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In a world where every yogi, CEO, and influencer’s morning routines are splashed all over our social media feeds, magazines, and self-help books, it’s hard to differentiate between what works and what doesn’t.
With the information overload, we’re left wondering a mirage of conflicting questions, like:
>> Should I be meditating before 5 a.m.? If so, for how long?
>> What about those morning pages? I heard that was essential if I’m going to be creative later.
>> Should I be doing my yoga in the morning or the afternoon? What kind?
>> What about inversions?
>> Is coffee bad? Should it be bulletproof? Or is it all matcha from now on?
Sometimes we try to just do all of the things we read to make sure we’re hitting all our bases for a great day. But who has two hours to prepare to prepare?
I asked my local community about their morning routines. Each person’s answer sounded like a regurgitated clip from a recent article, Insta-video, or YouTube hit. I heard so many things:
>> “I do my tongue scraping, meditate for five minutes, and then I visualize the color blue.”
>> “I get up before 5 a.m. so I have a whole extra month to my year.”
>> “I answer my emails in bed.”
>> “I unplug from 8 p.m. to 8 a.m.”
The most interesting and, truthfully, the only unique response I heard was from an artist I met at a local bar. This man’s response to a morning routine was to cook Indian food and have a glass of chardonnay.
If you’re stuck in the middle between indulging in a morning routine fit for an ashram and giving it all up for chardonnay, I’ve created a choose-your-own-adventure formula so you can finally stick to a routine all your own.
Step One: Alarm, Affirmations, or No Alarm?
You may not need an alarm, depending on the profession and season you’re in. If that’s the case, relish and enjoy sleeping in until your body is ready to awake. Sometimes that may be at 5:30 a.m., sometimes you may need to sleep until 8 a.m. Do your thing.
If you need to be up at a certain time, or just like to, choose an alarm clock that best suits your needs and doesn’t create an instant stress response. There are sunrise alarm clocks, which will slowly light up your room, making for a gradual wake-up call. Of course, you can also use traditional alarm clocks to reduce your exposure to cell phones and blue light.
If you just can’t let go of your iPhone, you may want to try downloading a “yogi approved” alarm clock, like Gabby Bernstein’s Spirit Junkie App; it will let you wake up to a specific affirmation every day.
Step Two: Pick a Phrase for your “Touch Down.”
Decide when your alarm goes off and your feet touch the ground who you’re going to be today. My favorite way to beat the habit of rehearsing the past (even yesterday counts!) as soon as I wake up is to say a funny phrase when my feet hit the ground each morning.
You can try something like:
>> “I’m back!”
>> “Watch out, world!”
>> “Here we go!”
>> “Today rocks!”
It’s silly, of course, but it works wonders to get ahead of the negative thought pattern that likes to start as soon as our eyes open.
Step Three: Meditate, Visualize, or Walk it Out.
Meditating in the morning is a great way to start your day off right. But if you don’t have a lot of extra minutes in your morning, you may just want to visualize.
Spend one to three minutes visualizing and mentally rehearsing your day going especially well. By visualizing in the highest outcome what’s about to happen, your brain believes it’s already done it, which works wonders.
Meditating traditionally, or through a guided app for 5 to 20 minutes, is a great choice too. I like to walk my dog in the morning without my headphones, phone, or expectations so I can get into the flow state before I check emails or messages.
Step Four: Choose a Number of Minutes to Go without Electronics.
The first 30 minutes of your day are really sacred. From a spiritual perspective, you’re “reentering” the world. So, I like to say, be internal before you’re external. Even just spending your first 15 minutes without checking messages is incredible, but starting with five will do just fine.
I do not look at my phone for the first hour of my day. Because of this practice, I find myself so much less reactive now. But being sans-phone took about two years to build up to. Be patient with yourself as you work up your unplugging tolerance.
Step Five: Coffee, Tea, or Lemon Water?
Pick your favorite and stick to it.
There will always be someone who tells you matcha is the newest thing, or bulletproof is the only way to go—but I advise you to start your day with joy. Be sure to drink a big glass of water when you get up. Other than that, your beverage choice is all yours.
Step Six: Breakfast, or just Plain Old Fast?
If you’re not an eggs Benedict kinda person, don’t try to be one. If you hate green smoothies, stop chopping kale! Pick something that’s nourishing and easy to stick to. I like to scramble two eggs with vegan parmesan cheese and spinach. However, that may sound like a big feat for you. If you like to run on autopilot in the morning, overnight oats or grabbing a juice on the way to work are perfectly great alternatives.
Step Seven: Exercise Now or Later?
Since I work from home, I usually hit up the 8:15 a.m. yoga class at my studio. When I worked in an office, I made a habit of doing the 12 p.m. Pilates circuit. Find a time that works for you, and alternate between working out at home and in the studio so you don’t set yourself up for disappointment if you can’t make the exact scheduled time.
Step Eight: Say “Thank You” in Advance, or Make a Gratitude List.
Lastly, once you’ve enjoyed your morning, say a little “thank you” for your day going swimmingly. By saying thank you in advance, you’re acting as if it’s already happened, just like mentally rehearsing the day. You can even say thank you for unexpected miracles, surprises, or abundance—it’s up to you.
Another fun trick I’ve been doing is writing a short gratitude list every time I park my car. I’m usually two to five minutes early, so this is a great way to prepare my energy before I walk into an appointment, class, or dinner date.
Voila! You can now have your own morning adventures and unique answers to the question, “What’s your morning routine?”
Here’s to being an early (non-overwhelmed) riser!