Beginning a mindful morning routine has transformed my life. There are countless blogs, essays, and articles on the difference a structured morning can make on one’s life, and there’s a real reason they’ve been written. Yet, despite all of the paparazzi around this healthy early-day routine, it’s surprisingly difficult to start! Why is that?
Just like how our egos resist beginning a mindfulness practice, we resist a morning routine too. Excuses like “I’m too busy,” “I could use those extra fifteen minutes of sleep,” “I have to take care of my kids and I have no time for myself,” and other ideas pop up in our heads all the time. We spend more time and energy resisting a morning routine than it would take us to start one.
It certainly does take some effort and consideration to begin a healthy morning routine, but doing so has much greater benefits for our focus, mental health, mood, and entire day. This is also one of the most fluid practices you can begin—your morning can exist of anything! I’ve listed a few ideas and some tips on how to start a morning routine below:
- Wake up efficiently: How many of us linger in bed and hit snooze? Probably the majority of us. Some days, this is awesome—a relaxed weekend, vacation. There’s never anything wrong to a little sleepy indulgence. It can become detrimental to our whole day (and even our circadian rhythms) to do regularly. Try setting your alarm clock across your room, forcing you to get out of your bed. When I first did this, I felt disoriented with the loud sound and the need to rise right away to quiet it, so I switched my alarm to something a little more peaceful with a gentle crescendo. This solved a lot of the initial discomfort. At first, your body might resist this, but soon you’ll be leaping out of bed with an energetic smile on your face!
- Regular sleep: Starting a healthy morning routine begins at the time you go to bed. Science says that we should fall asleep and wake up in a regular two hour period. This means if you fall asleep at 11pm, don’t go to bed later than 1am or earlier than 9pm. If you rise for work at 7am, don’t sleep in past 9am on the weekends. This alone has transformed my whole day—I have at least 50% more energy than I ever have before, even when I sleep for less hours on average. Our bodies require some consistency, so give this a try! Of course, we do sometimes want to stay up late, and that’s okay. If you make this schedule a regular part of your life, you’ll be able to bounce back from extra late nights and early mornings faster than you have in the past.
- Make your bed: Psychology has shown that when we take the two (or less) minutes to make our bed, we feel more rested and content the entire day. It will also help you to fall asleep easier if you have chronic sleep problems, since a clean bed is more inviting than a messy one.
- Eat breakfast: At some point in your morning, make sure to get a bite to eat. Although I haven’t struggled with this (I wake up with a hungry tummy), I did used to get nauseous after eating and it made breakfast difficult. Sometimes, it’s worth waiting 30 minutes and beginning with a fresh glass of water to warm up your stomach. For me, once I started making my whole diet healthier and eating slower, my stomach calmed. If you want to introduce mindfulness here, eat with awareness: pay attention to the taste, smells, sensations, and every aspect of what it’s like to prepare and eat your food. This alone is a great way to ground yourself in the morning and bring some gratitude for the first source of fuel in your day.
Not to mention, breakfast is crucial for your health. If you eat after an hour of being awake, your metabolism will be slower (meaning you don’t burn as many calories, if you’re counting), your brain will be more foggy, “feel good” hormones won’t be released as much, and you’ll have a lot less overall energy. If you want to feel better and (contrary to what you might think) lose weight too, make sure to eat breakfast within one hour of climbing out from under your sheets.
- Introduce a conscious act of mindfulness: For me, this is journaling. After eating, I’ll sit for ten to thirty minutes and write down my reflections from the previous day, night, and first hour of being awake. I’ve read another blog that talked about making tea and mindfully drinking it (similar to what I mentioned about eating breakfast). If you enjoy yoga, try some morning asanas. Need more energy and like breathing meditation? Kickstart your day with pranayama. Like guided meditations? Begin with this! If you have a tight morning schedule, pick something short but meaningful. If you’re more relaxed, then you can indulge in a little extra self-care here. If you’re really pressed for time, try just changing your shower into an act of mindfulness.
- Finish off with all the necessary acts, like hygiene, making a lunch, getting your children on the bus, make up, and whatever else you need to do! Enjoy the rest of your day, and see what difference even just a half an hour of relaxation in the morning can do to change your day for the better.
After around two weeks of having a consistent morning routine, I started to crave waking up. Now when I head to bed, I’ll actually feel a strong sense of joy and excitement for the morning! The beginning of my day became a constant act that my whole self loved, and giving myself this one and a half hour window to begin my morning with self-awareness and positive indulgence was extremely transformative.
If you struggle to start this routine, introduce just one crucial aspect first. Try that for two weeks, until your body is used to it. Then introduce another, progressively tacking on healthier and healthier actions. In just two months, you’ll have a consistent, healing, and joyous start to your day!