The Value of a Morning Routine

Posted by Jill Chivers in Living Your Life

Okay, confession, straight up.  I am not a morning person.  My night owlism started early in my high school years, when my sprint from awake-dressed-breakfast-school started.  It’s weird, because everyone else in my house is an early bird.

I suffered a little bit of insomnia in high school and I become super cranky without enough sleep, so my thinking was always to add more sleep to the morning by sleeping longer.

So I wasn’t too keen on the idea of having a morning routine that went something other than awake-dressed-tea-office (skipping commuting, as I work from home most days).  Mornings aren’t my thing.  And morning people!  Well, how annoying are they?


Ah, how we talk.

Especially when we don’t know what we’re talking about.  As I soon learned.

Here’s what I already knew: My mornings weren’t setting me up for the kind of creative, ‘flow’ days where I felt in connection with the world.

I knew my mornings had more of a lurching feeling to them – there was no grace or flow, no setting of a firm platform from which my day would take on its own delightful energy.

But that didn’t seem too bad a situation.  Sure, my mornings weren’t all aglow with wonderfulness, but they weren’t a disheveled heap of disorganisation either.  They just weren’t much of anything to speak of.  And there didn’t seem an overwhelmingly good reason to change that.

But change it has.  My mornings now look, feel and are completely different to how they used to be.  It’s like a small kind of miracle has occurred.

I now have a morning routine that I love, that I wouldn’t skip for all the tea in China, that sets me up to have a creative day, a delightful day, a day where I feel connected, in flow, and able to handle almost anything that comes along.

I know that may sound vaguely annoying to those who find cheerful perky morning people as irritating as fingernails down a chalkboard.  I get that.  Too much chirpiness annoys me too.

But here’s the thing:  you know I wouldn’t – I couldn’t – tell you about the gift it’s been to me if it wasn’t a thing that had made my life so much better.  Like quantum better, not just a baby step better.  I’m willing to risk annoying some of you with if you’ll stick with me, read to the end, and perhaps even give it a try.  Fair deal?

My morning routine is part of my daily self care – a critical ingredient in my journey of healing from overshopping and to leading a life I’m in love with.

Potential ingredients to an uplifting morning routine

Potential ingredients to an uplifting morning routine

Key changes to my morning routine:

  • exercise, adding it
  • breakfast, changing it
  • wake up time, changing it (well it changed by itself)

And the result has been almost phenomenal.

So how did this change in morning routine come about?

A visit to my doctor.  That’s the short story.  I changed GPs midway through the year, and my new doctor did a full workup of all the important stats.  My bloodwork came back with very high cholesterol.  Red buttons flashed, alarms whapped, and my doctor said it was either cholesterol medication or exercise.

I took the exercise.  I saw it as a prescription – not a choice.  Previously, when I had tried to establish a morning exercise routine, I saw it as optional.  I would wake and decide if I would exercise that morning.  Therein lay the problem.

Deciding was the problem.

Once I removed that decision point — no questions no ifs no buts no maybes no negotiation no discussion — everything changed.

The only decision I get to make is what kind exercise.  Walking, biking, or swimming.  Those are my 3 rotating choices, 2 of which I do with  my husband.

My morning routine grounds me

My morning routine sets me up to succeed for that day.

My morning routine puts me in flow.

My morning routine creates a structure, a strong foundation and scaffolding, that I need –  it adds something significant to my sense of well-being.

My morning routine puts me in a place where I can be more effective, more productive and more creative.

My morning routine

My morning routine looks something like this:

Around 6.15am: wake up

Around 6.30am: exercise

Around 7.30am: dry body brush, shower, lovely body cream, hair, make-up, dressed for the day (choosing an ensemble that calls to me and I’ll feel good in all day).  Read from my daily meditation book

Around 8.00am: breakfast, high in fibre (oats, cereal with bran, fruit), fresh-brewed loose leaf tea; eat breakfast almost always outside

Around 8.30am: in flow and ready to go

The timings change sometimes, if I wake up earlier or a bit later.  I never set the alarm, I don’t have to.  I get enough sleep that waking up between 6 and 6.30am happens naturally. I would never have thought that were possible!

Outside + movement: great combination for a morning routine

Outside + movement: great combination for a morning routine

Your morning routine

Your morning routine may look entirely different to mine.  Whatever you put in it is entirely up to you.  But this I would recommend: start one.

Start a morning routine.  Give it a try for one month minimum. If you like, see it as a prescription.

Don’t make it optional – it’s too easy to opt out or give up.

Make it essential.  Mainly because it is.

Consider the types of activities you might like to include:

  • Exercise, from the aerobic to something more gentle.  Something that gets you moving. You don’t have to join a class or buy special equipment or clothing to start exercising
  • Reading, especially if it is something specially chosen for your morning routine (not your usual nighttime fare, say).
  • Writing, journaling, drawing.  Something creative or that just flows from you.  Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages may provide ideas and structure you find helpful
  • Meditating, praying, sitting quietly.  Something that reconnects you inward and/or with a higher, divine power
  • Being in nature or being outside.  Whether that’s a walk or ride, doing yoga or stretching, or sitting quietly reading, meditating or writing – there’s something about being in nature (or outside) in the morning that powers you from deep within

I would humbly suggest that your morning routine not include television or those blarey blasty morning radio shows.

Try it

Prescribe a morning routine for yourself.  And see what difference it makes to your life and your wellbeing.

For more inspiration and ideas on living, not spending your life, check out the daily postcards at Shop Less And Live More.

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