Our mornings really do set the tone for the day, so it makes sense to start it in a good way, in a way that feels true to us and our values. However, if you’re a recovering perfectionist like me, you may have wanted to start a morning routine, but resisted because you felt like it was too hard, or you weren’t sure of the best way to go about it.
Thankfully, it isn’t hard to create a morning routine that works. Through small, simple changes, we can craft a morning routine that will help us start the day in a way that sets the stage for the kind of day, and life, that we want.
In this article I walk you through some tips to create a morning routine that works for you, while also explaining the evolution of my own current morning routine.
1. Think in Terms of Now
One thing I’ve been learning is that while I enjoy having routines, I also enjoy allowing them be flexible.
I’ve come to accept that they won’t necessarily be forever, and that’s okay. In fact, that’s a good thing because our circumstances and our needs change.
And it’s also really good because it takes the pressure off. We do NOT need to create the “perfect morning routine” or one that we are committing to for the rest of our lives. Whew! What a relief.
Lately I’m becoming more and more aware of the normal ebb and flow of life, and of my own energy cycle and moods. This ebb and flow is normal. Change is normal and something that is always there.
So remember, not only does your morning routine not have to be forever, it can’t be. It won’t be. And that’s good!
Feel free to try something and see how it goes. You are not locked in.
Maybe try it for one day, or a few days, or a week… and see how it feels. See what works for you now. For me, thinking this way takes the pressure off, and that helps me to take action.
2. Let Go of Perfection
There is no such thing as the perfect morning routine. You can go ahead and let go of trying to achieve that.
I loved the book Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, and I found it very inspiring. It’s a great book, and I encourage you to let it inspire you. But just keep in mind that you can do things your way. You don’t have to have all of the elements he has or recommends.
Pick and choose what’s most important to you right now, and what feels doable.
There are days that my morning routine doesn’t happen at all because I end up sleeping in because for whatever reason I was up in the night. And that’s okay.
It’s okay to be human. I’ve found that feeling guilty for not doing things “right” or perfectly is not helpful in starting or continuing new habits.
Being a mother has really taught me to be more flexible, to go with the flow, to accept the truth that I can’t always control everything.
We can be self-compassionate, letting go of any feelings of inadequacy, for example, and celebrating even our smallest moments of success.
Once we have children, we do really have to plan carefully in order to have time and space to focus on our own goals.
For me to have the morning routine I want, I have to wake up before the children. It helps to allow the quiet time to focus, and as an introvert, I need time alone.
Lately I’ve been waking up naturally around 5:00, and I really enjoy it. I usually have my alarm set for 6:00, too, so that at least I can hopefully wake up a little bit before my daughters.
Again, it doesn’t always happen, and that’s okay.
3. Start Small
When I create new habits, it usually helps to start small, such as starting with just one or two different activities, and then I add elements one by one over time.
Starting small helped me start meditating in the morning, which had previously felt almost impossible.
I had always meditated during nap time, but that meant it didn’t always happen. I felt that if I could start meditating in the morning instead, it would be easier to maintain a more consistent practice.
I finally decided to give morning meditation a try, but I started super small, with just 2 minutes. I felt like, I can do anything for two minutes!
So starting that way helped me ease into it in a way that didn’t feel too difficult. And it did make it much easier for me to make sure I did my meditation every day.
4. Get Support
In a happy coincidence, shortly after I began my two-minute morning meditation, my friend and fellow podcaster, Dr. Danielle Eaton, decided to do a Just Breathe challenge in her 4-Dimensional Moms Facebook Group. The goal was to meditate for 10 minutes a day for a month. This was just the motivation I needed to increase my morning meditation time, and I was excited to try extending my time since I had come to the realization that I actually could meditate in the morning. (Yay! So exciting!)
Having daily accountability in that group was powerful. I wanted to make sure I did it so that I could check in and say that I had done it and receive encouragement from Danielle and the other participants. Doing something with other people is highly motivating.
Doing that challenge was a great motivator for helping me consistently meditate in the morning and for longer periods of time.
After that challenge was over, I decided to create a month of Mindfulness and Meditation in my own Facebook group, the Happiness Mama Community. It was so fun to continue the group accountability and motivation, and just having a set place to check in and write down when I’d done it was helpful.
If there isn’t a challenge happening right now that you can join in, you could get a friend to join you and check in daily with each other. Or you could tell someone else or even announce on social media that you’re going to do this, and then check in every day to say you’ve done it.
Accountability is powerful and rewarding, because you have other people to encourage you and help you achieve your goals. Being part of my own Facebook group has been a great source of encouragement, support, and accountability for me.
5. Use Anchor Habits
Something else that helped me to add morning meditation to my morning routine was having an anchor habit to tack it on to. Every morning the first thing I do is make coffee (Sumatra or Caffe Verona!). So making coffee became my anchor habit for morning meditation.
I started doing my 2 minutes of meditation after the coffee started brewing, and I usually stop after it is ready, sometimes before. At times I add “coffee drinking meditation,” where I mindfully sip my coffee for a bit.
After a while, I added another new element to my morning routine, which is journaling.
My meditation is now the anchor habit for my journaling. I enjoy a type of journaling called “morning pages,” described in Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way.
My way of doing morning pages is to just write down any thoughts or feelings I want to express in order to feel clear to start my day. I don’t write any set amount of time or amount. Sometimes it’s just a few lines, sometimes it’s longer. I just write whatever I feel like writing in the moment. There is no pressure of any kind.
It feels great to have journaling as part of my morning routine now, as I had been resisting it for quite a while as a daily practice, but that’s another story. ;)
At the moment, I also have an additional temporary element to my morning routine. I’m doing a course called Your SHEro’s Journey by Rebecca Kane, and it involves listening to energy clearings several times a week. The recordings are around 10 minutes (or less) long, and they’re similar to guided meditations, followed by a little bit of journaling.
So on some days I add this in right after my meditation but before the morning pages.
I am really enjoying this aspect of my morning routine, and I may consider guided meditations after the course is finished.
Next, I check in with my journals–especially my 2016 Diary from Leonie Dawson, and my 2016 Companion, by Rebecca Kane. I am loving using both of these. I use them for slightly different purposes, but without going into detail, they’re a good way to reconnect with my intentions, plans, and goals for the day and the week.
2 Things to Avoid First Thing in the Morning
I’ve learned that there are two things I have to actively avoid first thing in the morning. They are
1. Social Media
It’s crazy how conditioned we can become to mindlessly checking email or Facebook! It feels like an addiction sometimes, and that doesn’t feel good.
I’ll be honest, the thought often crosses my mind to check my email on my phone in the morning… and sometimes I even do it mindlessly without even realizing it!
It is getting easier and easier though to be aware of this compulsion and actively not follow that urge.
I love having my mornings filled with intention and focus. Having my morning routine allows me to feel more centered and grounded, to start my day my way, rather than to start by “reacting” to incoming information and external tugs.
It feels wonderful to start the day in this way.
What about you? What is your biggest struggle with creating a morning routine that works for you?