“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”
― Annie Dillard
I’m going to break this down further and say that how we spend our mornings is how we spend our days.
How are you spending those precious first moments?
If you were to ask me this question seven years ago, my answer would have gone something like this.
My alarm goes off and I’m exhausted. I hit snooze until the last-minute, then roll over and check work emails on my Blackberry. Feeling stressed, I reach for some coffee and a cigarette. I get ready for my day and dread the thought of dealing with the complaints and negativity of today’s clients. Ugh, I can’t wait to retire.
Fast forward to today. My alarm went off early and I was well rested. I hit snooze once so I could spend time listing everything that I’m grateful for. I brushed and flossed, then sat down for some inspirational reading and coffee. I spent some time meditating and then jumped into my most important task of the day.
The way I feel today versus seven years ago is night and day. Back then I felt tired, stressed and often on the verge of a breakdown. Today I feel calm, relaxed, and excited about my work and my future. I still feel stressed at times, but it’s a different kind of stress.
I’ve made a lot of changes over the years and one of the most significant is how I start my day. Today’s routine didn’t happen overnight. I started with one small change and it evolved into what works best for me today.
Six years ago, I started getting up a couple of hours earlier, to work out each day. The next year, I began listing all that I was grateful for before I dug into the daily news and email. Shortly after, I stopped checking email before business hours. The following year I cut the news, then I added inspirational reading. Most recently I’ve added a daily meditation practice. My routine continues to evolve to meet my changing needs.
Over these years I’ve learned that the way you spend the first thirty minutes of your day sets the tone for the rest of the day. Think about what you would like your ideal day to look like. Now ask yourself what you could do first thing in the morning to help facilitate that?The way you spend the first thirty minutes of your day sets the tone for the rest of the day. Click To Tweet
For example, if you’ve been feeling increasingly stressed at work, you might want to start your day with a grounding exercise like meditation or yoga. You could cut back on coffee and enjoy a breakfast of nutrient dense stress fighting food. Below you’ll find more tips to take back your morning.
7 Ways to Take Back Your Morning
1 – Get Up Earlier
You might be thinking, earlier, I’m exhausted in the morning as it is, why would I get up earlier? I get it. Neither my husband nor I are the type to jump out of bed in the morning, even if we have an amazing adventure planned. However, once I’m up and at it, I’m happy to be.
I recently made a schedule shift to get up an hour earlier and it’s amazing how much more I can get done in a day. I also feel like I have more flexibility and free time. I’m not always perfect, but it’s worth the effort.
The key to making it work is to go bed earlier. You know that hour before bed when you’re too tired to do anything but watch TV or surf the internet? Go to bed! You’ll be better rested and have a clearer head the next day.
2 – No Devices + No Email + No News
Just four years ago, I would break each of these rules within the first thirty minutes of the day. I filled myself with stress and worry before I even got out of bed. I feel anxious just thinking about it.
Do yourself a favor by only consuming information that makes you feel good during the first thirty to sixty minutes of your day. That means no email, social media, or news. Filling your mind with positive thoughts will help you remain positive throughout your day.
3 – Be Grateful
I’ve had a daily gratitude habit for more than five years. Starting the day by listing everything you’re grateful for will bring a sense of hope and joy, especially when you’re facing challenges.
It can be as simple as listing everything you’re grateful for while brushing your teeth. Or you can make it a part of a morning journaling practice. Find what works for you and create a habit.
4 – Bring the Calm
Both my husband, Jer, and I prefer to begin the day with a calm centering practice. For some people this means prayer, for others, it’s meditation or yoga. Do what works best for you and you’ll find that ten to twenty minutes of calm will bring increased peace and productivity to the rest of your day.10 to 20 minutes of calm will bring increased peace and productivity to your day. Click To Tweet
5 – Be Inspired
In the second tip, I mentioned everything you shouldn’t consume. Here’s what you should.
Read, watch or listen to positive, inspiring, and uplifting material. Things that will help you grow into a better version of yourself. There are wonderful books, podcasts, and newsletters that will lift you up. If you’re looking for suggestions, check out my Resources page or hit me up on Facebook.
6 – Fuel Up
Most days I don’t eat breakfast because I practice time-restricted eating. Every body is different and many people benefit from a healthy breakfast, especially children.
Like the last tip, make sure that what you’re consuming lifts you up and doesn’t drag you down. Don’t eat high carb, sugar laden, processed foods like cereal, doughnuts, and Pop-Tarts. Instead go for nutrient dense whole foods like veggies, fruits, eggs, whole grains, and legumes. The internet is full of recipes that can be prepared ahead of time so you can just grab and go.
7 – Move It
I find a way to move my body almost every single day. I always feel better after a hike, bike ride, or yoga session. When I had a real job, I found that exercising in the morning gave me the boost of energy I needed to stay positive during the roughest of days.
My husband, Jer, combines this with tip four and starts his day with yoga. It gets his body warmed up for the day, helps him center, and renews his energy.
The way you start your day will influence how well you respond to the rest of your day. Take a moment to identify your biggest daily struggle. Pick one habit that you think will be most helpful and commit to it for a week. Note of how you feel before you begin and after the week is over.
Don’t try to do it all at once. Commit to thirty minutes and one thing you’ll feel motivated to stick to. If you screw up, give yourself grace. Tomorrow’s a new day to start fresh. You can add more habits once you’re comfortable with the first. Don’t be afraid to mix it up to meet your needs as you grow and change.
How has your morning routine affected your day, positively or negatively? Share in the comments below.
Get the most value with my free weekly newsletter delivered to your inbox. I’ll even send you a free gift to say thanks.