5 Expert Tips for Creating a Healthy Morning Routine Once and For All
I have to admit: I love a good morning routine. I love springing out of bed, making myself an iced matcha, and downing a tasty breakfast. But sometimes, my healthy morning habits fly out the window. I'll wake up half past god-knows-when, brush my teeth, and jump right into work. Is it healthy? Absolutely not. Does it happen more often than I like? I plead the fifth.
What is it about healthy morning routines that make us feel so—dare I say—put together and adult-like? Do good morning routines actually benefit our mental health? Well, according to Dr. Bita Nasseri, a leading Mayo Clinic-trained physician for 20 years, having a solid routine can set the tone for your day—mentally and physically.
"It's important to make sure that you are starting your day calmly to keep your stress levels low—and it is also a good time to get your body physically ready to take on the day," Dr. Nasseri tells HelloGiggles. "A morning routine is an easy way to ensure that you are partaking in rituals that will allow you to feel more productive, positive, and alert."
In addition to helping you start the day on the right foot, a morning ritual can also be considered a form of self-care. Here's what Jeremy Nobel, MD, founder of the Foundation for Art & Healing, which explores the connection between the creative arts and health and well-being, has to say:
This is probably why I've been depending on my morning routine a lot more lately. Between trying to manage my mental health in the middle of a pandemic and other adulting tasks and challenges, having a set morning routine allows me to feel a sense of normality—which is really comforting during this time.
If you want to create a healthy morning routine that you know will set you in the right mood, well, you came to the right place. We connected with a few experts to discuss what constitutes good morning habits, what routines you can incorporate into your day, and what you can do if you have a hard time keeping a morning ritual in the first place.
How to create a morning routine:
There are a few things you should keep in mind. According to Dr. Nasseri, it's ideal to incorporate a stress-reducing activity (like meditating or drinking a full glass of water) and partake in some sort of physical activity (like biking or stretching). "It could even be as simple as a quick morning shower with a shower bomb to magically transform your shower into a spa-like experience," she adds.
Best morning routine tips:
However, if you find unsure of which habits are considered "healthy," look no further than the below tips from Dr. Nobel and Dr. Nasseri, which go beyond meditating and exercising.
1. Stoke your creativity early in the day.
According to Dr. Nobel, consider starting your morning by doing a journaling session, watching an energizing short film, knitting a few lines of a scarf, or drawing. "Creative engagement is good for you and helps you imagine a more hopeful future," he explains.
2. Activate your five senses.
"Think of yourself as a multimedia artist, pulling from all sorts of materials to make your everyday, morning masterpiece," says Dr. Nobel. He suggests considering ways to infuse texture, smells, sounds, flavors, and sights into your routine. "What do your feet touch when they hit the floor? What colors or images greet your eyes? What will be the first flavors that meet your tongue?" he says. "Connect your mind and body through a sensory experience."
3. Curate a playlist of songs that pump you up and inspire you.
"Program your phone to use this music as your alarm instead of a jarring sound," Dr. Nobel suggests. "The creative act of curating a playlist reminds us that we're empowered to design our own experiences."
4. Take your vitamins.
Before you head to work, opt to give your brain some medicine by taking your vitamins. "The morning is the perfect time to make sure that you are getting in all your vitamins, which is why I always start my day with a multivitamin that contains energizing B-complexes as well as vitamin D to boost immunity," Dr. Nasseri says.
5. Take a shower.
If you find your morning especially hard to navigate, Dr. Nasseri suggests starting the day with a hot shower. "Taking a shower right when you wake up helps clear your head, wake you up, and start the day off right," she says.
Signs your morning routine isn't working:
Let's say you try some of these tips, but by the end of the week, you're already reverting back to your old morning habits. First of all, that's completely okay, and don't beat yourself up if it happens! Second, according to Dr. Nasseri, this might simply mean that this routine isn't working for your lifestyle. "A good morning routine will help you feel refreshed and energized, not depleted or tired," she says. But how exactly can you know your routine isn't working for you? Dr. Nobel says to keep a look out for the below signs:
1. You don't stick to it regularly.
"It's not a successful routine if it doesn't become a part of your daily life," he says. Ask yourself: Is it too complicated? Are you "should-ing" on yourself and not making a true-to-you pattern? Does it not genuinely excite you? "At their best, routines are a creative act that aligns with who you truly are and aspire to be," Dr. Nasseri notes.
2. You wake up feeling overwhelmed.
Sometimes we get so excited to try a new routine that we add a bunch of new habits, but end up feeling overwhelmed with all the changes, especially if we're forcing ourselves to make too many new decisions. "You're shifting from autopilot to active engagement," says Dr. Nobel. Instead, he suggests treating yourself like a dancer warming up. "The first few routine steps should be small and feel automatic," he explains.
3. You're consistently tired or feeling on edge.
Waking up on the wrong side of the bed can really impact your morning routine. "Many people focus on their bedtime to improve their sleep, which is great, but also consider how your morning routines may inhibit feeling restored," says Dr. Nobel.
That's why Dr. Nobel suggests not forcing yourself into a fight-or-flight response when you start your day. "Allowing yourself to ease into the day gives your body a rhythmic pattern and helps you embrace a healthy sleep schedule," he says.
One of the ways you can do this—especially if you're not a morning person to begin with—is by starting slowly and creating a morning routine you can add activities into piece by piece.
"For example, first start by waking up five minutes earlier, journaling, drinking a glass of water, and taking a multivitamin," Dr. Nasseri advises. "Once your body is used to that, give yourself enough time to eat a healthy meal or go for a 15-minute walk. Keep building upon that until you create a complete routine that works for you. It also helps to have a morning routine that you look forward to. Even if it is just eating your favorite healthy meal or taking a walk to pick up a cup of tea or coffee, you will feel more motivated to start your morning on the right foot."
The trick, according to Dr. Nasseri, is to always start with baby steps and set, small reasonable, reachable goals so that you can set yourself up for success, not failure. "Also, make sure to be kind to yourself and give yourself a break—there will be times when you fall off track and that is okay as long as you pick yourself back up," she says.