I used to be one of those people who snoozed multiple times, stayed in bed until the verrrry last minute, showered and rushed through the morning, flying into work 5 minutes late feeling frantic and dreading the day ahead. I had all the excuses in the world (I worked until 1am last night! I’m so tired! Snoozing just feels so good!), but the justifications didn’t make me feel any better, and the lack of time to focus on myself perpetuated the cycle of feeling awful. I slowly started making changes in 2012 when I started a gratitude journal, and in 2015 when I decided not to check email before doing something for myself , but my full healthy morning routine didn’t take off until I read The Miracle Morning in 2016. My commitment to a healthy morning routine is truly one of my favorite and most impactful health habits, and it’s one of the things I get asked most about on Instagram and Facebook. So I can’t wait to share a bit more about developing a healthy morning routine in today’s post!
Why Do I Need a Healthy Morning Routine?
If the first thing you do when you wake up is check email or social media, you’re putting other people ahead of yourself. You may be dreading the tasks that pop up in your inbox, or celebrating others’ happy moments on Facebook, but you’re still not thinking about what you need, how you feel, how to start your day in the best way possible. Trust me, I’m all about serving others (it’s why my entire job is to help people become the best version of themselves!), but if you read my post on self-care, you’ll remember one of my favorite thoughts: “Prioritizing myself means that others get the best of me, instead of what’s left of me.”
My healthy morning routine makes me feel more balanced, knowing that I’ve already accomplished several things for myself before I dive headfirst into helping my clients. It helps me feel more grateful, and by intentionally focusing on gratitude, I believe that I recognize more wonderful things throughout the day, rather than only noticing the inconveniences that we all experience. Even though it requires waking up early, it helps me feel more energized. It helps me reduce my anxiety and self-doubt. It helps me be more productive and present during the day. It helps me put things into perspective and focus on what is truly important to me. It helps me achieve my goals more quickly and efficiently, since I remind myself of them every single morning. My family notices a happier me, and I can show up more fully to those that are important to me. If this all sounds like unicorns and rainbows, I get it … but it really is true for me. Why not test out a healthy morning routine and see if you, too, can experience those benefits?
How to start a morning routine
You’ll see the 10 habits that make up my current morning routine in the next post (by the way, I adapt my routine every year based on what I want to focus on and what feelings and energy I want to cultivate … you can see last year’s version here). But I certainly do not recommend diving into all 10 habits if you’re currently the snoozer who does anything to avoid waking up early. Think about the one thing that might have the biggest impact on your life … would a quick walk around the block get you moving and awake? Would a few minutes of journaling help you stop complaining about your problems and help you see the positive? Would a meditation practice help slow your “monkey mind”? Pick one thing, and start with that. As you see the benefits, I’m confident you’ll be encouraged to add on slowly and gradually.
What if I don’t have time?
First, be honest with yourself. We all have 168 hours in a week, and we do have time for what we prioritize. I work around 70 hours per week (and started my morning routine when I worked 80+), so I understand that it’s not always easy to add something on. But I know that when I take an hour each morning to myself, I can maximize the other 23, and I believe you can, too.
Does my morning routine mean that I’m less social during the week than most people? Yes, it does. Does it mean that I rarely, if ever, turn on the TV, unless I’m spending time with my husband? Yes, it does. Does it mean that I often go to bed with my entire to do list not checked off? Yes, it does. Does it mean that I’m a few hours late responding to any client emails that come in overnight? Yes, it does.
I get it – maybe you have kids, maybe you’re not your own boss. We all have challenges. But I believe that when we really scour how we’re spending our time, most of us can find 30 minutes a day of unnecessary TV or Instagram scrolling. Most of us let our to-do lists control us, rather than controlling them (this is still the hardest lesson for me, but every time I choose to let it go, I realize that life goes on, and what I thought needed to get done is just fine waiting another day). If you have kids, giving up some of those precious moments before they wake up or after they go to bed may seem hard, but it’s a gift to yourself that pays off in multitudes.
If you carve out the time, and put it on the calendar, you CAN find it. I have blocks every single day (around 4:30am on most week days and 6:50am on weekends) when my morning routine is literally on my calendar. Seeing it there, and telling myself that is what I’m supposed to be doing at that time (no wandering mind thinking about the to do list or wondering when my next appointment will be), helps me stick to it.
On vacation? Have a super early meeting? You figure out what works for you. I have a no-exceptions policy for my gratitude and meditation, but I’ll let some of the other things slide on rare occasions. Again – be honest with yourself, and figure out what works best for you.
How sleep factors into a healthy morning routine
To be perfectly honest, I do my morning routine at the expense of getting enough sleep. It’s something I am working on, and something I continue to improve (I survived business school and the 2 years after on 4-5 hours of sleep per night, but was certainly not thriving). Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep to feel their best, and if you’re going to get up early, this means you need to get to bed early.
Having a nighttime routine is critical to my morning routine. At 9:15pm, I shut down work, turn off the TV / computer / electronics, wrap up conversations with my husband, finish dessert 😉, and start winding down for bed. I make a quick schedule for the next day (my calendar is electronic so my clients can book themselves, but I like to hand write my schedule the night before, and dump any lingering thoughts of to-dos or questions to answer on a notepad, so they are out of my brain and can’t keep me from falling asleep), take my magnesium (see 5:25 in this video for why), do my foam rolling, take care of my hygiene, and read a book. I aim to be asleep by 10pm, and often fall asleep a bit earlier. This means I don’t touch my phone or any other electronics at least 30 minutes before falling asleep, which is critically important to my sleep quality.
How to actually wake up early
The most important tip I have to actually wake up when your alarm goes off is just to do it. I know, it sounds so much easier than it actually is, and I used to struggle with the snooze button, too. But now, I know that snooze is not an option, and if I sleep through my alarm, I’m sacrificing the most important time of my day, that makes me feel great and appreciate the entire rest of the day. I believe so firmly in the power of my morning routine that I don’t want to skip it.
Using some discipline in the morning strengthens your resolve through the rest of the day, too. One of my affirmations (more on those below!) is “I do what is right, not what is easy, because every action I take determines the person I am becoming,” and I want to be the person that does what she says she’ll do, not the person who cries under the covers, hiding from the world.
I’ve also made the decision to wake up the night before. The way we talk to ourselves is so important, and if we say “I hope I wake up tomorrow morning,” or “I’ll wake up and work out if I feel good,” there’s a good chance we’ll keep on sleeping. I say to myself, “I’m excited to wake up and get to HIIT,” or “I will wake up at 4:20 to do my morning routine,” and the affirmative tone doesn’t give me a choice. Once I put my feet on the floor, I consciously put a positive thought into my head. Yes, I’m tired, and yes, it’s easy to think “oh mannnn, do I really have to wake up?,” but in doing so, I project negative energy to the world and am definitely not grateful for what I have. Instead, I find something positive to think, just do it, drink a big glass of water (I promise, it’s energizing!), grab my workout clothes (which are about 2 feet from my bed), and get on with my day.
My morning routine habits
Want to find out the 10 habits I do every single morning to maximize my energy, productivity, and balance during the day? Head to Part 2 of this post here!
Now it’s your turn … Do you have any tips for waking up early or going to bed on time? What benefits do you think you would experience if you had a healthy morning routine?