By now you have probably seen at least one YouTube video or read an article about setting a morning routine and why they are so beneficial. And this is for very good reasons: I can not stress enough how awesome these routines can be when done right. By right I mean right for you! I will describe my mindful morning routine and show you what benefits each of the steps offer so that you can get inspired and create your own!
Morning routines are credited with making you more successful, productive, focused, mindful, and healthy. Whatever you want to achieve with your morning routine, there are countless benefits to be reaped from starting your day off right, every day. Read Leo Babauta’s blog post on the subject of early rising and its benefits for a comprehensive overview.
We are creatures of habit, for better or worse: The things we do once we wake up set the tone for the rest of the day. Everyone has different needs and different sets of circumstances to work with in the morning. That is why it’s so important to ask yourself these questions before deciding on a morning routine:
- What do I want my morning routine to accomplish?
- What mood do I want it to create?
- How realistic is it and can I keep it up over the long run? What is my minimum consistency dose?
Once you’ve answered these questions you can start creating a routine that works for you and your needs. I am a firm believer in picking and choosing what’s best for you instead of doing anything just because! Most habits take 21 days to form, some say 66 days. Either way, give yourself enough time to get in the groove of it.
The following is my personal morning routine consisting of mindful and healthy habits that will yield all sorts of amazing benefits: a bright smile, a kick start for your metabolism, a clear head, a grateful heart, and a fresh and healthy start into the day! For the last three months I have been following this customized morning routine. It took some experimenting with the times, I added and switched a few things. It is not a fail proof routine but it works very well for me. There are days when I skip some things or change them around but those days are rare by now. I’d really miss my routine if I’d skip it!
- Waking up with a battery powered alarm clock
The way we are woken up is the very first thing we should be mindful of. What is in our bedroom, how does it look, feel and sound when we wake up?
When I started reading about feng shui and decluttering a few years ago, Martin and I first decided to no longer have any electrical devices in our bedroom: no mobile phones, no radio-controlled alarm clock, no TV. This ensures that we don’t get woken up by blue light from our phones, blinking messages, or that our sleep is being inhibited due to the electromagnetic field created by electrical devices. Ancient feng shui teaches us to create a bedroom that is calm and allows the mind to be quiet. If we are constantly distracted by phone activity or watching a show right before going to bed, it will take much longer for us to go to sleep easily. If you don’t have much space and therefore have electrical devices in your room, position them as far away as possible from your bed or cover them up somehow. We sometimes still get caught up with checking our phones but we really make an effort to have them out of the way when going to bed.
We are currently using two very simple and small battery operated IKEA alarm clocks. They are cute and work well but we would like to eventually upgrade to these zen alarm clocks by Colorado manfufacture Now & Zen. Despite being a bit pricey I reckon they are worth the money for getting woken up by a natural sound. They are battery operated, will wake you with a soft chime sound and come in lovely looking wooden cases. I would like for them to use FSC certified wood but since I haven’t been able to find a similar product anywhere that is fsc certified I will go with these. If you know of any, please let me know in the comment section!
Try to get up slowly from your bed so as to give the body time to catch up. I have found walking around for the first minutes just with minimal light to be a soothing way to get into the day.
5:50 – 6:10
- Oil pulling with organic coconut oil
Oil pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic dental practice that I first came across a couple years ago during a yoga retreat. It has gotten a lot of press in the last few years and has become very popular in yoga and health circles. Oil pulling involves swishing around a table spoon of oil in your mouth for about 20 minutes right after waking up. It is said to bind and draw out the toxins that accumulate overnight in your mouth. It’s important to not drink or eat anything before oil pulling, otherwise you flush the toxins right back into your system. The science is still out on whether or not the physical benefits of oil pulling can be clinically proven since there are no reliable clinical studies to go on. Read this article for more on oil pulling.
This is one of the steps in my morning routine I never miss anymore! It feels weird now not to oil pull as I have gotten used to the feeling of cleanliness and freshness in my mouth. Oil pulling does not replace brushing your teeth, it’s just the first step of a complete oral hygiene. I use organic coconut oil because I like the taste of it and because it is relatively cheap but you can also opt for other oils or pre-made batches with added flavors.
The pulled oil should not be flushed down the toilet or the drain as it is toxic. I use a glass or bowl next to my sink to spit the oil in and empty it in the bin when it’s full. The coconut oil waste does not smell while in the glass, hardening again at room temperature.
- Washing face, getting ready and dressed
During the 20 minutes of oil pulling I get a lot done: I wash my face with water and Dr.Bronner’s castile soap bar and using a natural sea sponge. Then I put on my organic skin moisturizer or organic argan oil depending on the state of my skin (In February I will start incorporating Little Green Dot’s fresh start skin care challenge into my routine. Will update this post accordingly!) Then I get dressed.
- Brushing teeth and flossing
Once I am done oil pulling, I brush my teeth with a tooth paste from Lavera and floss. I recently looked into green and sustainable alternatives to regular floss and it seems to be sort of difficult to find a good option. Either the floss is biodegradable but not vegan (silk) or it is plastic-based and horrid for the environment. So it’s a bit of a dilemma, to say the least. If you have long hair, you can always use one of your hairs to floss (it might seem gross, but apparently many people do it.) I will be looking for a green option soon and let you know how I fare.
- Drinking a glass of warm lemon water
After having brushed my teeth, I drink the juice of half a lemon in a glass of warm water. This is also an ancient Ayurvedic practice loaded with benefits: it kick starts your metabolism, it helps your digestion and detoxification, the anti-oxidants rejuvenate your skin and your body, it is a great source of vitamin c, it boosts energy levels and makes you feel fuller during the day, helping you lose weight if that’s one of your concerns. Read Dr. Axe’s article on the scientific reasons why lemon water is so good for the body. It’s best to drink the lemon water 30 minutes before breakfast, so you might have to figure out where it works best for you in your routine. I don’t eat breakfast at home but in my break at work, so drinking the lemon water at home works for me.
6:20 – 6:30
Meditation is the single most effective way for me to start my day off mindfully. I meditate using the free version of the calm app, either opting for a guided meditation on a topic that speaks to me at that moment or I use the timed meditation setting and just focus on breathing. Or you can join an online meditation group like the 7am club or similar ones where you are guided by a meditation coach and watch a live video on youtube. Meditation helps me ground myself and set my intentions for the day, be it kindness towards myself and others, gratitude, or maybe dealing with difficult emotions. I meditate for 10 minutes as I have found that to be a good amount of time for me to get settled in the position and practice focus. My favorite sound on the calm app is “summer meadow” and I often listen to it when I am at work, to calm my mind and to help me concentrate.
- Gratitude minute
After meditating, I take a minute to write down in a journal at least three things I am grateful for. These can be any small or big things like my health, the love I have for and I receive from Martin, the fact that I get to follow my passion or that I have a roof over my head and live in a place where I don’t have to fear for my safety. Taking time to be grateful for what we have helps us keep things in perspective and remember what really matters. Don’t think too hard about it, just write down what comes to mind. Each day will be different. And if you feel you have nothing to be grateful for, think about this: The fact that you are able to write is already so much to be grateful for!
- Preparing breakfast
For breakfast I prepare a whole wheat muesli that gives me everything I need to feel energized and full throughout the morning. It consists of:
Rolled oats, organic whole wheat flakes, mixed frozen organic berries, plain soy yoghurt no sugar added, nuts, cranberries, raisins, and plain organic soy milk no sugar added. I take this with me to work. If I have time, I also prepare an immune booster smoothie made of the juice of 2 organic oranges, 1 organic banana or papaya, and some organic ginger.
- Making the bed
One of the easiest ways to feel like you are on track with your day is to make your bed. It might sound silly and futile, but I have definitely felt the difference in how I get on with my day. Having a made bed signals that you are done with sleep and your room is tidy. I am not a clean freak but I can’t deny that having a made bed gives off a different vibe and feels like I am ready to leave the house and move on with my day. Martin and I just take turns in making it depending on who leaves the house last.
6:45 – 7:45
- Leaving the house and going to the gym
Honestly, the thought of having to go to the gym after work makes me want to cancel my gym membership altogether: First, my gym is uncomfortably packed in the evening. Second, I would much rather get home early and be able to enjoy my evening in a relaxed manner than coming home late and having to quickly eat dinner and cut my chat with Martin short because we both want to go to bed early. So this leaves the mornings! Since adopting my new routine, the gym really works for me in the morning and it has actually made it much easier for me to stick to my exercise. Exercise is a fixed part of my routine now and it leaves me plenty of time before going to work. My gym is on my way to work, so it’s easy for me to go before taking the train. I either do 35 minutes moderate walking on the tread mill as a low intensity work out or I do exercises using 30 day challenge apps. Currently I am doing different challenges such as abs, glutes, or arms. They take 20-30 minutes. That way, I am out of the gym within 45 – 60 minutes, including a quick shower and putting on make-up. This has been the best tweak I have made to my routine as it has helped me to feel energized physically before even getting to work. You can of course work out at home if that works better for you, doing yoga or any other exercise to get some physical activity into your daily routine.
- Checking mails and social media
Yep, this is the earliest I will check my mails and social media! The reason is simple: I don’t want my routine to be clouded with thoughts of news or irrelevant online happenings first thing in the morning. I have all day to do that. I used to have my phone next to me at night and in the morning and it never did me any good. Having an entire 2 hours of peace and quiet from these activities leaves me feeling focused on the different steps of my routine instead of being distracted every 2 minutes. If I go on the tread mill, I watch a show, listen to music or a podcast but no social media or anything where I can’t control the input of information I receive. Try it, you might like being off the grid even if it’s just for 2 hours. Being “clean” from social media thought clutter definitely helps me with being mindful and meditating.
That’s it! I hope this mindful morning routine has given you some inspiration to adopt and create one for yourself! I can confidently say that it has made a huge difference in how I feel throughout the day. I feel like I am on track and in charge of things, energized, mindful and healthy. Let me know what your routine looks like, I am interested to hear about your experiences with it.