Starting your day in the right way can set you up for a day that flows so much more easily. You feel better in your body, have more clarity of mind and more energy. But maintaining a morning routine is easier said than done, right? Not necessarily.
You see, the trap that many of us fall into is creating a morning routine full of things we think we should be doing, rather than filling it with things that actually energise and uplift us.
Particularly when we have insights into so many other people’s lives through social media (real or otherwise), we can think that because a particular routine works so well for this person or that one, that we should be doing it the same way.
But their approach may not be right for you, which means that it’ll take willpower and perseverance to stick to it. And like a muscle, willpower will eventually get exhausted.
If your morning routine is going to be sustainable over the long term, it needs to feel good - so it’s essential that it fits you, your lifestyle and your fundamental needs. Otherwise, it’ll be just another chore to get done, instead of the nurturing and replenishing experience that it should be.
A morning routine isn’t just for when life is going smoothly either. A firmly established morning routine can actually be a life-raft during more challenging times, holding you steady and bringing you back to your centre, strengthening you to deal with whatever life throws at you.
When you’re creating your morning routine, it’s good to consider how you can tend to yourself in the following areas:
MOVE: getting your body moving
BREATHE: taking some time to connect with your inner self
NOURISH: eating beautiful, fresh food
GLOW: doing the things that make you feel joyful and alive
The first step to creating the perfect morning routine is knowing yourself. Your strengths, your natural body rhythms, the things that make you feel your best.
My morning routine
Let me illustrate by sharing my morning routine, and why it works for me. Then you can work through the steps to allow you to create one for yourself.
Things to know about me:
I’m a morning person
My top five signature strengths are Love of Learning, Gratitude, Capacity to Love & Be Loved, Hope, Optimism & Future-mindedness, and Curiosity & Interest in the World
Music makes me feel alive and gives me energy
Meditation helps me feel calm & grounded, allows me to process anything that’s going on in my life, and boosts my mood
I love food and the whole experience of eating
With these things in mind, this is what my morning routine usually looks like:
5:30 am - Get up. Drink a big glass of water to start the day, then have a cup of tea and read for a while. I’m currently revisiting In An Unspoken Voice, by Peter Levine - can highly recommend!. (Glow - expressing my signature strengths of Love of Learning and Curiosity & Interest in the World)
Mediate for about 20 minutes (Breathe)
Do some kind of movement practice to music that I love. I like flowing yoga sequences, with some body weight exercises thrown in if I feel like it. My focus is not on exercising but bringing my attention to how good it feels to move my body to music, feeling the rhythm of the music, the stretch of my muscles. (Move - maximising pleasure by incorporating music)
Make breakfast, then sit down and give myself time to really enjoy it. (Nourish - giving myself time to enjoy the experience of eating)
Now I’m ready to shower and get on with my day, feeling so much better for giving myself this time.
You can see how my morning routine integrates Move, Breathe, Nourish, Glow activities and allows me to experience them in ways that are deliciously enjoyable for me.
Now it’s your turn! Take a pen and paper and answer the following questions:
Are you a morning or night person?
If you’re a morning person like me, then a more extended morning ritual will work for you. If you’re a night person, you may need to take this into account, leaving more active things for later in the day.
What are your Signature Strengths? *See note below to discover yours.
Knowing what conditions you need to thrive can be really helpful in knowing the things that are important to prioritise. For me, reading non-fiction in the morning allows me to feed my constant hunger for knowledge which for me feels stimulating and inspiring.
How are you most likely to fall out of balance during the day?
For example, if your tendency is to get stressed and overwhelmed, a meditation practice that is very calming and grounding will be good for you. If your tendency is to become low in energy and mood, then an energising gratitude meditation will help to strengthen you against this.
When do you feel hungry for breakfast?
If you start the day with a good appetite, you’ll want to allow yourself the time to enjoy breakfast. If you don’t get hungry until later, you’ll want to do some planning to make sure you’ve got something nourishing and delicious to eat then.
What makes you feel amazing?
Listening to music, being in nature? List some things that are your natural mood enhancers and make sure you find a way to factor them into your morning.
When you’re clear on the factors that enhance your wellbeing, then you can look at the time available to you in the morning and create a routine that works for you, incorporating Move, Breathe, Nourish and Glow activities.
Something to consider; when we set goals that are too big for us to begin with, we’re more likely to fail. We are much more likely to maintain a habit when it’s small and manageable. Once it’s firmly established as a habit, then you can increase it.
For example, if you’d like to start a mediation practice but know you’re often short of time in the mornings, commit to a small practice - say 5 or 10 minutes. When that’s an easy part of your day, you can begin to increase the time. The important thing is to include it, no matter what.
I hope this helps you create a morning routine that allows you to start your day in a nourishing and replenishing way. We spend so much time giving to others. The morning can be a sacred time of the day to give back to yourself.
* The VIA Survey of Character Strengths is an excellent resource to learn more about yourself. (Make sure you select the VIA survey). You’ll need to create a free account, which means you can retake the test down the track and see how your signature strengths shift over time. Whilst mine have shuffled in order, they’ve stayed freakishly the same since I first took the test many years ago.