“Here comes the sun.”
Tired. Overworked. Stretched too thin.
It’s true, most people are stressed. Between not having enough time to do everything we feel we need to do, to the everyday pressures of work, school, family, and all of it, we’re all on that struggle bus from time to time.
But what if you could minimize your time on the bus – or, best of all, make sure things don’t get to the point where you’re not just on the bus, you’re driving it.
Establish a Morning Routine
One of the best ways to have good, focused days is with a good, focused morning routine. I’ve found that when my morning routine is on, my day is better than when I begin with a scattered, hectic day.
So what does a good morning routine look like? That link shares more about mine, pretty simple stuff. It’s different for everyone and it can be anything that works best for you. I have five ideas that will give you a starting point, things that have worked well for me as part of my morning routine that I hope will work well for you.
There’s one caveat to this: Try to create a morning routine that doesn’t involve checking your phone. I’m not saying you can’t look at your phone in the morning, just try to keep it separate from this special time that’s just yours.
Here are five ideas for how you can create a morning routine that’ll set up the best days. And, keep in mind, a habit doesn’t have to be a go-big-or-go-home effort. There are plenty of small changes for better health that everyone can make and the morning routine is no exception. Each idea includes a “go big” or “go small” option to help you see how it could work for you.
I truly believe eating breakfast is among the best ways to set up a good day. Eating breakfast fuels the body and the mind for work, taking care of littles, school, or whatever your day brings.
Also, I personally find coffee to be a magical way to wake up and important part of my daily breakfast – highly recommend at least one cup of joe to start each day.
A “big” breakfast doesn’t mean eggs, bacon, French toast, and juice. When I think of Go Big on breakfast, I mean taking the time for something that needs to be prepared like oatmeal, toast with peanut butter and sliced banana, or a smoothie.
A quick breakfast can be a banana, a protein bar, a can of V8 juice – anything you can eat quickly and with no prep. Just take the time to sit down and eat it, not scarf it down in the car. Just drive while you’re in the car.
Writing down your thoughts is an opportunity to get to know yourself better, remind yourself of important things, prioritize, really anything. For more on this topic, here’s how to start a journal, based on my effort earlier this year.
A journal entry can be your aspiration statement for the day. It can include a detailed list of to-dos, priorities, and something specific about how you want to show up for the challenges and choices you’ll be presented with that day. I, for example, have a different journal entry for each day of the week, in addition to my workout journal.
A journal entry doesn’t have to be a long, detailed account of the day. A sentence or a quote are great ideas for a positive, mindful way to begin the day.
There’s something incredibly powerful about the practice of gratitude. That fight you had with a coworker, a full inbox, or a sassy toddler – it’s amazing how those things can become so minor when recognizing what really matters in life.
On a related note to my last point, if you’re looking for an idea to jumpstart daily jounaling, gratitude is a great place to begin.
A complex gratitude practice can include more than just a conscious effort to think of or write down things for which you’re grateful; it can also include a follow-up plan of how you’ll “pay it forward” so to speak, perhaps going out of your way to thank a friend for being there for you or proactively complimenting a coworker because you’re grateful to work with him or her.
A simple gratitude practice can be recognizing just one thing for which you’re grateful in that moment. I do this every morning while drinking my first cup of coffee.
Back to all those stressers like constant emails, overscheduled kid’s activities, and trying to plan dinner, our minds are far too overloaded to really be at their most thoughtful, productive, and smart. Clearing the mind and taking time to just be is a great way to unclutter and refocus for the true priorities in each day.
A large mindfulness effort can be a full five or so minutes of distraction-free, focus. It can be meditation, yoga, or very slowed-down, intentional thought.
A simple mindfulness tactic is taking a few deep belly breaths before eating breakfast or sipping coffee, a moment to be calm and just be for a moment. Bonus, deep breathing before eating can aid in digestion.
I saved the best for last. Probably the most obvious and most difficult morning habit, exercise is also one of the best ways to begin a day. If you need a little boost, check out this old blog with tips for how to exercise in the morning.
Exercise can be as intense as a long run or heavy weightlifting sesh at the gym.
Exercise can be as simple as a 10-minute yoga routine or walk.
There they are – five of my best ideas for creating a healthy morning routine. What are yours?
Do you have a morning routine that creates great days? What are your favorite things to do each morning as part of a healthy routine? The comments are all yours so please share.