I’ve become a fierce advocate for a morning routine.
It started when I was unemployed in 2018. I told people I was starting my own business. And I went home and sat on the couch day after day, staring out the window.
It didn’t help that it was February in Canada, and I struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder, which made life, well, crappy. My failure and lack of direction sat on me like an invisible elephant, and I swore to myself that tomorrow I’d get off the couch.
You may have had a time like this in your life. It’s really hard. The fog of fear and indirection hangs over you, and it feels like you’ll never move again.
Getting a morning routine wasn’t an instant fix. It really wasn’t. And I didn’t create a massive, hour-long routine to begin with. But over time, a morning routine was a big part of saving me.
So if you don’t have one, I want to encourage you to start one! You could include journaling and meditation, for example. But in this post, I want to talk about 11 unconventional things you should try.
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1. A big glass of water
Hydration is vital all day, but there’s something about water in the morning that jolts your brain awake and brings you into focus. Lots of water. I like the colder the better, sometimes with some lemon in it.
If you’re not including visualization in your morning routine, you should be! Even if it’s just for a few minutes.
Some people swear by things like the law of attraction and positive energy, made popular by The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne. I’ve heard Jim Carrey and Steve Harvey make cases for it too.
I’m a bit cynical of the law of attraction stuff, but there’s nothing wrong with creating the image in your mind of what you want to build in this world.
After all, everything that exists once started in someone’s mind. The imagination is one of the greatest gifts we have. Use it!
Exercise is a great thing to include in your morning routine, especially if it’s hard. Exercising in the morning leads to better food choices, more alertness, and overall more positive mental states throughout the day.
I try to do short but intense interval training first thing in the morning. (Since I’m writing this from lock down, this is done at home primarily with body weight exercises. But I do have a set of dumbbells I love using too!).
4. YouTube videos
I’ve read a lot of people on morning routines, and I do believe that meditation and inspiration can be vital things to include.
So when I need inspiration, I turn on YouTube videos! There’s so much good stuff there, and once you’ve watched enough inspirational or motivational videos on YouTube, the algorithm will keep suggesting more.
Although I try not to stare at my screen too early, I do make an exception for YouTube videos. One of my favorites is Les Brown’s speech on becoming courageous.
5. A snooze button
I’ve got three kids. Some nights they wake me up 4-5 times. When my alarm goes off, piercing through my groggy cloud of half-sleep, I used to make myself get up.
Now I’ve heard the navy seals talk about discipline, and the CEOs who swear that getting up at 4:00 am is the secret to their success. I’ve done all this.
But I’ve also listened to Ariana Huffington and her sleep revolution. Sleep is vital. So I’d encourage you, in building your morning routine, to give yourself the permission to press snooze every now and then. Or, just turn the alarm off.
But sometimes. That extra hour of sleep might do more for you than 15 minutes of meditation at this point.
Since having Seasonal Affective Disorder, I’ve been on the lookout for ways to combat it. Exercise is a big one, but I’ve also been interested in the effect of light therapy.
Light therapy isn’t a perfect science, and may not work for everyone, but I’ve found that it’s helped me a bit–especially when integrated with a bigger morning routine.
I usually do some writing at the end of my morning routine, and I’ll have on a light therapy box while doing it. I honestly can’t say that it’s “cured” my SAD, but it might help a little. If nothing else, I find sitting by the glow really cozy in the winter. (I have a Verilux lightbox that I’m really happy with… I also use it to light videos sometimes :D).
6. Blogging & Social Media
Okay, WTF. Isn’t a morning routine supposed to be the time we stay off technology? Isn’t blogging going to destroy that?
I do try to limit the time I look at my phone in the morning–although it’s tough since I use motivational YouTube videos.
But, usually at the end of my morning routine, I love to include some content writing. Now I don’t go on Twitter and scroll, so I’m not really talking about “using” social media during your morning routine.
However, it’s a great time to create content. Your mind is fresh. Hopefully you’re inspired.
I often just sit at my laptop and write into my word processor, usually composing a blog post or LinkedIn post I’ll share later. Sticking to the word processor also means I don’t get distracted by other posts.
I’ll also occasionally use Evernote on my phone with the voice-to-text enabled, meaning I can just speak and it creates my written content for me! (I talked in another post about it’s one of the tools I swear by.)
Maybe this isn’t unconventional. If you’re already doing this, good on you.
I find it really easy to meditate and think about the things I want in the future. It’s really challenging to be thankful for the things I have.
So I do try to take a minute to either say out loud or write down the things I’m thankful for.
9. Jumping out of bed–fast
On the days you’re not going to hit the snooze button, you could try to implement the five-second rule, made popular by Mel Robbins. She talks about a time in her life when she wasn’t getting out of bed for hours. It was a difficult period personally.
So she implemented a rule. Much like counting down to a rocket launch, she would count down the second until jumping out of bed.
It transformed her life.
Have you implemented any of these things? Do they work?
The thing I’ve realized with time is that a morning routine is something deeply personal. You have to figure out what works for you, and you don’t need to jump on the latest bandwagon to be successful.
But do get started. Create it bit by bit, and watch how it transforms your life.