In high school and college, I used to consider myself a night owl. I loved staying up late— it felt like I was experiencing so much more and getting to live by my own rules. It gave me peace and solitude and the chance to catch up on assignments or personal projects that I just could not get to earlier on in the day.
Several years after I graduated college and got a job, things changed. Or more accurately, I changed. I needed boundaries.
After many sleepy (okay, crabby) mornings, I realized something profound — I was starting my day off on someone else’s terms. I was tired and felt like my circumstances controlled me rather than me honoring my own time (and I think I was oddly starting to appreciate the early morning rise). I slowly started rising earlier, spending a few quiet moments alone before the bustle of the day began.
Before long, I found that I felt more focused, patient, and peaceful. I gained a clarity and presence that had previously eluded me. I became much more intentional and productive, without changing much other than my morning routine. My mornings felt more purposeful and the effects lasted throughout the day.
Not enough time to read the whole article right now? Scroll below to skip to ideas to get your morning serving you!
How a morning routine changes you
- A good morning routine creates consistency in your day. Starting your day out with a set plan and then listing out what you want to accomplish that day increases your productivity and your ability to be consistent with what you say that you are going to do. You also allow yourself to say “I am a priority” by setting aside time for you and getting in a consistent routine of valuing yourself.
- You improve your physical and emotional energy. Creativity and indulging in what inspires you creates energy —positive, uplifting energy. When you can start your day off on a high, your emotional energy raises and, in turn, you have more physical energy. If exercise is part of your morning routine, then that is even more physical energy you are creating and more endorphins that you are allowing to flood your brain!
- You develop strong discipline. Let’s face it — when you can consistently pull your butt out of bed and engage in your morning routine day in and day out, your willpower and discipline enhance significantly. This discipline is likely to then spill over into other areas of your life, leaving you feel more accomplished and productive.
- Stress decreases throughout your day. Starting your day out with positivity helps you to be more likely to decrease potential stress throughout the day. It is shown that the first 20-30 minutes from when you first wake in the morning is the most influential to your subconscious (the part of the brain where your ego likes to hide out). When you can influence your subconscious, you are better able to begin retraining your brain and your old thought patterns. And, when you begin to retrain your brain, you are more likely to begin perceiving stressful situations differently- learning how to respond rather than react to a situation.
- Learn self-love and self-compassion. When you create time to learn about yourself and put yourself first, a funny little thing happens — you learn to appreciate, respect, and love yourself a little more. Life feels different and self-respect begins to flourish.
A huge misconception is that you need a ton of time to set aside in the morning. But if you commit to the idea that you have to set aside 2 hours first thing in the morning to be successful, you will most likely fail before you even begin. Start with 20-30 minutes. That’s it! As you progress and you see what feels right and what fits in your schedule, you can adjust from there. The key is to just start!
8 morning practices to create a satisfying morning routine
- Practice gratitude. Gratitude for yourself, gratitude for the ones you love, gratitude for your enemies, gratitude for your environment. Have you recently had a work success? Did your child have a great day at school? Was the sunrise beautiful this morning and you were fortunate enough to awake to see it? We have so much to be thankful for and beginning your day in a place of gratitude instantly raises your mood and your emotional state.
- Write it down. Journaling is a creative way to get the junk out of your head and onto paper. You can journal with words or pictures or lists. You can write stories or poetry. Pouring your thoughts (and hearts) out onto paper for even a few minutes a day can help you clear your mind and support your well-being. There is no right way to journal, there is only your way!
- Read or listen to inspirational words. Words are powerful, especially when you can fully engage in them through a time of quiet. You can read your favorite motivational quotes, self-help books, devotionals, poetry, or enlightening books. You can even listen to inspirational podcasts or interviews or audio books. Truly the choices are abundant, as long as they are uplifting and positive.
- Body movement. The options are endless — go for a run, hit the mat for a yoga practice, do a series of push ups or strength-building activities, dance, or stretch your body. To really boost the power of body movement, combine this with a meditative walk outdoors to fully engage in the stress-reducing power of nature.
- Meditate. How amazing would it feel to clear your mind from constant chatter? Health experts, athletes, physicians, spiritual teachers, and more emphasize the effects of meditation. Beginning your day with it can increase your likelihood of returning back to it throughout the day, too. Consider a class or a guided meditation app (i.e., Headspace) to get started.
- Start to visualize your future. What would your ideal day look like? How would you like your future to unfold? Dwelling on it for a few moments each morning not only helps you to learn about what you really want out of life, but it also helps you to stay connected to it — to stay on track. Creating a vision board (a collage of photos and words that represent your goals) is a great way to bring your visualization into the here and now and allow you to keep you on track.
- Set your daily intention. As you think about the day ahead, with its various demands, how do you want to carry yourself? Choose a word that represents who and how you want to be throughout the day, then focus on it throughout your day. Words I have found powerful include: energized, joyful, focused, worthy, and calm.
- Create SMART goals. SMART goals are a simple acronym that helps you get super down and dirty with specific goal setting. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Create 1-2 SMART goals for your day that will help you to enhance your feelings of productivity and to help you get closer to creating the life that you visualize. When you have a plan and achievable goals set in place, it is much easier to take action and to honor yourself!
How you begin your morning sets the tone for your entire day. Choose one or two of the items above, or ask yourself what would best serve you.
Then, tonight, set yourself up for a peaceful night’s rest in confidence knowing that you will start your morning off on a good foot!
Are you tired of feeling stressed out and overwhelmed as soon as your feet hit the floor in the morning?
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