Are you someone who rolls over the second your alarm goes off and proceeds to open your email, your Instagram, or start texting your group chat? That used to be me too.
After years of feeling exhausted in the mornings, I eventually had enough of starting my days on the wrong side of the bed (or wrong side of the screen). Over time, I created what I like to call “mindful mornings” as a way to wake up your mind and our body before entering into the social and digital world.
You may be surprised to learn that a morning routine begins the night before. To effectively create the sacred space you want to wake up in, you must prepare the environment you desire for yourself before you go to bed. Dim your lights, burn incense, read a book for at least 20 minutes before bed, and, most importantly, leave your phone charging in another room overnight! (Yes, it’s time to invest in an analog alarm clock or even a wake-up light one. Make the act of preparing for bed feel just as good as lulling off into sleep; this allows the body to be even more relaxed and will help you feel more restful the following morning.
When you first wake up, you might find yourself feeling tired and groggy because you have a whole day of sitting at a desk ahead of you, and you’ve just spent the previous day doing the same thing. It’s the 8+ hours we spend staring at a screen for work that makes it so vital to give our eyes the break we need from technology—blue light in particular—and get our bodies moving first thing in the morning.
If instead you immediately introduce technology into your morning, you are shutting out your mind and body when you really need to be focusing on the opposite. After opening your eyes, it’s important to take in your surroundings–before anything else. Maybe you had a bad night’s sleep or a nightmare. Acknowledge this. You also need to take the time to quickly scan your body and ask yourself what it needs. Each day you might need something different, or perhaps you find something consistent your body has been lacking. For me, I get my endorphin rush by working out at 7am.
Trust me, I never thought becoming a morning workout person would be my thing, but it has changed my life. A research-backed article from Healthline from June of 2019 gives us thirteen reasons why working out in the morning improves your mental and physical health. It doesn’t even have to be for an extended period. Stretching or doing yoga for fifteen minutes will do wonders (and your body will thank you later). As the article states, “an early morning workout could set the tone for a healthier day.” This includes your food choices, your mood, and, best of all, will help decrease your distractions.
After focusing on your body, which is the most important part of your morning, you can focus on the second most important thing: your external relationships. No, that does not mean it’s time to start texting your friends. This is the part of the morning you focus on those with whom you live with (roommate(s), partner, children, or pets). If you don’t live with anyone, I encourage you to resist the urge to communicate via phone until you get to the office where you can engage in an IRL conversation with a coworker.
As you’re getting ready for your day, take time to eat a balanced breakfast without distractions. Another Healthline article identifies how to practice mindful eating. Maybe you read a few pages of your book or a news article. You can slowly begin to introduce music if you feel that your body needs the extra energy. And if you think you don’t have time, think about those twenty minutes in your morning that you spend scrolling on your phone.
Of course, some people like to stay up late and can’t fathom switching their schedules. Some people would much rather work out in the evenings or maybe not even at all. This morning routine is a method that’s worked for me, but I know everyone is different. So I’m including a few ideas I’ve compiled from others.
Take 10-15 minutes to do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Meditate for two minutes, write two pages in your journal, make a gratitude list with five things, and read two pages of a book. That’s it! Of course, you can mix in whatever you love to do best or wish you spent more time on. Make it unique to you, and allow it to spark joy–first thing in the morning.
If you have a morning routine, share it below! I’d love to hear how other people spend their mornings before going to work.
Still not sure what morning routine would work best for you? I encourage you to read Daniel Pink’s book, “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing,” for some insight into your internal clock.