Does your morning routine consist of you yawning a million times and making a b-line for the coffee? Mine used to be just like that. I thought I would die if I didn’t get my coffee in the morning. Then one day I decided to try going without coffee for awhile, and you know what, I was fine. I’ve realized it doesn’t even really give me more energy. Now I wasn’t an espresso-chugging kind of person so my coffee wasn’t very strong, but still. All I’m saying is it is possible to kick the habit of relying on coffee to get you through a day. Yes, I’m pregnant, so I have that added incentive of trying to be healthy for my baby, but I went off coffee for several months at a time before even considering getting pregnant. It’s doable.
Instead of coffee, I drink water. Exciting, I know. But our bodies need it. A lot of it. And the things coffee can do for, your, um, digestive tract, water can also do, as long as you make sure you’re actually consuming enough. I can easily have 4 glasses of water in the first hour or two of waking up. That’s half my “8 glasses a day” quota right there.
Ok so water is #1 in the morning, what else is worth doing in your morning routine? Well everyone’s will be different depending on what you value most (and where you live – if you live on a beach in Hawaii then surfing might be #1 for you).
Here’s a template I suggest, and try to follow – it’s still very much a work in progress for me. Some days I do them all, some days I don’t do any. Promise I’m working on it…
- Drink water
- Practice journaling
- Practice gratitude
- Read/learn/study a language
- Do a few minutes of movement
- Work on the biggest thing for you for the day
1. Drink Water
We’ve established that. It’s great for everything in your body, we’re made of like 70% water, so obviously we need it. Drink up.
2. Practice journaling
Get out a notebook or your computer and write. It can be as mundane (or exciting) as things you did yesterday or are doing today, but also write about what worries you, what excites you, how you’re feeling. Observe where your body and mind are at, then write it down. There are many different journaling exercises you can try as well.
3. Practice gratitude
I usually do this alongside my journaling. Sometimes my journaling becomes a gratefulness practice, or vice versa. Write down at least 3 (I’d aim for 5 or 10) things you’re grateful for. Spend time reflecting on each, as you write, and then throughout the day. Even share them with your friends or loved ones.
For more on practicing gratitude you can read my post here.
4. Read/learn/study a language
This may be more than one category for you. That’s fine. Just get it in. I don’t mean reading what your friends have been up to on Facebook, I mean learning about something new that helps you grow. Some people may prefer to leave their reading to the end of the night (when we’re supposed to be avoiding our cell phones), that works too.
If you’re trying to learn a language I suggest you do it in the morning, before the hustle and bustle of the day gets in the way. Ie. before we can come up with enough excuses not to work on it. If it takes some effort, get it done early.
5. Do a few minutes of movement
This doesn’t mean going for a 10 km run, or even a 1 km run. This literally just means moving your body around. If you’re not too crazy zombie-ish when you wake up you might want to do this first thing, before even grasping for a glass of water. The point is just to get the joints, ligaments, muscles, fascia (what’s that? Find out here), etc moving. Want to jump right into exercise (#8 on this list)? If that works for you, go for it.
Ever watch wild animals whenever they wake up? They stretch and contort their bodies. We need to do the same. We’re built to move, not to be stationary all day, so get those juices going. Even if it’s just for 60 seconds, it’ll help. And if you’re like me you’ll probably end up doing it for another 4, or 40 minutes because it feels so good to move your body.
I’ll be the first to admit that I still struggle to do this one. If I don’t get enough sleep (which is often because I need a TON, and struggle to go to bed early), then I’m more likely to fall asleep than actually meditate if I do it first thing in the morning. Some people prefer to do it as soon as they wake up, but I’ll start yawning so much my eyes water. So I usually wait a bit. But the problem with that is then it sometimes gets put on the back burner. So find what works best for you. I’m still working on it. My hunch is that it’d be better for me to get a more restful sleep so that I can do it first thing, but the experiment continues…
Get into a comfy seat. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Focus on your body. If distracting thoughts come in (just kidding, there is no if, they ALWAYS WILL, that’s what are minds are for, after all), don’t worry, just become aware of them and then focus back on the breath/body). It’s a great way to feel a little clearer. Start with doing just a minute, or five, then ten, then maybe even twenty. Then maybe twice a day. Work up to it.
7. Work on the biggest thing (for you) for the day
Get the hard and lengthly stuff over with! Whatever big thing you’re working on or need to get done, do it now. Before other distractions come up. You’ll thank me later. If you don’t, you know there’s a good chance it won’t get done.
Some people prefer to do this before starting work, that’s totally cool. Whatever suits you. I find that unless I do it first thing, by the time I’ve had 4 glasses of water and some breakfast (oh yeah, that’s allowed to be part of your routine too, I’ll let you decide when you want to add it in), my body needs some time before I’m ready to sweat like a mofo.
Try it out
Those are my key 8 things I like to aim for every morning. Obviously I’m not perfect, so it’s still a work in progress, but you get the idea. Getting a good night’s sleep is also important in order to feel like you have the energy to be productive in the morning, so rest up first.
Did you know: If you have to wake up to an alarm your body isn’t getting enough sleep. Yikes. That means a lot of people aren’t getting the proper amount. So maybe try going to be a little earlier, and put your cell phones away – we’re talking an hour before bed. I know that sounds impossible, trust me, I struggle with this one, but I know it’s doable. I’ll work on this one if you will too, deal?
Did you also know: Making your bed in the morning is a great way to make you feel productive as soon as you’ve woken up. Why? because you’ve already accomplished something. Don’t believe it’s that worth it? Watch this video of a Navy Seal Sergeant giving a commencement speech on reasons to make your bed every morning. It might be another thing to add to your morning routine.
I’m always curious about other people’s morning and daily routines. What works for me might not work for you, or you might do something better. What’s your morning routine? What are you going to change or add?