Welcome to Part 2 of “10 Tips To Improve Your Morning Routine and Prime Your Body for Success.” If you missed Part 1… Start Here!
Now, on to the 2nd half of our list!
6. Adopt a Mindfulness Practice
Before you call me a hippie, keep in mind, this does not necessarily mean meditation, although I strongly recommend meditation (guilty as charged). A mindfulness practice could be anything from meditation to breathing exercises, to staring at a wall in silence or sitting outside with the sun on your face. Go for a walk. Lay in the grass. Just find a way to be alone with your thoughts, with no distractions, for 10-20 minutes when you first wake up.
If you are interested in meditation, there are a number of apps that can now help you explore the practice further. I suggest Headspace. This was the only app that helped me meditate every day, consistently. Just 10 minutes each morning can have a massive impact on how you react to situations throughout the rest of the day.
7. Coffee or Tea
Believe it or not, caffeine has nothing to do with this suggestion. While I do believe the pick-me-up can be beneficial, my coffee or tea recommendation falls more in line with the mindfulness practice recommendation. Don’t just pop a k-cup in your Keurig. Now that you’ve given yourself some extra time in the morning adopt a coffee or tea brewing ritual. It’s like added meditation.
Personally, I grind freshly roasted beans with a hand-grinder and brew my coffee with a French press each morning. It’s such a part of my morning ritual that I feel a little weird if I’m not able to do it. Something just feels “off.” It’s a mindless, automatic task, and that’s the whole idea.
8. Read for Pleasure!
No newspapers, no self-improvement books, no business books. When you first wake up, just read for pleasure. Grab your cup of coffee or tea and sit outside, if you’d like. The idea is to relax and unwind before your daily responsibilities kick in. You don’t want to stress yourself out reading about the latest shooting or have your flaws pointed out to you by a life coach first thing in the morning. This experience should be enjoyable. For that reason, I recommend works of fiction or philosophy. Read for 10 minutes, or an hour, there are no rules here, just recommendations.
My two latest recommendations would be:
- The Martian by Andy Weir (fiction). Easily one of the best fiction books I have ever read.
- A Guide To The Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William Irvine (philosophy). An excellent introduction to the world of Stoic philosophy. A book that will make you think, but will not stress you out.
9. Adopt a Movement Practice
I’m not a huge fan of intense exercise early in the morning; I just don’t see the benefit. For the sake of the morning routine, we will stick to the idea of adopting a movement practice. Just like your mindfulness practice, this could consist of a number of things. Take the dog for a walk around the block, do some stretching, foam rolling, Thai Chi, the possibilities are endless.
My personal recommendation for most people would be yoga. Specifically, 5-10 minutes of guided yoga. It’s a great way to start the day and get your blood flowing. For convenience, I suggest, Dan’s Plan Daily Yoga. A collection of 20 instructional yoga videos, ranging from 5-10 minutes, targeting different areas of the body. This takes all of the guesswork out of your movement practice. I promise you, if you incorporate this into your daily morning routine, you will feel a difference each and every day.
Like most of these recommendations, journaling can take on many forms. Write down how you’re feeling that day. Write about your goals and fears for the day. Write down any dreams you remember from the night before. Maybe create a small checklist of 1-3 things you hope to accomplish throughout the day (no more than three!). Write down anything at all, really. All you need is 5 minutes or so, and it will help get your mind right for the day ahead.
Even if you were only to incorporate one of these recommendations, you would probably notice a pretty substantial difference in the quality of your day. If you’re someone who is used to rushing out the door, without a minute to spare, start small. Maybe just get one or two extra hours of sleep per night and brew some coffee every morning. Maybe just ditch the snooze button and do 5 minutes of yoga. Or even just make your bed alone. My point is, this list is not meant to be overwhelming, it is intended to improve your quality of life. There’s no need to have an “all or nothing” mentality and try to take on all of these new habits all at once. That approach will almost assuredly lead to failure and non-compliance. Pick up one at a time, or maybe add one each month, or every two weeks. Experiment with it. It’s your life, your world and your morning. The choices are yours, and they are endless…