Are you a morning person? I think there’s a fair chance a lot of people would say “no” when asked this question, because mornings tend to get a bad rap — especially since so many of us rush through them without even realising, treating them like a means to an end instead of a really important time to reconnect with ourselves and set the tone for a successful day.
Over here at Olivia Jenkins Consulting, I love to get an early start on the day. Not only does it make checking important items off my never-ending to-do list a lot easier, but it’s also sometimes necessary with young children in the house.
However, the only reason I’m able to optimise my mornings and make use of the time so efficiently is because I’ve developed a morning routine that allows me to step into a productive, positive mindset for the rest of the day. Let’s face it — we’ve ALL had those days where we wake up frazzled at the last minute, have to rush to get ready, can’t seem to find the right outfit, get stuck in traffic, and then are in a bad mood for the rest of the day because our morning left us feeling so frustrated and out of control.
This is EXACTLY what I want to help you avoid, which is why today I’m going to share with you my top 6 morning routine & mindset hacks that will help you get your day started on the right foot.
Start your day with affirmations
I’m a huge believer in the power of positive affirmations. Affirmations improve our self-esteem and confidence, and have been scientifically proven to help further education/career goals. I suggest compiling a list of 5-10 affirmations that inspire and motivate you, and repeating them or writing them down daily. You can also keep affirmations in a place you’ll see them regularly as a reminder…like your bathroom mirror (Post-It notes come in handy here) or your mobile screen. Speaking of, you can download a bundle of FREE affirmation wallpapers for your phone or desktop here!
Don’t check your phone when you first wake up
About 80% of people check their phone within 15 minutes of waking up, which studies have proven actually isn’t the best thing for our mental health first thing in the morning. This is because when you wake up and immediately check your phone, you’re being bombarded with external stimuli, giving you no time and space to start your day on a calm note. Plus, instead of starting your day proactively focusing on your own goals, you’re instead thinking about everything you have to do for other people. I suggest waiting as long as possible before checking your phone in the morning. I like to go through my morning routine phone-free and then ease into looking at my messages.
Set your intention for the day
Starting your day with a clear intention can make a hugely positive difference in how your day unfolds. Remember that scenario I told you about before — the one in which you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and nothing seems to go your way for the entire rest of the day? Well, this is where intention-setting comes into play. When you take just a few minutes each morning to identify a purpose for your day, you’ll be amazed at how centered, aware, and focused your energy becomes.
If you aren’t sure how to set an intention or what your intention should be, I encourage you to think about how you want to FEEL. What would help you achieve those feelings? If you are craving an endorphin rush, your intention for the day might be to exercise for an hour. If you know that being productive would make you feel proud of yourself, your intention could be to complete a certain work task you’ve been putting off. It doesn’t matter if your intention is grand or small, personal or career-oriented, simple or elaborate — as long as you set it at the beginning of the day and keep it in the back of your mind as a guiding force, you will notice a shift in the flow of your day and ESPECIALLY your mornings.
There are so many scientific benefits to journaling as part of your morning routine. Like intention-setting, this is another tool that will help you stay positive and grateful. As much as I love strategy (I am a business consultant, after all!), the truth is that mindset is really 80% of business success — and I’ve found that journaling is a great way to fast-track mindset work and get to know yourself.
I focus on gratitude and goal-setting in my morning journaling practice, which is what I recommend. Following a simple gratitude practice (like writing down three things you’re grateful for) trains you to actively search for all the positive people, experiences, and memories in your life. This actually influences your brain in the long run to automatically look for the positive instead of the negative.
I also like to write down three goals I have for the day, and my overall intention that I set each morning. This allows me to create a focused plan of attack for my day, especially during those times when I have a lot I could be working on and need to prioritise certain projects.
So, as a refresher, your morning journaling practice does NOT have to be complicated or insanely long. You can write whatever you want, but if you’re looking for a starting point, try the following prompts:
- Write down your intention for the day, and a little about why you’ve chosen it
- Write down three things you’re grateful for
- Write down three goals you have for the day
Breathwork, meditation, and stretching
Some of the most important self-care work I advocate for is breathwork and meditation. If you’re not a believer, I encourage you to give it a try — especially if you feel like your mornings could benefit from a little peace and quiet. Meditating for even just 5 minutes allows you to gain a deeper sense of mental clarity and helps you start the day with a clean slate. You can meditate using your own methods or mantras, or try guided meditations that are available online. Here are a few beginner meditation videos that I recommend:
- 5 Minute Meditation For Positive Energy
- 5 Minute Mindfulness Meditation
- 5 Minute Meditation You Can Do Anywhere
Breathwork is something you can do in conjunction with meditation or separately. Breathwork helps release stress and tension and puts you in a more intentional headspace for the rest of the day. There’s a lot of science having to do with the parasympathetic nervous system that backs this up. Basically, when you engage in deep, rhythmic breathing, your heart rate slows and your blood pressure lowers — creating a feeling of calm. I love starting my day with a breathwork practice because, like meditation, it allows me to start the day on a fresh, clear-headed, calm note. I personally recommend the Wim Hof method of breathwork. This Guided Breathing for Beginners video is an excellent starting point.
Finally, stretching for 5-10 minutes in the morning is one of those small, actionable shifts you can make to really feel your best as you go about your day. Stretching can improve your posture, give you a boost of energy, and increase your flexibility. If you spend a lot of time sitting at a computer (I’m guilty!), you’ll be amazed at how much tension is held in your upper back, shoulders, and neck. I suggest incorporating a stretching routine into your meditation and breathwork practice to fully ensure you’re taking care of your mind, body, and spirit. Here are some basic stretching videos that may help:
- 5 Minute Morning Stretch | Full Body Flexibility Routine for Beginners
- 10 Perfect Morning Stretches to Increase Energy
- 5 Minute Daily Stretch | Everyday Full Body Routine
Lay out your clothing the night before
Getting dressed in the morning can sometimes result in an hour-long process (and a messy closet) when you feel like you have nothing to wear. Not only is this SO frustrating (trust me, I’ve been there!) but it really does ruin your mood and leave you feeling stressed. Avoid this by choosing your outfit the night before and laying it out so that you can fast-track your morning and have one less decision to make, however small.
If you take the time to implement these new routines into your morning on a CONSISTENT basis and fine-tune the practice to suit your own needs and lifestyle, I promise that those 6:30am wakeup calls won’t seem like such a drag. I’ve seen an amazing tremendous transformation in the structure and productivity of my days due to having a solid morning routine in place, and I know the same is possible for you too.