In High School, the secret sauce to our cafeteria meals was…drumroll…hot sauce. We put it on every meal because they all needed it. See, hot sauce made everything better (the food was that bad). And today, we’re gonna douse your morning routine in hot sauce. Okay, not exactly. That’s just weird. But I’m going to share the secret sauce to finally nailing a morning routine that supercharges your day, of course with specific morning routine ideas to try.
And you need a secret sauce because you’ve probably tried so many different things and none of them have worked. The attempts you’ve tried don’t make you feel any better and you don’t stick to them.
Creating routines that serve you is one way to cultivate more self-love in your life. And so this is Part of the Self-Love Series on building practices that foster self-love.
Morning routines are powerful for everyone, but they’re especially effective for those of us who are empaths and HSP’s (Highly Sensitive People). Because we often feel bombarded by the outside world and our rich inner world and deep thinking, this can take a toll on our wellbeing, leaving us feeling empty and drained.
Routines help to anchor you in the present, and particularly, self-care routines give you permission to take dedicated to filling up your cup.
Why do routines matter, anyway?
A routine is a set of actions you perform regularly. It’s a sequence of habits. And routines matter.
If you take an overview of your day-to-day life, you may not realize it, but most of what you do follows a routine. Yes, even (or especially), the not so good stuff. In 7 Steps to Breaking Bad Habits, I mentioned that we’re all a composite of our routines.
And the routines you have today will directly affect whether you’re living your best life (or not) tomorrow.
They’re that important.
So here’s the secret sauce to creating an energizing morning routine (that you’ll actually stick to). These are 3 hacks that’ll help you create a morning routine that works
Like a great sauce, this has more than one ingredient:
Hack #1: Choose activities that’ll be part of your morning routine, but choose many that can be substituted and switched around as needed. I’m going to give you personal examples coming up.
Hack #2: Maintain the perspective that you are just testing to see what works (nothing is set in stone).
Hack #3: Change stuff up based on how you feel (your level of energy)
Let’s first tackle #1.
Hack #1: Choose several activities you can mix and match as needed for the day.
This may, at first, sound counter-intuitive to a routine. It’s not, and I’ll explain.
But, first, why does this mix-and-match style work so well?
Because here’s what usually happens
You read a book or article about morning routines and get all excited. You write out what you’re going to do every morning and how long it will take. Let’s say it will take you two hours, and you decide to start on Wednesday morning.
Then on Tuesday, you stay up way too late watching Power. (or something else that’s mind-numbing but you just can’t seem to turn away).
Wednesday morning, you hit snooze a few too many times, and now you’ve eaten into an hour of your routine.
So you say to yourself: ‘Forget it’
And roll over again to get an hour more sleep because you can’t do your routine since you’ve missed half of it.
Or worse, you do wake up, but lie there scrolling through social media for the next hour (social media is not a morning routine. Take it from me. I’ve done this too many times. It’s not energizing. For anyone. Ever!)
And here’s why this won’t happen when you create your morning routine following the secret-sauce strategy:
When you focus on categories and have already chosen a list of ‘possible’ activities, each taking a different amount of time and each varying in supplies or environment needed, you eliminate all excuses not to do some version of your routine.
This is like magic. (Well, Kind of. In a nerdy type of way)
Here’s a breakdown example.
For my morning routine, I have categories for each activity. And within each category, there are options for what I can do (depending on the time/circumstances).
A few of my categories:
Category #1: Movement
Category #2: Fluids. I drink something that feels cleansing (like lemon water, plain water, or…)
Category #3: Writing
Category #4: Sitting still
These are big, broad categories.
Within each of those, there are options. For example, in Category 3 (Writing), I can write for 30 minutes or more or less. I can gratitude write or write in my Worry Journal if something is worrying me or Stream of Consciousness Write or use journal prompts.
See, what happens there?
I have options.
Whether I forgot to set the alarm and oversleep
Don’t feel like writing about ‘xyz’
I have a family issue that morning that takes a chunk out of my time.
I. Still.Have. Options
Because, let’s be real…for most of us, our lives vary, and sh*t happens.
It’s next to impossible to create a precise exact routine of rigid, specific things that we’ll stick to every single day.
Let’s take movement. If it’s raining outside (I’m currently living in London. It’s always raining. Always).
If my morning routine included ‘run for 30 minutes’ and woke up and it was raining, I’d make excuses, roll over and sleep.
But I don’t have ‘run’ on the list. Instead, I’ve got ‘movement’.
Movement can be any exercise (indoors or outdoors). And I’ve gathered a bunch of home exercises (and YouTube playlist videos) I can turn to as needed. It can even be stretching (which it often is).
So, now it’s up to you to first decide the categories and possible activities for your morning routine
I can’t tell you what your routine should be. I will share a few ideas of things you can add to it that I’ve found powerful, but only you can determine what’s best for your life. And even once you determine it, the chances are high you’ll change as life changes. That’s okay.
Here’s my power list of things to (possibly) choose from. Pick from this list and/or create your own:
It’s obvious I love journaling. It’s been my foundation for years. My journal is my trusted friend, always there, ready and waiting for me.
Don’t know what to write about? I’ve got tons of journal prompts in the Self-Care Lounge that’ll give you a nudge to get going.
You can also try Stream of Consciousness writing. It’s another powerful practice.
*Work on something you want to publish
Chances are you’ve always wanted to write a book or start a blog. Or if you already have a blog, maybe there’s a big dreamy writing project you’ve been meaning to get to (like an eBook or email series). Start!
Even if you begin by working on the outline every morning.
When I added meditation into my daily routine years ago, it was a key part of getting over feeling down all the time. And the times I’m feeling overwhelmed and scattered, I can almost guarantee my meditation routine has been slipping.
A regular meditation practice is that life-changing.
And for the days you’re super short on time, try one of my Micro-Meditations. They’re 2 minutes long (yes, 2 minutes)
You can find more of them HERE
*Read a book
I read a lot. Sometimes I wonder if it’s possible to read too much.
And I find the mornings are the perfect time for reading. When I try to leave reading to the end of the day, I don’t do it. I’m tired and find I often don’t do it.
*Plan for the day ahead
Fail to plan and plan to fail. That’s what they say. And it’s definitely true for me.
If you struggle with getting your most important priorities done every day, try planning in the morning. I typically create an overall plan the night before, and then in the morning, refine it and slot in the specifics (like assigning times to tasks).
One of the reasons they recommend morning exercise is because most of us will not do it in the evening. We’ve run out of discipline for the day (yes, there is such a thing).
Get your exercise in early if you can. It supercharges your energy for the day and you’ll feel better about yourself for doing it.
Whether I do a full workout or not, I find some time in the morning to stretch. If you sit most of the day to work, your body is stiff and stretching helps, morning and evening.
Jess has a full body stretch playlist (perfect for picking particular areas where you’re feeling stiff).
Here’s Happy Baby Stretch(one of my absolute favorite stretches. Always makes me feel better)
Hack #2& 3: Keeping an open mind & Changing things up
You can read all the suggestions in the world for an energizing morning routine, but do you know what really works?
Testing and trying yourself.
Try something, see how you feel and adjust as you go. Tracking can be a massive help for you to see results over a period of time. Keep a notebook or page of your journal or start a Bullet Journal specifically related to your morning routine.
I’m a believer in tiny steps. When we try to change too much, too soon, it typically backfires (and you end up feeling worse).
Trying to fill an extra two hours in the morning before work with ‘morning routine recommendations’ will lead to overwhelm.
Pick one thing first. Something that won’t take hours and require you to wake up two hours earlier (let’s be real, that is not gonna happen. At least not at first).
Decide how long you will try it for (maybe a month).
Then reflect on how it’s working for you, how you’re feeling.
And slowly start layering in other habits.
Think of it like building a personal sanctuary. You can’t build the entire structure immediately.
Instead, you build piece by piece.
One brick at a time.
One day at a time.
What did I miss? Any ideas to share? Please share below in the comments.
P.S Always remember you are your #1 priority.
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