© 2011 jen

The Morning Routine

What are your mornings like?  Are they calm or chaos?  Do you wake up excited to start your day, or do you wake up feeling overwhelmed?  I know I used to.  How you begin your day really sets the tone for your day.  If you start your day in a rush you’ll spend all day speeding along, rush, rushing and never getting caught up, feeling frustrated and wondering why your life is so much harder than it should be.  Or maybe that’s just me . . . or at least it used to be me.

I’m not a routine person, generally.  I wasn’t raised with routines and I hadn’t had much practice with routines until the last few years, but I was always somewhat organized. My passion for list making and being the perfect planner is massive, yet I’ve never felt that this side of me interferes with my more creative side.  I started to realize that my life was easier the more systems I set up in my day, such as using a grocery/menu list, which made cooking at home and grocery shopping so much less stressful.  I realized that setting up routines was a way of streamlining my life so that I can have more time and mental energy for new creative projects, ideas and plans.  The more of a routine you have the calmer your life can be.  Routines literally make room in your life, so that you can fit in the things you’d rather be doing. It takes 30 days to form a habit so you just need to start and then keep it up to establish a routine or revamp your old routine.

I will confess that my style isn’t always to do each of these first thing in the morning.  Some of them I do throughout the day, which works wonderfully for me!  It’s a great way to allow myself breaks in between working.

9 Tips for setting up your own AM routine:

1. Get up earlier than other members of your household.  This is especially true if you’re a parent.  Having at least 30 minutes to yourself to wake up and have a few thoughts of your own.  If you cannot get up before other members of your household find your own space away from everyone for at least 30 minutes in the morning, preferably an hour.  If you are a night person you may want to add some of these tips to your evening routine, but still plan to do some type of a morning routine.

2.  Go to bed at around the same time each night.  This will really help you set a pattern with your internal clock so that you may not even need to use an alarm clock.  Going to bed at around the same time each night can also really help with overcoming  insomnia.

3. Hydrate along with your morning coffee consumption.  Try to have a glass of water before or after your cup of coffee.  If you don’t drink coffee, but like to drink something else besides water, try adding water to that routine.

4. Take a few minutes each day to connect with yourself. For some people this will be meditation, for others it might be a few minutes of stretching, still others might want to have a walk first thing in the morning, or yoga.  All are important to making yourself feel good, which in turn will help you feel more balanced and prepared for your day.  If you don’t want exercise for your connecting with yourself time, be sure to make a bit of time for exercise too. Even 15 minutes a day can make a big difference in how you feel!

5. Eat a good breakfast each day.  Smoothies are a great way to get a big dose of fruits and veggies in the morning.  They’re fast, easy, delicious and nutritious.  What’s not to love?  This is a great solution for people who’s stomach isn’t really awake for a few hours.  Yes, you can skip breakfast in the morning, but the problem with this is that then hunger sneaks up on you and you end up either feeling terrible or over eating later, because your body thinks you’re starving.  Check out my fave smoothie recipes.

6. Planning for your day.  Setting things in motion at the beginning of your day helps make the day flow and lowers stress levels.  Planning is a general tip, because each set of plans depends on the needs of the individual, but here are a few suggestions . . . for some people it will be making a lunch to take to work with you.  Others might prefer to focus on spending time working on a to do list or leaving the house 5-10 minutes early to account for traffic.  Also, allow a bit of time for making lists and plans in the morning.

7. Do all those personal care things first thing in the morning. If you work in an office this one’s a no brainer, but if you work at home, it’s still important to take a few minutes just like if you were going into the office, to tend to your physical needs.  You know the drill, brush teeth, hair, wash face, shower, get dressed, etc.   Not all of us bathe every day.  Personally, I love hot baths and will sometimes save them for mid day as a way to reward myself for working hard.

8. Down time.  Give yourself a little chunk of time each day to do something you enjoy that isn’t responsible.  Set a timer if you need to, to stay on track.  Maybe you like to poke around on the computer (if you do this, try not to let yourself get to work until after you’ve done a few of the items from this list, otherwise you will likely just go straight to work and skip the AM routine all together). Some people might want to read the paper, twiddle their thumbs, play scrabble or whatever it is that you enjoy.

9. Repeat this list daily until you form a habit. As you’re accomplishing these tasks try to remind yourself of the things you are doing for you.  This will make you feel good and will help you remember that you are cared for and loved by you!

Quick tip: if you find that you cannot get specific items done in the beginning of your day, try to find new ways of fitting your AM routine in during breaks in your productivity.  For example, if you struggle to fit in exercise during the first few hours you wake up, go on a walk after you’ve worked for a few hours.  Maybe you’d prefer to have your down time in the afternoon when you get tired and are feeling less motivated by work.  Find what works for you and stick to it.  You’ll be glad you did!

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