SUMMARY – Following a powerful morning routine can be the difference between having a good day and a bad one. To give you a helping hand, here are 25 practical ideas you can use to design your perfect morning routine.
I believe that following a powerful morning routine each and every day can go a long way in improving your health and wellbeing and ultimately help you live a happier and more fulfilled life.
Have you ever experienced a really bad morning?
You know the kind of thing I mean.
Your alarm doesn’t go off, you have to get dressed for work in record time, you don’t have time for breakfast, you can’t find your keys, you’ve put on an odd pair of socks.
You get the picture.
Choosing what you do during the morning can define the actions you take later on in the day.
If you plan on having a productive day it’s imperative you start as you mean to go on.
25 Practical Ideas for a Powerful Morning Routine
1. Drink Water
Any morning routine should start with necking a pint of water or two.
You don’t have to be a genius to know why.
You’ve been asleep for hours, which means you are almost certainly guaranteed to wake up dehydrated.
And as we all know, a dehydrated body is a debilitated one, meaning weak and fatigued. In other words, a lack of adequate hydration in the morning could seriously impair your mind and body’s performance.
In fact, a study by Edmonds et al, which looked at the correlation between water consumption and cognitive performance in adults, found that even mild levels of dehydration can produce disruptions in mood and cognitive functioning.
Cognitive functions can include a person’s concentration or attentiveness, concept learning, critical thinking, and memory.
The study concluded that adequate daily water intake is important for maintaining optimal cognitive functioning.
If you’re anything like me and like to get your work done in the morning, I’d recommend you put a hold on the coffee and make sure you are hydrated first.
Otherwise your work might just suffer.
If you haven’t yet tried a form of meditation, I strongly suggest that you give it a go.
I believe, as well as many others, that the benefits of mediation can be truly life-changing if you practice is consistently enough.
Personally, I like to meditate in the morning, just after I’ve made a coffee. Even if you do it for only 10 minutes, it can make a massive difference in how your day is likely to plan out.
To give you an idea of some of the benefits you’re likely to experience, a study by Barrows and Jacobs, stated that Individuals report feeling refreshed both physically and psychologically following meditation and the mind becomes more alert and calm, thinking process is smooth and clear and the energy level of a person is increased.
Now, of course, we don’t always experience the same results, due to many factors, such as ability, length of time, or the form of mediation that’s being practised, however, what we do know, is that mediation is widely regarded as one of the best ways to combat stress, anxiety and depression.
So I encourage you to give it go, it might just change your life.
3. Go for a Walk
Another great way to start your morning is by taking a short walk, ideally a minimum of 10 minutes.
When I go for a walk in the morning I like to like listen to an audiobook or a podcast.
As I like to be productive and get the majority of my work completed in the morning, I find that going for a walk really helps to fire up the creative side of my brain.
In fact, according to a study by Stanford University “walking opens up the free flow of ideas, and it is a simple and robust solution to the goals of increasing creativity and increasing physical activity.”
Furthermore, the study stated that when compared with sitting, participants experienced an average increase in creative output of around 60%.
So, I invite you to just go for a walk in the morning, when it’s quiet and when there’s nothing or no-one to distract you and you’re able to be mindful and just appreciate what’s around you.
There’s nothing better than a nice stretch to start your day.
I believe that none of us stretches enough, myself included. In fact, I actually dislike stretching, I find it boring and painful.
However, I make sure I do some form of stretching every morning, usually in addition to going for a walk and foam rolling.
There have been many studies on the effectiveness of dynamic vs static stretching, which appear to both have their own benefits.
However, my recommendation would be to focus on dynamic stretching or somewhat of a mobility routine, especially if you workout in the morning.
It is proposed that dynamic stretching prepares the body for physical activity by increasing joint range of motion, as well as blood and oxygen flow to soft tissues, thereby preventing the risk of injury during the subsequent activity.
Before I exercise I always perform a mobility routine along with foam rolling, which has kept me injury free for quite some time now.
5. Foam Rolling
If you haven’t heard of foam rolling before, it’s the process of applying pressure to your muscles by rolling up and down a tube of compressed foam, which can often be uncomfortable and sometimes painful.
In physiological terms, this process is called self-myofascial release. It’s essentially the process of breaking down muscle fibres that are tight and knotted.
Foam rolling has become a popular intervention technique used by both athletes and non-athletes, due to it’s affordable, easy, and time-efficient applicability as well as its close relationship to massage, which in turn is believed to benefit athletes by enhancing performance and recovery (Weerapong et al., 2005).
I bought my first foam roller back in 2012 and I still have the same one today.
I use it every morning and sometimes in the evening as well.
6. Practice Wim Hofs Breathing Technique
What or who the hell is that I here you ask?
For those of you who don’t know him, Wim Hof aka the Iceman is a Dutch extreme athlete known for his incredible feats, specifically for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures.
Wim’s teachings about breathing and cold water submersion are widely pronounced with many claiming he has helped them beat depression and improve overall health and wellbeing.
I must admit, I don’t practice Wim’s exercises regularly, but when I do, I definitely feel better for it.
Here’s an example of Wim’s breathing exercises; it’s a great way to start your morning.
7. Take a Cold Shower
If you don’t consider yourself a morning person and often find it hard to be productive first thing, then trust me when I say that taking a cold shower could be the most effective suggestion on this list.
There’s something exhilarating about taking a cold shower instead of your usual relaxing and rather pleasant hot shower.
For most of us, myself included, the very thought of standing under a blasting stream of freezing cold water in the morning is damn right terrifying.
However, after you accomplish this feat, you’ll feel energized, invigorated and ready to smash the day ahead. It’s kind of like having a shot of double espresso, only 10x better.
The benefits of cold showers have been widely discussed, with many claiming that taking regular cold showers can have positive effects on individuals suffering from anxiety and depression.
According to Wim Hof, cold showers can reduce stress, increase alertness, improve the immune system, increase willpower and even help you lose weight.
If you aren’t yet convinced, I invite you to try it out. Next time you have your normal morning shower, spend just 30 seconds under cold water at the end, then slightly increase this duration every time until you reach 5 minutes.
8. Drink Coffee
There’s nothing quite like waking up to a cup of morning joe.
I always make sure I have my morning dose of caffeine because quite frankly, I often feel like I need it.
Now it’s never healthy to be reliant on something, but a few cups of coffee during the day isn’t going to hurt.
In fact, in small doses, caffeine has proven to have both physiological and psychological benefits.
According to the EFSA, just 75mg of caffeine increases both selective attention (focussing on the relevant stimulus) and sustained attention (maintaining focused attention over an extended period of time)
To further support this study, a 2012 review concluded that caffeine improves performance in both simple and complex attention tasks, suggesting that the beneficial effects of caffeine consumption are even more widespread than previously assumed.
However, it’s important to state that higher doses of caffeine do not necessarily result in additional increases in alertness and in fact a reduction in performance can occur with both under- and overstimulation.
Finally, I think it’s important to state that caffeine can have adverse effects on anxiety and may lead to increased feelings of fear and restlessness.
So if you are someone who suffers with anxiety, I strongly suggest you carefully monitor your caffeine intake.
9. Light Exercise
This morning routine idea comes from the great Tim Ferris, who suggests that performing 5-10 reps of any exercise can help wake up your body and mind.
“The 5 to 10 reps here are not a workout.”
“They are intended to ‘state prime’ and wake me up. Getting into my body, even for 30 seconds, has a dramatic effect on my mood and quiets mental chatter.”Tim Ferris
Tomorrow morning try performing a few sets of 5-10 reps of either push-ups, squats, sit-ups or burpees and see if it fires you up for the day.
10. Plan Your Goals for the Day
Planning your goals for the day will give you direction and go a long way in helping you avoid procrastination.
I have very specific short-term and long-term goals that are incredibly important to me. I find that these goals give me a sense of purpose and focus and help me make better decisions.
After meditating I usually sit down for 5 minutes and plan my day ahead by writing down the things I want to achieve.
All of the goals I plan in the morning are in line with my short-term and long-term goals.
Try this out next time and see if it increases your productivity.
There’s a reason that the majority of successful entrepreneurs include reading as one of the most essential activities you can do. There’s so much knowledge that can be obtained from reading books.
On a personal level, reading has helped me evolve as a person and has given me the knowledge to make fundamental changes in my life.
Not only is reading an amazing form of self-education, but the actual activity is a great way to relax, be mindful and reduce stress.
In fact, a 2009 study at the University of Sussex found that reading can reduce stress by up to 68%.
It’s important to state however that this is just one study, so results may differ, due to various factors, such as reading content, environment and of course the individuals being tested.
However, what is clear, is that the ability to be fully immersed and distracted makes reading a great way to relieve stress.
If I could only read 3 self-help books again, it would be the ones below. The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki are both very well known books in the field of personal development.
Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins is perhaps less known as it was only published in 2018, but it’s definitely one of the most inspiring books I’ve read to date.
All three books have helped me dramatically transform my life and I can’t recommend them enough.
12. Listen to an Audiobook
Much like sitting down to read a good book, listening to an audiobook is another fantastic way to relax, destress and be mindful.
I use the app Audible, which allows me to download one book each month for only £7.99.
You can download directly from Amazon and any book you purchase will go straight into your Audible library.
In the last few months alone, these are some of the great audiobooks I’ve listened to.
- Learn Spanish with Paul Noble – Usually £40.49 (Yes I’m learning Spanish).
- Vagabonding by Rolf Potts
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
- Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins
- The Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
- Eat That Frog by Brian Tracy
This is just a small example of some of the great audiobooks I have downloaded from Audible.
Considering my Spanish course would cost me £40.49 if I didn’t have Audible, I would say £7.99 / month is an absolute steal.
13. Practice a New Skill
Is there a skill you’ve always wanted to learn but for some reason it’s just never happened?
Well how about you dedicated some time in the morning to do this.
It doesn’t have to be long, 30 minutes maximum. The whole idea is that you’re actually doing it.
I said to myself last year that I would commit at least 15 minutes every morning to learning a new language.
So most mornings, after I’ve had a coffee and meditated, of course, I commit a minimum of 15 minutes to practise Spanish.
Doing this not only improves my knowledge but also gives me satisfaction, fulfilment and a sense of achievement. A great way to start the day I would say.
Achievement is usually always followed by euphoria and happiness, so imagine experiencing this each and every morning.
14. Eat That Frog
No, not literally!
Eat that frog is a book by Brian Tracy that offers advice on time-management, productivity and essentially helps us get shit done.
The term, ‘Eat That Frog’ was coined by writer and entrepreneur Mark Twain.
Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.MARK TWAIN
What Mark is saying here is that we should all complete are biggest, most important task first.
Another way I like to put this is, ‘be proactive first and reactive second’.
Tasks such as writing a new blog post and creating content for Youtube are both very important and have the biggest impact on my business. Therefore, I tend to complete these tasks when I am at my most proactive.
The tasks that require less attention and effort such as replying to comments and emails can be referred to as reactive.
These tasks should still be completed, but are far less important to your business. You can often complete these tasks when disengaged, such as whilst watching television.
15. Work on Your Side-Hustle
Another idea for your morning routine could be to work on a side-hustle or business.
Early mornings can often be the most creative and productive time for people as your family or friends will probably still be snoring away.
This quiet time is very valuable and shouldn’t be wasted by scrolling through Facebook or any other form of procrastination.
If you want some ideas of side-hustles and other money-making opportunities, then check out my blog post: 30 Side Hustle Ideas for an Extra Income in 2020.
16. Make Your Bed
In my experience, I’ve found that completing quick and simple tasks, can help increase my motivation to complete larger and more complex tasks.
One thing I’ve started to do every morning is to make sure my bed is made as soon as I get up.
You might be thinking how on earth can making my bed every morning improve my day.
I promise you though, there is some logic behind it.
William McRaven, author of a book called ‘Make Your Bed’ and also a retired American Navy Admiral says:
If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another, by the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”William McRaven
Now, this might sound like complete rubbish to you, because how could a task that takes less than 60 seconds make such a difference.
Well my answer to that would be to just try it out because it’s definitely worked for me.
So if you aren’t someone that usually makes your bed as soon as you wake up, give it a try for the next few days and see if it has any difference on your day.
17. Listen to Your Favourite Music
It doesn’t take a genius to work out why listening to your favourite music in the morning can elicit positive emotion.
Whenever I’m travelling somewhere, I’m nearly always either listening to a podcast, an audiobook or my favourite music. My personal preference is those cheesy boyband hits or some late 90’s power ballads. Sounds pretty cheesy I know, but guess what, It puts a smile on myself, and that’s the most important thing.
In fact, I came across an interesting study that looked at the correlation between music and dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter and when released, can create feelings of pleasure and reward.
Within this study, researchers found that listening to the music you love will indeed make your brain release more dopamine.
And since dopamine makes us feel happy, why not start your morning this way.
18. Prepare a Nutritious Breakfast
I’ll be honest, I very rarely eat breakfast.
It’s not that I don’t have the time, but personally I choose not to have it as I’m often not hungry in the morning and like to practice intermittent fasting, which means I don’t eat my first meal until around lunchtime.
However, that’s for another day.
As I’ve studied nutrition for a number of years now, I’d like to think I know what I’m talking about.
So let me quickly debunk a common myth.
Breakfast is not the most important meal of the day. Unless of course, you’re 8 years old and your best mate is called Tony the Tiger, in that case, eat up.
So if eating breakfast isn’t so important after all, why am I recommending it?
Well, it’s for two reasons:
- Cooking can be relaxing
- Preparing healthy and nutritious food can give you a sense of satisfaction and pride. Plus all your Instagram followers will see what a gym freak you are.
In all seriousness though, eating a nutritious meal in the morning is definitely a great way to start your morning.
19. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling, also known as “kavala” or “gundusha,” is an ancient Ayurvedic dental technique that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth on an empty stomach for around 20 minutes.
This action supposedly draws out toxins in your body, primarily to improve oral health but also to improve your overall health.
Here are some of the reported benefits:
- Whiter Teeth
- Gingivitis Prevention
- Better breath
- Strong Teeth and Gums
- Improvement in sleep and sinus issues
- Alleviation of headaches, hangovers and skin issues.
I read about oil pulling a few years ago after doing some research to help improve my dental hygiene, this was of course, after a very disappointing visit to my local dentist.
After my dentist told me I had a mild case of gingivitis I thought I’d give oil pulling a go.
Now I can’t say for certain if swirling coconut oil around in my mouth for 10-20 minutes a day made any difference at all, but I will tell you this…my teeth and gums have never been healthier.
I’ll admit that the research does appear to be limited when it comes to oil pulling, but from a personal point of view, I feel that I benefited from doing it.
Also, I can’t see any negatives in giving it a go, so what’s the worse that can happen?
20. Be Grateful
How often do you express your gratitude?
My guess is probably not a whole lot.
According to Carrie D Clarke:
The practice of gratitude increases your dopamine production which encourages your brain to seek our more of the same. It’s the brain saying, “Oh, do that again” which means the more you are grateful for, the more you will find to be grateful for. Some say “what you appreciate, appreciates.” On a scientific level, this is an example of Hebb’s Law, which states “neurones that fire together wire together.”Carrie D Clarke
I came across a study recently that analysed brain activity in individuals while they were experiencing different emotions.
To measure brain activity, researchers used an fMRI or Functional magnetic resonance imaging as its scientifically known as.
Researchers discovered that those who were feeling appreciative or grateful had increased activity in their hypothalamus and the other parts of the brain’s reward pathways.
These areas of the brain are responsible for releasing “feel good” neurotransmitters, like serotonin and dopamine.
When you feel grateful, you experience synchronised activation of many parts of your brain, giving you positive effects.
Furthermore, because the hypothalamus impacts your stress levels and metabolic rate, which can control your weight and overall health, I think it’s fair to say that the simple act of expressing gratitude can benefit us more than we think.
So how do we express gratitude?
Well an exercise I like to do most mornings is to simply write down 5 things I’m grateful for and then take a few minutes to visualise these things.
Give it a try and let me know if this helps you.
21. Positive Affirmations
Affirmations are powerful, positive statements that are used to trigger your behaviour, thoughts, emotions and beliefs.
They can help motivate you, change negativity into positivity, influence your subconscious mind to access new beliefs, boost your self-confidence and help you focus on your goals.
I think affirmations are great, and I use them on a regular basis, particularly in the morning.
However, I do think that not everyone will benefit from using them, due to the potential backfire it can have in people with already low-esteem.
In a study by the University of Waterloo, when negative individuals used affirmations, they felt that the positive statements were in deep conflict with their prior negative belief system.
In the short term, the affirmations actually made them feel worse about themselves.
If you do want to use positive affirmations, here are a few you can try.
- I know I can accomplish anything I set my mind to.
- I forgive myself for not being perfect because I know I’m human.
- I turn obstacles into learning opportunities.
- I have control over my thoughts, feelings and choices.
These are just examples of affirmations I’ve personally used.
If you really want to experience the benefits of positive affirmations, I recommend you make up your own ones that are related to a specific goal or event in your life.
Do you ever just sit down in the morning and visualise?
Because I do, and it feels great.
I spend just a few minutes visualising different experiences and scenarios that are aligned with my goals.
It’s almost like I’m painting a picture in my head.
Visualisation can be a great way to motivate yourself because once you’ve already envisioned the scenario, the real thing will feel familiar and much more feasible.
This is the reason why a lot of athletes and other sportsmen and women use visualisation as part of their training. Apparently Micheal Phelps was a very big fan of using visualisation and look how successful he became.
23. Avoid Social Media
I’ll be honest with you, I’m a terrible when it comes to this.
When I wake up in the morning my phone is usually right next to me and it takes a lot to not look at my emails or social media.
I know I shouldn’t do it, but hey, I’m not perfect.
This is something I have improved on recently, as quite frankly, I’m getting bored of hearing people’s opinions on COVID-19. There seems to be a lot of coronavirus Facebook experts at the moment.
Im sure I’m in the same boat when I say that it’s far too easy to scroll through your phone in the morning and before you know it, you’ve left yourself only 20 minutes to shit, shower, change and get to work.
But how about for a change we all avoid Social Media in the morning and focus our minds on productive activities instead.
If you feel Social Media is having a negative impact on you, I propose a challenge.
I challenge you to avoid all forms of Social media in the morning for at least 30-days. So from the time you wake up – to around midday.
24. Be Kind
When was the last time you did a good deed or helped someone out for nothing in return? How did you feel after?
My guess would be that you felt pretty good about yourself.
Helping others will give you a new perspective and keep you from focusing on your own problems. By focusing on someone other than yourself, you are reminded that you are not the only one in the world that has problems.
In fact, it is possible that there are many people out there whose problems are much worse than yours.
So with this in mind, think of a few good deeds you can do and go out there and make someone’s morning that little bit better.
25. Make Love
I’ve obviously saved the best until last.
Now, of course, this applies to all you loved up couples out there who I’m sure have enjoyed every minute of each-others company during the lockdown.
Is there a better way to start your morning than this? I’m not sure there is.
You don’t need me to tell you what the benefits of making love to your partner are, because I’d like to think you already know them.
And if you don’t, well, enjoy the awkward conversation after you’ve finished listening to this.
Having a routine you stick to each and every morning can make a massive difference to your lifestyle.
From my own personal experience, I know for a fact that If I didn’t have a morning routine, I wouldn’t be the happy and healthy guy I am today.
Please use these morning routine ideas to design your own routine, so that you too can become happier and healthier.