than those who wake up with the initial alarm.
Using the snooze button lets your body start to fall back asleep again, only to wake it up a few minutes later, which interrupts our sleep cycle patterns.
If you regularly snooze in until 6:15 instead of waking up at 6am when the alarm goes off, set your alarm for 6:15am instead and wake up then. Or even better, just train yourself to get up when the alarm rings.
Again, this might take some time to practice and get used to but you might be surprised to see that after doing this for a while, your body will start to naturally walk up at a similar time – even without an alarm!
2) Avoid your phone and social media
Don’t look at your smart phone notifications or social media first thing in the morning. Seeing a build-up of emails and notifications to be actioned can induce feelings of overwhelm and stress, counteracting the intent of having a calm and enjoyable morning.
You can also easily lose track of time, wasting half of your morning looking at pictures of your friend’s new kitten and some Instagram influencer’s picture-perfect holiday snaps.
Remember that the morning is for focusing on YOU and not on what others are doing. (You can set a time for checking social media later.)
3) Avoid coffee when you wake up
I know what you’re thinking…but just hear me out! This will be a challenge for most, but try not to have coffee first thing when you wake up.
Even though we think that coffee (caffeine) will help wake us up, if you wait to have your first coffee a few hours after you wake up, it could actually help you feel more alert.
When we wake up in the morning, our bodies are full of a hormone called cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which can help us feel a burst of energy and heightened sense of alertness. (It can also make us feel anxious!)
According to registered nutritionists and dieticians Laura Cipullo and Lisa Lisiewski, if you have coffee (high levels of caffeine) when your cortisol levels are high, it can make you feel more tired later on, when the caffeine and cortisol wear off. It can also signal to your body to produce less cortisol.
Over time, if your body produces less cortisol, this takes away cortisol’s effect of keeping you naturally alert. It could also lead to a higher tolerance of caffeine, meaning you’ll need more of it to give you that energy boost.
Your morning should reflect what you want
Let’s get to the fun part where you can start to craft your ideal morning so that you can focus on what you need most in your day.
This is where you need to come back to the idea of having an intention for your morning. Remember what you’re trying to achieve with your routine and decide what will get you there and give you the satisfaction of accomplishing your goal.
There is an endless amount of options of what you can fit into your morning so it might feel confusing at first. It doesn’t just have to be exercise or getting ‘tasks’ done. You can fill your mornings with fun, enjoyable things, hobbies, to give you a sense of happiness and calm.
What do you want in life? Make your morning reflect that!
Morning routines of successful people
In order to get you inspired to create your own morning routine, let’s look at some morning routines and habits of successful people.
Steve Jobs – Co-founder of Apple, Inc.
Steve Jobs used to wake up at 6am everyday, look in the mirror and ask himself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ If his answer was no for a few days in a row, he knew he needed to make a change.
This is a very simple but extremely powerful concept to make sure he was always reflecting on life and making sure that he was enjoying it, not just simply living for the sake of living.
Tim Ferris – author of ‘The 4-Hour Work Week’
Tim Ferris has a five step morning routine as mentioned on CNBC, which he talked about in his book, Tools of Titans. His routine always starts with making his bed because it gives him a sense of accomplishment right from the start.
Next, Ferriss meditates for a sense of focus, followed by 10 reps of an exercise, usually push-ups. The exercise itself isn’t the key benefit but rather the fact that it wakes him up and lets him get into his body.
He has a quick 30-60 second cold shower and then enjoys a specially concocted tea consisting of black and green tea, turmeric and ginger shavings with added coconut oil.
To finish off the routine, Ferriss journals for 5-10 minutes, focussing on problem solving, gratitude or prioritising.
He doesn’t always achieve all 5 each morning but considers doing three out of 5 as a good start to his day.
Oprah Winfrey – television personality, entrepreneur, philanthropist
During an interview with Bazzaar, Oprah shared her morning routine that starts with her brushing her teeth and taking her dogs for a walk out in nature.
She then makes an espresso while reading inspirational quotes, followed by reading some daily spiritual teachings.
Next Oprah likes to meditate for up to 20 minutes followed with some exercise because it boosts her energy and productivity levels.
She makes sure to focus on gratitude, being thankful for even the little things.
Tony Robbins – life and productivity coach, best-selling author, philanthropist
According to his website, TonyRobbins.com, Tony starts his day off with what he calls ‘priming‘ to help him feel ‘more energised, focused and clear about his goals.’ During his priming ritual, he starts off with breath work, doing 30 Kapalabhati Pranayama breaths.
Next he practices gratitude and thinks of three things that he is grateful for in his life, no matter how big or small.
Tony then does some visualisation and mediation exercises (spiritual prayer), followed by focusing on three goals that he wants to achieve in his life.
This routine only takes him ten minutes and he believes that it puts him in a position to excel in a state of optimal self.
Create healthy morning habits that work for YOU!
When it comes to making your morning routine, there are no rules, no strict instructions. The only guideline to follow is to make it work for you.
If you make it too complicated or unenjoyable, you most likely will not stick to it.
If you try to fit too much in, you’ll end up causing yourself stress, which is the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve!
Morning routines can be anywhere from ten minutes to a few hours long! Whatever works for you is the right amount. Luckily morning routines are not copyrighted (fewf!) so feel free to try someone else’s morning routine and adapt it to suit your needs.
Morning routine list
Here are some possible elements to fit into your morning routine. These are by no means all the options. Your options are limitless.
If there is something you’d like to do in the morning and it helps you achieve what your goal is, then do it!
‣ Stretching (get your body ready for the day)
‣ Exercise (yoga, walking, running, cycling, weight
‣ Meditation/breathing techniques (you can use a guided
meditation to help)
‣ Practicing affirmations
‣ Plan your daily schedule/timetable (prioritise your
tasks for the day)
‣ Read (personal-growth books, newspapers, blogs,
biographies/autobiographies, fiction, non-fiction,
poetry…anything you want!)
‣ Tackle your most important task of the day right
‣ Family time (eg. eat breakfast with your family, watch
morning cartoons with the kids)
‣ Journaling (get your thoughts out on paper)
‣ Take your dog for a walk (if you have one!)
‣ Reiki self-healing (if you practice Reiki)
‣ Listen to a podcast
‣ Listen to an audiobook
‣ Prepare a healthy breakfast
‣ Prepare your meals for the day
‣ Listen to music
‣ Dance to music (when no one is watching!)
‣ Spend some time outside in the fresh air (and
sunshine, if you’re lucky!)
‣ Walk barefoot outside (to help you feel grounded)
‣ Paint or do some art work
‣ Organise life-admin
‣ Water the garden
‣ Be creative (do some art, make music, sing, anything
Maximise the benefits by sticking to your intention
Depending on what your intentions are, your morning routines will look different. You can create your own morning rituals but if you want some ides to help you focus on what you want to achieve, here are some suggestions of what things you could include to help focus on a specific intention.
Happiness and mood
If your intention is to feel happy and start your day off in a good mood, the most important thing to do is to focus on doing things you like! Don’t think about things you ‘have to do’ just yet.
Give yourself time in the mornings to just enjoy and be. No one can choose what makes you happy except for you…but here are some possible suggestions.
‣ Listen to a podcast you like (if possible, find a funny one that makes you laugh!)
‣ Put on your favourite music and dance to it! (There is no better feeling than the freedom of dancing on your own, when no one is watching!)
‣ Read a book you’ve been wanting to read but never had
‣ Meditate (choose a guided mediation to help if you’re new
‣ Exercise (When we exercise, we just naturally feel good
about ourselves. This is due to the production of
endorphins, chemicals in the brain that are natural mood
elevators, according to Harvard Health Publishing, which
can lead to the feeling of optimism.)
If using your time wisely and getting things done is your priority, then there are some things that can be very beneficial to include in your morning routine.
‣ Get up early to give you more time to get things done
‣ Make your bed to start your day with a feeling of
accomplishment and productivity
‣ Practice affirmations to attract what you want to achieve
‣ Exercise to boost your energy level, ready to tackle your
‣ Meditate to get you grounded, focused and clear on what
needs to be done
‣ Plan out your daily schedule (Be clear on what MUST be
done today and in what order.)
‣ Be consistent!
The main focus would be to find things that promote a calm and peaceful environment which means avoiding work-related matters. And don’t even think about tackling your to-do list!
Take some time in the morning to focus on what makes you feel calm and collected. For each of us, those can be totally different things.
Some of us might find cooking calming and comforting, while others find it a source of major stress! Think about what makes you feel at ease.
‣ Listen to calming music while having a cup of tea
‣ Meditatation/breathing techniques (choose a guided meditation to help if you are new to meditation)
‣ Read poetry, motivational quotes or a book that helps
you feel calm – like a personal-growth book
‣ Do some gentle yoga or stretching
‣ Exercise (According to Harvard Health Publishing,
exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such
as adrenaline and cortisol.)
‣ Get outside for fresh air (you could walk, jog or just sit in
‣Walk outside barefoot to help feel grounded and at ease
Although we might naturally jump to the conclusion that exercise is what we need to focus on, there are so many other things to consider if overall health is our main target. Here are some options you could try.
‣ Journaling (write down your goals and keep track of how
you are feeling and what you are doing for yourself )
‣ Prepare your meals for the day so you know they are
healthy, well-balanced options
‣ Meditate (mental health is just as important, if not more
important, for achieving a sense of wellbeing)
‣ Spend some time outside in the fresh air and sunshine
(and get your fix of Vitamin D while you’re at it!)
‣ Stretch or do some gentle exercise (yes, even gentle and
shorter workouts are great for your body and mind!)
Eliminate obstacles in your way
In order to feel the benefits of a morning routine, avoid having too many obstacles in the way. By this I mean things that will prevent you from doing what you set out to do. Here are some tips to help you stick to your routine.
‣ Sleep with curtains open so that you can wake up with
the sun (if waking up early is a challenge for you)
‣ Place your alarm clock across the room so that you have
to get out of bed to turn it off
‣ Deactivate the ‘snooze’ option on your alarm if you have
‣ Don’t take your smart phone to bed with you to avoid
staying up late looking at social media!
‣ Set a gentle alarm in the evenings at a set time to remind
you to start getting ready for bed. (Calm is a great app that
can do this!)
‣ Prepare clothes and equipment the night before (eg.
exercise clothes ready, yoga matt laid out, journal set out
and ready to go, choose the podcast you’re doing to listen
‣ Have a shower in the evening if you have limited time in
‣ Prepare a healthy breakfast the night before so it’s ready
‣ Check the weather forecast and have a backup plan if
your morning routine is weather dependent (for instance,
if you planned on going for a run but you wake up to find
it’s pouring with rain, have a substitute plan in mind.)
‣ Tell your partner or spouse your plans for the morning so
they know not to disturb you if possible
‣ Know what you’re going to do when you get up!
Just do it!
When it comes down to it, any routine is better than no routine. When you first start experimenting with morning routines, it may take you a while to find one that feels right.
And that’s ok!
Once you find a practice that works for you, you’ll know because it will make you feel good. It will change how you feel throughout the whole day! There’s really no reason not to have one.
What is YOUR morning routine going to be?
Over time, your morning routine might change. Go with it. We spend most of our lives doing things for other people. Make the morning about YOU.
If you start each day off feeling good, that alone has the power to change your life.
Do you have any top tips for crafting the perfect morning routine? If you have a morning routine that has helped to transform your life, I’d love to hear about it!