It’s no secret that morning routines are pretty trendy right now. While I firmly believe that having a morning routine is an excellent way to start your day, I do think the perfect morning routine is something that only you can create for yourself. You can absolutely check out other people’s routines for a little inspiration, but the best way to start your day is to do what works for you.
If you want to learn how to create the perfect morning routine to help set up your day for success, here are a few things that you should probably keep in mind.
1. Wake up at the same time every day.
We all know that getting enough sleep is important, but there is no magical time to wake up in the morning. Every individual and lifestyle is different, and what works for me might not work for someone else. Not only do work schedules play a role in what time you wake up, we all have unique circadian rhythms and sleep demands. While I can get away with 6 hours of sleep every night, but my partner needs 8-9 hours to function normally.
Instead, experts suggest that waking up at the same time every single morning (weekends included) is way more important than we think. A 2016 survey concluded that more consistent sleep habits may contribute to (or be reflective of) a healthier lifestyle.
My Advice: Figure out whenever your “ideal” wake up time is based off how much sleep you need, when you’re most productive, etc…and start working toward it. Resist the urge to switch into a massive change — if you’re waking up at 8AM and you want to wake up at 5PM, start by setting your clock back in 15 or 30 minute increments.
2. Don’t touch your phone.
I know how tempting it is to pick up your device first thing in the morning. (Admittedly, this is one of my worst morning habits.)
“When we wake up in the morning and turn our phone over to see a list of notifications — it frames the experience of ‘waking up in the morning’ around a menu of ‘all the things I’ve missed since yesterday,’” explains Tristan Harris, a former Design Ethicist at Google.
Simply by grabbing your phone first thing, you’re allowing it power to control and even shape your perception of your day. It takes FOMO to a whole new level, according to this article by EliteDaily, into FOMSI. Aka: “fear of missing something important.”
My Advice: Give yourself time in the morning to wake up and get started on your day sans technology. Spending time alone is *good*, and even taking a few minutes to meditate or practice mindfulness can have a major positive impact on your life. (Seriously, studies suggest that meditation can help with stress reduction, anxiety, depression, pain management, and more.)
3. Create an inspiring environment.
You know the saying “tidy house, tidy mind”? While I’m not saying you need to spend every morning cleaning, I do think there’s some truth to that. Basically, our external environment is often a reflection of our internal state. When I’m super stressed, my house is more likely to be messy and disorganized. When I’m happy, it tends to be clean and tidy.
Taking a step further, your immediate surroundings matter. From the colors of your walls potentially impacting your mood to indoor plants improving your health, even looking at a *photo* of nature can make us happier. What is your environment doing for you?
My Advice: While you don’t have to dive into a feng shui-inspired total makeover, think about what brightens your mood. Maybe it’s repainting your walls or getting a plant. Okay, or a fake plant, if you have a brown thumb like me. Even simply lighting a candle or diffusing some essential oils might help you kickstart your day. I keep my diffuser on my nightstand, (I use this one from Amazon) and I diffuse frankincense while I sleep and lemon in the morning.
4. Insert self-care into every morning.
Self-care is everywhere, and for a good freaking reason. (If you’re interested in reading what self-care is and what it isn’t, check out my article for Greatist.) Self-care doesn’t have to be anything fancy, and it doesn’t have to take a lot of time. You deserve to feel amazing about yourself, and it can actually help you be more successful! Whether that means you go through a skin care routine every morning or simply pop a vitamin, make sure you’re doing what you need to survive (and hopefully thrive.)
My Advice: I believe in comprehensive self-care that isn’t always glamorous. To me, self-care includes getting up on time, taking a shower, going to the doctor, and keeping myself (relatively) healthy. However, I do try to set aside time every morning to draw a tarot card. (I love my Fountain Tarot deck.) I use tarot to help me through guided journaling and meditation. It can be as spiritual as you want, but I like simply having a new thought to keep in mind as I go through my day.
5. Dial in your food habits.
I’m not going to beat around the bush. When I eat like shit, I feel like shit. I’m sure you’ve probably noticed something similar! Improving your relationship with food can have a major impact on your quality of living, and that doesn’t mean you need to go on a diet.
My Advice: Be mindful about your food choices, and try to pick things that make you feel great! Sugary cereals tend to make me crash later in the morning, leaving me just as hungry an hour later. Instead, I try to stick with whole grains or eggs. I’ve gotten into the habit of taking vitamins every morning, and I like to mix a scoop of collagen into my coffee for an extra hit of protein (and my skin.)
6. Set aside time for yourself.
This can be hard, especially if you have a family. As a person who shows affection through acts of service, I get it. I used to spend my entire morning catering to my partner. I’d make my husband breakfast and coffee in bed (yes, almost every single morning), walk my dog, check my work emails, get dressed, and dive straight into work. What I didn’t do? Take a second for myself!
My Advice: Not everyone has an hour to sacrifice for alone time in the morning, but a few minutes can go a long way. I combine other elements of my morning routine into my alone time. 10 minutes of meditation doubles as self-care, and sitting outside for 3 minutes while I drink my coffee helps my brain breathe before I start my day.
7. Tackle the hard stuff first.
Willpower is a limited resource. If we keep putting off our hardest tasks, there’s a good chance we won’t actually get them done. Doing your hardest or biggest task first might not sound like fun (it sounds horrible to me) but it will actually help create a more productive and fulfilling day in the process.
My Advice: I like to identify my weekly (or daily) priorities. It doesn’t matter if you do this in the morning or the night before, but you should have *some* idea of what needs to get done that day. If you aren’t feeling motivated, don’t beat yourself up. Just focus on making progress!
8. Start with small changes.
As tempting as it might seem to completely rehaul your morning routine right away, it’s better to start with one or two small changes. You probably aren’t going to magically wake up at 5AM tomorrow morning, fitting in meditation, a workout, and breakfast — so why risk setting yourself up for failure?
My Advice: Pick one or two habits that are easy-to-do and set a reminder. Stick a post-it note on your bathroom mirror to wash your face. Move your phone charger to the living room to keep yourself from checking it first thing in the morning. Once they become easier to handle, try adding something new! The most sustainable changes don’t happen overnight, and these small changes can snowball into something much bigger.
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