How I Created a Morning Routine I Could Stick To & How You Can Too

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Posted on April 05, 2021

Edited: 4/5/2021

What is the first thing you do in the morning? For most of us it is hitting the snooze button or checking our phone. Even though I am still guilty of both of those actions, with some trial and error I have managed to create a morning routine that I stick to (most days). Let me tell you that I did not always realize the benefits of gifting myself time in the morning to connect with my mind, body, and spirit but it surely has made a difference.

Why Is Having a Morning Routine Important?

I am certainly not the first and won't be the last person to write about the importance of a morning routine. Heck, there are entire books written about this topic. Don’t worry, I won’t list every known benefit but one reason why science believes in starting your morning off strong is that our willpower is highest in the morning.

In a nutshell, our self-control is limited and the longer the day goes on, the more our “self-control muscle” is fatigued. This is why you often hear the advice that you should complete your most meaningful or important task first.

We cannot avoid willpower-depleting decisions since our daily lives are full of them. That is where the power of creating routines and habits come in. Once we have integrated something into our daily routine, we don’t have to expend so much willpower to complete the task. The added benefit from most morning routines is that they are comprised of self-care practices and therefore filling your tank instead of depleting it.

Whether you already have a set routine, need a refresh, or want to get on the morning routine train, below are the 5 lessons I have learned in the pursuit of creating my own morning routine that fit my lifestyle and preferences:

  1. Become clear about your motivation  
  2. Start small
  3. Honor your needs 
  4. Stay consistent
  5. Give yourself a break 

5 Lessons for Creating a Morning Routine That Will Work for You

1- Become very clear about your motivation for establishing a morning routine

Ask yourself, honestly, why you feel the need to establish a morning routine. If you aren’t clear on your why, then it will be hard to focus in on what actions will fulfill your specific needs or goals. Some questions you should consider asking yourself:

  • What are the things I most want to accomplish in the morning?
  • What are the activities that I never seem to have enough time for and wish I did?
  • And what is it that I regret most if it doesn’t happen in the morning?

Really getting clear on what would make your mornings better and why is key to finding the motivation to start. Personally, I recognized the importance of meditating in the morning before being inundated with work emails, social media, or the news. This was my motivation to restructure my morning and allow for 10-20 minutes of meditation and then I gradually added other habits that worked around my meditation. (see my full morning routine at the end of this article)

2 - Start small

It is important not set yourself up for failure or promise yourself too much. We don’t want you to fall short of your promise to yourself and then beat yourself up for the rest of the day. We know that breaking the promises we make to ourselves will over time and subconsciously lead to a lack in self-confidence…because if you can’t trust in your own word then why would others? The key here is to set realistic goals, gain confidence and create lasting habits.

Start by introducing one or two new habits that you know will make you feel good and that seem easy to accomplish in about 10-15 min. You could start by committing to making your bed every morning, sitting in silence, or meditating before reaching for your phone, stretching, or taking time to eat breakfast.

One of the main reasons I failed to stick to a morning routine for the longest time is because I allowed myself to get overwhelmed by all the things I thought I “should” or “needed” to do in the mornings - meditate, journal morning pages, gratitude journal, say affirmations and prayers, move your body, lemon water, celery juice, dry scrub, set your priorities, make your bed, eat breakfast etc. The list of options is endless, but just because others do it and there is benefit to it doesn’t mean that it is the right choice for you. I let the options and “should do’s” overwhelm me and it created paralysis. However, eventually choosing to start with 10 minutes of meditation was the breakthrough for me to act and stick to it.

3- Find a flow that honors your needs & makes you feel good

A morning routine should not be a morning to-do list. Find a flow that comes easily and feels good and do not try to force it. Of course, forming a new habit takes discipline and self-control and I am not saying to stop trying when it gets hard. What I am saying though, is to make sure what you are implementing is aligned to your why and you are clear about how it is going to add value to your day and ultimately make you feel better. If you are resisting it for some reason, try to ask yourself why and find a similar task that feels easier in the moment.

For example, if you are resisting the act of journaling in the mornings then it is probably what you need most, because what we resist will persist. Forcing yourself to do it from a place of resistance might not be the most productive or aligned way to spend your time. However, bringing awareness to why you are resisting and allowing yourself time to get to the point of putting pen to paper is where the magic happens. Maybe instead of committing to morning pages, you start with writing down 3 things you are grateful for. This simple step can help remove the barrier and still make you feel good.

4 - Stay consistent

We have all heard the statistics that it takes 21, 28, and even 66 days to form a lasting habit. Although there are different opinions on how long it might take to form a lasting habit, we can all agree on the fact that it takes consistency. We also know that missing a day here or there won’t derail our progress –so stay consistent.

5 - Give yourself a break

Just as with life itself, we strive for progress not perfection. Don’t try to create a perfect routine but honor your needs and where you are at in your life. There are going to be times when you don’t hear your alarm, when you have to be up super early for work or name any number of things that life can throw at you that will mess with your routine. And that is totally fine and part of the journey. The benefit of having a routine in the first place is that it allows us to get right back to it even if we skipped a day. Don’t have time to journal in the morning? Take 5 minutes to journal before going to bed. Need to sit in meditation longer and skip everything else because that is what you need at that moment? Do it.

Other tips to creating a lasting morning routine:

  • Start the night before – have a consistent bedtime, disengage (no phone), and get plenty of sleep
  • Listen to your body clock – morning is different for everyone. Some might be the most creative at 5 am and for others prime time is 11am. Do creative work when it feels best.
  • Buy an alarm clock – don’t use your cellphone as an alarm clock to avoid screen time first thing after waking. It is too tempting to not start scrolling or reading email once you have picked up that phone.
  • Develop a morning routine that works on weekends, too.
  • Track your habits to better understand yourself.

My Morning Routine (which is constantly changing)

First thing I do (after checking my phone and probably hitting the snooze button at least twice—I know, I know!) is make my bed. I then drink 16 ounces of water with electrolytes and take my supplements (whatever is in the current rotation). Then I light my candles, burn Palo Santo, turn on Reiki music, and sit in meditation for 20 min. After my meditation, I make myself a cup of coffee. While enjoying my morning cup I take the time to journal for about 5-10 min. The last thing I do before either heading to the gym or getting ready for work is to pull a card from one of my oracle cards decks to get some guidance and positive affirmations for the day. This takes me about 45 min.

What My Morning Routine Has Taught Me

I no longer believe in starting my day rushed. One of my greatest pleasures is my morning meditation and enjoying my cup of coffee. Having the time to connect with myself and the Universe allows me to start my day with alignment and perspective – I am calmer, more positive, and not triggered as easily. The simple notion of dedicating time to self-care in the morning makes me feel like I am in charge of my day and my time – no matter what the day throws at me. And when I encounter contrast to my alignment throughout the day, I have an easier time staying in alignment or getting back to it more quickly.

In conclusion...

...if you don’t have a morning routine yet or struggle to stick to one, commit to starting small, listen to your needs, and stay consistent. Before you know it, you will be getting up 30 minutes earlier to take care of yourself first.

Because it is so important to find a morning routine that is in flow with your lifestyle and preferences, instead of giving you a specific routine, I am going to build a buffet from which you can create what works for you:

18 Morning Routine Habits to Explore

  • Make your bed – when your space is tidy and not cluttered, it frees up clutter in your mind as well. Additionally, with making your bed in the morning, you will have already successfully completed your first task of the day giving you a sense of accomplishment from the onset.
  • Hydrate – hydrating after 8 hours of no water intake is good for you physiologically but drinking at least 16 oz of water is also known to have a greater wakening affect than coffee. You can also replace water with electrolytes, lemon water or celery juice.
  • Meditate – Check out my article on getting started with meditation and its benefits 
  • Journal or write Morning Pages – journaling is a very important component of self-reflection which in turn is a component of self-awareness. More than that, journaling or having a writing practice also ignites your creative energy and intuition. Morning Pages refers to writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness, basically anything that comes to mind; this technique helps us get in touch with our emotions and our creativity.
  • Welcome the day – Consciously bring your awareness to the fact that you are waking up to another day. Open the curtains and welcome the day. Take a deep breath.  Say thanks for another day.
  • Keep a dream journal - Dreams are our window into our subconscious mind. Our dreams often contain guidance from our own higher-self energy as well as from our spirit team.
  • Express gratitude – you can do this as part of your journaling practice or meditation. Find ways to be grateful by writing a list of things you are grateful for or maybe just say them out loud. Gratitude practice is known to rewire your brain to more easily see the positive.  
  • Make connection – call a friend, family member or partner as you are getting ready or commuting. Spend a few extra minutes in that hug with your lover or your child. Create a connection with another human or a pet that will leave you feeling happy, grounded, and connected.  
  • Move your body – get the blood pumping and those endorphins going. For some morning movement will include going for a walk, stretching, yoga or foam rolling whereas for others it might be an intense run or spin class. Most important thing is to listen to your body and what it needs.
  • Activate your creative energy – write, dance, sing, chant, breath … do whatever gets that creative energy flowing.  
  • Plan your day – this might not be for everyone, but your Virgo friend likely derives satisfaction from having a game plan for the day.
  • Read a few pages or a chapter – Reading is the best way to activate the mind and even better if you are reading something you really enjoy. Even if you commit to reading only a few pages each morning, those pages will add up to many books read over the course of a year.
  • Ground yourself – find one of my go-to grounding practices here
  • Clean your physical space - When our physical space is cluttered, our minds often feel the same way. Do whatever makes you feel more settled in your physical space.
  • Connect with nature – take your dog or yourself for a walk or take care of your plants. Being in nature and connecting with it is deeply calming, healing, and grounding.  
  • Set a reminder – Set yourself reminders to do your morning routine so you don’t slip into old habits. It could be as simple as putting a post-it note on your coffee machine reminding you to be grateful.
  • Notice your first thought – pay attention to your first thought (write it down, say it out loud or just become aware), then decide on what you want your next thought to be. If your first thought is a negative one, then you are consciously course correcting the energy with which you are starting into the day.
  • Do something fun – dedicate some time to a hobby, a passion or simply something fun. How much better would you feel if you started every morning doing something fun, even if for 10 minutes?