For those with high-stress jobs or littles running around the house, it’s essential to take these extra minutes of the day for self-care. Early rituals can help with anxiety and depression but also with general mental well-being throughout the day. By having something to look forward to—whether it be a warm beverage, an audio meditation, or a cozy pair of slippers—morning routines encourage presence and grounded living.
When creating your mindful morning routine, remember that there is no one way. And there is no right way. Your routine will be specific to you. You may try one of the suggestions below and find it’s not for you—that’s okay! Everyone is unique, and our bodies and spirits will feel energized differently.
Also, remember that your routine doesn’t need to look the same each morning. You may find yourself craving exercise or fresh air a few times a week. On other mornings, you may prefer reading with your kids or spending a few extra moments on skincare. Having a handful of rituals you know ground you for when you need them most is helpful. Honor your needs and feelings (and your schedule, whichever season of life you’re in now!). With that in mind, you can practice the routines that feel best for the day ahead.
1. Begin With Bedtime
Your mindful morning starts the night before. To prepare and ease into a new day, it’s essential to rest and get quality sleep. Avoid staying up too late or working on your laptop after dinner hours (unless it’s for creative projects). If you like to watch television, try and do so earlier in the evening as your schedule allows. This will make way for spending a few hours screen-free before going to bed.
Reading, essential oils, calming teas, short stretches, and meditation podcasts are all excellent tools for quality sleep. This will make it easier to rise in the morning without feeling groggy. Practice healthy boundaries with your evening routine to set yourself up for a relaxed and mindful morning.
2. Avoid Technology
What do we see when we reach for our phones first thing in the morning? A list of notifications. Emails and calendar reminders. Missed calls. Bright blue light. Suddenly, our morning is plagued by seemingly urgent tasks. Avoid the temptation to check your phone by turning it off at night. You can also put it on silent on the other side of the room.
If you’d rather keep your phone within reach for emergencies, turn off notifications and change the settings to ‘Do Not Disturb.’ Here’s how to create a list of contacts allowed to call (parents, partners, siblings).
3. Make Gratitude Your First Thought
A few years back, Forbes interviewed twelve women leaders about their morning routines. One CFO, Leslie Hale, shared that her first action is to give gratitude through prayer when she wakes up. Hale said she likes to express “how thankful [she is] to have woken up that day because someone went to sleep that night and didn’t wake up.”
Gratitude is one of the most impactful habits, especially when done first thing in the morning. It can positively influence our day and help us to move through the world with love and kindness toward others.
Research also shows that gratitude can affect our individual well-being. An abstract published by the Counselling Psychology Review claims gratitude benefits us “directly, as a causal agent of well-being; and indirectly, as a means of buffering against negative states and emotions.”
You can make gratitude your first thought with a few practices, including prayer and meditation apps (noted below). You can also keep a gratitude journal on your nightstand. Write down something you are thankful for before going to sleep, and then look at it first thing in the morning. The School of Life also sells a beautiful card set with 60 reasons to be grateful.
4. Create Small Rituals
Keep a fuzzy robe near your bed alongside warm socks or a cozy pair of slippers. Make getting up in the morning enjoyable, even on the coldest and darkest winter days. Soft pajamas will also prolong a slower and more relaxed routine, even if the quiet lasts only a moment or two (we see you, parents!).
Additionally, small and simple rituals are equally excellent practices for mindful mornings. Maybe you keep a candle in your room and light it first thing while making your coffee. Perhaps you prefer a refreshing spray to rouse your spirit. Remember, each practice is as unique as the individual. Have fun with it! Involve your kids to teach them the importance of routine and ritual as well. Create habits that excite you and call forth your best self each morning.
5. Feed Your Body And Mind
Eating a wholesome and healthy breakfast in the morning nourishes our bodies and sets us up to make better health choices throughout the day. Our bodies also need fuel and hydration after hours of rest. How and what you feed your body is a personal choice, though studies recommend protein to keep blood sugar in check and balance hormone health. It’s also best to avoid caffeine first thing—your gut will thank you.
Similar to feeding our bodies, we can feed our minds. Do you remember the back of cereal boxes as a kid? Hunched over a bowl of Cheerios (or Cap’n Crunch if we were lucky), we’d follow the maze or solve the crossword. For us, it was a fun way to pass the time while eating breakfast. But we were actually exercising our minds.
We can continue this as adults in a few ways, whether it be reading, coloring, writing, or through physical exercise. We can also strengthen our minds through morning meditation. In a Reader’s Digest interview with clinical neuropsychologist Dr. Jennifer Wolkin, she explains, “the impact mindfulness exerts on our brain is born from routine—a slow, steady and consistent reckoning of our realities, and the ability to take a step back, become more aware, more accepting, less judgmental and less reactive.”
Using apps like Headspace and The Mindfulness App, we can calm our inner voices, practice mindful thoughts, and prepare ourselves for the day ahead. And if you prefer reading, here are our favorite books on mindfulness and meditation for beginners.
Kayti Christian (she/her) is the Managing Editor at The Good Trade. She has a Master’s in Nonfiction Writing from the University of London and is the creator of Feelings Not Aside, a newsletter for sensitive people.