I’ve been reading (and listening to) a lot of personal development books over the past 3 years and many of them share the importance of having a morning routine, a routine that happens before the business of the day sets in. Whether you are concentrating on a career, a new business, health and fitness, weight loss, decluttering, or just life in general, it’s always good to have a morning routine to set you up for success the rest of the day. It can take as little as half an hour to accomplish.
1. Make the Bed
“If you want to changethe world, start off by making your bed.”
~ Admiral William H. McRaven
Admiral McRaven addressed the graduating class of the University of Texas in Austin about the importance of making the bed each day. Making your bed each morning is a reminder that if you do the little things right, it makes the big things possible.
2. Drink Hot Water with Lemon
Before you grab your coffee, drink a glass of hot water with lemon. Drinking lemon water in the morning adds a bit of vitamin C to your morning, helps to flush out toxins and helps balance the pH levels (more alkaline) in your body. It can also help to reduce pain and inflammation in joints. Some people also add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a bit of honey.
3. Mindfulness and Meditation
Do you wake up in the morning with what seems to be a million different thoughts swirling around in your head? It’s a fairly common experience because of the way we’ve been living our lives. Decision fatigue alone can be a cause of stress. Some internet sources estimate that an adult makes about 35,000 conscious decisions every day which of course, doesn’t even include the unconscious ones.
The problem with this is that these thoughts can overwhelm us and cause our stress levels (and our blood pressure) to elevate. We need to practice bringing calm to our being and living in the moment. Practicing mindfulness meditation can help calm the chaos and allow our brain to work better.
It takes some time to be able to sit quietly without mind distractions and quite a bit more time to actually master the practice, but it’s very worth it. I find that Mala beads are helpful.
If that seems to difficult right now, just practice deep breathing. Deep breathing can relieve a lot of stress. Find a few minutes and a place to sit. Then simply close your eyes and take a deep breath in through your nose to the count of four. Hold it to the count of five and then let it out through pursed lips to the count of six. Repeat this a few times.
4. Gentle Exercise
I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “Use it or lose it”. Boy am I finding that to be true with each year I live. Things tend to stiffen up much faster than they used to. It’s important to start our morning with a bit of gentle exercise. Gentle exercise will help to get your heart pumping and improve your circulation. Simple exercises such as stretches, tai chi or light yoga can really make a big difference to your health. On the Silver Sneakers Facebook page, they offer free daily exercises and if you’re a Silver Sneakers member (check your insurance plan) you can also sign up for their free on-demand classes here.
Walking is another great form of gentle exercise that has many benefits. Set an intention to get up earlier in the morning and take a walk, perhaps with your favorite furry friend.
5. Gratitude and Prayer
Mornings are a good time to be still and be with God or your higher power. Whether you have a devotional you study or just set aside a time to pray, prayer is a good way to begin your day.
As I’ve mentioned several times in the past, I credit the power of practicing gratitude for literally saving my life when I was in a downhill spiral. Practicing gratitude for the things we have in our lives every morning is a very powerful thing to do. I take a little bit of time each morning to list my gratitudes in a journal. Even just 3-5 listed items can help to set you up for the day and they don’t need to be huge items. It can be something as simple as the sound of the aspen leaves rustling in the breeze or a nice flakey croissant for breakfast. Most people overlook the power that expressing gratitude brings so I strongly recommend that you include this in your morning ritual.
I also set a timer on my smartphone for 12:34 p.m. each day to remind myself to be grateful
6. Exercise your Mind
Your mental health is as important as your physical health. So, I would recommend that you do something each morning to exercise your mind. Make a commitment to learning something new every day. For example, I spend 30 minutes each morning listening to a chapter of a book on Audible. Read a book that will give you a different perspective on life or watch a video on YouTube that will teach you how to do something new.
There are puzzles that you can find online to exercise your mind. My mother did the crossword puzzle every day well into her nineties. Starting the day off with a challenge like this is very empowering.
Listening to uplifting music is also a way to exercise your mind.
7. Start and Maintain a Journal
Disclaimer: I’m not a journal person. I like to jot down little thoughts in my planner and add stickers but to actually write more than a paragraph of what I’m feeling is too difficult for some reason. (That’s probably a sign that I need to do it!) I’m good at lists though – 100 Things I Want to Achieve, 10 Places to Visit This Year – that works well for me.
If you don’t mind journaling daily to record all of your ideas and thoughts, then the time to start is now. You can use a cheap spiral notepad or a pretty one that inspires you. Write your goals, your desires, your purpose statement (we’ll talk about that later) and your daily plan of attack in your journal.
Make a journal entry every morning. Write down what you want to achieve for the day for example. You can use your journal for your expressions of gratitude as well.
Summary: Remember, the goal is not for you to comply with any one set of steps that anyone, including me, advises for you; it’s for you to establish healthy patterns you can enjoy for a lifetime. Choose what works best for you.