Cultivate a Morning Routine – 8 Ways to Make Your Morning More Uplifting
Everyday for the next however many days we have on this spinning ball of solids, gases and liquids you will have to open your eyes and attempt to seize the day. This is something that, ideally, will happen day in and day out. It’s something we can rely on in this constantly changing and chaotic existence. So, why not make it as uplifting as possible? Why not take this already present routine and elevate it so that it elevates us for the rest of our day?
I’m going to start by sharing the morning routines of one of your lovely Senseis and fellow Douvris students. Then, we’ll get into some of the habits that can make your morning routine motivating and happier than ever before.
Tina Cantrill’s (Executive Coach and Organizational Culture Consultant) Morning Routine:
The secret to a great morning is an organized evening: One without the other simply doesn’t
work. Here, I share my evening routine so that my days get off to a great start.
- Every evening, I make sure the house is clean and tidy. There is nothing more mentally debilitating than waking up to dirty dishes and mess in the morning. Waking up to a clean, neat, orderly house sets up my day well.
- At the end of my work day, I print my schedule for the following day and lay it on my desk. My office is always left neat and tidy.
- I wake up without an alarm at 6.00am Monday through Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, I allow myself to sleep until 7.30am (though I rarely do).
- I keep a notebook at the side of my bed because my brain is most active first thing in the morning. I give myself ten minutes of ‘free thinking’ and I write down anything that comes to mind. Many would call this ‘journaling’: I call it ‘free thinking’. I never try to finesse my thoughts; I just scribble them on the page and revisit them later in the day.
- I get my son off to school and then I take my dog for a walk in the woods; rain, snow, or shine.This is the time when I often develop the thoughts I had earlier, so I keep my phone handy and make voice-memos of any additional thoughts I have whilst walking in the woods.
- I come home and eat the same breakfast every day (cottage cheese, nuts, coconut, berries, cinnamon, and honey). Whilst eating breakfast, I read the news and decide what to cook for dinner. This prevents a mad panic in the evening, and it allows me to focus on the day ahead without being distracted.
- Then I prepare myself for my day. Whether or not I have clients scheduled, I always shower, do my hair, and put on make-up. It’s important for me to make the mental flip to ‘Business owner’ so that I can focus on what needs to be done. I think this is a key point for anyone working at home. The temptation to work in your jammies is huge, so I make sure I dress as I would if I were going to work in the office. I wouldn’t go to the office in Lulu’s, so I don’t do it at home either.
And that’s my early morning routine. I’m regimented about it. Even if I have a 6.30am client, my routine doesn’t change. I schedule exercise into every day to make sure it happens before 5.00pm.”
9 Simple ways to make your morning routine happier:
You’ll notice many of these 8 habits are weaved throughout Tina’s morning routine. Tina’s morning routine is a perfect example of how every morning routine needs to be crafted to suit your lifestyle in order to be as uplifting as possible. It’s important to note that your morning routine is personal and some things will fit while others will not. Take these following 8 habits as a loose guideline or as individual, not hierarchical, ideas to inspire you to craft your own morning routine that suits your lifestyle.
1. Get moving
Warming up and stretching your body is a great way to get your heart rate up, produce some happy hormones in the brain and convince your sleepy self that it’s time to seize the day! You don’t need to commit to a 45 minute to an hour session, all it takes is 5 – 10 minutes of movement to get the blood flowing and wake up your mind, body and spirit. Make it as fun as possible. If you love yoga, do some sun salutations. If you love to dance, throw in some headphones or turn on the stereo and let loose for a couple minutes. Whatever makes the heart beat faster and the body looser, it’s up to you.
2. Back away from the phone
Unless it’s absolutely necessary, avoid starting your day with your nose in your phone. What you do in the first hour of waking up will heavily impact your mood for the rest of the day. Think of it as setting the tone for your existence. If you start your day reading an upsetting news article or scrolling your Instagram feed and comparing your real life to someone else’s picture perfect highlight reel, you may carry these emotions with you through the rest of the day. Your goal is to start your day happier and more motivated isn’t it? Don’t sabotage yourself before you even get out of bed.
3. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Once your day starts rolling and the tasks begin to pile up, simply remembering to pick up a glass or bottle of water can quickly go out the window. I know it does for me. When your body is dehydrated your brain function is no longer optimal and your mood can take a turn for the worst. Start making it a habit to down a couple glasses when you first wake up. It’s refreshing, can help wake you up and if you do forget to drink enough water throughout the day, at least you banked some in the morning.
4. 10 Second tidy
This usually comes before or after I plan my day. I make my bed and clear up the most immediate places of clutter like my counter tops, tables and floor. When my space is cluttered, it’s hard to keep my brain from looking cluttered as well. Plus, getting this quick task in when I first wake up often motivates me into my next tasks. I start the day feeling like I’ve already accomplished something!
5. Pick your priority tasks
Take a couple minutes to sit down and brainstorm what you need to do today. Figure out what the most time pressing or important tasks are and maybe even make a plan of attack. Starting my day with this gives me a blueprint for how the rest of my day will go. It lets me know what to expect from my day instead of mindlessly going through each task wondering what I should do next. I often put the most difficult or unpleasant task first and get it out of the way as early as possible. This creates a more relieved tone for the rest of my day and I often feel proud of myself after completing these tasks.
6. Mindfully consume your hot beverage of choice
We often just down our morning coffee or tea while we’re driving to work or running out the door. Even if it means waking up a little earlier, I think it’s important to create space to sit down and truly enjoy your first few sips of your favourite beverage, be it coffee or tea. Use this task as an excuse to slow down for a second. I know when I started sitting down either on my balcony or in a hot bath with my tea in the morning and really allowing myself to be present and contemplative, I started looking forward to this piece of my morning routine immensely. Whether you find a quote meditation in this time or use it to plan your day (#5), taking a moment that is just yours to find a little peace and quiet is a great way to start your day on a happier note.
7. Play your favourite tunes
Throw on some of your favourite songs while you prepare your breakfast, take your shower or your 10 second tidy (#4). Music has a real ability to change your current thought processes and consequently your mood. I find it almost impossible to be unhappy while rocking out to my favourite songs. Even just one song will do it. This isn’t a habit I implement daily, but it’s definitely one I use when I wake up in the wrong side of the bed.
8. Take time to yourself
For many of us who have partners, children or room-mates, finding some alone time can feel impossible, but it is essential to many of us in terms of our well being. Make this part of your morning by waking up before the rest of the pack. Sometimes this might mean your morning routine requires you to hit the hay a little earlier at night to get in all the hours of snoozing you need to be your best self. You’ll find it easier to get in those quiet moments with your coffee (#6), to get your body moving (#1) and to get in pretty much all of your morning routine elevators above. Treat yourself with some alone time in the morning.
9. Set an intention for the day
This one is straight out of Master John’s playbook. Everyday, at the same time, Master John sets an intention like, “I will have a great day”, “I will have fun today”, “I will be productive today and crush my to do list”, “I will have a delicious meal today”, “I will cultivate optimism no matter what happens”. It could be anything, big or small. Master John sets his intention for the day and it’s generally oriented around what he wants to happen that day. So every Sunday morning before training Master John will say to himself, “I’m going to have a fun workout with my team”. On weekdays, his goals are often more business oriented. Try to pair this intention setting with a pre-existing routine to help you remember. Master John sets his intention on his drive to the dojo every morning. When will you set your intention?
Mindful living and routines are cultivated and grown over time. Just like our karate practice, it takes time to “perfect” or “master” a technique. Be patient with yourself, be kind to yourself and take baby steps towards creating the most uplifting morning routine.
Crafting the perfect morning routine can seem tedious or unnecessary. For the longest time I could never understand what all of the morning routine hype is about. It’s so trendy and talked about that their YouTube has its own little niche of humans sharing their morning routines with the world. However, there is a lot more to a morning routine then a trend. Carefully craft your morning routine to set yourself up for success and to help you reach all of your goals and access the full potential of your day.
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