Starting a Morning Routine
Let’s start this article by acknowledging that I am not an expert when it comes to morning routines…nor do I do them perfectly. I sometimes still struggle to follow it perfectly. However, what I do want to share with you is how much better I feel since I have started going to bed earlier to accomplish more in the morning. Seriously, I can’t tell you how much I really love my quiet time in the morning. The days that I follow a more established morning routine, the better I feel that day.
Before I begin, I should also tell you that I am a recovering night owl. For most of my life, I have always liked to stay up late. Even in elementary, I would secretly stay up well passed my bedtime watching Green Acres on my little hand-me-down black and white TV. Yes, I had a black and white TV. For those of you that are confused by this…that means it wasn’t in colour…mindblowing, I’m sure for some of my younger friends.
Staying up late was a habit of mine for YEARS! It wasn’t until a few years ago that I decided to start getting up earlier. The back story is that I always was someone who prided herself on following through on things. If I said I was going to do something, I did it. I decided to sign up for Precision Nutrition’s Level One course. I was cruising along and then life became really busy. Fast forward almost two years after I had signed up and still hadn’t completed the online modules. Not following through was really bugging me. That’s not the person who I wanted to be.
I took a look at my schedule and really the only time I felt I could concentrate on it was to get up in the morning before work. Now, being someone who never saw themselves as a morning person, this was going to be a BIG challenge. This is where I will begin with my tips for creating a morning routine. It starts the night before.
The Night Before
Establishing a morning routine starts the night before. As someone who didn’t see themselves as a morning person, getting up early meant I needed to get to bed earlier. I’ll admit, at first it was really hard. To not hit snooze and roll over for some extra sleep was a challenge.
I decided to just rip off the bandaid. I told myself that I was getting up early no matter what. Early for me at that time was 6:30 am. That meant no mindlessly scrolling through social media in bed. That meant, no matter what, getting into bed by 10 pm (which was early for me at that time).
If you are trying to establish a morning routine or getting up earlier, I highly recommend that you set up your environment so you can be successful. Keep your phone away from your bed or completely out of your bedroom. Turn on the bedtime reminder and actually follow it, rather than dismissing it. Use the social media downtime functions that turns off social media access at certain times.
Also, if you want to include movement in your morning, ensure you have your clothes laid out. If I am going to 6:00 am Spin class and I don’t have my clothes laid out, there is NO WAY I am looking for them in the morning.
The Anatomy of a Morning Routine
Below I will share with you what I like to include in my morning routine. I encourage you to try some things out and see what works best for you.
For the most part, my morning movement is very gentle. I am not a high intensity morning exerciser. I prefer to do about 15 min of gentle stretching using Alo Moves or take the dogs for a walk. Once a week I hit a 6 AM cycle class. Find what works best for you.
Did you know that it is impossible to be negative and positive at the same time? Hence a daily gratitude practice. Try starting your day with writing down one to three things that you are grateful for. Yes, actually write them down…on an actual piece of paper…using a pen and your hand. If you prefer to have something a little more structured, try picking up a copy of The 5 Minute Journal.
If you already want to glaze over this because you think meditation is too granola or you just can’t. I am still going to encourage you to practice this daily. I was that person before. Now I recognize the power of meditation to be able to quiet your mind. I am the type of person whose mind is constantly going. You know that meme about there being 100 tabs open…that’s my brain. Or should I say was my brain. The more often I meditate, the more able I am to be aware and actively change my thoughts. Sometimes I meditate for 10-15 min, more often my meditations are 5-10 min. Like I said earlier, I am by no means perfect. I am just actively trying to be 1% better everyday. If you are looking for guided meditation, you can try Headspace or Calm.
One of the things that is recommended for morning routines is journaling. I struggled with the most with this at first. I really like the idea of journaling but sometimes when I sit down to start writing, I stare at a blank page. If you are like me and need a little bit of a prompt, you could try one of these prompts. Rather than random journaling, I choose to do intention setting. I think about how I want to show up that day. I write that down. I also think ahead to my day and recognize opportunities to show up that way and times of day that I may need to be more mindful.
This is something that is important to me. I am an avid learner. I believe that it has a direct impact on me as a person and for me to be the best coach possible. What I have come to learn is that I like it to be quiet to read and the only time that really happens is when my husband is in bed (he likes to sleep in…). Therefore, I schedule it in as part of my morning routine.
The Timing of My Morning Routine.
My preferred time to get up is 5 am. Yeah, that’s right. I actually now prefer to get up at 5 am. However, this is contingent on me getting to bed in order to get about 8 hours of sleep. The reason I prefer to get up at 5 is because it gives me the most amount of quiet time in the morning. If I don’t get up at 5, I am out of bed by 6:30 at the latest.
Below is my ideal morning routine. It doesn’t always happen but I strive for this daily.
Gentle Yoga sequence or other movement (~15-20 min)
Daily meditation on Headspace (~5-10 min)
Intention Setting and gratitude (~10-15 min)
Reading (~15-30 min)
How about you?
If you have gotten this far into this post, there must be something that sounds interesting to you. I am going to suggest that you start small. Just start by going to bed a little earlier to get up a little earlier. Even if that just gives you time to sit down and enjoy your coffee and think about your day ahead. Then slowly start to add on more time. Take what you want from my suggestions, leave what you don’t.