We’ve likely established a morning routine this past year that works for our unique needs, and now we are coming out of lockdown retaining the routine we have created feels even more important as we return to a new normal.
There is lots of advice from people who set their alarm clock to start their day at 5am with a run or hit the gym with a workout before 9am but this doesn’t suit everybody and feels unrealistic for many of us. Whether you have children, you love sleep, you’re managing a household, you have pets, you’re caring for someone or something else, time in the morning is precious and quite often, you end up being the last person you make time for.
Having a morning routine that is focussed on taking time for ourselves does set us up for the rest of the day so the main thing is to go with what works best for you. Other people’s habits may inspire you but try not to allow it to make you feel that your habits are any less worthwhile than theirs. Just establish something that is authentic for you so you can feel you have done something for yourself before making yourself available to others. Remember, no one can pour from an empty cup.
WAYS TO MAKE MORNINGS MORE MAGICAL
- Set your alarm clock for the same time every day. In doing so, your circadian rhythm (body clock) will stabilise which will help you establish a sleep pattern. If you do want more of a sleep in at the weekend, change the time but try to set it at the same time each weekend so that your body clock gets used to that routine. Not only does this allow you to carve out time for yourself, this also helps to support your immune system, improves your mood, increases alertness, aids your memory and boosts performance throughout the day. If you are already an early riser, why not take some time to watch the sunrise? This is a great grounding activity, encouraging you to live in the here and now, and appreciate nature’s beauty.
- Avoid looking at your phone when you first wake up. Make time for yourself first. Not only is there a risk of messages or work emails leaving you feeling stressed or anxious before the day has even started, but studies have also shown that beginning the day with technology can leave us distracted, negatively influenced and less productive during the day ahead.
- If you do enjoy going out for a run, walk, going to the gym or a swim before breakfast or before the kids wake up, then know that exercise is beneficial for both our mind and body. It releases serotonin (our mood hormone) and endorphins which make us feel good, happier and more energised, and is one of the keys to having healthy, glowing skin. There are numerous health benefits to getting out in nature too. Nature is a great environment for us to practice mindfulness as it is free from the emotional clutter of our home or family. It is a safe space that nurtures and grounds us. Of course, to exercise, you don’t have to leave the house. Dance around to your favourite song with your headphones in so as not to wake anyone or do some stretching exercises (it doesn’t even have to be yoga, it could be a mobility movement like this one from Shona Vertue as you’re waiting for your coffee to brew). These forms of exercise will help connect mind-body breathing, improve blood circulation and increase the body’s flexibility whilst building muscle strength.
- Whether or not you engage in movement in the morning, try to have a relaxing bath instead of a shower. This helps to lower your cortisol levels (the body’s stress hormone) as well as keeping your muscles relaxed. Pop on a facemask or give yourself a face or scalp massage. Having a skincare routine is an excellent form of self-care but is very important for the health of your skin too. Take a few moments to really work in the product(s) and reconnect with your mind and body. Massage gets the blood flowing, leaving you more energised for the day.
- Do a short meditation. This does take practise but it’s a great way to show yourself more compassion and take a few moments to hold space for yourself. It allows you to relax, step back and challenge your thoughts by enhancing the control we have over our thinking capacity, creating a sense of empowerment. Also, it raises our bodily awareness putting us in touch with the sensations of our body. Meditation has been shown to promote positive thinking so enables us to make better choices and decisions, improves focus and clarity, increases self-awareness, decreases stress and anxiety, encourages better sleep and helps with breathing. If sitting in silence is not for you, meditate whilst repeating a positive mantra for the day. The main purpose of mantras and affirmations is to increase awareness, intention and connection to self. They work by reprogramming our minds, promoting self-talk, increasing confidence, creating inner peace and clarity and helping reduce anxiety and stress. You can use these to set your intentions for the day so that you feel more organised and in control.
- Sit in your favourite chair and read your latest book. This will provide you with enjoyment and calmness – a perfect start to the day! If you’re not a big reader or have more time on your hands after reading, morning gratitude journaling is also a fantastic way to set you up for the day as it encourages us to be thankful for what and who we have and to listen to and act on our true inner voice rather than negative thoughts and behaviours. It makes us feel better, allows us to show ourselves and others more compassion, encourages us to live in the moment, reconnecting with ourselves and what’s around us.
- Drink your coffee/tea/matcha in the garden listening to the sounds of nature, birds or just the silence. Slow down and be present in the moment. Just be. Breathe deeply. Take in all the small details and experience the beauty all around you. Experience the stillness. The majority of our vitamin D intake comes from natural sunlight so it is recommended that we spend at least 15 minutes a day outside. Remember to apply your SPF to protect your skin while you’re out there.
- Sit down for breakfast with your family if it’s possible. Eating a nutritious breakfast will fuel your body, providing more energy and enabling you to focus and concentrate better. If you haven’t got time for this, chat to your loved ones as this will make you feel more connected to them. Try to hug your spouse or children before everybody goes off to work/school too. Hugging boosts oxytocin levels (the love hormone) and serotonin which helps put us in a positive mood for the day and boosts our self-esteem. It also strengthens our immune system, balances our nervous system, lowers blood pressure and releases tension. Starting the day off by yourself? Practise mindful eating, savouring every bite. Perhaps put on a podcast rather than the news, or if you have one, spend time playing with/fussing your pet. Animals give unconditional love. They are very therapeutic to both our physical and our mental health and can provide you with company, lots of fun and joy.
What truly makes your day is starting it doing something you love to do for yourself – something authentic to you – and putting yourself first. It is not selfish to do that because that positive energy will build up and spill out onto others. Being gentle and kind to ourselves is as important as being gentle and kind to others.
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WHAT DOES YOUR MORNING ROUTINE LOOK LIKE?
We’d love for you to tell us in a comment below!