I’m not one of those people who wakes up at 5am, meditates and goes for an “easy run” (in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced one of those so-called “easy” runs!).
But I do have a fairly solid morning routine that can either set me up for success when I follow it to a T or spiral into a wasted day if I skimp on it.
I confess I have a secret desire to one day have the “perfect” morning routine, with aesthetic smoothie, effortless meditation in crisp pine scented air and sunrise run on the beach (etc etc) but the reality (so far) is that I’m just not that person.
Instead my routine is simple and easy and almost too unglamorous to share. But here is my morning recipe for success.
I end every night with filling up my water bottle and leaving it on my bedside table. If I need a sip in the middle of the night, it’s right there, and it’s waiting for me first thing when I wake up.
My intention is to finish the bottle in the first hour or so when I wake up.
I’m not always that perfect – as a lifetime Coca Cola addict, I’m not a fan of beverages that are not more sugar than water, water is bland and boring.
But I know if I don’t drink enough I am seriously increasing my odds of having a day ruining migraine.
So I try to suck it up (and suck it down, as it were).
2. No Phone
This isn’t about wanting to use my phone and telling myself no, it’s about building a habit when I wake up where I don’t even have a chance to pull out my phone and use it.
For my family that means that when we wake up we get ready as fast as we can and head right out the door for a morning walk. If we’re doing it right, there’s not even an opportunity or thought about checking our phones.
To be honest, a lot of times I will look at my phone but even then my go to is not email or social media, but my Kitty Collector game (or whatever silly mobile game I’m into at the time), and honestly I don’t think that’s too bad. We’re talking a 30 second glance while I’m putting on my socks.
But I know that when I check social media or email, odds are probably about 1 in 3 that I’m going to see something that stresses me out or puts me in a bad mood – so, not a great way to start the day. Why risk it?
3. Sunlight & Fresh Air
No matter the weather, as long as it’s safe, we get ready and go outside first thing in the morning.
Even when I wake up with a migraine, I’m usually able to at least put on my super dark, blue-light blocking sunglasses plus a hat and force my way through at least a walk around the block.
The sunlight and fresh air wake us up and set a refreshing tone for the day.
4. Walking & Socializing
We walk a loop in our neighborhood that is on average about 1.5 miles. This takes about 30 minutes, but sometimes longer if we go longer or stop at the grocery store or park.
Before this became a habit this probably would have sounded terrible to me. But now I realize that this morning movement actually gives me more energy than it takes.
I think the combination of walking (which is so good for you) and being outside with fresh air, sunshine, gardens, and trees really puts you in a great frame of mind for the rest of the day.
It’s also 30 minutes spent walking together as a family, whether quietly enjoying and responding to the sights of the walk or deep in conversation about how we slept, our dreams that night, our plans for the day, books we’re reading, or any other thing. That time is both quality relationship building time and mentally stimulating time.
5. Reduced and Delayed Caffeine
I’ve seriously reduced the amount of caffeine in my life after – as a general rule – eliminating colas, energy drinks, and coffees.
But I currently do have some caffeine in the form of a caffeinated water flavoring where I can control the amount.
I definitely notice that on days where I attempt to switch the order and have my caffeine before my walk, I’m more irritable and headachy and actually paradoxically have less energy.
I also know that when I act outside the routine and have an energy drink or coffee, even if I resolve to only drink part of the energy drink or use partly decaffeinated coffee, I have an increased chance of irritability and headaches. It’s rarely worth the risk, but hey I’m not perfect, sometimes I deviate from the plan.
6. Low Sugar Breakfast
Usually I eat a microwave breakfast burrito or an egg.
For the past month or so I’ve been drastically cutting my sugar intake overall to hopefully control my migraines.
Even before this though I usually opted for a more savory breakfast if any, just because of preferences. But I think that it actually seems to help with mood, energy, and headaches.
This is a big change from my childhood and young adulthood, where sugary breakfast cereals were the norm and donuts were the yummy exceptions – pretty much never had a savory breakfast. Not gonna lie, when the opportunity to have a donut comes up, I still usually take it, but I try to only eat half if I can help it.
Skipping breakfast also tends to have negative consequences as far as my headaches go, so I try to avoid doing that as well.
7. Open Notion to Good Morning Page
My current Notion set up has a “Good Morning” page with a few things that I like seeing in the morning.
The header is an animated gif I made in Canva that sparkles and it makes me happy to see it. It makes me feel like the day is a sparkling opportunity with shiny possibilities (or something like that).
I have a few things in toggles that, on a perfect day, I’ll click through quickly to refresh my mind about what I’m trying to achieve and do on a day to day basis.
And I start a new day’s entry for my habit tracker and journal.
When I don’t do this, I don’t have an easy opportunity to revisit my goals and motivations and I might not see my to do list or reminders that also live in Notion – this can mean that I forget something important or personally meaningful that I wanted to do, which can make the day feel like a “waste” if I only remember at night or the next day
This is the one item on my list I struggle with the most but it’s so important, especially as I take them to (hopefully) help with my migraines.
It’s also so easy, or at least it should be, and yet I often find myself being swept away into the day’s activities and challenges before finishing this step. I think it proves that even really easy habits can be difficult for us to do depending on the circumstances.
I’ve put my pill bottles right where I eat breakfast, I have a checkbox in Notion that attempts to remind me, and I have a reminder on my phone nudge me as well.
I also know when I don’t take my vitamins and I realize it, I start to feel like the day is getting out of control, and start having “might as well” thoughts that can sabotage us mercilessly regardless of how illogical they are – “I didn’t take my vitamins, which means the day is imperfect and off track, so I might as well skip my afternoon workout” etc.
Then Have a Good Day!
There you have it. It’s relatively simple and easy. It’s not particularly glamorous. I even have lofty aspirations to add more to this routine to make it even better – like the aforementioned smoothies and meditation sessions… Someday. But even this simple morning routine the way it is has made a big difference in my day to day life.