If you told 16-year-old me I'd become a morning person one day by choice, I would have balked at you. I dreaded getting up for morning practices starting as early as 5:00 am. I thought my mom was crazy to wake up early just to pray and journal. But here I am in my mid-thirties waking up almost three hours before I need to get to work.
Over the last year, I've worked with a coach on establishing healthy habits as a routine and not doing them just when you're motivated. This started with a small morning routine and it only continues to expand as well as the impact on my mental and physical health. Allowing me to strive when work is at its toughest.
Why a morning routine?
First, and foremost, a morning routine to me means I don't have the time or awakeness to start making excuses. I wake up and I just start my routine, five days a week, whether I feel like it or not.
It also sets the stage for my day, I start my day with intention, some gratitude, and a nice burst of endorphins.
"Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. And happy people just don't shoot their husbands" ~ Elle Woods.
On top of all that, now when my workday is done my evenings are all mine. I've checked off my obligations to myself and now I can relax, spend time with friends and family, and not stress about what I should do before the day is done.
What does a morning routine involve?
Everyone's routine will end up taking a different shape, but I highly recommend focusing on gratitude, mindfulness, and physical activity. This can take you 15 minutes or an hour.
Take a few minutes to settle into your day, check-in where you are, and set an intention for not just your to-do list but your mentality and approach for the day. For me, this is a 5 to 10-minute meditation each morning.
For me, this is a gratitude journal. Taking 5 to 10 minutes (depending on how awake I am) to write down what I am grateful for, what I am looking forward to, and my intention for the day. As much as I've always considered myself a grateful person, taking time to actually write it down can reshape your day.
Take a walk, do some yoga, or get in a high-intensity workout. It can be any or all of those things or something else entirely. But get your body moving for at least 10 minutes each morning. You'll be surprised by how much you begin to crave more time each morning.
How do you get started? Start small & pre-plan.
Almost a year into this process my routine ranges from an hour to an hour in a half. But when I started it was about 30 minutes.
Find two to three things for 5 to 10 minutes each that help you find mindfulness, gratitude, and physical movement each morning.
Also, don't give yourself space to change your mind or get lazy. Have your activities already scheduled and ready to go before you go to sleep? Or even prep your routine each weekend for the full week.
What does my routine look like?
6:00 am - Out of Bed, feed dog, make coffee.
6:15 am - Meditate
6:25 am - Gratitude journal
6:30 am - Yoga (20 minutes)
6:50 am - Workout (20 - 30 minutes) or a longer yoga
7:20 am - Do a couple of chores, play with the dog, read a book, and get ready for the day.
8:30 am - Start my work day.
Keeping your routine on the road.
Work travel can be all-encompassing. Sometimes it's 16-hour days. Having a morning routine you can adapt to the road is a great way to stay grounded when you travel.
Plan ahead and look at what your days will be like. Do you need to wake up at a normal time? Then try and stick to the majority of your routine. Waking up way too early or up later than normal so you need to sleep in. Go back to the three core aspects, mindfulness, gratitude, and physical movement.
On crazy days for me, that becomes a five-minute meditation, a quick journal, or even just a minute focusing on gratitude, and a few rounds of sun salutations.
Start the road trip strong and stick to it, even when the quantity or even quality change will help start your days on the best foot for whatever might be ahead of you. Turning these actions of mindfulness, gratitude, and activity into habits will make you crave it even on your craziest days.