It seems all the rage to talk about your “morning routine.” But quite honestly, I’m totally turned off by reading about all these wellness influencers who insist that the only reason they are healthy is because of their 90-minute must-do routine each morning. I just don’t think it’s realistic for most of us to see and read, thus, we end up feeling bad about ourselves and our own situation.
We have jobs (outside of wellness), kids, pets, responsibilities, deadlines and more — and all of this means we don’t have the time to devote to every single trendy wellness tidbit every single day. I often wonder to myself what kind of example these folks are trying to set, because I don’t believe you have to spend the majority of your day on self-care and wellness in order to truly be well. Although I do believe self-care and wellness are very important.
Having a routine is actually a really good thing
But here’s the deal: Having routines is actually a really good thing. In fact, if you can set yourself up with a few healthy-based activities that you can sort’ve do on autopilot each day, you will benefit from that. It’s MUCH easier to make good choices throughout the day when you’ve built in a strong start. BUT, it doesn’t have to be over the top.
That’s why I wanted to share with you exactly what I currently do. And I’ve had this routine for several months, and it may change one day — but it’s definitely working for me right now.
My actual must-do morning routine is super short, and it’s super doable. Even though I don’t go to a regular 9-5 job any longer (but I did for many years, so I know how that goes), I do have a 10-month-old baby to take care of, a small online business, freelance work, a new-ish home, a dog, a husband, I teach group fitness classes and work out about six times a week. And I have a social life. Why am I saying all of this? Because I just don’t have the time for all the things out there that other people are doing, because I don’t want to skimp on sleep or on any of the above activities just to fit in a longer morning routine that may or may not be necessary.
My actual must-do healthy morning routine to start the day
I don’t journal. I don’t meditate (although I would like to give that a try one day soon maybe and am not knocking it at all), but I do have a few healthy morning habits that I think set me up for a good day. Because I generally feel really good each day, and I like the structure of a small set of daily habits that I can do without even thinking about them. Here’s how it goes …
Step 1: Wake up, snuggle dog and baby and get up and out of bed BEFORE touching any technology.
I no longer roll over and check my phone before getting out of bed. This was a tough habit to break, and I’m so glad that I did. It’s a game-changer for starting my day on the right foot. It means I don’t let other peoples’ problems or needs via email or text get to me. I also don’t see anything on Instagram that could rattle me, because the comparison trap is a real thing. I save the emails, computer work and social media for breakfast time, a little bit later.
Time invested: This morning snuggle can be anywhere from 2 to 20 minutes depending on how much time I have.
Step 2: I scrape my tongue and splash water on my face.
Scrape your tongue? Trust me on this one, it’s a must-do, and it literally takes less than 1 minute. I bought these pure copper tongue scrapers for Dave and for me a few months ago, and I’m so happy we’re using them. Basically, a bunch of bacteria accumulates in your mouth overnight, particularly on your tongue, so you give it a good scraping to remove that. This, in turn, gives you better breath, helps you to taste better (who doesn’t want that), and keeps your mouth healthier. In Ayurvedic medicine, it’s said that tongue scraping also removes toxins that could affect your digestion. And good digestion equals good health. I use my tongue scraper BEFORE I drink anything at all in the morning. I also use it at night before I brush my teeth. Fun fact: If you don’t want to buy a tongue scraper, you can use the side of a spoon. Scrape from the back of your tongue to the front two times, then rinse the scraper. Easy, peasy.
Oh as far as washing my face — I don’t do a full wash in the morning, I merely rinse off with plain water and blot dry. Nothing too fancy.
Time invested: Literally 30 seconds.
Step 3: Make my bed, open the shades and soak up the sunlight.
I make my bed every single day. A neat home is a productive home. Because all of my work is home-based, I have to have everything in order so that I can focus on the tasks at hand. It’s actually a proven thing that you are able to focus better on the task at hand if your surroundings are in order. And for the sunlight thing? This is a natural way to wake with the sunlight to ensure your body’s circadian rhythm is humming along, and thus, you’ll actually get to sleep better at night (here’s more on improving your sleep). Also, a little bit of sunlight wakes you up too. I often step outside to let Rudy out and just stand there for a minute and enjoy the fresh air.
Time invested: 2-3 minutes.
Step 4: Drink half a bottle of room temperature water while I let my morning tea kettle boil.
My favorite podcaster, Shawn Stevenson, likes to call this morning water session an “inner” bath. This is another chance to clear out your system and all the toxins that accumulated at night and start the day on the right food of hydration. And I do this BEFORE having breakfast or drinking tea. I usually fill up a huge water bottle the night before, so there’s plenty left for me to drink in the morning, and it’s not too cold. Water is key, and the earlier in the day you can begin hydrating, the better.
As a note: Sometimes I have a separate cup of lemon water, if I have lemons, and if I feel like it. I think drinking lemon water or apple cider vinegar-infused water is a great thing to start the day, but I don’t always do it.
Time invested: 1 minute.
Step 5: Have breakfast, tea and sit down at the computer.
I know it’s probably best to eat breakfast with no distractions, but I check my emails, check notifications and all the other things that came in through the night while I’m sipping on my tea and eating my breakfast. Breakfast gets prepped the night beforehand, and I almost always have overnight oats. What I like about overnight oats is not only that you can prep it days in advance and then it takes no work in the mornings, but also that you can add a ton of nutrients to it. I like to add all sorts of superfoods to my oats, like chia seeds, hemp seeds, maca, cacao, you name it — mixed with oats, coconut milk and a little sea salt and nut butter — and this breakfast keeps me full for a while.
(If you’ve never made overnight oats, I highly suggest it as an easy starter into eating a healthy breakfast. You can add protein powder or Greek yogurt for more staying power too. Start with 1/3 to a 1/2 a cup of oats, a splash of your desired milk, then whatever else you want to try, like chia seeds, cinnamon and almond butter, put it in the fridge for the night, and take it out in the morning to enjoy.)
And my tea is a concoction I’ve been drinking for a while — green tea, stevia, coconut milk, collagen peptides, turmeric and a splash of local honey. I have to spend barely any time thinking about breakfast, because it’s been planned. This makes sure I’m not wasting time in the kitchen, nor wasting brainpower and beginning the onset of decision fatigue for the day. When you can make things routine, it’s a whole lot easier on you and on your brain.
Time invested: 10 minutes.
Step 6: Take my daily vitamins and roll out my feet.
I like to take my daily vitamins after I’ve had breakfast, and I pair it with rolling my feet on a lacrosse ball, because then I always remember to do both. Right now, I only take a plant-based prenatal and sometimes fish oil or spirulina. I often sample and dabble with new supplements, but nothing has stuck as necessary in my routine outside of the daily prenatal.
As far as rolling the feet, it’s another way to wake up my leg muscles, body and proprioception, and it just feels good. It’s like a self-massage, and I highly recommend it to everyone. All you do is put the ball under your feet and move your feet over it with as much or as little pressure as you can handle. I usually swallow the vitamins and chug water while rolling my feet, and I look forward to this step as it concludes my morning routine, followed by brushing my teeth.
Time invested: 90 seconds.
And that’s my routine. Now, I know this looks like a lot written out, but if you actually add up the time, it’s not that much at all. But it does provide a little bit of structure, so that my day never begins in chaos. And if I have to be somewhere early, I still complete all these steps, and it’s not a burden.
After I complete everything, it’s time for us to really start the day. Next up, I usually play with Brady, start laundry and get a tiny bit of work done, if possible, while he is distracted and then change into my workout clothes too. You may see that exercise is missing, but I do fit that in mid-morning after Brady’s first nap.
How to incorporate a morning routine if you have a 9 to 5 job
I’m sure you’re wondering, okay, this sounds great, but I’m rushed and have to get in a workout and then get out the door. How should you do it?
If I were you and I were a morning exerciser (good for you, it’s the best time to work out and I used to be religious about it before Brady and when I worked in an office and here’s why) I’d wake up, do a quick snuggle with whoever is around (pet, stuffed animal, baby, significant other) if you can, open the shades, make your bed, scrap your tongue, chug water and then change into workout clothes and hit the gym or do your home workout. It’s really not that many extra steps before getting your sweat on.
Then, once your workout is complete, you can continue the hydration process, shower, and move into breakfast, commuting and then vitamins and rolling of the feet once you get to work. It’s totally socially acceptable to remove your shoes under your standing desk and get those feet rolling. I promise, because I used to do it every single day in the corporate world.
The most important thing: Create a routine that works for you
While my morning routine works for me, it may not work for you. You have to take a look at your life and your schedule and see what is realistic. If you don’t like to eat in the morning, then maybe a big cup of collagen coffee is all you need until later, in which case you can remove that step.
What you really want to focus on is having a few very short things that you do automatically without much brainpower, which set you up for healthy success. It’s a proven fact that starting the day on a good note helps you to make smarter choices all day. Good luck and good day to you!
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Questions of the day
What’s your morning routine?
What’s one thing that you can’t live without in the morning?