No doubt you’ve heard of morning routines before. Journaling, or yoga, going for walks, a hot tea with a book… all done first thing in the morning. Every morning. As the term suggests, it’s a routine that you repeat each day.
This post is about the benefits of having a morning routine and I give you ideas on how to create one from scratch.
But because struggles with your mental health can actually make mornings very difficult, I also talk about approaching morning routines from a healthy and less rigid perspective. It’s not about being virtuous and self-disciplined. Rather, it’s about helping you have a better day by looking at your morning activities. Always asking what might work for you in this moment and given your circumstances, rather than listening to what-you-“should”-be-doing.
Stuck in a rut, stressed and overwhelmed
Have you ever felt like time is just kind of slipping away from you? Have you had the desire to slow things down? The feeling that your days just kind of melt into one another? As if you’re living on autopilot and you’re not really fully living it?
I’d be surprised if most people didn’t at least know what I mean by these questions. It’s how a lot of us live, rushing from one thing to the next only to crash on the sofa at the end of the day. Having long to-do lists and feeling overwhelmed, we have this strong desire to numb our senses somewhat with mindless TV, internet browsing, mindless eating, scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.
And then we start another day like that. We hit the snooze button five times because we don’t really want to get up (and went to bed too late the night before). In the end, we leave getting up to the last minute, then rushing around trying to get ourselves (and perhaps others) ready for the day.
We often don’t do what we know is actually best for us. This includes me too. And I’m not condemning television or social media or the internet, but a lot of the time these activities don’t actually make us feel good. Deep down, we’d rather do something else but just feel this big pull towards numbing our senses, even just a little.
Why do morning routines?
Morning routines are about setting a specific time aside to become more mindful and intentional about your days. Instead of getting up and switching straight into “doing-mode”, we give ourselves the time needed to feel a sense of calm and focus ahead of our day.
It doesn’t matter so much whether your morning routine lasts 5 minutes or one hour. What’s really important is to do something that is meaningful to you and that allows you to slow down for a moment. To step out of this autopilot-mode.
I’d really encourage you to think outside the box here too. If you think that morning routines are about yoga, green smoothies, meditation, journaling and long walks, consider what’s led you to believe that. There are no rules when it comes to morning routines.
What matters is to start your day in a way that makes you feel good about yourself and your life. Ultimately, it’s about improving your sense of health and wellbeing, and practising compassion towards yourself and others.
Morning routines if you're suffering from depression
Particularly if you are suffering from depression, it’s often hard to get out of bed in the morning. Even harder to not judge ourselves harshly about that.
Remember that depression is an illness that you didn’t choose to have. Just as somebody else wouldn’t wish to have a broken leg or back.
If mornings fill you with dread, could you perhaps introduce an activity that you’d actually look forward to each day? Something that will make leaving bed easier? Something that will allow even just a tiny bit of joy?
Morning routines were never “created” as a way to increase rigidity into one’s day. They are not a test of your self-discipline. Yes, there is an element of commitment and that’s super helpful. But ultimately, morning routines are about greater ease, calm and joy in our lives.
So start where you are, given your health and circumstances. If that’s getting up and having a shower, that’s fantastic. In fact, I know that this would be a huge success for many suffering from depression. If you want to try a longer routine with several activities, go for it. Just try not to compare yourself. There’s always going to be somebody out there who’s better at this thing we’re trying to do.
So, we all want to feel well and happy, and we all want to do good things in this world. Your morning routine can help you do that.
ideas for a better morning
Below is a list of ideas for morning routines – see which ones resonate with you and come up with your own ideas too.
*If you are really struggling to get out of bed in the morning due to a physical health condition or major depression, you could also do your morning routine inside your bed if needed/wanted!
*A lot of the ideas might need further reading. Say if you’ve never done deep breathing, you might want to do a quick Google search just to get you started.
Lots of ideas because there’s lots of different ways to approach morning routines. What feels good to you? Is there something you would absolutely love to do most mornings?
Which one thing would make the biggest difference to your wellbeing and your day? And of course, what is realistic?
If you’ve got young kids in the house, how can you make this happen, even if just for five minutes? Or could they perhaps join you?
Dr Chatterjee's 3 M's Of Morning Routines
To finish this post, I wanted to link this short video by Dr Rangan Chatterjee and Dr Mark Hyman. Google both of them if you don’t know them yet as they’re great practitioners!
In the video, Dr Chatterjee talks about his 3 M’s of morning routines: Mindfulness, Movement & Mindset. Definitely worth a watch!
Establishing routines can be extremely beneficial to your health and wellbeing. And creating a morning routine can very much be a part of our work together.
If you’d like to know more about my work and services, just head to this page.