Our new normal has prompted a drastic change to our daily routines. Without our typical morning commute, or even a need to get dressed and out the door, it’s easy to lose any sense of structure in the morning. And yet, even when staying home, establishing a solid morning routine can ease our stress and help us feel focused and composed as we start the day.

We asked our Thrive community to share the morning rituals that help set them up for a good day ahead. Which of these will you try?

Put on your morning playlist

“Lately, I’ve been starting my morning with Spotify’s Wellness playlist, which begins with a meditation from Shine, followed by morning boost music. I’ve been meditating as soon as I wake up for a peaceful mind, and then I listen to the playlist while making my bed, checking on my plants, drinking a hot lemon water, and doing a quick body stretch. Gently nourishing my physical and mental health first thing before I map out my task list for the day really helps me feel grounded, more able to generate energy, and feel prepared for whatever the workday throws at me.”

 —Shanna McAlarnen, life coach, Philadelphia, PA 

Open the window

“This pandemic has allowed me the time and space to apply simple but soothing morning rituals that help me start my day on the right foot, which means slowing down and not letting my thoughts lead the day. I’ve been waking up naturally early in the morning and checking in with myself. Then, when I’m out of bed, I open my window to breathe in some fresh air while I make my bed and brush my teeth.”

—Marjan Oloumi, human resources, Sydney, Australia

Change out of your pajamas

“The first thing I do is make my bed, change out of my pajamas, and drink a tall glass of water. This helps get me into a mindset that will keep me productive during the day. The next part of my morning ritual includes making a nutritious breakfast and drinking a cup of coffee while I check my emails and catch up on news for the day.”

—Stella Stephanopoulos, student at Washington University in St. Louis, New York, NY  

Go on an early-morning hike

“Even though I no longer have my regular morning commute, I’m still getting up reasonably early. I’m trying to stick to my usual routine to keep some semblance of normalcy. Once I’m caught up on the news, I keep my phone out of sight for a while, and go on my daily hike. I’m lucky to have the beautiful Marin County trails just outside my back door. Starting my day with a little exercise, time in nature, and healthy fuel has never felt more relevant.” 

—Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint, Inc., podcast host, and author, San Francisco, CA

Try gratitude habit-stacking

“My morning routine typically includes me reminding myself of three things or people that I am grateful for early in the morning before getting up from bed. What I’ve been doing recently is combining this practice with other morning habits, like taking a shower or brushing my teeth. I’ve been finding it powerful to synchronize the mind, breath, and body while tapping into gratitude.”

—Giancarlo Molero, innovator and happiness expert, Miami, FL

Do a body scan

“Before I get out of bed, I do a ten-minute body scan to check in with my body, assessing if there is tightness in my jaw or the muscles of my legs or shoulders.  In this way, my body tells me how I am feeling. I start my scan by focusing my attention on my right side moving from each of my toes, up my leg towards my hips, torso, and shoulders before repeating the mind-breath movement on my left side.”

—Diane Bartell, healthcare consultant and wellness coach, New York, NY

Say thank you

“‘Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.’ That’s how I start my day. Right before opening my eyes to a full waking state, I say thanks three times. Sometimes it’s a whisper. Sometimes I am loud. But regardless of how I see it, by the third thank you, I’m beaming. And that thank you has many different connotations, depending on the dominant thoughts I had before going to sleep on the prior night. It can be thanks for life, for seeing another day, for not waking up angry, or simply for the promise of the new day.”

—Laura Borland, entrepreneur, Sunrise, FL

Read to your baby

“Working from home means my baby is my boss. To get the day started, I read four books to my toddler before I can open my laptop. It’s a quarantine custom I will forever cherish!”

—Adele Gilani, gallerist, Sausalito, CA

Try a writing exercise

“My morning writing practice has been a lifesaver before and during the quarantine. I use a website called 750 Words, where you start your day by getting all of the distractions, worries, and whatever is occupying your brain out of your head and into words, so that your mind is clutter-free and ready to create. I end the morning’s writing with a gratitude practice and my daily affirmations. It is an essential practice for my day.”

—Daniella Bozzone, writer and private investor, TN

Reflect on an accomplishment 

“For the last nine weeks, my go-to morning routine has been a quick workout with a virtual trainer followed by a cup of hot water with lemon and collagen powder. This routine has led to not only improved focus and overall strength, but some great professional wins too. My confidence in my physical strength has carried through the entire workday. If something may seem like a challenge professionally, I remind myself that before April, I had never done a single push-up on my toes, and now I can proudly say that I’ve done more than 500! With the right attitude and renewed confidence, anything is possible.”

—Tami Nealy, influencer marketing, Phoenix, AZ

Incorporate a breathing exercise 

“Soon after I wake up, I sit on the floor next to my bed and do a breathing exercise to stimulate the various circles of breath, followed by a ten-minute meditation. I take a shower, eat breakfast, and walk outdoors for a few minutes before starting my workday. Afterwards, I feel energized and ready for the challenges ahead.”

—Isabelle Bart, marketing director, Orange County, CA   

Get up and dance

“I start each day by dancing to a song that helps me feel energized and optimistic. No matter what, I take a moment to dance when I get out of bed because it reminds me that I’m in charge of how I show up in the world. Even on days when I don’t feel like dancing, and there are many of them, I stick with it. I know I can be a vehicle for positive change and spread love and joy to those around me, but it always starts from within, and I have to show up for myself first.”

—Lisa Abramson, TEDx speaker and executive coach, San Francisco, CA

Go over your schedule

“My go-to morning ritual starts the night before! I go over what tomorrow holds, and view my day not in terms of what I have to do, but rather in terms of who I get to serve. When I wake up, I say ‘thank you’ out loud. I go over my schedule, I know my breaks, and I’m ready to fuel up.”

—Dr. Wayne Pernell, breakthrough coach and speaker, San Francisco, CA

Try different workouts

“After reading Terri Savelle-Foy’s 5 Things Successful People Do Before 8 A.M., I put a new morning routine into place last year. To get started, I gradually set my alarm for a few minutes earlier than I need to get up. As soon as my alarm goes off, I get up and make my bed. Next, I work out. I mix it up so I’m never bored, but in quarantine I’ve been loving Pilates with The Balanced Life on YouTube, OrangeTheory Fitness at-home workouts, and running.”

—Julie Smith, senior marketing specialist, Charlotte, NC

Drink lemon water

“For me, morning movement, meditation, and journaling are essential — along with one liter of warm water with lemon or apple cider vinegar. I generally don’t drink enough water throughout the day, so making water a priority in the morning means that I drank something. When I practice discipline and diligence in my routines, it carries over to other areas of my life.”

—Andrea T., digital marketing manager and wellness coach, Toronto, ON, Canada

Recite a mirror mantra

“In the mornings, I’ve been taking two minutes to look at myself in the mirror and reciting a self-love mantra. I recommend this to my students and clients as well. It can be done in the bathroom after brushing your teeth. Maintain eye contact with yourself and tell yourself, ‘I love you, you are wise, you are kind, you are capable.’ You can always change these affirmations for any other positive qualities that you would like to be reminded of. I find that this exercise helps to set up your day in a powerful and positive way.”

—Veronica Moya, wellness coach, New York, NY

Decide what you want to accomplish today

“Now that I do not have to rush out of bed in the morning to get to an office, I have started giving myself time to mindfully manifest my day before I get up. While still in a relaxed state, I decide what I want to accomplish, how I will navigate any obstacles I might encounter, and set the tone for how I want to show up for myself, my co-workers, and the people around me. I determine who I want to be, what I am going to do, and how I will do it, all before my feet hit the floor. Starting my day slowly and with intention has made me more productive and given me a much-needed sense of control during these stressful and uncertain times.”

—Farrah Smith, personal coach, Los Angeles, CA

Keep a five-minute journal

“After much trial and error with my morning routine, I discovered that keeping a five-minute journal and pen next to my coffee machine is the most effective route. The pages in this particular journal cover a lot of ground in a few short minutes: gratitude, goals, and affirmations. Positioning the journal next to my biggest morning vice successfully reduces any friction that I may encounter when adopting journaling as a habit. There are no excuses to skip a writing session, and I feel great knowing that the five minutes it takes to brew my coffee are well spent.” 

—Priscila Martinez, marketer, communications specialist, founder, and CEO, Los Angeles, CA

Try strength training 

“On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I get up about an hour earlier and lift weights. I do three sets each and it usually takes me about 45 minutes to complete. I exercise in the living room, so I also use this time to watch some of my favorite shows I have recorded. I’ve been keeping up this routine for about eight years now and it is something my body really enjoys. I do cycling and walking with my spouse on other days, but these three days really set up my week for success.”

—Larry Freshler, HR director, Spokane, WA

Check in with yourself

“For years, I woke up each day and immediately had negative thoughts enter my mind. One way I’ve learned to cope with those thoughts is by checking in with myself when I first wake up. If there’s a negative thought in your mind, sit with it. Identify the emotion driving it, and ask yourself if it’s fear, worry, or shame. I find it helpful to name the emotion as well. Naming an emotion is scientifically proven to reduce the intensity of the feeling. You’re actually allowing the brain to go from intense neuron firing or being shut down to engaging the prefrontal cortex where rational thought takes place. This check-in always sets me up for a good day.”

—Mary Smith, parent coach, Washington, DC

Do you have a go-to morning ritual that’s been helping to set you up for a good day? Share it with us in the comments!

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.