If I had to choose one health habit that has most dramatically impacted my life, it would unquestionably be my morning routine. Yes, I consider veggies the kings of the food world; I love my exercise; I feel so much better when I hydrate well; meal prep makes my healthy routine flow more smoothly. But above all, it’s my morning routine that sets me up to be the healthiest, most energized, most empowered, and most productive version of myself.
My morning routine has lowered my anxiety, made me far more intentional about the energy I project to the world, increased my gratitude, helped me reach business goals that had previously been dreams, and brought a lot of joy to my life.
And when something is that great, I can’t help but share with you all! Of course, I’ve written about my morning routine here before …
However, I still frequently get asked how to ditch the excuses and actually get out of bed in time to fit in a positive habit or two. So today, I’ll share a tried-and-true, 5-step process of how to start a morning routine. Then, I’ll offer a free morning routine challenge to get you in the habit of waking up and taking time for yourself!
5 Steps to Start a Morning Routine
- Choose your wake-up time. If you’ve been rolling out of bed at 8:50am, just in time to hit Zoom at 9 for the start of the workday, I’m not about to suggest rolling that back to 4:30am all at once. When I started my morning routine in 2013, I started with a buffer of 5 minutes – that’s it. But I think you can go even further.What I’m asking you is twofold: first, to set a consistent wakeup time Monday – Friday, so your brain gets the message that it’s time to wake up (this is a real thing, and hormones like cortisol and melatonin start to adjust to your sleep schedule, making it easier to wake up and easier to fall asleep!).
Second, to roll back your wakeup time, so you set your alarm between 15 and 45 minutes earlier than when it is set currently. This might seem like a lot, but imagine the contrast: frantically rushing to get a t-shirt on and throw coffee down the hatch, wiping the sleep out of your eyes and thanking the pandemic gods that you’re on Zoom not in-person because you forgot to brush your teeth in your haste … vs. leisurely enjoying that coffee, taking a moment to center yourself and map out a plan for how you want the day to go, and having ample time to collect yourself before diving into the day’s demands. It’s a huge difference, and one you’ll continue to feel all throughout the day.
- Figure out how to not skimp on sleep. If you’re very well rested and getting plenty of sleep already, those 15-45 minutes in bed might be fine to skip. In that case, move on to step 3. If you’re just getting by on sleep, or feel you would benefit from even more sleep, let’s try to move that bedtime 30-60 minutes earlier.I know this is hard. This is your only time to unwind; you have too much work to do; you love watching Schitt’s Creek or savoring that last glass of wine; you didn’t catch up on social media all day and you find yourself in an endless scrolling trap for the last hours of the day. I hear you. Days are short. But if you think about the time you’ll spend on your morning routine as your personal time to unwind, it’s just about shifting that time from evening to morning. And when you shift it to the morning, it has the added benefit of impacting your entire Dare I say … it has the added benefit of impacting your entire life. I believe it.
Need tips to get better sleep naturally? This post will help you out. Still stuck on screens before bed? Check out this one.
- Decide what you’ll do during your morning routine. So now, we get to the fun part! Deciding what to do! I believe this is completely customizable, and the “best” set of habits depends on the person. If you find yourself wired, stressed, and “on the go” all day, habits that involve unwinding and slowing down might help. If you’re locked in methodical tasks all day, try expressing creativity. If you tend to feel a bit negative, try gratitude or reading positive quotes. Think about what is lacking (or what you’d like more of) in your day and start with a habit that will bring you that.Notice that I said a It’s totally OK to start with one! If you feel you can reasonably bite off a few, then more power to you, but it’s better to start with one and really commit than it is to bite off more than you can chew, do them for a day, and give up. Here are a few ideas to choose from … you’ll notice that the first 6 spell “WAKEUP” for ease of remembrance:
- Water: Drinking a big glass of water first thing in the morning has incredible health benefits! From flushing out toxins that your kidneys and liver collect overnight, to energizing you for the rest of the day, to keeping you hydrated, it’s a great place to start!
- Affirmations: See this post for how to write affirmations. It’s not about saying things that are overly contrived or unbelievable, but instead it’s a way to refocus your mind on what’s important to you.
- Knowledge: I love my 10 minutes of reading each morning (see this post for my 2020 reading list!), but knowledge can also come in the form of a podcast (hey! Check mine out!), an audiobook, the newspaper, or any other source of education.
- Exercise: Exercise has nearly infinite benefits (see 7 of them here), most notably for this post that it makes you feel energized and great for the rest of the day! Even if you’re not getting in a full workout, committing to a 10-minute walk or 15 push-ups each morning can be a great place to start.
- Unwind: I love meditating each morning (see this post for some of the many benefits), but unwinding could also mean breathing, praying, journaling, sitting still, petting your dog, snuggling with your child, or any other way of inviting calm into your morning.
- Positivity: For this, I read a positive quote (my Pepper Planner makes this easy!), and listen to a positive song. But any source of positivity for you will work!
- Gratitude: Gratitude will always be my favorite morning routine habit, because its impact is so very powerful. It’s where I started in 2013, and it’s one habit that I will never skip, no matter what. Thinking of a few things for which you’re grateful brightens the entire rest of your day and primes your brain to look for the good stuff, rather than to get hung up on the negatives.
- Make it exciting. If you think of waking up as a chore, it will feel like one. And I’m guessing that, like most of us, you don’t need any more “shoulds” in your day! So, let’s reframe it to a “get to,” as in “I get to wake up early and have some time for myself that feels good and makes the rest of the day better!” I recommend finding something that makes your time physically comfortable (I like to brew a cup of coffee and use a special pink blanket that I only use for my morning routine. I’ll even get a dog or two to sit on my lap for extra cute factor!). You might like to play some special music, toss on your fuzzy slippers, or set some mood lighting. Whatever makes you feel cozy and centered will work here!
- Eliminate excuses and commit to getting it done for 5 days in a row. Let’s be honest, there are a million reasons why it’s hard to get up early. But the benefits outweigh every single one of those. I know it to be true, and I know you’ll feel it to be true as well!I’ll review some common excuses, and help you out if you fall into any of these buckets. But if your excuse is different, figure out a way to eliminate it now. Bruce Nauman said, “If you really want to do it, you do it. There are no excuses.” And in almost every case, I agree.Here are some of the common excuses I hear:
- “I want to get up, but the morning rolls around and I just hit snooze.” Outlaw snooze! Decide now not to ever use snooze again. Put your alarm clock across the room, decide you’ll drink a glass of water or brush your teeth as soon as the alarm goes off (this will wake you up), and disable the snooze capability on your phone (yes, it’s possible).
- “I’m just so tired in the morning! I want more sleep!” See step #2. Do you truly need more sleep? If so, get to bed earlier! If not, commit to getting up for 5 days in a row, and your body will start adjusting – promise.
- “Life gets in the way – I’m up with the kids or out to dinner with friends.” If you’re up with kids in the middle of the night, and you truly need more sleep, get more sleep. I have a non-negotiable (a few deep breaths and a few things I’m grateful for) that will literally take 1 minute on the busiest days, and I believe everyone (yes, everyone) can find 1 minute. So, be realistic with yourself. If the life that gets in the way is out of your control (like the kids), give yourself grace. But if it’s in your control (like you just had to watch that extra episode), just remind yourself that you’re choosing TV over your morning routine. We all have 168 hours in the week, and we choose how to spend them, even when it feels like we’re a hamster on a treadmill.
- “I get wrapped into work too quickly and forget to do my morning routine.” Commit to doing at least one of these things before diving into work. Put a post-it note on your phone and Get an alarm clock that’s not your phone and hide your phone in a drawer. Make it hard for yourself to start working before you take time for yourself, and you’ll be a better employee when you do dive in!
- “My kids get up early.” I’ve seen many parents successfully incorporate their kids into their morning routine! If you have a baby, practice deep breathing or listen to a positive song while you are feeding him or her. If you have a toddler, have him or her repeat your affirmations back to you. If you have a young child, practice quiet time where you’re reflecting and he or she is drawing or reading. Your positive habits will rub off on your children!
All that’s left after eliminating these excuses is to just do it, and celebrate how great you feel as you do! Like any change, waking up earlier can be hard at first, but the truth is that you can do hard things when you’re committed. If you want to feel more energized, centered, grateful, productive, positive, balanced, and healthy … then you can do this. Set your mind to it!
Free Morning Routine Challenge!
Want an extra boost to put some of these habits into place and actually get your morning routine started? I have a FREE challenge for you! Let’s all commit to a morning routine together. From October 19-23 (or, if you’re reading this after those dates, you can do this anytime!), we’ll all get up a bit early and take time for ourselves, and we’ll cheer each other on!
Here’s how to participate in the challenge:
- Download the instructions here.
- Wake up and practice at least one morning routine habit every day.
- Tag #LSWakeUpChallenge and @thelyonsshare on Instagram (or @The Lyons’ Share Wellness on Facebook). I will select at least one winner each day to win a PEPPER Planner, a $25 Amazon gift card, or your choice of my favorite coffees or teas!
Can’t WAIT to celebrate each morning with you!
Now it’s your turn … Do you do a morning routine? What helps you stick with it? What helps you eliminate excuses to wake up on time? Most importantly, are you in for the challenge?!?