The power of a morning routine

Why there’s truth in the saying ‘the early bird gets the worm’.

From the wise words of Aristotle “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

There’s no doubt you’ve heard it before, successful people owe their dues to a morning routine.

Of course, that’s not the only thing that made said people successful – and to determine what constitutes success is a whole other story – but let’s consider this for a minute.

Many celebrities, entrepreneurs and researchers have raved about how a morning routine influences their lives for the better, writing books about it and covering it in podcasts.

Barack Obama reportedly sets himself up for the day exercising, eating breakfast but not drinking coffee, Jennifer Anderson swears by drinking a hot lemon water, washing her face and meditating for 20 minutes.

Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, jogs for 30 minutes every morning, while organisational expert Marie Kondo shows us how morning routines can look different for everyone – she is known to perform a quick tidying ritual to quiet her mind before leaving the house.

Max your morning

The fact that we even know how these people start their day demonstrates our interest in the morning routine concept.

So how do we establish it for ourselves? 

Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, which details his six-step morning ritual, says, “it’s not about waking up early, it’s about waking up better.”

Elrod claims that doing rituals in the morning is crucial because it puts you in a peak physical, mental, emotional and spiritual state.

As he explained on the Deliciously Ella podcast, “it makes it so you’re a better version of the person that went to bed the night before… and that impacts everything you do throughout the day.”

Watch the clock

But, you say, what about those who are night owls, and can’t seem to rise any earlier to create a morning routine?

It’s important to look at our body clocks, which influence our circadian rhythm. According to research from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences, circadian rhythms are important because they can influence our sleep-wake cycles, hormone release, eating habits and digestion, body temperature and more.

If our rhythm is out of sync, this can in turn affect our sleep, health, mood, and more.

So, how do we know what our circadian rhythm should look like to perform optimally?

According to traditional Chinese medicine, there is an optimal body clock for when we should sleep, eat, work, rise and such.

According to this theory, 5am to 7am is when our large intestine is performing at its best and is the perfect time to have a bowel movement and remove toxins from the day before.

Doing light exercise, drinking water, and avoiding caffeine also helps set you up for the day.

Work it your way

If you have young children, you’ve been up with all night, getting up at 5am is probably not feasible but you can still lock in a good morning routine.

The common thread between all the research is that you need to find a routine that works for you.

Start by looking at what you’re currently doing and cut out what’s not working for you, replacing it with a ritual that does – even rising just five minutes earlier to write a gratitude list can make a big difference to how you start your day.

Monique Barry, mother, business strategist, coach and business owner, says she stumbled upon a morning routine before realising it was a thing, back when her son was a newborn and she was raising him alone.

Barry attributes a big part of her morning routine to learning Vedic meditation.

After many failed attempts at what is seemingly difficult to master, Barry instantly grasped Verdic meditation, experiencing that feeling people always spoke of – where her thoughts and worries just melted away.

Barry’s morning routine starts early at 5:30am, she meditates straight away for 20-30 minutes, then tries to go into the lounge without waking her son, whilst watching the sunrise over a cup of coffee and journaling for 2-3 pages.

Sounds dreamy, right?

Barry shares her own advice on creating your perfect morning routine:

Be clear about your intention for a morning routine

There is no point in doing something just because someone says you should. Perhaps you notice your kids are stressed heading off to school, or you feel you’re wasting your mornings and use that contrast to give you some clarity about your why.

Find your solutions for your excuses

For example, if you are telling yourself you don’t have time that will be your reality, so build time into your plan by trying to get up half an hour earlier.

Your day begins the night before

Make sure you get to bed early enough so that you’ll be able to wake up early the next day and be clear about how you want your following morning to begin.

Use natural light to wake yourself up

I have a sunrise clock, which makes no sound but simulates the sunrise over half an hour to wake me up naturally, but before this, I would sleep with my curtains open or turn on my salt lamp or sit in the lounge to watch the sunrise.

Discipline is an act of self-love but be kind to yourself

Your preference would be to flow through your morning routine but if you skip it (or parts of it) because you slept in or for some other reason, trust that that was what you needed the most then. If it feels right, finish it off in the afternoon or start again tomorrow.

Keep it simple

Having a two-hour morning routine would be amazing but that’s not practical or sustainable for most of us, so cut it right back to two or three essential things that will be of benefit to you.

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