Part II: Your Happiness, Your Dreams: The Importance of Establishing a Morning Routine
Especially if you’re a woman, if you don’t already have a satisfying and sustainable morning routine, I encourage you to develop one. Experiment until you find the activities and timing that most support your needs, your nature, and your bigger dreams—if you feel you currently aren’t living them to their fullest potential.
Read Part I of this blog post here to learn more about how I came to create a morning routine and why I feel it's so important. In this post, I offer tips about how you can design your own morning routine, and share some details about mine in hopes of giving you a framework for starting your own.
Consider asking yourself these questions to guide you toward a sustainable and fulfilling morning routine:
What kind of life do I want to live?
What makes me happy inside?
In my relationships? In my work?
What do I want to achieve in this lifetime?
Whom do I want to be?
What makes life worth living?
After you have meditated, journaled, researched, talked with others, or otherwise explored your answers to these questions, then determine the activities and focal points that most resonate for you. Here are some tips:
How do you want the time to feel—spacious or peppy? Quiet and slow, or filled with upbeat music and a skip in your step?
Be sure to drink water first thing in the morning. Consider making a conscious decision about how much you want to drink per day and designate a water bottle that you can use to easily measure your intake.
What type of exercise feels best for you? Is it a leisurely walk in nature, fast-paced walking, running, biking, swimming, yoga, Tai Chi, or Qigong? Working out on a stair-stepper, elliptical, or other machine? Do you also want/need to incorporate stretching and/or strengthening in your routine?
What do you need to center yourself? Meditation, prayer, journaling, Tarot, shamanic journeying, and many of the exercise forms above offer spiritual centering to ground you before you begin your day.
Whether it’s morning pages, a happiness or gratitude journal, setting your intention for the day, or any other kind of journaling, you will probably find that writing down your thoughts, feelings, goals, and intentions is a great way to connect with yourself.
Are you dreaming of starting an entirely new business or a side hustle in addition to your regular job? Do you have a big dream that needs its own uninterrupted time to complete, such as writing a book, running a marathon, or performing in a solo show? Perhaps your morning routine consists of coffee and time to work on your dream task . . . period. That’s fine, too. Design the morning routine that suits what you most need and want in this season of your life.
What does your body need to feel best fueled for the day? Consider cooking the night before to save yourself time in the morning, or make extra amounts of dinner to have as leftovers.
What do you need to feel good about your appearance? Would you rather shower/bathe in the morning to get a fresh start—or at night to save morning time? What clothing, adornment, and makeup (or lack thereof) make you feel most confident, comfortable, energized, grounded, and happy to greet the day?
Consider how much time each of these activities takes and add them all up. This is how much time you need to take for yourself before the rest of the day begins. You may be surprised at how long each of these activities actually takes. If you hate being rushed, allow yourself more time than you would think is “reasonable.” Also include transition time between activities. For example, if you jump right out of bed without hitting the snooze button, you can start the clock right away. But if you tend to wake up slowly and linger in bed for a few extra minutes (like me), you need to account for this extra time in your morning routine.
If this total amount of time seems way beyond what you think is possible, then try one or more of the following:
Implement the plan anyway for two weeks and see how it goes and feels. You may just be up against a limiting belief system that thinks you’re not up to it—keep your eye out for this.
Design a specific plan to spend other portions of your day doing some of the activities you would have done in the morning, such as on a lunch break or before or after dinner. But beware of this, too, because it may be much more difficult to stick with your plan once the day is underway, so this may require an extra dose of discipline.
Start smaller and choose only one or two activities for your morning routine. Then see if you can add on more activities once these new habits take hold.
My Morning Routine
Here are some of the focal points of my morning routine, in case they may be helpful to you as you build your own:
Spaciousness: I wake up two or three hours before my first appointment, depending on all I want to do and how much sleep I got the night before.
Hydration: I drink half of my body weight in ounces of water every day. In other words, hypothetically, if you weigh 130 lbs., you would drink 65 ounces of water per day. That begins by drinking an 8-oz. glass of water first thing in the morning.
Exercise—Cardio: Most days, I do a cardio workout for at least 30 minutes. Currently this looks like fast-paced walking using the Map My Run app on my phone while listening to an engrossing podcast.
Exercise—Stretching: Most days, I also do some specific exercises/stretches to help my back stay strong. These take 15–30 minutes.
Morning Pages: I write three pages longhand, which takes about 30 minutes.
Happiness Journal: In a separate day planner/journal, I write down the happiest moment I had the day before.
Shower, etc.: I shower, put on clothes I feel really good in (I dress “up” more than “down” for work now), and spend more time than I used to on hair and makeup, as I’ve found the extra effort increases my confidence and self-esteem.
Breakfast: I am much more attentive to my food intake than I used to be because I’ve learned how much it affects my energy throughout the day. I was vegan for a long time, but had to change my diet to mostly paleo due to food sensitivities and body needs. Now, my breakfast typically consists of sausage (or fish or chicken) and a sweet potato.
Remember: No one can make you a priority but you. While a morning routine is by no means the only way to make yourself a priority in your life, or to practice self-care, it can be a powerful practice toward realizing your dreams and your desire for a happy and fulfilling life.