There are many benefits of creating and maintaining a mindful morning routine.
For those with high-stress jobs, it’s essential to take these extra minutes of the day for self-care. Some of the most successful and productive people follow morning routines. And for those with anxiety and depression, early rituals can help with mental well-being during the day. By having something to look forward to—whether it be a calming tonic, meditation, or a cozy pair of slippers—morning routines encourage presence and grounded living.
A few things to remember when creating your own mindful morning routine: there is no one way. And there is no right way. Your routine will be specific to you.
It’s okay to try one of the suggestions below and not like it. These are not the only ways to have a mindful morning. Everyone is unique; our bodies and spirits are going to feel energized in different ways.
Also, remember that your routine doesn’t need to look the same each day. You may find yourself craving exercise or fresh air a few times a week. On other mornings, you could prefer reading. It’s helpful to have a handful of rituals that you know ground you. Check in with your body. Honor your needs and feelings; 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 alcohol, staying up late, and working from home after dinner hours. If you do like to watch television, do so earlier in the evening. Take a few hours to detox from screen time before going to bed.
Reading, essential oils, calming teas, nighttime yoga, 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. Resist Technology
According to experts at Google, technology is designed to hijack our minds. When we reach for our phones first thing in the morning, what do we see? A list of notifications. Emails and calendar reminders. Missed calls. Suddenly, our morning is plagued by seemingly urgent tasks. We frame the first moments of our day around what experts call ‘a menu’ of missed experiences. We feel FOMO before even getting out of bed.
Avoid the temptation to check your phone by turning it off at night. You can also put it on silent in your work bag.
If you’d rather keep your phone in reach for emergencies, turn off notifications and change the settings to ‘Do Not Disturb.’ Here's how to create a list of contacts who are allowed to call (parents, partner, 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 when she wakes up, her first action is to give gratitude in the form of prayer. 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 towards 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, which we discuss 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. Greet Your Body With Items You Love
Once you’re ready to get out of bed, greet your body with a warm embrace. Keep a fuzzy robe nearby and a cozy pair of slippers. Help make getting up in the morning enjoyable even on the coldest and darkest winter days. Intentional nightwear and soft pajamas will also prolong a slow and relaxed routine.
Creating rituals are equally wonderful practices for mindful mornings. Maybe you keep a candle in your room alongside a pretty box of matches. Perhaps you prefer a refreshing spray to rouse your spirit. The sound of the striking match or the familiar scent of your spray becomes routine. These habits communicate to your body and soul that it is time to get ready for the new day.
Remember, each practice is as unique as the individual. Play here. Experiment with rituals and fabrics and scents that make you come alive. Create habits that excite you and call forth your best self each morning.
5. Engage Your Mind + Feed Your Body
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or so we’ve been told. While researchers like to debate the facts, we will say this: feeding and hydrating our bodies in the morning is essential to overall well-being. Eating a wholesome and healthy breakfast nourishes our bodies and sets us up to make better health choices throughout the day. Our bodies also need fuel after hours of rest.
How and what you feed your body is a personal choice. While some of us prefer tea and tonics, others are happy with a good ole’ cup of coffee. It’s really up to you—just try to reach for fruits or grains instead of sugar.
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, a staff writer for The Good Trade, is a storyteller, creator, activist, and avid traveler hailing from Colorado, now living in London. With 30+ stamps in her passport, she is passionate about responsible tourism and is always looking for new ways to be a more conscious traveler. She is currently pursuing her MA in Creative Nonfiction Writing at City, University of London.