It’s long been known that a morning routine is habit in the successful person’s day, but let’s face it, making the switch from waking up 20 minutes before rushing out the door can be difficult. As women, we wear many hats: corporate leader, entrepreneur, mother, partner, friend, daughter, yogi, runner, writer. Whichever hats each of us wear, there’s one thing that is important for each of us, and that is self-care.
A morning routine is a great way to put self-care first and set yourself up to feel empowered.
Since each woman is a unique individual with varying responsibilities, likes and dislikes, the perfect morning routine will look different for everyone, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be just as powerful. We spoke to several women to find out what they do in the morning to set up for a successful day. Here’s what we learned.
Set yourself up the night before
For many of us, mornings can be hectic. We’re trying to dress ourselves, think about all the things that need to be done that day, packing lunches, putting together our gym bag, and we might even be responsible for getting others ready for the day (hi, moms).
Doing a little preparation the night before can make a big difference in the morning. Though it might seem simple, setting aside the outfit— shoes, accessories, and all— the night before means one less thing to think about in the morning. Pre-packing lunch is another great way to leave a little more time in the morning.
For Jessi Smith, a program evaluator in St. Petersburg, Florida, writes out a list of tasks and reminders for the following day. “My list might include what I need to eat that day, work tasks that need to be completed, or some errands I need to run. When I outline my day like this, I don’t have to worry about what I need to do or whether or not I forgot something.”
Sleep on it
Making a list for the next day is a great way to clear the mind, which helps prepare for a good night’s sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep might be the single most important way to ensure a satisfying morning. Prepare by unwinding early. Consider turning off the television and cutting the phone time well before you hop into bed. Screen time puts light right into our faces, which, according to the National Sleep Foundation, disrupts the natural circadian rhythms of the body. This can lead difficulty falling asleep and can decrease the amount of restful sleep achieved.
Some other great ways to promote sleep include making sure the room is at a comfortable temperature and that you’re comfortable in your chosen sleepwear. Consider some calming scents like lavender, which can be burned through an oil diffuser or applied directly to the body with a lotion. You might even enjoy a cup of calming tea beforehand.
The amount of sleep needed, according to science, is between 7-9 hours for adults ages 26-64. Also, new research shows that women need more sleep than men. As little as 20 extra minutes can make all the difference for women. As women, we tend to multitask more often than men, which leads to more overall brain usage, and sleep is the number one way our brains can recharge.
Disconnect from your devices
Our lives are driven by our devices. Email, social media, our banking apps, games and navigation have us spending more and more time in front of our screens. It’s easy to wake up and immediately grab our phones to check notifications. After all, your alarm clock is probably on your phone, too, right?
Consider an actual clock for an alarm clock, and avoid picking up your phone first thing. Sarah McCann, a customer service manager in Boston, Mass, makes it a point to leave the phone alone for at least 10 minutes after wake up. “I’ve recently realized that I couldn’t remember a time where I didn’t wake up and then immediately jump into the world through my phone. Now, I have time to think for myself, which I didn’t have before because I was answering texts and emails, looking at the news, etc. It’s been nice to shape my day in my mind before jumping into the craziness of the outside world.”
Add in some movement
For many women, adding in a little movement before getting the rest of the day started is a great way to boost energy levels and bring in some endorphins early on. Several of the women we spoke with make it a point to prepare gym items the night before and have their hearts set on pumping iron or hitting the treadmill before 5:00 am.
For some women, though, this early morning gym routine just isn’t preferred, or it might not be possible. But luckily, there are some great alternatives. Molly Beck, an educator in St. Louis, Missouri can’t make it to the gym, but she can always fit a little yoga into her schedule. “I spend 20 minutes doing some yoga and stretching in the morning. I don’t always make it to the gym for a workout, but I definitely have 20 minutes for yoga.”
For Paula Martel, a retired St. Petersburg, Florida resident, adding in movement in the morning is a little more organic in nature. “I turn on a little music and dance while making breakfast. It really lifts me up.”
Journal, read, or listen to podcasts
Sometimes, centering yourself with a little journaling, reading, or listening to podcasts can set the tone for a clear head and a positive attitude. Megan Buchanan, a nanny and music teacher in San Francisco, California starts her morning with a sampling of the above. “I read a few poems as soon as I wake up. Then, after my shower, I listen to podcasts by NPR and The New York Times and finish with The Good News Podcast. Oh, and I always take a cup of tea to go.”
Journaling is a great way to clear the head or set some intentions for the day. The process doesn’t have to be time-consuming. Jillian Fitzpatrick, a digital marketing analyst in West Chester, Penn., really enjoys the Daily Greatness Journal, which includes space to write down what you’re grateful for, any affirmations you’d like to remember, a section for reminders, and inspirational quotes. Another quick and easy way to journal is through the 5 Minute Journal app. You can also purchase a physical 5 Minute Journal if you want to keep your mornings device-free.
There’s a daily reader for just about every lifestyle, and these short, easily digestible reads can be just the right touch to get your day started. Here’s a small sampling of daily readers that are available:
The TAO of Joy Every Day by Derek Lin
The Confident Woman Devotional: by Joyce Meyer
The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday
Get a little nature fix
We’re constantly living life through some kind of lense: our home, the windows of our vehicle, the office. Sometimes, the simple gesture of connecting with nature can set a positive tone for the day. For Amy Powers, a counselor in residence in Fayetteville, Arkansas, walking is a great way to connect. “I meditate while I walk outside for 5 miles. It sets up every day with a positive mindset.”
Dani Mae, yoga instructor in St. Petersburg, Florida, proves that connecting with nature doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. “I like to feel the sun on my face and have a glass of water,” she says. For others, simply sitting outside and listening to the birds chirp or journaling while on the porch works.
Maybe you have time to integrate just one of the above tips. Some of you might be able to add in a few of them. It doesn't’t matter. What does matter is finding what works for you! Some might find that reading a little and writing makes the morning run smoother. Others will find that just waking up 10 minutes before her kids to enjoy an uninterrupted cup of coffee or tea is the game-changer. Whatever your routine, make sure it’s one that suits your individual needs.
Do you have a morning routine that really works? Tell us about it in the comments below!