Sometimes I feel like subconsciously we design our lives to be so busy that we inch out the room for just being and enjoying. We’re in a constant race to the next challenge or task on our ever-expanding list of life goals. Genetically, human beings were created to withstand much more physically than the average human does in a lifetime. However, one could argue that mental energy burns out a higher rate than physical exertion which is why it is increasingly important for us to establish routines that replenish us in a world that glorifies constant movement.
Like most of you reading, I grew up being told that breakfast was the most important component of beginning your day and while I will argue whether breakfast is even necessary at a later time, for now I’ll just completely refute the notion that it is the most important aspect of your day’s start. Morning routines hold the real power. They have the ability to shape the trajectory of your ENTIRE DAY and ultimately, your ENTIRE LIFE. Your morning routine, or lack thereof, has everything to do with both the mental endurance and stamina that will carry you throughout your week. So what does my morning routine look like, you ask? Or maybe you don’t, but I’ll tell you anyway. My morning routine is an intuitively crafted collection of activities that I’ve honed over the years. When I say intuitively, I simply mean that what I’ve decided works for me has been a result of listening to what my body needs most to function optimally and honoring that. That being said, what I outline on this list may or may not work for you, but my hope is to inspire you to pay close attention to what fuels you and adapt a routine that feeds you better than any food ever could.
1. Travel Vision Boarding
We have vision boards for our careers and aspirations, so doesn’t it make sense to create boards visualizing your next travel destination? I’m a huge believer that we should always be looking forward to something great. It keeps us in a spirit of continuous excitement that is truly fundamental to living a quality life. What’s more, it helps you clearly outline what your expectations are for your next trip. What’s most important for you to see and experience? Who do you see yourself taking this trip with? What types of food do you want to enjoy? When it comes time to actually travel, you’d be surprised how closely your trip reflects what you visualized it to be.
2. Personal Development (Reading & Motivational Videos)
Make a commitment to constant progression in every aspect of your life. Different personalities are drawn to different modes and teaching styles of self-development, but honestly every motivational video, book or seminar I’ve ever been exposed to is focused on a core set of values. If you can take a proactive approach and actually incorporate these values into how you conduct your life, the results will shift your entire perspective. For me, I value high energy, no holds-barred personalities like Tony Robbins or Eric Thomas, but for others you might ascribe to more mellow temperaments like Eckhart Tolle or Deepak Chopra. The TEACHERS aren’t the focus; the TEACHINGS are. The core of what any of these thought leaders seek to impart is a heightened level of self-consciousness, accountability, and commitment. Beginning each day with new and useful information really prevents us from being married to stale forms of thought and opens our understanding so that we have an opportunity to develop into our highest selves.
This one is pretty self explanatory and likely the most expected component of this list. We all know that exercise is essential to maintaining our physical health, but it is also beneficial to our mental health. According to Healthline, any form and intensity level of exercise is successful in the relief of anxiety and stress; exercise stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters. I’m sure you’ll agree that it can be challenging to commit to a workout routine, let alone begin your day with it, but once you experience the effect that it has on your energy levels, it will become a non-negotiable. To be clear, morning workouts don’t look the same for everyone. Depending on what your goal is, the length of time and level of intensity will definitely vary. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of medium intensity workouts spread throughout each week. Whether your workout takes the form of a light jog, yoga, weight-training, or a group class, the important thing is to get your heart rate going. It’s also important not to over-exert yourself to the point of exhaustion. It takes time to build up endurance to longer, higher intensity workouts.
4. Idea Mapping
This is, perhaps, my favorite, because it creates space to brainstorm and dream. I believe that, at our core, each of us are creators. It may not always be so pronounced a skill as painting or sculpting, but the ability is innately there and takes on many different forms. It’s important to allow ourselves time to explore and ideate. You can take what might have seemed to be a passing thought and transform it into an entire concept. The more you allow for time to explore creatively, the more consistent and sophisticated your ideas become. Generating this kind of energy is useful in both personal and professional endeavors and while I can’t confirm this is true for everyone, I will say that for me this practice is an extreme stimulant. I feel more capable, analytical, and in control. If I have the ability to erect these grand schemes in my mind, it feels attainable to actually execute them.
5. Sunrise Meditation
The greatest time for personal reflection and mastery is when the day is still and peaceful. At this time, when the vast majority are still content in their beds, lies an opportunity for you to prepare for what the day has in store. When you take this time for yourself, it’s like getting a jumpstart on the lesson plan. Each day brings a new learning experience; you really need time to reflect and ask yourself what your intentions are and how you plan to navigate those experiences. The moments we learn the most from, can often be disguised as those we are not so apt to receive. Within those challenging moments, can be your most important takeaway from the day. Beginning your day when it’s dark is like a personal commitment to examine the inconspicuous in search of transformation. Experiencing that transition from dark to light is a reminder of how quickly life’s circumstances can change and in that sense, deeply grounding.
Whether you’re looking to make some changes to your morning routine or looking to incorporate one altogether, realize that how you begin your day is not only impactful to you, but those around you. Your movement becomes more intentional and your path becomes much clearer because you have prioritized space for development. Life is busy, but it should never feel rushed. If it does feel this way, this may be an indication that you need more breathing room, more time for being. Share your thoughts on morning routines below. Did you find anything from my list that resonated with you?