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HealthYoga

How having a morning routine changed my life, and could change yours

By 28th August 2019 No Comments

“HOW YOU START YOUR DAY IS HOW YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE”

Without my morning routine, I’m a wreck…

Sounds dramatic I know, but it’s true, since having a stable morning routine I’ve experienced:

  • Less anxiety + feelings of overwhelm
  • Higher levels of happiness
  • Better sleep / more energy during the day
  • Higher levels of focus + alertness
  • A deeper connection to myself
  • More productive + I get s*** done!
  • Increased feelings of having ‘purpose’
  • Better digestion + improved overall health
  • The list goes on…!

So how did I go from self proclaimed hedonistic wild child without a care in the world, to a routine oriented, happy, calm, yoga lover?

The answer lies in ANXIETY. After having underlying low level anxiety for a number of years, + realising (albeit after many years of trying) that turning to booze, drugs, sex and food wasn’t the answer for fixing the deep feeling of despair I felt most days, I started to experiment with other, healthier options.

Going to a yoga class for the first time was kinda horrific but kinda awesome at the same time. I didn’t really understand what I was doing or why, but I did leave feeling better than when I went in, which I knew was the whole point. 

Fast forward around 6/7 years, and many many more yoga classes, I soon picked up some tricks that helped me manage my anxiety – yoga being at the core of this shift in lifestyle. Having connected the dots between my anxiety and my unsustainable lifestyle of partying, binge eating, and feeling miserable I knew I needed to make some changes. From yoga to therapy + everything in between – I’ve tried it all. It wasn’t until I realised I needed to stop focusing so much on external support + concentrate on my internal routines, processes + thought patterns that I felt my anxiety truly subside.

CUE MY MORNING ROUTINE! 

My routine has evolved and developed over the years – going from waking up with a coffee + a workout, to now using my morning to mindfully connect to myself, set intentions for my day, and find ways to nourish my mind, body + soul in ways that feel good for me.

I didn’t realise how much I rely on having a set routine until about 18 months ago when I completed my yoga teacher training. I had almost zero control over my mornings for nearly 6 weeks and basically freaked out. My digestive health was all over the place, I felt anxiety creeping in – my body literally was like WTF. 

Slowly, I began to prioritise my morning routine as the most important element to my day. For me, knowing I am taking care of my mental + physical health first thing in the morning, in order to maintain levels of happiness + wellbeing outweighed any desires to stay up late or miss my mornings to myself.

We all have different things that keep us balanced, in check, and on track – so there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to have a routine – but what is important is that you have one that is yours, that makes you feel good, and that you implement every single day.

I know a morning routine can seem daunting, + like a huge time to dedicate, but it’s all about perspective, + prioritising.

How cultivating your own morning routine + rituals could help you:

They help with mental clarity + focus – every single day we have an allotted amount of time to make decisions. Our brain basically only has capacity for a certain amount of decision making before it says ‘uh, no more for you today’ and we turn into a complete wreck! Routines and habits take the decision making away from our brain, because we complete tasks + actions without even thinking. 

They can improve our digestive system – we have a natural body clock that tells us when to wake up, when to eat, when to go to the toilet, and when to sleep. The digestive system is one that’s super affected by the way we live our lives. Having a set routine can help our digestive system know when to expect food, when to go to the toilet, when to signal hunger pangs and generally help us get through our day. 

Helps us form exercise habits – making time for moving our body is something we all have good intentions of doing, but sometimes don’t follow through with.  If we can make time for daily movement by carving out a routine, it becomes much easier. 

Helps with food choices – deciding what to eat in the morning can be a challenge. If we’re too hungry, too tired, or too hungover to make good choices, we can often reach for something that will leave us feeling icky in the long run. By creating a habit about when and what you eat for breakfast, you’re taking the decision making part of the process away from you. 

Helps with sleep – waking up early was never a priority for me but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realised how precious my mornings are, and how much I love waking up early. Everyone is different, so I’m not suggesting everyone wake up at 530am! But if you are someone who knows they enjoy a morning, then prioritise sleep so that you can wake up early and make the most of your time before you start your day. 

If someone had told me 10 years ago that my favourite part of the day would be the morning I’d have laughed out loud.. now though having prioritised my health and wellbeing over anything else, I can see how much I love my mornings. They are a time for me to set the tone for the day + set intentions, they allow me the space to meditate, think about what I want to achieve, and nourish my body, mind + soul for the day ahead.

I feel good about sacrificing certain things in order to maintain my morning routine as it helps my mental + physical health so much more than anything else. Routines + habits will look different on everyone, but there are some things you can do to make it work for you.

Tips for forming a morning routine:

PLAN FOR SUCCESS – by far the most important aspect of creating my morning routine is to plan exactly what I’ll do the night before. This takes the decision making out of it, allows our brain to focus on other important matters throughout the day, + ensures I set intentions for my mornings. Use your phone or write out on a pad how you want to start your day, then add times next to each point. It sounds weird, but trust me, it works! Mine looks a little like this each morning:

PRIORITISE SLEEP – if you want to create a healthy, sustainable, morning routine it’s important that you prioritise sleep. The key is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep – figure out how much sleep you need to function, then work backwards from your ideal wake up time. For me to wake up easily and naturally by around 6am I have to be asleep by 10pm. That gives me around 8 hours of sleep which leaves me feeling rested and energised. Lack of sleep can lead to bad habits forming around food, exercise, productivity, creativity and concentration. It can also cause low libido – no one wants that!

WAKE UP AT THE SAME TIME EVERY DAY – if we want to create a  habit we need to do the same thing over + over again in order for it to stick. Morning routines are easier to stick to if we know what to expect, so waking up at the same time each day will help our brains to form a habit. If you don’t naturally wake up at the same time each day, begin by setting an alarm + take incremental steps to reach your goal. 

FIND A DRINK (or ritual) YOU LOVE – the word ‘routine’ can often make us think of dull, uninspired actions, so I often use the word ‘ritual’ instead. This conjures thoughts and feelings of self-care, of taking time for me, of being kind to myself, and of having something that’s mine. That’s how I view my morning coffee or matcha. I put so much love into making it because for that 30 minutes after, I can sit, walk, listen to a podcast, and enjoy MY drink – my time. 

MOVE YOUR BODY – start moving your body on the first day of trying your new morning routine. Your brain will then begin to relate this movement to your morning structure, and you’ll be more inclined to move each day thereafter. Do whatever makes YOU. FEEL. GOOD. – dancing in the kitchen with some music you love on is a great one, have a nice stretch on your yoga mat, or go for a short walk or run. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it’s something you enjoy and will want to do again! It can be different every morning but just do something. All actions, however small, work towards a bigger impact.

MY MORNING ROUTINE + RITUALS

My morning routine takes around 1.5 to 2 hours. It sounds like a lot, but actually they’re all little actions that I would do regardless, but this way when they’re all together, I feel more in control and more able to set this time aside for myself – freeing myself and my energy up for other tasks throughout the day.

My morning routine:

  • Wake up naturally or with an alarm – usually around 6/6.30am
  • Get up (I try to avoid the snooze button!) – I find the 5 second rule helps a lot
  • Go to the kitchen – drink water with one shot of ACV
  • I then scrape my tongue + brush my teeth
  • Make a hot fresh lemon + ginger tea
  • Whilst I wait for the tea to cool I start my meditation – 10/20 mins of guided or silent meditation – I like to use the Calm app sometimes, or just focus on my breath. I also find that pranayama (breathwork) helps calm me before I meditate so I like to do 2/3 mins of nadi shodhana before meditation
  • Then I journal/free write for 10 mins + sip my tea
  • After writing comes visualisation + affirmations
  • I then read a book for at least 10 minutes – I like to stick to self development books in the morning as my mind is more open + connected
  • BOWEL MOVEMENT!!! (important to be regular dontcha know)
  • Next comes physical movement – I usually do a short mobility sequence to awaken the body followed by some sun salutations – then either go to a yoga class, walk the dog or practice yoga at home
  • Finally it’s time for a hot drink / food!! I love making coffee, matcha, mushroom lattes, or other concoctions to sip on whilst I reflect on my morning – this time can also be used to begin setting intentions for the day, checking to-do lists, or catching up on emails, checking IG etc.. Breakfast is something simple using prepared ingredients – either a smoothie or nourishing bowl of some description

After breakfast, it’s time to work. As a yoga teacher + coach, each day looks different for me, so having my anchoring morning routine is key to my productivity + motivation. 

I really truly love having a morning routine, + wholeheartedly believe that you can find one you love just as much too!

TOP TIPS FOR STARTING YOUR OWN MORNING ROUTINE

  1. GO TO BED EARLY
  2. NO PHONE UPON WAKING / USE AIRPLANE MODE
  3. SET INTENTIONS THE NIGHT BEFORE
  4. USE AN ALARM IF YOU NEED TO
  5. CREATE A SPACE JUST FOR YOU
  6. BUY LEMONS FOR WATER
  7. DOWNLOAD A MEDITATION APP
  8. SET CLOTHES OUT THE NIGHT BEFORE
  9. TAKE SMALL STEPS – TRY ONE THING AT A TIME
  10. MAKE YOURSELF ACCOUNTABLE BY TELLING A FRIEND OR COACH
  11. HAVE A PLAN B – perhaps the most important tip I can share with you is to have a plan B – a condensed version of your morning routine for those days when you just don’t have time! Avoid guilt + stress by preparing for the worst + having a back up plan handy – just in case! 

Want to curate your own morning routine but don’t know where to start? My NEW wake up + glow: a new way to start your mornings course is releasing soon! Join the waitlist here. At just £19.99 this course is a perfect starter-for-ten for anyone looking to add in or update a morning routine. Feel rejuvenated, inspired, + refreshed with wake up + glow.

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