The way you start your day defines your mood for the rest of it. Better start it right then!
Have you ever set out with great intentions to do something – a new diet, exercise regimen or morning routine, only to fall flat on your face a few days or weeks later? Then what? You beat yourself up that you didn’t do it ‘right’, that you failed.
Here’s the thing, you haven’t failed, you have just found something that doesn’t work for you. And now, it’s time to find something that does. What works for a friend, colleague or spouse will not necessarily work for you.
There is a perfect morning routine that will make YOU happy and productive all day – you just have to find yours.
Which is why, rather than give you a specific, one-size-fits-all morning routine, I’m going to give you some options. Think of it like a menu. You get to choose what makes sense for your life, with your personality, motivations, goals, desires and circumstances.
The Benefits of a Morning Routine
A morning routine is said to boost happiness, increase productivity, reduce stress levels and get you grounded and settled for the day. It’s about getting started on the ‘right foot’.
A morning routine also allows you to start your morning with intention, rather than letting the day run away from you. You control the day; the day doesn’t control you. This positive feeling of being on top of things has results in a positive feeling and effect on your entire day.
As with many things in life, small changes lead to big results. It’s the compounding effect.
How to Create your Ultimate Morning Routine:
It’s important to look at this from a holistic point of view, which will take into account the four aspects or ‘systems’ of you: mental, emotional, physical and spiritual.
Put simply, this has to do with your mind, including thoughts, beliefs, values, goals, hopes, dreams, desires and plans. Some options to create a positive mental space in the morning include:
- Set goals - I have a friend that puts up three Post-it notes every morning. They include the three most important goals she has for the day. This gives her something to focus on – and make sure she achieves throughout her day.
- Make a list – get it off your mind. Sometimes in the night we worry, waking up thinking about what we need to accomplish. This means we wake up already feeling behind. Instead, if there’s something you know you need to do, write it down. Make a list so you can free your mind for more important thinking.
- Read something that feeds your mind - my Dad loves reading the Waikato Times in the morning. It starts his day on the right foot. Reading a book for 10 minutes a day will turn into 3,650 pages read by the end of the year or 12 300-page books!
And because it’s only three things, it still leaves room for other things that come up – so there’s built in flexibility too.
This is all about your feelings, emotions and relationships. You can think of it as all things related to the heart.
Some things you can do in the morning to help your emotional well-being include:
- Express gratitude - New research continues to surface on the science and benefits of gratitude. Studies have now proven a multitude of benefits from expressing gratitude; ranging from how it improves relationships, physical and emotional health, sleep, mental stamina, energy and overall happiness. Before you get out of bed in the morning, think of two things you feel grateful for. You choose the number- but expressing gratitude for a great way to kick-start the day.
- Hug your kid, spouse or pet. Hugging boosts your oxytocin levels (the love hormone), increases serotonin (elevates mood and creates happiness), strengthens the immune system, boosts self-esteem, lowers blood pressure, balances the nervous system and releases tension. Put simply, hugging makes you feel good. Find someone – or something – to hug. It only takes a few seconds and it can put you in a positive mood for the day.
- Connect with a friend, family member or anyone who makes you feel joyous, happy and connected.
- Identify what makes you feel good. What brings you happiness, joy or excitement for the day ahead? What makes you feel grounded or connected on a deeper level? Meditation, exercise, yoga, breathwork? Get more of that.
When you connect with people who are good for you, you feel it. This is a big deal. Don’t forget to acknowledge how great it is to be around someone who lights you up. Tell them, even if you feel a little weird. Your people love your weirdness.
All those things we think about that we can do with our body or physical space. This might include what we eat or drink, how we move and anything that has to do with our physical selves.
Here are some options for increasing your physical well-being in the morning:
- Get moving: get the blood flowing. We all know the benefits of exercise. This might be a run, hike, trip to the gym, yoga, stretching or finding your own short workout. Remember, what works for one person will not work for everyone.
- Drink lemon water;: Before you reach for that first cup of coffee, reach first for something that hydrates you. I drink warm lemon water or 1 tbsp ACV (apple cider vinegar) in a large glass of warm water.
- Eat a good breakfast: What does that mean for you? A protein smoothie? Great. Avocado Toast? Awesome. Oatmeal? Fantastic. Eat a healthy, ‘real-food’ breakfast to get you going.
- Ground yourself: When I wake up I like to walk on the grass, barefoot, while I check out my vege garden and talk to my dogs. Try this for a week and notice any changes…..there is a lot of great research on this topic.
Another great technique to use is to place one hand on your heart and one on your stomach and just breathe for a few minutes. This instantly calms and relaxes your entire body…this is very good for calming anxiety.
- Clean your physical space: When our physical space is cluttered, our minds often feel the same way. What makes you feel settled? I have a friend who feels better when she makes her bed. If she doesn’t, her day seems to go downhill.What works for you? Tidy up your workspace. Get the clothes in the hamper. Whatever makes you feel more settled in your physical space, it is worth the effort.