When the world seems out of control, a morning routine can help restore personal sanity
Life as we know it has been turned upside down. Right now, we wake up each day, to new cases of Covid19, stricter regulations for our communities such as surfing being banned across the globe, and changing situations at work (if we even have work). Many of us have questions about how we can pay our bills. Will our employers or the government be helping us financially? When will our paychecks return? When all control seems to be gone, the one thing we can cling to is the control we have over the events of our day. A morning routine can be a sanity-saving tool.
From Barack Obama to Steve Jobs and Tim Ferris, some of the world’s most successful people have used a morning routine to fuel their productivity and creativity (this podcast with Tim Ferris on the topic of morning routines of the most successful people is well worth a listen). If you’ve never tried it or need a revamp of your current one here are some ideas.
What is a Morning Routine?
Somewhat obviously, a morning routine takes place in the morning and consists of events you repeat daily. You probably already have a morning routine even if you don’t call it that, such as brushing your teeth, drinking coffee, and making the bed – Making your bed is celebrated as the one thing you can do to kick start the first achievement in your day.
I’ve been seeing plenty of posts on social media about people losing the motivation to even get out of their pajamas in these strange times. Implementing a more structured morning routine can help the mental hurdles we are all facing.
“If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another.”
– Naval Admiral William McRaven in his commencement speech
What are the components of a successful morning routine?
Honestly, the sky’s the limit for your morning routine. But there are a few consistent standards that go into most people’s mornings. Try incorporating at least a few of these ideas. Try to spend about 5-30 minutes on each of the first three options, meaning it could take 15-90 minutes depending on your schedule and energy level.
#1 Something for the Soul
A spiritual or inspirational reading, prayer, tarot cards, meditation, or lighting a candle and sending positive vibes to loved ones, are all wonderful ideas. Try this loving kindness meditation or read a few pages each day from my all-time favorite spiritual book, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle.
#2 Something for the Mind
Intention setting, repeating affirmations, journaling, and deep breathing are great ways to put your mind in the right space before the chaos of the day. Try these breathing exercises if you are new to pranayama.
“If you win the morning, you win the day”
– Tim Ferris
#3 Something for the Body
Whether it’s gentle yoga or mobility routine, a demanding gym workout or even sex, get your body moving. Be flexible depending on your energy level. Personally, this is NOT my “workout” for the day. That comes later, normally in the form of an outdoor activity like surfing. This is more of a warm-up to get my body moving and feeling energized for the day. Some days you may feel a vigorous 30-minute mat workout with pushups, squats and other bodyweight exercises that feel awesome. Other days a few gentle stretches might be all you can handle. Remember to always honor the body.
#4 Nourish Yourself
By this point hopefully you’ve already drunk plenty of water. Now is the time to get the coffee going if you are a caffeine person or start chopping fruit for your healthy smoothie if that is more your style. By this time you should have worked up a pretty good appetite! You will feel more motivated than ever to fuel your body with nutrient-dense food after taking the time for self-care. While you sip coffee or savor your smoothie, it is a good time to do your inspirational reading or journaling from steps one and two.
#5 Define Your Day
Make a to-do list, set a goal for the day (we developed this cool goal-setting worksheet), or check your calendar for appointments. This is a super important step for times like we are facing now with the Coronavirus messing with our motivation. Be sure not to put too much on your list and make your goals manageable. Give yourself grace if you’re not as productive as you normally are. We are all under a ton of stress whether we realize it or not. Keep in mind, your goal can be just to go surfing or spend an hour writing emails to old friends. It doesn’t have to actually accomplish anything but you will feel accomplished once you’ve reached your mark.
A Few Tips for Your Morning Routine
Wait to Check Your Phone
First, be sure all of the above happens BEFORE checking email, messages, and social media. This is the time to connect with yourself before making your limited energies available to the outside world.
Don’t Get Stuck in a Rut
Next, feel free to try out a few routines to see what you like. Be flexible depending on your lifestyle. I used to do 100 crunches and 100 squats every morning. Then I sustained an injury to my back. Now I do physical therapy exercises and stretching instead. When you fill up a journal, you might switch to an inspirational reading instead. If it starts to feel stale and boring, feel free to make a change until it feels worthwhile again.
Do it When You Don’t Feel Like it
If you wake up and really dread your morning routine, do a modified version – maybe a few stretches, some mobility exercises (here is a list of many easy yoga and mobility workouts in video form that you can follow), ten deep breaths, then go straight for coffee. Stick to your morning routine even on weekends, even if it’s modified. Maybe shift it to a little later in the morning or maybe spend more time on it if you want to. This sets you up for a great day, seven days per week.
Here is my morning routine if you need an example:
- Wake up drink water, use the bathroom, brush my teeth.
- Back to bed with my man for a few minutes of snuggle time.
- Roll out my mat for 10-30 minutes of yoga and physical therapy depending on how energized I feel.
- 5-15 minutes of seated meditation. First focusing on my breath and then trying to focus on nothing at all.
- 2-5 minutes of prayer and sending good energy to people I love.
- Make a healthy breakfast and review my appointments for the day. If I have no appointments I pick a writing project to work on.
I love my morning routine! It never feels like work. I look forward to it so much that it gets me out of bed even on days when I feel like I have nothing to do or so much to do that I can’t even think of it. My whole day could go to shit and the world might be in chaos all around me but at least I can control the first hour or two of my morning and that right there is priceless!
What is your morning routine? We’d love to hear your best ideas for getting the day off to a positive start. Drop us a comment to let us know or head on over to our Facebook Group to join the discussion.