“How many of you have a morning routine?”
It’s a question I often ask audiences during my workshops and keynotes, and one to which I usually get a majority of hands raised. But the devil is in the details.
When I go further and ask audience members to share their morning routines with the audience, they’re usually little more than habits squeezed in between stress-fueled morning alarms, coffee chugs, and rush hour drama.
What’s more, when I share more details of the importance of real morning routines and what those routines might look like, I get eye-rolling and excuses.
“I just don’t have enough time in the mornings, with the kids and the traffic.”
“I’d have to get up so early.”
“Oh, no way. I barely have time to get showered and out the door.”
…to which I normally ask: “How’s your program working out for you?”
The answer: Their “program” isn’t working too well. Perhaps you can relate.
Your morning starts out with an alarm blaring in your brain, and it comes way too soon because you went to bed after 1 a.m. due to some Facebook surfing and Netflix binging the night before.
Not only was it not enough sleep, it was a restless sleep. So now, you’ll need copious amounts of coffee just to power you through at least a few hours of the day. This will all result in a cortisol-induced day of stress, a constant state of fight-or-flight exacerbated by the fact that you left home late, got stuck in traffic, arrived at the office angry, and walked right into a meeting in which your boss hit you with a number of tasks you simply don’t want to do.
And that cycle repeats itself five times per week.
Sorry, that’s not a routine, it’s self-mutilation.
A morning routine should allow you to ground yourself, be mindful, and fill you with energy for your day. And, yes, it means you have to wake up earlier in the day, which means you need to go to bed earlier. A good day starts the night before, because it includes 7-8 hours of deep, restful sleep. If you’re someone who thinks you “function just fine” on 5-6 hours, you’re kidding yourself. But that’s a topic for a different post.
Here is the six-step routine I do each morning to set my day up for abundance and success:
Meditation has become an absolute non-negotiable in my morning. At first, it seems difficult. Your brain will wander. You’ll default to your programming and worry about your to-dos and tasks for the day. Pretty soon, you’ll learn to effortlessly bring your mind back to your breath. You’ll learn to be present. You’ll learn to just sit with yourself and be mindful of every part of your body. The benefits of meditation are many, but you have to do it consistently to see why. A great tool to start out is the Ten Percent Happier smartphone app, which has lessons and meditations for beginners. They have meditations for waking, walking, traveling…you name it. I also love Dr. Joe Dispenza’s collection of meditations, though I recommend reading at least some of his books first.
It can be loud. I can sound crazy. But I never neglect my daily breathing exercises. There are a number of different types of valuable breathing exercises, such as the Kundalini techniques, but I prefer the Wim Hof Method. These exercises fill me with energy, reduce my stress, and even help me feel better when I feel a little cold coming on. They only take minutes, and they are well worth it. I’ll let Wim show you how it’s done:
Once you advance a bit with the Wim Hof Method, you’ll end the breathing with some “breathless pushups.” I go right from these pushups into a little routine that involves more pushups, planks, air squats and stretching. I also begin most of my days with at least a 30 minute walk. This changes your physiology from the start of your day, getting the blood flowing, filling you with energy, and waking the mind. It also forces you to focus on something other than the meetings, tasks, and to-dos you have coming in the day, which will get you out of your rut and and make you feel more positive and joyful.
The daily practice of gratitude has been shown to rewire your brain, make you happier, and reduce stress, among a host of other benefits. That’s why it’s so important to start your day with gratitude journaling.
I used to recommend writing down just three things for which you’re grateful, first thing every morning. After my interview with positive psychologist, Dr. Paul Jenkins, I now write down (and recommend my clients do the same) 25 things for which I’m grateful each morning. As you’ll see in this clip from my interview with Dr. Paul, half of these things have to be “hard” things. Watch to see what I mean:
Read Something Positive
Throughout the course of the day, you will see, read, watch, and hear enough negative news and programming that will mess with your head. Whether it’s the minute-by-minute political coverage, the national weather scaremongering, social media uproars over the latest kidnapping or celebrity gossip — it’s all bullshit that is simply not important to your day. What’s more, when you try to relax and turn on a movie, you’re bombarded with programming that can make you guilty, negative, have self-worth issues, envious – or all of the above. Combat this programming from the very start by reading something positive. Read fiction. Something uplifting. There’s enough soul-crushing media. You don’t need to start your day with extra doses of it.
I used to drink coffee first thing in the morning. Not anymore. Now it’s all about the H2O (followed by my coffee, of course!) Not just any water. In our home, we’ve replaced our bottled water addiction (I simply don’t trust the government water system) with a water filter and Kangen alkaline water system. For details on the benefits of alkaline water, click here. But whatever water you choose – drink plenty of it as part of your routine. From jump-starting your metabolism to flushing toxins to your body to combating the natural dehydration that occurs while we sleep … there’s plenty of evidence that grabbing a big glass of water before you grab your cup o’ joe has significant health benefits.
Some of the above pieces of my morning routine may appeal to you; some may not. I’ve built this routine after doing research, testing, and finding what works for me.
Whatever morning routine you choose … choose one that jump-starts your physiology, focuses your energy in a positive manner, and allows you to be mindful instead of jumping into a day of stress.
Where your focus goes, your energy flows … so start your day with a routine that harnesses and focuses your energy freedom, abundance, and prosperity.