Admittedly, I've never been a morning person so part of me questions how I-- a recovering night owl and recurring snooze button presser-- even feel qualified to share these 6 principles for upgrading your mornings.
But, this is why: From years of struggling through rushed mornings that turned to discombobulated afternoons, I was forced to start experimenting with various morning routines and soon discovered that the tone of one's morning sets the tone of the whole day.
Rushed mornings were not allowing me to embody the qualities I wanted to bring to my day. After years of trail and error, I've found a handful of key principles that have not only changed my mornings, they have changed my life.
1. Hydrate before you caffeinate.
Simple idea, challenging practice for us caffeine lovers. Oh so tempting to dive into the coffee chug first thing, but while your coffee brews, just drink a glass of water. I actually heat mine up and add a slice of lime (and sometimes even a scoop of collagen). Game changer.
2. Move your body.
I'm not saying you have to go pump iron every morning-- unless you want to. Some simple stretching, foam rolling, or a little dancing goes a long way. A walk? Stellar way to start the day. Just take a few minutes to show your body some love: wake it up and wiggle.
3. Start with gratitude.
Whether you want to go all in with a gratitude meditation or simply take a few seconds just to acknowledge one of the many blessings in your life, this practice can change the tone of your entire day. A powerful practice is to write down what you're grateful for. I usually aim for one big or three small things, depending.
4. Create before you consume.
How many of us wake up and immediately reach for the little super computers charging next to us for that early morning scroll? One could easily lose hours just consuming all of it (and this one has). While it can be a great tool, smart phones only become so when we are intentional with our use.
Instead of scrolling first thing when your mind is still waking up, create something first.
Make breakfast, journal, or write out your day's plan before checking email or social media. (I'm writing this blog post before I'm allowed to check email or Instagram. Yes, I see the notifications--my phone is buzzing in fact-- but I'm ignoring it until I feel accomplished in my desired creation.) The days where I wake up and paint or sew or have fun in the kitchen first are always great days.
5. Feed your mind.
This could be reading, listening to a podcast, meditation, or researching something you want to learn. What matters here is not the activity, but the willingness to spend some time alone with yourself to pursue growth and interests that spark your passion and desires.
6. Streamline your daily to-do's.
By streamline, I mean don't give yourself a huge list of tasks to accomplish each day. I mean take a few moments to sit down and plan your day and limit yourself to 3 tasks outside of your daily appointments.
If you're needing help with this, try my Peace by Piece daily planner. It will guide you through a short gratitude reflection, help you prioritize your tasks and appointments, while also making room for how you want to be throughout your day. I developed this planner after years of exploring mindfulness practice and integrating the learning into my mornings.
You're probably thinking this list sounds unrealistic and sure, maybe doing all of it every morning is. You don't have to take two hours to do all of these steps back to back (although I highly recommend trying it at least once because you'll feel amazing afterward), but keep it simple. Stack little pieces of this list into your mornings, throughout your days, and rotate them in and out of your week.
I recognize that those with kids or who are in a hyper busy season might not feel like any of this is realistic. The reality is, though, no one is going to advocate for your own self-care besides you. Busy seasons are times when we need to double down on self-care.
Sprinkling these principles throughout your week can have a positive net effect. They have for me. Giving myself the opportunity to concentrate them when I can by waking up earlier and scheduling clients later in the day is a privilege, and also my responsibility to show up in the way I want and need to for them.
By practicing these principles, mornings have now become my favorite time of day. I look forward to my alone time. This time is spiritually supportive and ignites creativity that just wasn't there when I was sleeping until the last minute, throwing my clothes on in a hurry, and rushing out the door.
Experiment for yourself to find your own way to upgrade your mornings.