By Dr Shawna Darou, ND
Is a morning routine the secret to health, reduced stress and vitality? I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts lately, and have found it so interesting that many inspirational people have a dedicated morning routine. As a busy doctor and mom, I know it sounds crazy to add one more thing to your list of things to do each day. What I’ve learned is that that a morning routine can change your mood and perspective for the day, and set you up for much better productivity. A dedicated morning routine can reduce stress and positively impact your overall health so they benefits are worth the investment.
My challenge to you is: Will you join me for the next month with a daily morning routine? Remember I’m in this with you!
I’ve read through and listened to many people’s version of a morning routine. To make it really simple, I’ve compiled a list of the most important factors to get you started. I would suggest picking one activity from each group, or even just pick 3 activities in all, and committing to 12-30 minutes of dedicated time each morning.
Before your start, write down or type out your 3-6 steps from the suggestions below. Your brain may be foggy in the morning so set your intention in advance and clear physical space, if needed, for the activities below.
STEP 1: Set your alarm 15-30 minutes earlier than your usual wake-up time
It’s not going to be comfortable for the first few days, but your body will adapt to this short time difference quickly. Make sure you get to bed a little earlier too!
STEP 2: Have a glass of water or brush your teeth
Get right out of bed (don’t push snooze), and help yourself wake up with a drink of lemon water (the juice from 1/2 lemon in a cup of warm or room temperature water), a simple glass of water or brushing your teeth.
STEP 3: Silence or meditation
Spend 5 or more minutes in silence or meditation. For those of you who feel awkward just sitting, here are some tools and resources:
- Guided meditation: healthjourneys.com
- Relaxation apps: Headspace; Stop Breathe Think; Calm
- Muse headband to train yourself how to meditate
- Chanting and Audio Meditation: Chanting meditation from and Audio meditation by Kirtan Kriya
- Remember, this time can be simply spent sitting quietly and watching your breath
STEP 4: Visualization
At the end of your meditation spend a couple of minutes visualizing some of your goals or intentions for the day, month or year. The key to success with visualization is to actually see and feel what it is like to actually achieving these goals. You may wish to create a vision board to help clarify your intentions. As a concrete example, in a weight loss study, those who could clearly envision themselves at their ideal weight were much more likely to achieve it.
STEP 5: Stretch or exercise
Get your body moving will help to increase the pace and wake your body up for the day. Some suggestions for your morning routine exercise can be very simple such as:
- The 7 minute workout: available for download on iTunes and Google Play.
- Rebounding 100 times on a mini trampoline
- 60 jumping jacks
- 5 minute yoga routine: Check out Yoga with Adriene and Tara Stiles
STEP 6: What are your 3 most important things for the day?
Write down the three most important things for the day to help you stay focused. And remember these may be simple things like finishing the laundry, calling your mom or booking a dental appointment. They may also be tasks that help you to achieve larger goals such as writing a few pages of your book, building your blog, spending 15 minutes updating your resume, or initiating a job search.
Your day will ultimately feel very productive if you achieve the three most important things to you by the end of it.
3 things that can put your morning off course:
- Morning news or emails: This is the biggest one. Resist the temptation to check emails or news before completing your morning routine. Don’t check your phone, and turn all automatic notifications off so you can get through your morning routine in peace.
- Pushing snooze: As tempting as it is to stay in bed for an extra 5 minutes, resist the urge to push snooze. Place your alarm or phone across the room so you have to put your feet on the ground to turn it off.
- Stimulants before your morning routine: Many of us reach for a cup of coffee or tea before doing anything else in the morning. Try your morning routine with just a glass of lemon water and enjoy a peaceful wakeup.
If you have children:
Do your best to get up before the kids. A 10-15 minute morning routine before the children wake up can really set your day up in a positive way. Try to give yourself this small amount of time as an act of self-care. Remember that even a small amount of time each day can make a big difference!
If this isn’t possible, because you have an early riser, or a baby who wakes as soon as you do then just do your best with it. You can always get a glass of lemon water, do a 5 minute yoga routine, and set your three intentions for the day with your child around. Watching their parent start the day off in a positive way is definitely a way to mirror excellent self care.
I hope you will join me this month in starting a daily morning routine. I look forward to hearing your feedback and successes.
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