It’s the most wonderful time of the year - no, not Christmas, not back-to-school, it’s…
Morning is my favourite time of day! It’s when I have the most energy and when I have the highest hopes for the outcome of my day! It’s also the only time I have to myself before the rest of my house wakes up and the Zoom meetings start. Setting myself up for success each morning always works better when I take some time to exercise (no pun intended) some good morning habits. A good day doesn’t happen by accident; it takes place with careful design including a good morning routine.
Why does the practice of a good morning routine help me and millions of others slay the day?
Studies have shown that a regular morning routine can help:
- Prepare yourself for the day – By reducing surprises and giving you a vision for your day, you’re more likely to stay on track and not get distracted by other shiny objects.
- Reduce stress – Easing into your day can help bring down your blood pressure and give you a zen-like entrance into the chaos.
- Increase productivity – The activities of your morning routine will help you stay focused on the right activities of the day, thus giving you a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day, versus that dreaded “what did I do all day” feeling.
- Boost daily energy – Many of the potential morning routine activities can help your energy levels, including exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, and drinking lots of water.
- Develop healthy habits – Many habits in your morning routine can last much longer than just the morning. Take exercise as an example….. Yes you feel good heading into the morning, and it fuels you with energy for the day, but exercise can also help you stay on track with your diet and nutrition, and increase your strength and stamina for other activities (like gardening, or playing with your kids!)
- Reframe your thoughts – Many of the activities in your routine can help you reframe those limiting beliefs that may be holding you back from seeing yourself in the best light. Exercise helps release endorphins that fuel positive and creative thoughts, and journaling and meditation give you the opportunity to assess the thoughts that are not serving you and give you the opportunity to reframe them before heading into the creative part of your day.
We’ve talked a lot about what a morning routine can do for you, but what activities can you infuse into your morning routine to accomplish your goals?
Morning routine habits that may help you achieve your best self:
- Give thanks – Whether through prayer, journaling, or meditation, please give thanks for all you have. This will include your blessings and positive outcomes, but also your current challenges, hardships, and failures. While it may be hard to give thanks during the tough times, the growth you will see as a person through the hardship will have lasting positive effects on your life. Be thankful for the strength you have been given to get through the tough times.
- Don’t open email – I struggle with this too, TRUST ME. I can sometimes let technology rule over me, something I’m working on thanks to a great resource called the 5 choices (my blog post about 5 Choices found here). Keep a clear head for as long as you can by not opening your email and getting derailed by items you may feel are urgent, but are not compared to your other priorities.
- Exercise – Some people exercise better at night; however the physical benefits of exercise can be felt throughout the day if you exercise in the morning. Tom Rath speaks to these day-long benefits of energy and clarity of thought in his amazing books “Fully Charged” and “Wellbeing” (see books at bottom of post).
- Drink some water – I’m a self-professed tea fanatic, so starting my day with warm lemon water is a must-do. There are TONS of amazing health benefits to drinking warm lemon water including aiding in weight loss by increasing your metabolism, aiding in digestion, promoting healthier skin, and a needed vitamin C boost. This is one habit I’ve been able to dial in successfully for many years now, and yes I feel it makes a huge difference in my day!
- Review daily goals – This is your map for the day. If you haven’t done so already, make sure you schedule time in your day to tackle your goals with limited distractions. If it’s a Monday, take a look at your weekly goals as well and schedule them in your calendar.
- Meditate – You’ve likely heard about the healing effects of meditation and taking time to completely clear your mind of the clutter that swirls around and distracts us. By meditating and focusing only on your present self and breathe, it’s a giant reset button. Use apps like Calm or Headspace to help aid you in your meditation journey.
- Journaling – The habit of putting pen to paper can help flush out all the stuff in your head as well. Whether you choose the diary style of cataloging all your thoughts or simply jotting down all the to-do’s you have for the day, getting it down on paper allows you to step back and realistically weigh the value of your thoughts and actions. If your thoughts are holding you back from being the best version of yourself, reframe your thoughts into the truth.
- Reading or listening to podcasts – Often the quiet of the morning could be the only time that you feed your brain. Once the chaotic day starts, you may not have time to read that next chapter. And often we can get so tired by the end of the day, that book becomes work. Make your book reading enjoyable and infuse it into your morning routine.
- Cold shower – Tony Robbins and Jay Shetty swear by this habit, and I’ve started to feel the benefits as well. A cold shower or plunge can boost your energy levels and allow for clearer thinking. Try it and see if you can fit this one into your morning practice!
All this to say, I’m still not an expert at my morning routine. I’m still a student, and I still struggle with being regular with my habit. You could say this habit is still 30 years in the making, and what I’ve learned over the 30 years has helped me get closer to my morning routine goals.
- Ensure your routine serves you – If there is something you see as helping someone else, but it’s just not working for you, don’t do it!! Make sure the activities you choose are serving to get you closer to that feeling of energy, zen, and productivity that you long for. If meditation doesn’t work for you, don’t force it.
- Use a habit tracker – I’ve been using the Full Focus Planner, but you can use any type of calendar tracker to take a look at your visual progress. This can serve as both motivation and reward for your routine.
- Be ok with going backward – Some seasons in life require us to take a pause on our routine or make adjustments accordingly. For me, seasons of heavy business travel mean an adjusted morning routine. For others, it could be an injury or a sabbatical that changes your routine.
- Review regularly – Take stock of your routine habits on a regular basis and ask yourself these questions:
- Is this habit still serving me?
- Does the habit help fuel me, lower my stress or give me an outlet to reframe my thoughts? If not, should I keep it?
- Practice grace – For those days when the morning routine isn’t working out, be gracious to yourself. You have the opportunity to reboot your morning routine tomorrow and get back on track.
By employing these tricks, you are setting up yourself for a successful and productive day! What are your morning routine habits?