How do you approach your day?
The way you choose to spend those first precious minutes can have a significant impact on how the day unfolds with you at the helm of your own experience or finding yourself being pulled in all directions.
There’s a popular expression: ‘Win the morning, win the day!’
We can’t predict what will happen as the day unfolds but we can set ourselves up in the right way so that we remain centered and focused.
It begins by creating a simple, manageable routine that prepares and supports you both mentally and physically.
My morning routine has radically changed how I approach my day from autopilot and reactive to aware and intentional.
It helps to ground me, prioritize what’s important and have control over how I start and follow through.
I never used to think of myself as a morning person, which is hardly surprising given my approach.
I’d hit the ground running, grab my lifeline coffee believing I couldn’t function without it, multitask my way through family responsibilities and work with my whole day controlled by other people’s expectations.
Even my fitness regime, when I squeezed this in, was ‘busy’. I was doing it to get it done. One more thing to tick off my To-Do list.
How many times have you reached for your phone alarm and find yourself ‘just quickly’ checking emails, texts, social media before getting out of bed?
Have you ever noticed the pull this has on you? How your mind is already bombarded with impressions, opinions, requests and demands? Feeling a little disorientated, not quite able to put your finger on why but powering your way through the day regardless?
If you’re feeling down or overwhelmed you’re likely to see problems instead of solutions.
A morning routine that involves contemplation and self-care will empower you to start your day with more presence and positivity.
My morning routine has evolved over the years and become non-negotiable.
I started small. I had one practice. Finding a comfortable seat and taking 20 breaths building up to double the exhale, counting 4:4, 4:6, 4:8. (Click here for instructions.)
It took approximately 7 minutes, so I set my alarm 7 minutes earlier than usual. After a short time, I just showed up for it, it became routine. It was no longer a question of should I or shouldn’t I?
More importantly, in the early days, I could literally feel it in my body and my mind if I skipped this simple practice.
These days depending on the time available, my mornings include contemplation, breathwork and movement. I try not to be rigid but become aware of what I might need from each practice on any given day.
How do you create a morning routine that will support your day and your life?
Start small. Choose one or more practices that appeal then experiment and commit.
Consistency is more important than time. Focus on being consistent not perfect. Care enough about yourself to make the effort, develop discipline and celebrate each meaningful step!
Here are some ideas that may inspire you to create a morning routine for energy and mental clarity:
A morning routine usually means getting up a little earlier than usual. Start by setting your alarm 7 minutes earlier and add an extra 5 minutes every few days until you find a time that works for you to fit in your routine.
If you use your phone as an alarm, consider buying an alarm. Or at the very least put your phone on airplane mode the night before and don’t switch it off until you’ve finished your practice.
Think about the sound. Is the alarm loud and aggressive? How subtle, effective and welcoming can you set it?
Don’t check your messages or social media until after your morning routine! Ideally, place your phone to recharge in another room before you sleep, one where you have to walk some distance to get it. This has been huge for me and one of my favourite, most powerful and successful practices.
There are many ways you can journal. Simply free writing your thoughts, asking a question and seeing what comes up as an answer, acknowledging a few things you feel grateful for. These can all help to shift your perspective.
Bring your awareness towards a simple intention for the day. How do you want to feel? What kind of energy would you love interact with? This could be kindness, trust, generosity, self-care… any intention that feels right for you. Plant this seed, allow it to guide your behaviour in every moment, interaction and task.
Or choose a contemplation practice focusing on gratitude, forgiveness (asking then offering) and then guidance, asking specifically for what you need help with.
Or follow a guided meditation.
Drink warm water and freshly squeezed lemon. Not only does it help flush the digestive system, improve the skin and rehydrate the body but you’ll be less inclined to reach for that first coffee so early in the morning. You’ll create a natural little pause and then you may well savour the coffee even more.
Warm to cold or straight into cold. Focus on your breath, deep inhales and exhales through the nose and you’ll feel so much more alive as you begin your day. This was a healthy habit I began as a challenge 17 months ago and has become so routine I no longer have to brace myself and haven’t missed a day.
Any kind of movement helps to get your body physically awake to support your day. This could be a few yoga cat/cows and sun salutations. It could be a short core sequence, push-ups or simply coming up on your toes, bending the knees slightly, keeping the pelvis stable, upper body free, space under the armpits and gently bounce.
It could be a longer yoga asana practice (15 mins – 90 mins). Again think consistency rather than length.
If you’re interested in delving deeper into any of these practices and would like more guidance, let me know and I’d be happy to share.
If you already have a morning routine, what practices help you start your day in a healthy way? I’d love to hear what works for you in the comments below.
If this is new to you, what would you like to try?
P.S. Are you a night owl rather an early riser? Although a morning routine is beneficial for everyone, you can still honor your rhythm by bringing mindful practices into your evening. You don’t have to feel you need to fit in a box. I’ll share more about this soon.