What is Your Morning Routine?
May 08, 2018
By Lisa Sussman, Psy.D.
Do you start off your day feeling stressed, overwhelmed, reactive, and/or foggy in your brain? Is your mind racing with things to do, dread about a challenge you must face, or self-deflating thoughts? Is your body feeling sluggish, achy, or resistant to getting up?
How you start off in the morning sets the stage for the day, and there are things you can do to cultivate intentionality, balance in your mind and body, productivity, and resilience to the day's challenges. Whether you have 2 minutes, 15 minutes, or an hour, there are a myriad of self-care activities to choose from which research has shown to be effective in giving yourself that best shot at making the most of your day ahead and feeling good about it. It all starts with being mindful that when you open your eyes in the morning, you know you will be taking a little time to calibrate your mind, body, and energy to prepare yourself for the day ahead.
In an ideal world you would do this before your kids wake up, the dog needs to go out, and before you check your email and social media (but also be flexible with the timing as things will come up that you cannot control). Feel free to use your smart phone as a tool for accomplishing some of the activities below such as listening to a favorite song or doing a guided meditation from YouTube or an app. Here are some activities to consider as you start to put together your custom morning routine. How long you engage in each activity and how many you do will depend on how much time you have in any given day. You can be flexible and don't have to do the exact same thing every morning. There's always time for something, and even doing 1 thing for a minute is better than doing nothing at all. If you don't have a morning routine yet, start by picking 1 or 2 things from this list, or another activity you come up with that interests you and you can see yourself trying.
Deep Breathing (eliciting the Relaxation Response)
Considering your top 2-3 priorities for the day and imagining yourself accomplishing them and overcoming possible obstacles
Stretching/yoga poses/energy routine
Application of mood regulating, tension reducing, and/or immune boosting essential oils
Reading a spiritual/inspirational passage
Reading/audio of your self-development book
Listening to a favorite song that energizes you and makes you smile. You can even sing along and/or move to the music.
Aerobic exercise, HIIT exercise, and/or strength training
Get outside, take in some fresh air and nature, look up at the morning sky, go barefoot on the earth (grounding)
Gratitude and compassion practice
Mindfully preparing and eating a nourishing and healthy breakfast
Smile at yourself in the mirror and say "I love you" or 3 qualities your like about yourself.
Text your accountability buddy what you did that morning and how it made you feel. Or tell your partner, your kids or a friend.
Meet a friend for an early morning walk
Listen mindfully to the sounds outside your home (or window if you're inside) such as birds chirping, the weather, cars and people going by.
Snuggle or play with your pet, your partner, your kids or a friend. Really pay attention note the connection you have to one another.
Congratulate yourself for taking whatever amount of time you could today to intentionally prepare your mind and body for your day.
As you can see from this list, which by no means is exhaustive, there are so many self-care activities to choose from in creating a morning routine that's right for you. Although it may seem awkward at first, and that you are crunched for time, please stick with it. Commit to doing a morning routine practice for 2 months, and then check in with yourself on how you feel in the mornings and throughout your day, and what's different than before you started. If you miss a day (or more), don't panic, just pick back up on your intention and morning routine the next day, without being critical of yourself. The new neural pathways and habits need time to take hold and create lasting change in your body and mind. It's well worth the wait! Please comment below about your favorite morning routine self-care activities and how you feel after doing them.
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