Greater than 6 minutes, my friend!
Implementing a morning routine has entirely changed my daily life. For weeks and months, I had been reading about it, heard about it on podcasts and audiobooks, it was on Instagram and Pinterest: It was simply everywhere. It surrounded me from all sides, it seemed. And for a long time, I liked the idea of having a morning routine but doing so many things before I even start my actual day seemed a bit stressful.
But then, one day, it started very naturally and I think that is what it should be about. For me, knowledge happens like this: I start getting aware of something, a topic, an issue, I read about it, hear about it, talk about it. But I don’t necessarily apply what I have read. Instead, I let it sit and simmer for a while, until my brain picks it up again and what I have read turns into an internalised understanding. At that point, I apply the new-gained knowledge. And so, applying it comes from within rather from outside. That may a little weird and dorky, but I hope that a few of you out there are raising your hands, shouting “me, too!”
First of all, what IS a morning routine?
I would define it as the time in the morning that somebody sets aside for themselves to practise three or more activities on a regular basis in order to start the day from a place of rest and happiness. There are a number of things that people do in their morning routines.
A few classic examples are:
- First thing in the morning: Have a glass of water
- Make your bed
- Practise gratitude
- Use affirmations
- Read a few pages
- Eat Breakfast
- Write a few sentences in your journal
- Set three important goals for the day/ think about what is coming your way today (don’t mix up with to do’s)
Ideally, a morning routine should include some type of exercise (yoga, running, walking the dog, gym), time for some kind of reflection (meditation, praying, practising gratefulness, etc.), time to fuel (having a glass of water, preparing breakfast, having a cup of tea, etc.), time to be creative (drawing, journaling, etc.), time to learn (read a few pages, listen to a podcast or an audiobook, read the news, etc.). You can do any of these activities for your preferred and available amount of time! In my opinion, the best morning routine is the one that does you best, the one that speaks to you, the one that lets you start your day with joy.
Well, this sounds all great and what not, Nina, but why? Okay, okay. That was my thought in the beginning, too.
What is so great about a morning routine?
I have collected a few points which I believe to be a decent answer to this question. If you have any more ideas, please share them in the comments so that beginners can see as many perspectives as possible! While the following points will probably sound familiar to you if you have already done some reading on morning routines, I am sharing them from my own experience. So, be assured that your individual morning routine can have an amazing impact on your day. Here it comes:
- It sets the tone for the day. And a good one, at that. By giving yourself an hour or more in the morning to exercise, reflect, and learn, you activate happiness, awareness, and all the good things.
- It is pure “me-time”. Many of us don’t have much of this. You may have kids to bring to school, you go work in an office, or you work from home and are loaded with tasks and goals, you hang out with friends and with your partner in the evening. This may be the only time that you have to yourself in the entire day. And even if you don’t have kids or a partner, and you work from home, it may be the only time in the day that you set aside for yourself to be present and do things for your immediate physical and spiritual health.
- It wakes up your body, mind and soul. Oh yes. But this is not a brainer. If you exercise, you wake up those muscles and get the oxygen flowing through your body and into your brain. You think and are actively and mindfully present in the moment.
- It gives you the feeling of accomplishment. You checked off half an hour of exercise, studying, meditating, creative time and it is only 8 am? Welcome to the universe of the morning routine! This feeling of having accomplished such thorough and important points to your own health and happiness will definitely help you through your day. And by the time you are done with work, you know that you have already exercised and all that jazz!
- It helps you start your day mindfully / in the moment. Yes, I am particularly hung up on the importance of this one. Science and mere experience have now proven endless times that mindfulness helps you in so many aspects of your life and work, some of them being physical health, mental health, success in your career, it can be good for socialising, your stress resilience, and good old happiness. Sounds like a good deal? I think so.
Now, a few very important points that help you to be successful at implementing and following a morning routine:
- Write it down and commit to it for a few days. It can be hard to build a new habit, so you will have to stick to it for a while to let it sink into your system. At some point you will build the habit of your morning routine, I promise.
- Adjust and experiment with the various stations of your morning routine. Simply following somebody else’s is not the key to success because everybody is different. You should do what suits you best. Replace running with walking, meditation with reading. It is YOUR time.
- Be kind to yourself. Did you sleep in and miss the first three stations? Don’t get annoyed or angry at yourself. That would deceive the purpose. A morning routine is your time of the day. It should help you to have the best possible start of your day. You should not scold yourself for missing it. Instead, embrace the fact that you gave yourself the time to sleep longer and use the little bit of time that you have left, before you go to work, for at least one step of your morning routine.
- Try not to skip your morning routine. Even if you did not hear the alarm and you are now rushing from bed to shower to cup of coffee to car. I mean, honestly? If you are late already, who cares if you take five minutes extra for a five-minute meditation to calm down your stressed brain? Especially in such a challenging situation, be present. Take all you got and be present. You will be of much better use at work and even before that, the mindfulness that you practised for those five minutes should help you to not freak out in the annoying morning traffic.
- You can prepare your morning routine the night before to make it even more relaxed: Pre-set the coffee machine, have lunch box ready, yoga mat spread out, breakfast bowl ready or even overnight breakfast batches, like chia pudding and overnight oats.
What does my Morning Routine look like?
To be honest, there are variations. Every few weeks, I like to mix it up a little because my system seems to work with a certain routine only for a while, before I get all sloppy about it at which point I know that I need to change it.
So, I changed my morning routine and structure again recently because we are approaching autumn and the darker seasons these days, here in Canberra. I will share my winter-homeworker-routine in a later post.
But here we go, this is my routine as I followed it through most of last summer:
06.30 Get Up Bathroom time. (I need water in my face to become a human being in the morning.)
06.50 Go for a 30ish minute run while listening to a podcast or audiobook (non-fiction)
07.20ish Back at home, I do 10ish minutes of sun salutations (in this way, I combine post-run stretching and yoga)
07.35ish Followed by 5 – 10 minutes of meditation (I only got back into this a few months ago and I am so glad that I did. Phew*)
07.45 Then I prep coffee for my partner and me, plus a big breakfast (*read favourite meal of the day*) for myself and a lunch box for my better half. And I make the bed!!!
08.15 Get dressed
08.30 Start working when everybody has left the house.
Are you not a morning person?
I have heard from a bunch of people that they did not use to be a morning person but over the years they tried out morning routines and they swear on it.
So, give it a try! In my opinion, it is all about good habits, determination, and the actual will to do it.