Article by Emma-Sue Prince
What’s your typical morning routine like? How you start your day impacts every single part of your day. Once I realised that and changed how I began the day the effect was transformational. How you start the day pretty much dictates how the rest of your day will go and in terms of happiness, it is everything!
So many people don’t necessarily think about that time period right at the beginning of the day when they wake up. They tend to do more or less the same thing – often putting the alarm back on snooze, or most of the time reaching for their phone and straight away checking for messages, news, email and social media. Then rolling out of bed, sometimes not even having breakfast and then out the door – or a variation of this. Sound familiar?
What you do first thing in the morning sets you up for the day. So if I start my day flooding my brain with, usually other people’s demands, most of it not even important, I’m already going into a high alert state before I’ve even actually dealt with the real business or work of the day. Our brains have limited capacity for what they can absorb and energy gets used up. I’m then using up my energy on other people’s stuff or demands especially if I check email first thing. They did a study of successful people and all of them, without exception, had a specific morning routine that often includes exercise, meditation, thinking and reflecting so that they are starting the day feeling strong and ready. You’re basically starting the day from a place of strength and powerfulness.
Best Morning Routine
So I’d like to tell you about my own morning routine – I try to do this every day – don’t always succeed and I’m still working on it. I wake early – 6 am and the first thing I do is have a very large glass of lemon water – I put it by my bed the night before so it’s ready. I often light a candle, especially in Winter – for me it’s a cue to be mindful.
I’m lucky because my husband brings me up a cup of tea and I usually write a little – in a gratitude journal or just a few thoughts. My phone is nowhere near and I choose to not look at it until after breakfast and often not till after my morning walk. And then I just kind of slow down – I cook breakfast for my family, help my son get ready, take my son to school and chat with him on the way – I don’t want that precious time with him to be influenced by me looking at my phone or, worse, looking at email at that time of day. I then go for a walk out in nature with the dog – this is a great way for me to think, reflect and just get ready for my day.
Once I am back I then work on an immediate business task like a meaty project or some writing – I’m at my most productive in the morning. I find that if I go into email first before doing anything else it sucks up my energy and I can then easily spend a couple of hours responding to emails. So I choose to do this later. And for me the impact is that I am more productive, more positive and just calmer than when I used to do the opposite – checking my email, rushing around etc.
Some easy tweaks to make to your morning routine – I think it’s easier to start with small tweaks rather than trying to make huge changes. Certainly getting up a little earlier is proven to make a difference – even if its just 10 – 15 minutes earlier.
Give yourself at least 15 minutes of no screen time Besides turning off an alarm that might be on your phone, resist the urge to check your email or social media. It sets you up for a day of being enslaved to technology, and your morning time should be reserved just for you. This might mean disabling notifications on your home screen so you’re not tempted by that Facebook update or mounting emails.
Swap out the coffee for lemon water Lukewarm water with a fresh lemon squeezed into it has numerous benefits–but you need to drink it first thing in the morning. It starts your metabolism, which burns fat while sustaining muscle, cleanses your mouth and throat, and gives you a boost of energy. Then wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth, drinking, or eating. This might be a toughie for caffeine addicts, but you can manage 30 minutes and it’s a great way to reduce the need for a coffee fix.
Sit up correctly. There are many “bad ways” to get out of bed, but only one best way, if your body allows for it: Roll over onto your right side, then push yourself up into a sitting position before standing with a straight back (no hunching). It’s the gentlest way to get up, takes the pressure off your heart and back, and is a great, easy ritual to start your morning right.
Set and affirm your goals for the day
While stretching in bed or prepping your lemon water, set some feasible goals for the day, but limit them to three. This might include packing your lunch instead of eating out to save money, committing to that noon yoga class, or scheduling the doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off.
It seems so obvious, and yet so many people ignore it. You can do this in bed, using a simple stretched-out-legs-and-arms-overhead movement. You can indulge in a supine twist on a padded floor, or you can practice whatever feels right for as little or as long as you like. Your body’s just been booted down for hours–you can’t expect it to be warmed up, energized, and raring to go right away.
Meditate Don’t skip over this one just because it sounds boring or like you don’t have time for it. Meditation is only as strict, long, short, boring, or annoying as you make it. A “successful” meditation in an entire lifetime might be only a few seconds. However, sitting in a comfortable position and focusing on clearing your mind–even if it’s for less than a minute–can help your mental clarity and spiritual well-being and set the stage for the day.