A consistent morning routine has long served as the foundation for my self-care practice. It makes a considerable impact on my mental health as someone who struggles with sadness and anxiety (and I definitely feel an even bigger difference when I skip it). However, you are not required to accept my word for it. Therapists will quickly inform you of the mental health advantages of this method of beginning the day.
“A healthy, low-stress morning ritual sets the tone for the rest of the day,” clinical psychologist Ryan Howes, Ph.D. says.
It is not only about patting yourself on the back for adhering to your regimen like a Real Adult. Establishing a certain morning routine might help you prioritise your mental and physical health throughout the day. As soon as you awaken, each choice you make depletes your brain’s reservoirs of willpower. The brain is an extraordinary organ, but even it has limitations, and there is a growing body of evidence indicating that human willpower is a finite resource. At some point, those reserves deplete, and it becomes much more difficult to forego quick satisfaction, which may be why you find yourself missing a cycling class you generally like in favour of unwinding with a glass of wine at home after a long day.
Of course, these willpower-sapping choices are inescapable; they pervade our life. That is where an effective morning routine comes into play. When we automate our mornings, we build routines that quickly become second nature, according to Howes, which may result in the elimination of certain time-consuming actions such as choosing what to eat or debating whether to press the snooze button again. Personally, I’ve discovered that when I’m not rushing and worried in the morning, I’m far more likely to make choices that promote my self-care and well-being. Additionally, many of the things you may include in your morning routine are self-care in and of themselves.
Therefore, let’s discuss some of the items you may wish to include in your morning routine. Because everyone’s ideal morning routine will be unique, the recommendations on this list are intended to serve as a jumping-off point, not a step-by-step guide (particularly given who has time for this???). A morning routine may also need some ingenuity to accomplish (like waking up a little earlier to fit in some solo time before your kids wake up, or involving them in your routine somehow). Experiment with what works best for you, and keep in mind that consistency is critical.
Make your bed, for one.
Even while making your bed may seem like a drudgery, it may really be a simple and effective technique to boost your mood. This is for several reasons: Organizing your surroundings and clearing your thoughts to go hand in hand. It also promotes healthy sleeping habits (who doesn’t like to climb into a freshly made bed at the end of the day? ), and it may even have some psychological benefits you’re not aware of.
“If you make your bed every morning, you’ve already performed the first work of the day,” retired Navy admiral William H. McRaven once stated. It will offer you a tiny feeling of accomplishment, and it will motivate you to do more tasks in the future. Eventually, that one work will have multiplied into a slew of chores that have been performed.
In my mental health reporting, I came across a recommendation about making your bed every day, so I decided to give it a go. It was lovely at first. I found it simpler to keep my room tidy when my bed was made, which is always beneficial for my mental well-being. Before I quit, I had no idea how much it had grounded me and functioned as a compass for my other excellent behaviours. Finally, I realised, “Gosh,” I hadn’t been making my bed for a couple of weeks now. It ended up making a huge impact.
A good “getting ready” sequence is essential for success.
Remember how we spoke about being tired of making decisions? Preparing for the day is a great example of how to use this technique. There are a lot of things we do every morning to get ourselves ready for the day (including getting dressed, brushing our teeth, etc.), but you may not have figured out the precise sequence in which you do them all yet. Maybe you get out of the shower and right into your hair straight away, while some days you like to lay about in your towel and catch up on the news.
By establishing a step-by-step procedure, you may eliminate the need to ask yourself, “Okay, what’s next?” Micro-decisions may have a big impact over time. Having as much as possible on autopilot is always preferable.
Dodging your phone.
The more time we spend staring at our phones, the more likely it is that we will be bombarded with stimuli and bullsh*t. You’d be surprised at how many stresses your phone can store, considering how little it is. These include things like news alerts, your bank account balance, and messages that need your immediate response. Many of us are linked in for the remainder of the day after we check our phones. Why not put it off for a little longer?
As Howes points out, “you’re in a somewhat calm condition when you wake up because you’ve been sleeping.” What if you could keep that overall calm for as long as possible? Reducing the amount of time spent under stress throughout the day is healthier for our physical and emotional well-being.
First things first, going for your phone is a surefire method to throw off your whole morning routine. When you get up in the morning, who hasn’t already fallen into a Twitter rabbit hole?
Make sure to give your body a good stretch.
In the end, I didn’t want to include exercise since I’m a strong believer that you’re either an early morning workout person or you aren’t; you can’t be convinced by a listicle on SELF into doing so.
But—but—everyone may benefit from a morning stretch. It isn’t necessary to practise a full-on yoga regimen, nor is it necessary to use it as an addition to your usual exercise routine. Just to get your heart rate up and enjoy the pleasant sensation of a decent stretch, is all it takes. Even in the morning, when you could be stiff and not adequately warmed up, appropriate stretching is essential to prevent injury. A nice place to begin a morning routine is with this full-body stretch.
Make sure you’re getting enough fluids in.
Drinking water has several health advantages, which have been extensively researched. Even though you should be drinking water regularly throughout the day, starting with a glass in the morning is a good way to jumpstart the process. Both physically (because you’re receiving some water in your system after around eight hours of not drinking) and emotionally are impacted by this. No, I’m not the only one who gets to lunchtime and realises they haven’t taken a single sip. Getting into the habit of downing your first drink of the day may do wonders. Others even put a glass of water on their bedside table the night before so they may sip on it in the morning. A close friend swears by this method, but I like to keep a new jug of cold water in the fridge overnight so it’s ready for me when I wake up. Whatever works best for you!!
Start your day with a few pages of writing in the morning routine.
It’s easy to write in the morning and dismiss it as a habit reserved just for aspiring authors. However, it may be a valuable tool for anybody seeking a more creative lifestyle or a deeper level of introspection. The Artist’s Way author Julia Cameron is officially credited with inventing the morning page.
“Whatever crosses your mind” is what she urges people to write on the first three pages of the day, and she argues that doing so will enhance your life in many ways, including by allowing you to better understand your emotions. Working with morning pages allows us to “sort through the distinctions between our true sentiments, which are typically kept private,” and our official feelings (those that are recorded and shown publicly).
Even if you don’t want to do morning pages, you may still benefit from keeping a notebook. Using this guide is a good place to begin. The Artist’s Way or, at the very least, this guide to morning pages by Guru shivakamat, who read the book so you don’t have to, are excellent resources if morning pages seem like your thing.
Cleanse your face.
Even if I don’t know precisely how skincare works as a self-care tool as many others have, it’s one thing for me to state that I’ve fully accepted this philosophy. My skin-care regimen not only keeps it healthy, but it also feels like a mini-pampering session each time. This might be a terrific way to start a day that is otherwise going to be hectic and draining on your energy.
If you’re worried about cramming a regimen into your already crammed morning routine, don’t be. Your skin-care routine only requires three simple ingredients, so don’t sweat it.
Have a good time or go inventive.
The word “routine” conveys the notion of a methodical approach to getting things done. However, one of the nicest additions to my daily routine is playing video games while sipping my morning brew. Seriously, Pokémon Shield is how I presently begin my day. As a result, it becomes easier to get up since my alarm clock no longer represents the beginning of the daily grind, but rather the beginning of a two-hour chunk that is tranquil and focused on me time.
Some alternatives to video games include: watching a TV show online, crafts, dancing to pump-up music or playing with your pets, reading, trying out a new breakfast dish or any other enjoyable or creative activity you typically save for another time of day.
Make a daily to-do list or go over it.
Some people’s notion of a perfect morning is to lock themselves in a room with no access to the outside world, completely free of distractions. Totally a good point. It’s also a great opportunity to get some strategic planning done before the anticipated flood of emails or schedule of meetings gets in the way. When you plan your day ahead of time and write it down or review it, you’re preventing yourself from making choices based on your current state of mind.
The benefits of this are undeniable, but so is the need of preparing on a bigger scale as well. Greg McKeown’s book, Essentialism, has a great discussion of the significance of preparing your chores and timetable in advance. We will lose sight of all that is relevant and essential if we don’t make a conscious effort to decide where and how we will spend the time and energy we have been given. This includes our employers, coworkers, clients, and even our families.