Several factors go into what a morning routine looks like. Things like having kids, working from home, commuting to work, etc. all play a role.
For the majority of people though, the morning hours are the most productive. This is when mental alertness is at its highest peak.
So, how do you create a routine that is simple, feels manageable, is effective, and will help you reach your goals more easily?
Helpful Tips for Building A Morning Routine
The key to creating better long-term habits is to slowly add them into your routine. In order to really reap the benefits, you must do them consistently for a period of time.
Going slowly goes against the 'all-or-nothing/go big or go home' mentality that is constantly being thrown at us. It certainly isn't helping you when you try to make a million changes at once.
In fact, it's so overwhelming that it literally stops you from moving forward in any direction. So, just go slowly and focus on adding one thing at a time. Eventually, you'll find your sweet spot with a morning routine, but it does take some time initially.
Wake Up Earlier
You don’t have to wake up at the crack of dawn. Just start by waking up 15 minutes earlier than you usually would.
In the morning hours, time is precious, so this extra window makes your morning feel less rushed, which is helpful for a calm and clear mind.
Avoid the Snooze Button
Hitting the snooze button seems like a good idea when you're half asleep and you would do just. about. anything. for 2 more minutes of precious sleep.
But those 2 minutes of sleep aren't precious. Your sleep cycle gets disrupted the second your alarm goes off. So, you hit snooze again, and well, the saga begins.
If you're avidly hitting the snooze button each morning, I challenge you to try the 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins (author and motivational speaker).
Her theory is that when you have a goal in mind (waking up in this case), you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill the goal.
When you feel yourself starting to hesitate, count down backward 5..4..3..2..1. The counting helps you focus on the goal instead of the thoughts and fears that start flooding your mind with excuses.
By the time you get to 1, you'll leap out of bed (or towards any other goal you have).
Who Benefits From A Morning Routine?
If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or stress, having a solid morning routine is essential for a clearer mind.
I truly believe in the power of doing one thing to better your mental health every single day, and the morning is the perfect time to start.
The more you make your routine a priority, the more likely you'll start to develop the habit. It will then become second nature and you'll notice the difference between the days you do it versus the days you don't.
By mindfully automating these habits, you’re having to make fewer decisions in the morning (less decision fatigue) and you'll have more mental clarity.
7 Simple Shifts for a Clearer Mind
Make Your Bed
Making your bed every morning gives you a sense of accomplishment, and is a simple way to develop a good habit.
When you feel good, you're more likely to complete other tasks that also make you feel good (domino effect).
Making your bed also reduces your stress levels. The less clutter in your space (in this case, your bedroom), the less clutter in your mind.
Create Before You Consume
Glancing at your phone to make sure you didn’t miss any important calls or texts while you were sleeping is one thing. But, you’ll want to avoid opening up your apps and mindlessly scrolling first thing in the morning.
When you consume before you create, it can dull your inspiration and your own ideas. In the morning hours, I like to create as much as possible before I consume to hear my own thoughts and write them down before being subconsciously influenced by others.
Ever notice how you wake up really thirsty in the morning? This is because our bodies get dehydrated while we're sleeping. Drinking water first thing in the morning is great for our skin and our mental clarity.
You can also add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to ramp up your digestion.
The idea is just that you are moving your body in some capacity. This can be a workout you enjoy or a quick walk outside.
Need ideas? Check out this post for the best online workouts.
On the days that you don't want to work out, stretching is great. It's a simple, mood-boosting activity that is often overlooked.
Sometimes nothing feels better than a child's pose or a heart-opening stretch.
You don't have to move your body for a long period of time. Doing a little bit of something is better than nothing at all (I like to aim for around 20 minutes, sometimes a little longer) to reap the benefits.
Plus, it's a great form of self-care, will get the lingering stress out, and instantly boosts your mood.
Make A Wholesome Breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. In order to feel the most productive, it's best to make smart food choices starting in the morning for better mental focus throughout the day.
Getting plenty of protein, fruit, and/or veggies, plus complex carbs is the perfect brain food. This can be with a dairy free frittata, smoothies, oat milk chia pudding, lemon blueberry baked oatmeal, spanish tortilla with sweet potato and herbs, toast with homemade cashew butter and fresh berries, dinner leftovers, etc.
Avoid the sugary boxed cereals that spike your blood sugar and leave your brain feeling hazy.
Putting pen to paper has so many benefits. It can help with anything from anxiety to stress to creativity to mindfulness.
It's also incredibly helpful if you tend to overthink...everything. It helps get the majority of your thoughts out of your head so they're not constantly swirling around on repeat.
It's a free form of therapy that allows you to let go of things you've been holding onto emotionally and brings clarity to help you move forward.
Embrace the Quiet
You’re likely not going to have any more quiet time until you wind down at the end of the day.
Between work, kids, laundry, meals, emails, family catch-up, etc., it’s hard to squeeze in that quiet time at other parts of the day. The morning is truly the best time to take advantage of the quiet.
Whether it's for a meditation practice or taking some deep breaths, sitting in the stillness with no phones or distractions is really centering.
On cool mornings, it's nice to slide on a cozy sweater and sit outside on a balcony, porch, etc. just breathing in the crisp air and the sounds around you when the majority of the world is still sleeping.