Our lives are punctuated by a myriad of tasks and concerns that relentlessly require our attention throughout the day, and without imposing some sort of order, it’s all too easy to get overwhelmed by them.With so much occupying our busy lives, from concerns about our health, getting the kids to school on time, preparing for meetings, doing chores, socializing, etc., being able to start your day well is vital. A shaky start to the day tends to throw off most people; it can cast a shadow across your entire day.
Some people are “morning people,” but even if you’re not one of them, you can create a healthy morning routine that sets you up for success during your day. The value of routine, in general, is that it allows you to get to the important things that promote your wellbeing. A well-worn routine allows you to proactively get on with things without procrastinating. By getting the important things done, you meet your goals, and that success can flow into other areas of your life.
Benefits of a healthy morning routine
The value of a healthy morning routine is that:
It sets the tone for your day. If your day gets off to a rocky start, you can always turn it around, but it’s easier to get your day going if you start it right. A bad morning can affect how you deal with the rest of the day, so a good start is essential.
It allows you to prioritize goals for the day. When you have your routine and know what you need to attend to, you can address the important things and give them the attention they need. If you stumble into your day, you may find yourself caught off guard and tumbling from one thing to the next. The tyranny of the urgent can derail you from meeting your goals, and if you don’t set an agenda for yourself, circumstances will set the agenda for you, and that may not end well.
It creates structure. Instead of haphazardly doing life, a morning routine creates a structure that allows you to thrive. That structure is more like what a trellis does for a vine, and less like a straight jacket that constricts your movements. Structure creates a space for us to thrive – when we know what to do and how to do it, we’re freed to enjoy the process and get the most out of it.
Having a morning routine can help you get into your day from a place of strength and confidence, which promotes your success and overall well-being. You spend less time thinking about what you’re going to do and spend more time present in the moment doing what you’ve already planned to be doing.
Cultivating a healthy morning routine
As morning routines are important, how does one cultivate a routine that promotes their overall well-being? You probably have a morning routine already, though you may not have thought about it. We all have certain habits and ways of doing things, so the habits we’ve developed around starting our day may be well-entrenched already.
Take some time to see what you do in any given week, and you’ll find that you stick to certain patterns of behavior. If your routine leaves you flustered and constantly on the back foot, then consider deliberately cultivating a new one. As you do this, tailoring things for your circumstances is important, because what works for one person doesn’t translate to other situations.
A parent of young children may not be as free with their morning as someone who’s married with no kids, but it all depends on the situation on the ground. Some people work the night shift, and mornings are spent in bed as a result. Adapt and tweak your routine until you find something that works for you. What follows are some components of a healthy routine and general principles to apply to your life to help you develop a morning routine.
Wake up on purpose
Having a set bedtime and time to wake up is helpful for your body to ensure that you get enough sleep. Waking up deliberately at a set time helps you to enter the day with intentionality and purpose. Make use of an alarm and welcome the start of your day. When you fight with your alarm clock or with getting out of bed every day, that’s already a stressor first thing in the morning, and it leaves you feeling a loss of control.
Get active earlyYou can start your day with stretches, or some people get their workout in first thing. Where possible, some people cycle or run to work, then shower and change when they get there, or you may have a full gym at your workplace, so you can work out and change there.
The benefit of exercise early in your day is that it can immediately set a good tone for your day; you start the day in a good mood from the neurochemicals your body produces during exercise. That boost means you’re more inclined to having a positive outlook, and that makes it easier for you to face whatever challenges the day presents.
Make healthy food choices
If you stumble out of bed and don’t plan, you’re likely not going to giving your body what it needs in terms of nutrition. Make sure that you plan your breakfast – don’t just scarf down what’s on hand, skip breakfast or grab a drive-thru breakfast. It’s unlikely you’ll make healthy choices when you’re in a rush, so know in advance and prepare what you’ll have each morning.
Having a glass of water when you get up is a great way to start your day. Water has many benefits, including keeping your joints lubricated; improving your mood, cognition, and sleep quality; improved bowel movement; and allowing for the healthy function of your organs.
When you have breakfast, make it a healthy one with whole fruit, some protein (such as meat or peanut butter). If you can’t get a healthy lunch or snacks at work, you can prep those things the night before. Being deliberate about what you eat sets you up for a good day and gives your body what it needs to function well throughout it.
Make important decisions the night before
Mornings have significant pressure on them already, so instead of a high-pressure morning faced with decision making, make any significant decisions the day or night before, and if you still feel confident about your decision after you’ve slept on it, it’s more than likely a good decision. This makes for a more relaxed start to your day.
Be mindful: Spiritual self-care
Not only do you have to take good care of yourself physically and mentally, but you also must take care of yourself spiritually. When you get up in the morning, it’s important to take the time to pray, read the Bible, and commit your day to the Lord. One Psalm reads, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
Recognizing our fragility, dependence on God, and the limited amount of time we have in this world can energize us and help us lean into our purpose. The meaning and perspective that Scripture brings to our lives will color our day, including the choices we make. Some people pray and meditate while they are working out, or they do it separately if they find it distracting.
Practice makes perfect
The above elements can help you put together a morning routine that promotes your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. You need to take the initiative to create a routine that works for you and your unique circumstances. It may take a little while to get a good routine going, but once that happens, you can keep doing it until it becomes an established habit.
When you determine what your routine is, stick to it. Of course, you can always revisit your routine and do things differently if things shift in your life. Remember, your routine is more of a trellis that allows you to thrive within the structure it creates – if it ever begins to stifle you or undermine your goals and well-being, you can adjust it.
“Walking Down the Road”, Courtesy of Emma Simpson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Begin”, Courtesy of Danielle MacInnes, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Work Area”, Courtesy of Olena Sergienko, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Planner”, Courtesy of Renata-Adrienn, Unsplash.com, CC0 License