At my core, I am a creature of habit. I thrive with simple routines that eliminate unnecessary decision-making and allow me to reserve creative energy for more complex and rewarding challenges. Establishing a mindful morning routine sets the foundation for my entire day.
I am not alone in this; many entrepreneurs and executives pay careful attention to how they manage their mornings. Careful prioritization of these early hours can improve our mental well-being, and small acts of self care can have a big impact. A few moments for meditation, a walk around the block, indulging in a favorite morning read — these rituals offer a sense of groundedness that extends throughout our day.
When talking about morning routines, it’s important to acknowledge that uninterrupted time in the morning is a luxury. Routines vary based on early call times to work, caring for children or elderly family members, and second jobs, among other things. The most important aspect of a mindful morning practice is the intention behind it. Carving out even a moment of intention each day can be transformative.
What we learned from talking to 100,000 women about their morning routines:
Earlier this year, our editorial team at The Good Trade noticed rising Google and YouTube search trends for improved morning routines. We were intrigued, so we published our own minute-by-minute morning routines and invited our newsletter community of over 100,000 women to weigh in with their recommendations. After digging into the responses, a few key themes emerged.
Meditate without expectations
While it’s evident that meditation lowers stress and improves our well-being, a non-judgmental approach is essential. Try being a gentle and neutral observer of your own inner life, and welcome a simple practice that works for you. It is unbearable for me to quiet my active mind in the mornings — a better use of my energy is to write a few points of gratitude and intentions for the day ahead. There was a consensus among our readers that quick moments of silence and reflection, in various forms, offer a sense of peace, presence, and possibility.
Consider what you consume
Whether caffeine or social media, part of a mindful morning routine involves considering our morning diet. Many of our readers felt conflicted about their digital consumption, caffeine reliance, and failure to start the day with a nutritious breakfast. While I rarely review my email from bed, I install the Instagram app for a few minutes every morning to check in with family and review any high-level news or trends. I then delete the app from my phone for the rest of the day. It’s a simple way for me to set a boundary. Consider what nourishes your body and soul in the morning, but also release the guilt around the morning email check or IG scroll. There’s a strong correlation between shame and self-destructive behavior — so let the guilt go.
Pay attention to your pets
There’s so much focus on productivity in the mornings — perhaps there should be more focus on joy and delight. One theme we encountered over and over in our readers’ responses was their daily rituals around caring for pets. Walking my two dogs in the morning lowers my stress, boosts my mood, gets me outdoors, and connects me to my community. Considering cortisol levels are elevated in the morning, take the opportunity for a quick snuggle with your furry family member — it’s good for her and good for you.
Sacrifice productivity for presence
Traditional advice surrounding morning routines focuses on maximizing productivity, performance, and potential. But we found our readers share a resounding desire to keep things small, to do things slowly. I often have to remind myself to resist the urge to rush through my morning routine. We’re better off when cultivate contentment by savoring the small things — the first slant of daylight, the sound of the water falling in the sink, the first sip of coffee.
Ultimately, let go of judgement
While the morning habits of highly successful people are aspirational, most of us need practical and sustainable routines that fit within our everyday lives and priorities. Too often, the conversation is prescriptive, rather than suggestive and supportive. An essential part of cultivating a mindful morning routine is releasing the pressure of having a perfect routine to find what works for you and what soothes your soul.