5 Small Changes that Can Have a Big Effect on Your Morning Routine
By now you’ve probably read enough articles detailing the importance of a healthy morning routine. Tim Ferriss has built his career on it and you could argue that some of the world’s most successful leaders leverage their strict morning routines to increase productivity tenfold and achieve greatness. And why wouldn’t they-- it’s a mathematical fact that waking up at 4:30 a.m. will give you more hours in the day to accomplish whatever tasks you’ve laid out. I know I for one struggle to achieve all I’ve laid ahead in my day and I sometime urge myself to simply make the switch and be one of those early risers to get ahead on my goals.
But what about the majority of us that struggle with stacking our mornings with healthy choices such as yoga or a workout, meditation and preparing a healthy, balanced breakfast? For the average working American, it can be quite the challenge to simply not hit snooze several times before finally rolling out of bed and subsequently bulldozing through the rest of your morning tasks so you can sit stressed AF in traffic and sneak behind your desk just before 9.
I know this because that used to be what my morning routine looked like.
I also know that it can feel really daunting to read about other people’s morning routines and think that while those changes may have worked for them, your mornings look a little different. Perhaps you have young children or a long commute, or you’d rather get 30 minutes of extra sleep than sit down for a real breakfast.
I didn’t say it would be easy but sometimes you just have to be straight with yourself-- is my routine, or lack thereof, getting in the way of my goals? Deep down, you know the answer to that question.
What I can promise is that by making small gradual changes you will find in time, that you may wake up one morning, refreshed and quite possibly, excited, for all the amazing possibilities that come to you in beginning a new day and unfolding a healthy routine-- one that works best for YOU.
Here are 5 small changes you can make that will have a big effect on your routine.
1. Your morning routine begins at night.
If starting the day earlier is one of your “new morning routine” goals, simply setting an alarm an hour earlier may not be enough to stick it. The National Sleep Foundation recommends 7-9 hours a night for adults between the ages of 26-64. You must make up that time by going to sleep earlier. For me, it’s in bed by 10:30 and up naturally, around 6:45-7:15 a.m.
You can also prepare for the day ahead by laying out your clothes for whatever meetings or workouts you have planned. It may sound silly but preparation is key for eliminating any wild cards in the morning, such as one of my most common ones, where the F are my keys?! Having your bag packed and ready is just one less thing you need to stress about the next day. Plus, you can turn that action into an evening ritual, as a bedtime routine is just as important (checking off the to-dos the night before will certainly make for more restful sleep).
2. There’s always time for yoga and meditation, especially when it’s brought to you...in bed.
Before we created Yoga Wake Up I was admittedly, a snoozer, sometimes up to FOUR times! My husband was not having it, so when he dreamed up Yoga Wake Up, I was the first person he tested it on. By starting the day with short audio-guided yoga in bed (the app is also an alarm if you need that) I replaced that gradual wakeup that snoozing afforded me, albeit, not really effective, and instead sleepily stretched in bed, deepening my breath and twisting side to side, before ultimately sitting up, ready and awake!
Most of the sequences on Yoga Wake Up have you set an intention for the day ahead and you can choose from “Get Up” which has a lot of movement or “From Bed” which is a little more sleepy and slow. All the wakeups end with you feeling much more relaxed and energized at the same time if you can believe it! The best part-- you’ve already gotten in a brief mindfulness practice and the day’s just begun. Talk about having a skip in your step!
3. Embrace the slow movement (I’m sorry, this does mean you will have to wake up earlier.)
What we’ve learned from Yoga Wake Up is that most of us prefer to start our mornings slow. But they often get hijacked by social media, the vicious 24-hour news cycle (turn off those push notifications!) and the compounding to-do lists. By using the app, I’ve swapped audio-guided yoga with scrolling on social media. When I finish my meditation, I leave the phone where it is and exit the room. I try to maintain the zen feeling into slowly sipping my tea at the dining table over a real breakfast like eggs and veggies or a frittata. I leave my phone in the bedroom as I go about my routine. We put on music. We try not to look at the clock and embrace the slower pace of the morning. This does mean allowing yourself ample time. For us it’s about an hour from waking up to walking out the door.
I promise the emails that you answer 30 minutes before you get into the office are not going to be any more urgent than they would be when you arrive to your desk. And that also goes for your commute. Use that time in the car to be creative. Try silence, try looking out the window. Your workday can begin at work.
We’ve learned that social media is so addictive because of how it creates a dopamine rush every time we get a like and we see a stress response every time we get a notification. We have collectively become addicted to this instant gratification. We can’t even begin to understand the lasting effects that this behavior might have on us. So take control of your morning and show your tech who’s boss.
4. Keep drinking alcohol to a minimum during the week.
In addition to cleaning up your evening routine, may I kindly recommend that you drink less during the week? Alcohol messes with our sleep quality big time and the easiest way to mess up your routine is to party a little too hard on a week night and then wake up super groggy the next day. Because the only thing that can come next is a McGriddle, and nobody wants that, right? Save the wine for the weekend and watch as your morning routine becomes even easier to execute.
5. Be realistic.
A perfect morning routine doesn’t happen overnight. I encourage you to write down what you perfect morning looks like and then choose 2-3 of those rituals that you can implement right away. Maybe it’s 15 minutes of meditation and making your bed. Maybe it’s taking an extended, luxurious shower (which can also be meditative) or walking your dog. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you lapse, although I can’t speak for your dog. Yoga Wake Up’s most popular day is Sunday which I know to be because we are all good intentioned and we believe in a fresh start. So keep trying until your morning routine feels right to you. You’ll know when you start to feel good throughout the rest of your day!
I believe in you. And seriously, if you create one change, make it putting down your phone. And I can say that because I own an app!