Do you ever have those mornings where you're frantically rushing around trying to do everything to prepare for the day and get out the door on time, but instead forget things at home and end up feeling frazzled and disorganized the whole day?
I've been there and done that - and have even been back there several times, especially when my life was so busy in both my personal and professional life. As it turned out, the days I felt stressed, overwhelmed, and disconnected were the days I didn't have a morning routine. I just woke up, ill-prepared to face the day, so it's not surprising to discover that those days were not my most successful ones. I think we all can relate to this.
OPTIMIZE YOUR MORNING
With the start of each new year, we create space for new intentions, new goals, new rituals, and new routines. While "New Years" resolutions are popular and openly discussed, remember: you don't need a new year, or new season for that matter, to start something fresh to improve your life and well-being. Today is the 'tomorrow' you talked about yesterday.
Morning routines are far more than habits; in my opinion, they set the tone for our entire day. When I say "morning routine," I'm not talking about just making coffee, eating breakfast, and getting ready for the day -- I'm talking about practicing mindfulness and living with intention to set yourself up for a successful day.
The key to an effective morning routine is preparation. In order to carry out your best morning practices, you should allot enough time to allow yourself to be present in the moment. No rushing or frantically completing tasks on your way out the door.
To give you an example of what a morning routine consists of, I've included a breakdown of my current personal morning routine (as of March 2018). Here it is, step by step…
MY MORNING ROUTINE
+ 5:30 am: | PRIMING + INTENTIONS |
I wake up, only briefly looking at my phone to turn off my alarm and put it away for the morning. Then I'll mentally set my intention or mantra for the day -- this may be whatever comes to mind or I'll prompt myself by asking how I'm "being" in that moment. Next, I write in my Five Minute Journal and list three things I am grateful for, to focus on the good in my life and start my day with positivity.
+ 5:40 am: | HYDRATION |
I drink half a liter of cold water as I'm heating up water for coffee or matcha tea, depending on what I'm craving that morning. As I'm sipping my hot beverage of choice, I'll make a pre-workout green smoothie or green juice. Next, I'll quickly dress in exercise clothes and start my morning workout.
+ 6:00 am: | EXERCISE |
My workouts vary daily, weekly, and seasonally, depending on my personal fitness goals. I'm currently focusing on flexibility and strength. I could write a whole post on my workout routines, but I won't go into the details here. Essentially, I start with yoga, followed by a daily workout, and finish with a cool down, which includes stretching and foam rolling.
Depending on the day of the week and the weather, I may go on a walk around the neighborhood or on the treadmill while listening to my favorite podcasts. Walking is an often overlooked form of movement due to its low intensity; however, it carries many health benefits. For example, regular brisk walking can help you: boost your immune system, strengthen your bones and muscles, maintain a healthy weight, and lower your blood sugar levels.
+ 7:00 am: | MEDITATION + MINDFULNESS |
I light a candle and meditate for approximately 15 minutes each morning. How I meditate might be different than how you meditate, and that's okay. Whether its guided meditations, meditation audio, mantras, or reading a book, find what works for you. Meditation only works if you're listening to your self and tuning into what matters to you.
I conclude by opening up my day planner to review my schedule and select three daily tasks to complete on my to-do list. I make sure to write down my morning intention or mantra as a way to visualize my focus and goal for the day.
+ 7:30 am: | CLEAN + PRIMP + STYLE |
After meditating, I get dressed and ready for the day. I shower, do my hair and makeup, and "eye-cessorize" with my eyewear of choice.
One of the tasks I moved from my morning routine to my evening routine was outfit selection. I pick out my clothes, shoes, and accessories the night before and set them aside, so now I don't waste time in the morning trying to decide what to wear. I found that scrambling to put my outfit together was a huge source of frustration for me - which is not a good mentality to have when starting your day. I'd wind up feeling rushed, ill-prepared, and generally uncomfortable in my clothes the entire day. If you ever experience this feeling too, try setting out your clothes the night before as a way to destress your mornings.
+ 8:30 am: | NOURISHMENT |
Time for breakfast. What I eat depends on the intensity of my workout that morning and what's on my weekly meal plan. A few meal examples include overnight oats, eggs with sprouted-grain toast, or a protein shake. Essentially, my meal includes protein, fiber, and complex carbs to keep me satiated all morning.
+ 8:45 am: | LEAVE FOR WORK |
I head to work feeling refreshed, focused, and energized to power through straight until lunch. Throughout my work day I try to be as mindful as possible of my breath, posture, and intentions. I'll routinely pause to check in with myself and recall the mantra I set for the day.
TIPS FOR CREATING YOUR MORNING ROUTINE
Sometimes deciding when and how you'll do things is half the battle! Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating your own morning routine:
- Write it down. Write out your morning routine and add it to your paper or digital calendar. Now close your eyes and envision yourself practicing that morning routine, step by step. This helps work out those little "in between" steps you might've missed. - Take it slow. The first time you perform your morning routine might feel daunting…. It won't always feel this way! Like any habit, it takes time to adjust and form good practices. It's best to start by adding one thing at a time, and slowly working up to your full routine. - Practice makes progress. As you perform your routine, make note of the time it takes you to complete each task, what is successful, and what is not. Use this to information to improve your routine until you find the best method for you. - Skip "snooze." If you find yourself hitting the "snooze" button, you should be getting more sleep! This doesn't mean staying in bed longer that morning; it means going to sleep earlier at night. - Be "selfish." My morning time is sacred; it is my personal time for self-development and care. Embrace the quiet stillness of the morning and focus on your inner and physical being. - Change with the seasons. While my morning routine is pretty regular and consistent year-round, there are times I switch it up if I'm feeling stagnant. In the warmer months, I'll take my morning workout outside for a change of scenery and to enjoy watching the sunrise. - Just do it! Try to incorporate your routine into your mornings for two weeks straight and report back to me. Whether you can complete your entire routine successfully or not, you have set an intention to improve your day, and I think you'll start to notice positive changes as a result of it.
I hope that sharing my personal morning routine will help inspire you to cultivate your own routine. Remember that not all morning routines are the same. Over time, you'll discover what works and doesn't work for you individually, and you might end up refining your own routine to best optimize your life.
I'd love to hear about your personal morning routine. Share your routines in the comments below for others in the community to read, and connect with OEL on Instagram @OptomEyesLife and #OptomEyesLife.