Wisdom//

De-Stress Your Morning Routine by Dropping Any of These 9 Habits

It’s OK to have a morning to-don’t list.

Courtesy of kukiat B / Shutterstock
Courtesy of kukiat B / Shutterstock

Establishing a solid morning routine can ease our stress and help us feel focused and composed as we start the day ahead. But there is so much advice out there about what we “need” to do in the morning — wake up early (or don’t!), eat a good breakfast, exercise, meditate, read the news, clean your email inbox, and always make your bed. All these tasks can feel daunting during an otherwise busy morning. What if we could give some of them up? 

We asked members of the Thrive community to share things they’ve dropped from their morning routines that helped them de-stress and prep for a successful day. Here are our favorite pieces of advice, which should serve as inspiration for a satisfying “to-don’t” list

Checking notifications first thing

“The one thing I have dropped from my morning, that I would highly recommend to others, is to stop checking any notifications first thing! This has helped me better deal with the day and stick to a routine that I missed out on for years. Now, I hug my children and feel the love.” 

—Nazia DeFrank, CEO, New York, NY

Making an elaborate breakfast

“I try to get as much sleep as possible in the morning, so throwing some simple overnight oats (oats, milk, hot chocolate powder, frozen berries) into a little pot the night before saves so much time. Five minutes in the evening after filling the dishwasher saves so much time in the morning.”

—Rebecca Thompson, author and writer, England

Expecting to get everything done perfectly 

“My morning routine with four children is pretty basic and busy. My goal: a devotional before my feet hit the floor, making my bed, and preparing two meals for my children before sending them off by 7:30. The same things always need to get done, however, with four children, everything doesn’t always run like clockwork. Because of that, I needed to drop the unrealistic expectation that everything had to get done before they left. If they were running behind and needed more of my attention braiding their hair or pressing a shirt, my priorities needed to shift or I would run behind. I had to remind myself that it’s OK if they have to buy a lunch one day, or if I drop it off later. Removing the pressure of ‘getting it all done perfectly’ makes the routine smoother and happier, especially with multiple teenagers factored in.” 

—Amy Debrucque, writer, Syracuse, NY

Waking up earlier than you need to

“A few months ago. I read an article on how the brain functions to its best ability when you do non-work-related tasks for the first three hours of the day. Craving optimum brain function, I readily adapted this practice. At first, it was a disaster. I was waking up before 4 a.m., and by the time I started the work day, I felt lethargic and unmotivated. My best working hours are 7 a.m. to 11 a.m., and waking up when it was still dark outside to ensure three hours of pre-work waking time meant that I was completely exhausted. By letting go of this practice, my mornings became as productive and satisfying as they used to be.” 

—Katherine Lenhart, community manager, Houston, TX 

Reading emails or social media

“If I am working from home, the first thing I do after eating breakfast is sit down and write for an hour and a half. I am working on a major project, so this allows me to move it forward every morning when I’m at my freshest. I don’t go near my emails or social media until I’ve completed my writing. I have been doing this for the past six months or so, and am already noticing the difference in the amount of work I’m getting through and increased levels of well-being.”

—Janice Taylor, career coach and writer, Brighton, UK 

The myth that you aren’t a “morning person”

“I dropped the ‘I can’t get up earlier’ routine. Now, getting up earlier has become a beautiful habit that sets my day up for success. What I have learned is that if you get up earlier (add an hour) you can take care of many of the important things right away, so you don’t have to do them later. Creating this solid morning routine was a life changer for me.”

—Andrea Lambert, hotel sales, San Diego, CA 

Working out every A.M.

“I get up at 5 a.m., walk the dog, workout, meditate for five to 10 minutes, and sit and enjoy breakfast with my husband. I found that this really makes for a good day. Then, I started feeling more exhausted — as my workouts were getting more intense, it was hard to keep up because the tiredness got worse and my motivation began lagging. Finally, I decided I wouldn’t work out on Wednesdays. Wednesday mornings I sleep in 30 minutes, walk the dog (he gets testy when I forget him!), then it’s time to meditate for about 10-15 minutes and read until it’s time to cook breakfast. I usually cook this day so my husband gets a few extra minutes to relax. I think this mid-week break helps both of us greatly. My motivation is back up, my workouts are better, and my work day is back to normal.” 

—Becky Connor, office manager, Huntsville, TX

Using devices before you’ve been productive

“Dropping my cell phone from my morning routine has been the best decision I’ve made. Now, instead of waking up anxious to see what went on overnight or what ‘breaking news’ is hurting our society, I focus on myself and on starting the day with a positive mindset. I walk my dog, read a chapter or two, drink my coffee in peace, and then dress for my day. It helps me start in a positive mood instead of in a rushed and anxious one.”

—GiGi Diaz, life coach and entrepreneur, Miami, FL

Doing it all yourself

“A morning game-changer for me was empowering my husband to be in charge of feeding all of us — me, our two young children, and our dog. I’ve never been a huge breakfast person and didn’t enjoy cooking in the mornings. My husband, on the other hand, is an early bird and wakes up at 4 a.m. without an alarm! With the shift in duties, he has embraced his role as our chief breakfast officer. Every morning, he preps a delicious spread of eggs, bacon, toast, yogurt and fruit, as well as a French press filled with perfectly brewed coffee. Because of this, our family sits down to start the day together and we are able to show up in the world with our hearts and bellies full.”

—Sharon Lee Thony, entrepreneur and digital marketing expert, New York, NY 

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