Real-life problems are the material you need to start cultivating healthy habits.
And it starts with your morning.
Within the last two weeks, you’ve probably heard, “Stick to your morning routine and you’ll see HUGE changes to your life!” We hear it. We may not believe it. But do we do it? Hmm…
Motivational speakers like Rachel Hollis and Tony Robbins encourage the idea of creating a routine that sets the rest of your day up for success. So, let’s take a moment to listen in and learn the facts. Starting your day implementing a morning routine can help to create focus first thing in the morning, but it’s also signaling to the brain that you are in control of your actions. When a routine is created and taken almost every day, you’re telling your brain to create a habit. And even when we don’t do that morning routine once… then we get back into the routine the following day and then the next, that’s ANOTHER indicator of how much we actually prioritize this routine. Sound good?
But what about the perceived setbacks?
- Early morning appointments or work calls
- & that nagging feeling that “this won’t work for me!”
Let’s learn to not only work around these setbacks but work WITH them.
Let’s learn to create this healthy habit.
Habits are formed through a general order of simplicity. You notice a cue, you complete the routine, and you reap the reward. However, many times in the morning, we complete routine after routine with no specific cue other than waking up. This is because we don’t always need rewards in the morning due to the amount of willpower or sense of motivation that exists when we wake up. Mornings typically look like the cue of waking up, routine, routine, routine, and then reward. Creating routine after routine first thing in the morning can help to create focus and even help you to stick to that focus for the rest of the day.
But what if we don’t exactly have all that motivation in the morning?
Let’s talk about how we can get that motivation.
Most living things run on cycles of time. The cycle that humans run on is a 24-hour cycle of time, known as the circadian rhythm. This is often described as a balance of eating, sleeping, and other biological processes that take place. The amount of human willpower or motivation varies depending on what cycle we’re in the circadian rhythm. For example, most people experience the most willpower or motivation after a night’s sleep. As the day winds down, willpower decreases and sleepiness sets in. This is one reason why it’s easier to binge-eat ice cream at the end of the day rather than first thing in the morning. When we create changes at the beginning of the day, we set ourselves up for a routine that feels good to the body. If you feel sleepy in the morning and energized at night, there may be an imbalance in your circadian rhythm, and changing your routine can be the first step to start to regulate your cycle once again.
OK, what else does morning routine help with?
Let’s cultivate “me-time.”
Starting off your day on the OFFENSE rather than the defense creates a sense of control in your brain. You can’t control every situation in life, but to control 5, 10, or 30 minutes devoted to yourself can create that sense of control. You are getting ahead of the day rather than spending time catching up to tasks that seem out of your grasp. Researchers say that the main mindset to avoid in the morning is aimlessness. Starting off the day with ONE goal in mind is the best thing you can do. A 2008 study conducted at Dominican University in California shows that those who take the time to simply write out their goals each morning are significantly more likely to accomplish them than those who don’t. So, go ahead, put the idea on paper.
Having kids, a career, and a life can make it seemingly impossible to devote time to yourself in the morning. Influencer and author, Rachel Hollis, says the best thing she ever did for her mornings was to wake up one hour before her kids wake up. Yes, 4 or 5 AM is not everyone’s cup of tea, but once you devote time to yourself, you’ll crave “me-time” more than the extra hour of sleep.
Let’s find our WHY in waking up.
Simon Sinek’s author of, “Find Your Why” speaks on the importance of figuring out WHAT motivates you to get up in the morning. He says, “Every single one of us is entitled to feel fulfilled by the work we do, to wake up feeling inspired to go to work, to feel safe when we’re there and to return home with a sense that we contributed to something larger than ourselves.” This may sound easier said than done, but we ARE entitled to this feeling (even if we don’t go to work). Let’s cultivate this habit today!
Let’s go through some ways to start making small changes to our mornings to create successful days.
(The definition of success varies from person to person)
1. Start with 5 minutes of “me-time.” This creates that sense of control and focus for your morning. The brain loves bite-size pieces of time; we can easily compartmentalize it. Start by doing something you know feels good first thing in the morning and devote time each day to doing this.
2. Leave the phone out of the bedroom. This can benefit your health in many ways, but one benefit is to create a sense of peace at the beginning of the day. Living in the 21st century has given us stressful associations to technology. Don’t look at your phone for the first 5 minutes of waking up, and an easy way to do this leaves it out of the room completely or put it on your dresser, a few feet away from you to start this habit. This helps you to get ahead of your day rather than feeling like you need to catch up.
3. Learn what works FOR YOU. We may think we know our morning habits well, but what are the “in-betweens” in between the time you get coffee and get the kids ready for school? Do you think about the to-do list for the day? Do you browse on Facebook? Or do you spend time preparing yourself mentally and physically? Learn what you do in-between the tasks you currently complete in your morning, which can be a good place to start making changes to your routine. How does it make you feel to complete these “in-between” moments? We want the first few minutes of every day to leave us feeling strong and empowered to go into the rest of the day with this mentality.
*To complete a two week Morning Routine with me and others in Vital-Side, tune into Instagram at @myvitalside at 3 PM CST on Tuesday, Sept 17th and learn a technique that takes less than a minute to complete. We’ll be doing it each morning for two weeks! #mymorningmantra
In the meantime,