15 morning routine habits for you. 3 massively helpful tips for actually sticking to them.
In this article, we’ll discuss:
– Why having a chunk of time blocked each morning is giving you freedom,
– What is my morning routine,
– How long I’ve practiced this routine so far,
– What kind of exceptions to this routine occurred and why,
and, of course,
– How you can build and stick to a meaningful, productive, briefly, your ideal daily morning routine.
It’s a Quest! 🙂
Productive & Meaningful:
How I Used Science, Ayurveda (+ Common Sense) To Build My Morning Routine
We all know, or at least have heard that a sound morning routine can boost our productivity and change our lives for the better. We’re at our most productive in the morning, so it’s vital to get into that flow first thing in the morning.
-> Great read: The Peak Time for Everything
We know that if we can have a daily workout, a daily health, meditation or creative thinking routine first thing in the morning, we’ll be frolicking and thriving, unlocking energy we never knew we had, staying focused throughout the day, being more successful in all our endeavours and face life’s punches with serenity and calm.
So, why do we often suck so much at sticking to a morning routine?
To me, the answer has many parts to it. The inefficiency of implementation, the lack of initial focus and/ or motivation come to mind. But also the society that makes us believe that things have to happen fast or else they are the worst.
But if you want to have an amazing start to the day AND are trouble sticking to a morning routine or having problems creating one that really feels good to you, I’m here to help. I’ve tried several things, I’ve read books and studies, and I’ve slowly built a routine that works like a charm. All I needed was… a lot of time spent researching, trying, and doing more research and trial & error.
Now, first things first, let’s talk about the three major obstacles, things that stop you dead in the tracks, and how to overcome them.
3 Tips To Stick To Your Routine
YOU HAVE NO TIME.
It’s easy to forget about your daily routine when your day is overbooked with tasks, to-dos and obligations. So if you don’t make time to plan and are rushing instead like a beheaded chicken (“Starting Mondaaaaay!”), is it any wonder you fail?
Make sure you have your planning set. Make sure you understand that that extra hour in the morning doesn’t miraculously come on top but has to be carved out of time usually spent on something else. Usually something much less healthy, less productive and less making-you-a-better-you.
YOU DON’T PRIORITISE.
Goes hand in hand with the first reason for failure. You don’t make your daily routine important.
Things that nourish and nurture Your Precious Self in a way that caters to the unique “environment” of your being need to be your top priority. Because know what? If you don’t care, nobody else will. You need time to start the day right in order to show up, in order to deliver results, in order to be there for people, in order to perform. Your health and spirituality practice (because that’s basically what a morning routine is all about) is part of your psychological hygiene and absolutely vital. It will be your best protection against frustration, burnout, feelings of aggression or inadequacy. How can anything be more important than this time that generates the energy needed to successfully deal or even cope with whatever the day will throw at you?
Here’s a fascinating bit of insight: blocking that hour will feed into your strength of saying no to things that only steal your time. Genius, right?
YOU FOLLOW INSTEAD OF LEADING.
Your fave beauty blogger drinks lemon water and so do you (never mind you suffer from reflux).
Your fave health author makes a handstand first thing in the morning and so do you (never mind you have neck problems).
Your fave spiritual guru chants a New Moon crystal chakra meditation and so do you (although you secretly think it’s the single most ridiculous thing California New Age has produced).
Your fave motivational coach wraps up her morning routine with a conf call and so do you (even though you’re not an entrepreneur and keep chatting to your BFF for no reason).
Do you see a pattern here? The knowledge is easily available, the span of things you could pick to fill your individual morning routine is endless and should be driven not by things other people do but by things that are good for you. Science or Ayurveda or both? Common knowledge and common sense? Why not!
But how do you know what steps to include? Logical thinking, sometimes medical advice, and of course trial and error.
So make sure your daily morning routine is good for you, make sure it aligns with your personal and professional goals to keep your motivated automatically.
15 Daily Morning Routine Habits
I’ve put the habits into a logical order that has been the most efficient over time for me, but also is found in the morning routines of most people who happen to have one.
In the following, I’m quickly addressing each habit, its benefits, its variations and then add notes on what I personally do.
When I first started with my morning routine years back, I’ve experienced a series of setbacks and gave up in-between. Whatever the cause for stopping was, whatever my life/ job/ personal situation – I have always felt better with a daily routine than without.
Today I will still skip some steps occasionally. Sometimes you don’t get much of a rest – we’re living in the heart of things in Berlin, so noise is a huge issue – or you don’t feel well, or the circumstances rush you out of bed and out the door. However, I always try to do at least a brief albeit mindful toe-dipping into each activity. A few deep breaths instead of minutes long practice, a quick prayer instead of a full-blown meditation.
So without further ado, these are my daily morning routine habits that I’ve been following for about two years now in this form, broken down for you to try and to customise.
1. SCHEDULE YOUR DAY THE NIGHT BEFORE (THE LATEST)
You can only dedicate your morning to mindful practices if you don’t have to worry about decisions the young day is about to request from you.
I have a double planning going on. First, I have of course all the duties and the dates jotted down. Second, I use a technique of Energy planning called the Good Time Journal from the recently reviewed book Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans:
For this, you rate all your recurring and regular engagements on a scale of how they make you feel. Are you energised or drained? Excited or bored? Once you figure that out, you can tweak your planning to keep yourself energised.
The authors remind us that with 25% of all energy consumed by our brain, truly the energy goes to what we pay attention to. I don’t want my energy to go to negativity, chatter, noise, gossip or stupid things that don’t support anything of what I care for. I suppose same goes for you?
2. WAKE UP EARLY – BEDTIME ROUTINE BECOMES VITAL, TOO
In Ayurveda, it’s considered healthy to wake up before sunrise – it’s believed that the peaceful energies in nature will transfer to our senses.
I really love early mornings, have always adored the sensation of freshness of the new day, even if it meant taking a taxi to an airport or to a train station at 4 am. There is something poetic and intrinsically soothing in this promise of a new page.
In summer, I try to wake up at 7 the latest.
(This means ideal bedtime is at ten.)
3. DEEP BREATHING PRACTICE
During the day, our breath can get very flat. In Ayurveda, the breathing practice is called Pranayama and you can totally look it up to see if that’s up your alley.
For science-backed reasons, check out this recent article by Harvard Health Publishing:
4. STILL IN BED: CUDDLES, WARM-UP, FACIAL MASSAGE/ FACIAL EXERCISE
Couples and families can have a lot of fun creating their morning routines, too!
It’s only wise to have a little bit of time to enjoy the most precious company you can have among the first things in the morning.
When you can then focus on yourself, enjoy a round of easy stretching in bed; quickly massage your head, face and neck; warm up and move your shoulders, arms and legs. A round of grimacing to get the lymph flow going and to reduce puffiness is great, too.
5. CLEAN YOUR FACE, NOSE, EYES AND MOUTH
(Includes tongue scraping, oil pulling, teeth brushing)
That’s a quick one really. Wash your face, clean your nose, brush your teeth and scrape your tongue. If I have the luxury of time, I will additionally follow up with a facial massage using my rose quartz rollers before applying my toner and moisturiser.
-> Great read: 5 Proven Benefits of Oil Pulling
I find oil pulling a bit hard to fit into a morning routine – for full impact you’ll need to gargle for 20 minutes no less, so I will sometimes either skip it or start my oil pulling procedure after this next step:
6. DRINK WATER
Some sources suggest we should drink cold water, others argue it should be warm. Some say it has to be lemon or vinegar water, others advocate pure filtered tap water.
Personally, I prefer warm water on cold winter mornings, and room temp water during spring and summer. No lemon, no vinegar for me. 500 ml. Cheers!
7. DRY BRUSHING
Dry brushing is simply a body massage using a dry (hence: dry brushing), firm, stiff-bristled brush.
Because daily showers are a controversial topic – saving water vs. hygiene vs. drying skin: discuss – a round of dry brushing helps exfoliate the skin without stripping it of moisture. Many Ayurvedic and aromatherapeutic sources suggest using a few drops of essential oils to add even more oomph to the massage. Apart from the peeling, the most obvious benefit of dry brushing is that it increases blood circulation and supports the lymph flow, both essential for a healthy skin and uplifted spirits.
As for other bold claims such as killing cellulite, detoxifying the body big time – nah. No evidence there. But it’s a beautiful practice which, let me put it this way, makes our soul enjoy the body it inhabits.
I add a few drops of an oils-only body serum to the bristles or a few drops of an essential oil, depending on the season or my condition, for added aromatherapeutic and skincare benefits.
Some will practice yoga, others will have a HIIT workout, and the lucky ones will swim. Whatever it is you choose, make sure it’s making your whole body move. Movement is essential for the lymph flow (notice I didn’t say “good” flow? Because it’s essential to get the flow started in the first place) and vital for our body to get all nutrients from the healthy breakfast we’re about to enjoy.
Many scientific sources prove that mindfulness practices – prayers, spiritual practices, meditation and so on – can help improve focus and cognitive abilities, treat and prevent depression, reduce anxiety, decrease bias (yes!). Should be taught in schools, if you ask me. Or maybe I may teach it someday 🙂
10. EAT A NUTRITIOUS BREAKFAST
For some, a nutritious breakfast is a superfood-packed super-smoothie, for others it’s a warm porridge, or scrambled eggs, or soup, or granola, or… I have settled for my favourite breakfast (raw gluten free, oat free, soy free “porridge” with lots of berries, antioxidants and healthy fats, followed by an organic and vegan-friendly Vitamin D and K supplement)
11. HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE
What? Aren’t we told to give up coffee? Along with alcohol and cigarettes?!
Well. Not so fast, eh. Coffee in moderation can be very beneficial. One to two cups of coffee per day, research shows, can protect from Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, type 2 Diabetes, lower the risk of developing some forms of cancer. Coffee is packed with antioxidants, essential nutrients, and is a known metabolism and performance booster.
I drink a large cup of “milk” coffee (rice drink) with a few dates which is proven to be good for our heart.
12. PREPARE A HEALTHY MEAL (AND BEVERAGES!) FOR LUNCH
I will touch briefly on this one, because it’s less of an Ayurvedic or scientifically rooted habit, more like a common-sense healthy habit. Carefully selecting your food and meals while you’re at home goes down the drain if you then have no healthy lunch options further down the road.
13. READ – OR TAKE TIME FOR AN INTELLECTUALLY EXCITING ACTIVITY
Whether it’s your creative endeavour, inspiration or self-education – taking time for something inspiring as a first intellectually productive task sets the mood for the whole day.
Try it, and you’ll notice the difference on the first day.
-> Great read: Cognitive Flexibility
14. MAKE YOUR BED
While it will make you a happier person to make your bed in the morning, it will also be highly appreciated by those nasty dust mites – yikes.
This is why I don’t do this right after waking up. A little exposure to sun and air will cause quite some distress to those fellas.
15. STAY ON TRACK – BUT LEAVE ROOM FOR SURPRISES
Keep in mind that on some mornings, you’ll have more or less time for your routine. This is just the reality. Don’t let this set you back or discourage you. Simply skip something – or shorten the activity. Whether you’ve got all the time in the world or need to rush, the key is to stay mindful and not execute the steps in an automated manner.
The most important thing is to stay mindful and open for inspiration, because not only unpleasant surprises will show up. Sometimes an idea will hatch, or a solution to a problem will jump right at you after your meditation. Simple activities like mindfully making yourself a cup of coffee can sometimes hold more inspiration than a whole bunch of TED talks!
Also don’t worry that you give up. If your routine is customised to your needs and wants, and when your routine offers benefits you can see and feel, it’s incredibly easy to stick to it. Case in point: I’m an avid gamer, but I’d gladly skip hours of ESO in order to make time for sleep, exercise, or learning. However, the sheer knowledge that I have this routine waiting for me upon waking up, is incredibly freeing. Our mind needs a break from decisions, and starting your day with a routine – mindful though – is a great source of positive energy. But not only that! It may sound stupid, but this routine is my ticket to freedom when it comes to things I don’t want to commit to. Saying no to time-eating stuff that leads nowhere becomes easy when you need time to energise yourself.
What to read next:
Meditation Without Mystery
How to sleep like a baby (no matter what)
Nurture the Ecofair Self
Mudras for Happiness and Connection With Others
Production, styling, images:
SDVH new media lab and art studio