Does your morning routine support your vision of your best self, or does it leave you feeling rushed and harried and hating everybody?
How you start your mornings can set the tone for the entire day. Do you begin the day feeling anxious, or do you start the day with a sense of peace and purpose?
An optimum morning routine centers and prepares you for the day ahead and is a lovely INTEGRITY ANCHOR. It can remind you of who you want to BE and what you want to DO during your day.
At its worst, a morning routine induces GUILT. The kind which stems from not meeting a standard of perfection (as in, I will do my core workout every morning for 15 minutes). It is this flavor of guilt, my friend CC and I discovered we both had had a taste of this morning. During our weekly check-in phone-call, we both admitted to feeling a bit guilty because we’d skipped elements of our morning routines. CC, a mother of two, young, active boys, had chosen an extra hour of sleep. I skipped journaling in favor of a longer run. Both of us had greeted Monday after busy weekends away.
However, as we talked about what we HAD accomplished, I realized we each had done something for our MINDS, BODIES, and SPIRITS. While we may not have met our intentions perfectly, we hadn’t completely neglected ourselves either. The guilt melted away.
Once again, I was pointed this truth: genuine happiness is found in the choice to simplify things; it shows up more brightly when I ease a particular standard of perfection.
Effective morning routines include the activities which SUPPORT who you want to be at your best and yet are kept SIMPLE enough so you aren’t trying to cram two hours’ worth of activities into 45 minutes (and then end up feeling like an absolute failure).
Another thing I’ve learned over the years is not every morning has to include the same activities; however, I personally like a consistent anchoring activity – like sipping my morning coffee and writing my Gratitude List.
If you don’t have a feel-good-start-to-your-day morning routine, consider selecting an activity from each category and creating a supportive start to your day. Here are some of my favorite ideas gleaned from various sources over the years.
Journaling. This is a great way to direct your early morning thoughts towards your purpose, passions, and goals. It is a safe place to notice where and how you are feeling stuck and to work through options for yourself.
Inspirational Reading. Fill your mind with positive, uplifting, creative ideas instead of the banal banter of morning TV. If you don’t have time to sit and read for 15 – 30 minutes, consider using your commute time to listen to fresh ideas which will support your personal or career growth.
One Essential Thing. Decide what the one essential activity is of your day; determine how and when you will tackle it when you arrive at work.
Get Moving. Doing a series of easy yoga stretches is a great way to wake up. Fitting in a 30 minute jog or run or weightlifting session is a good way to get the body moving and release energy. It is also a good way to center as you focus on a powerhouse of a mantra, and it is a good way to energize yourself by spending time visualizing your day.
Get Outside. A great way to start the day is to start it unplugged and out in nature. Studies have found going for a walk in nature can help reduce depression symptoms. Not to mention, going outside can spike those Vitamin D levels — a necessary nutrient in fighting conditions like SAD (seasonal affective disorder).
Fuel. Drinking a glass of water first thing wakes up your digestive system and begins the important process of flushing out toxins. Even if you are a light breakfast eater (like me), beginning the day with a green smoothie or protein shake is a fantastic way to fuel your day and will help cut the cravings for a sugary, carbo-loaded pastry.
Send Love. If you’re like me and you hit the snooze at least once, consider using the time in between the alarms to send love to all the people you know you will interact with during the day.
Connect. A 30 second hug with someone you love is a perfect way to immediately reduce the amount of the stress hormone cortisol produced in your body. Hugs also encourage your body to release tension and send calming messages to the brain. When you embrace someone, oxytocin (also known as “the cuddle hormone”) is released, making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Gratitude. Spending a few minutes, perhaps while enjoying your morning tea or coffee, writing down what you are grateful for – big or small things in your life – helps set the foundation for your day.
Meditate. While 20 minutes is a recommended amount of time for a morning meditation, sometimes our busy mornings can’t accommodate this chunk of time. However, even if you need to get a few “chores” done, you can make your meditation the time while you’re making lunches or folding laundry. All activities like this are meditative if done mindfully.
Self-Love. While this can seem the silliest, try starting your morning by smiling to yourself in the mirror. Truly relish the bedhead and sleep wrinkles. Then, later, when you look fantastic and ready to head out the door, stop for another grand smile, soak in the appreciation for who you are and how you are choosing to show up.
You don’t need to let your mornings run you and leave you feeling rushed and ragged. A supportive morning routine also doesn’t need to leave you feeling racked with guilt. Keep it simple. It’s about carving time out for you to start your day right, which will make you a sparkly, brighter, more energetic version of you who truly shows up and shines. 🙂
And, if you already have a morning routine you absolutely LOVE, please share it! Perhaps some element of your routine is just what someone needs incorporate into the start of their day to truly thrive.