Though I may technically be more of an early bird than a night owl, even I am not a fan of waking up bright and early. Or, at least, I wasn’t.
Now, however, I’ve changed up my morning routine, and as a result, I’ve taken the dread out of getting up. The key is having a morning routine that gets me energized, motivated, and feeling great about taking on the challenges of the day.
My Former Routine
Humans are creatures of habit. So, even before being intentional about my morning routine, I still technically had one. I work a later shift for my day job, so most of my morning is free, and I seldom have to wake up early.
As a result, I would typically stay in bed until about 9 or 9:30. Then, I’d get up, have my coffee, and watch tv for an hour. At that point, I had to shower, get dressed, and head to work. I’d work from 11AM to 8PM, come home and have dinner, try to squeeze in some writing, and then go to bed.
This schedule– as I’m sure you could already guess– wasn’t exactly conducive to having much time to relax or to work on the things I enjoy. Instead, my entire day revolved around my shift. I built my daily routine around my sources of stress.
Even when I worked a standard nine-to-five, I did the same thing. I’d wake up with barely enough time to get showered and dressed, rush to work, stress out, come home, and collapse without having enough energy to really invest in my side projects and the things I love.
Long story short, neither of these approaches really worked for me. They both left me trying to work in things like exercise, writing for leisure, and even managing BlakeWrites into times that felt convenient. And when you’ve been stressing out at work all day, activities that require a bit of brainpower– even activities you love– never really feel convenient. The result is a tailspin of getting behind and thereby feeling more stressed about the things you haven’t done.
So, I decided to give my day a bit of a shakeup and test out a few different morning routines. Now, there’s no going back to lazy, unstructured mornings. My mornings have been insanely productive and energizing now, and as a result, my stress and anxiety throughout the rest of the day has been significantly lower.
How I Start Each Day
In thinking about creating a new morning routine for myself, I had a few goals in mind. I knew that I wanted:
- More time to work on BlakeWrites
- To indulge in writing fiction
- More exercise
- The chance to practice mindfulness before starting my workday
Each of these things was missing for me with my previous routine, and they’re things that I really value. Writing fiction is what led me to my current career, for example, and obviously BlakeWrites is important to me as well… trust me, I wouldn’t have put so much time and money into this website if it wasn’t important.
Exercise and mindfulness are similarly priorities of mine as I believe that wellness is key for making the other parts of your life fall into place.
I tried a few variations before settling into my current routine. Initially, I decided to wake up and exercise first thing, thinking that breaking a sweat was the best way to get energized. I’d take my yoga mat to the backyard and run through some sun salutations, do some push ups, do some crunches, and then head back inside to try to get some writing done.
The issue with this approach for me is that, confessedly, I don’t really enjoy exercising that much. I don’t dread exercise or anything like that, but I certainly don’t find it as enjoyable as staying in bed and resting. So, when my alarm went off, the tendency was to just hit snooze a few times. Next thing I knew, an hour had passed, and the time to exercise had passed with it.
After that, I felt like I was behind on my other morning activities, which didn’t make them as exciting or enjoyable as I had hoped.
So, I did a bit of recalibrating. If anything, I’m an experimenter and a tinkerer. I love to test things and make adjustments until they work (which you may have even noticed about this website).
I decided that my favorite part of the morning was definitely having my coffee and starting my morning slowly, so I integrated that into my new morning schedule. This time, however, I decided that coffee and a slow morning didn’t have to involve sitting on the couch and checking social media or my email. Instead, I decided to start by getting up, pouring myself some coffee, and going out onto the back porch to do some journaling. This way, I get to enjoy my coffee, get some sunlight and fresh air, and complete some journaling.
Unlike exercising, this was something that could motivate me to get up and start my day. Because I work on a computer all day every day, getting sunlight and fresh air is something that I’ve really missed in my daily routine, but didn’t really realize how much I missed it until I started being intentional about incorporating it into my day. It’s an instant mood booster to drink my coffee in the sunlight and listen to the sounds of early morning. Journaling goes hand-in-hand with this, too. By taking some time to write and reflect on the day that has passed or the day ahead of me is a great way to start my day from a place of mindfulness and put myself in a positive starting place.
After my first cup of coffee and a few pages of journaling, I’m finally energized enough to do a bit of exercise. Since the temptation to stay in bed and continue sleeping is gone, it’s easy to roll out my yoga mat and break a sweat. Weather permitting, I do this outside as well for the sake of getting continued time in the sun and fresh air.
Taking an hour to workout, I head back inside and finally open my computer. I take twenty minutes to check my email and social media while eating breakfast, and then close both. For the next 45 minutes, I work on my novel, and for 45 more minutes, I work on BlakeWrites.
All of this leaves me with thirty minutes to shower, shave, get dressed, and start my workday.
As a result, my days have gotten a whole lot better.
As someone who deals with an anxiety disorder, I can’t overstate how transformative morning journaling and increased exposure to sunlight has been for me. I go into my workday feeling optimistic, and don’t get stressed as easily throughout the day because rather than dwelling on what I’m worried about, I use my journaling as a time to practice gratitude and thankfulness.
I’ve also been more consistent about my writing and exercising than I have been in a long time, which only contributes to my sense of accomplishment and daily satisfaction.
Creating a morning routine around your goals is a great way to prioritize your wellness and to set yourself up for long term success.
If you have a morning routine, tell us about it in the comments below!