How to Kick-start Your Day with a Morning Routine

Corporate Life Coach Kate Horwood gives a run-down of a morning routine to kick-start your day - and how to crow-bar that into your busy schedule.

Many top motivational speakers and world-famous coaches of our time talk about and emphasize the importance of a proper, focused morning routine. Of course, everyone has some kind of morning routine -- you get up, make your bed (or not!), clean your teeth, make a cup of coffee, have breakfast -- this is a morning routine... of sorts!

But what we're talking about here, is an intentional morning routine that sets you up for a more productive day, a higher level of personal excellence, more energy, a positive outlook and greater level of stress resilience.

So Why are Mornings so Important?

Basically, the way you start your day, sets the tone for the rest of your day.

So, if you start off rushing, stressed or anxious, it's highly likely that the rest of your day will continue that way.

If the first thing you do when you wake up is check your emails and/or look at social media or read/watch the news, then you are priming yourself into a reactive state. Which means you're essentially on defense mode and your moods are being dictated by what's going on outside of you.

Whereas, if you wake up and take some time for yourself before you open yourself up to rest of the world, you'll create a stronger internal control, which means that you'll feel more empowered and you're therefore less likely to reinforce anxious and negative patterns of thinking.

6 Key Practices to Build into your Morning routine:

  1. 1. Meditation - If you already have a preferred style of meditation then commit to a daily morning practice soon after waking. Otherwise find a style that works for you - breath awareness, body-scan, mindfulness, kundalini, transcendental, Zen, loving-kindness or one of the many sound frequency mediations you can find for free online. At the very least, regular meditation will make you feel calmer, more grounded and centered. You'll know when you've hit the sweet spot with what works for you because you'll start to crave it!
  2. 2. Journaling - There are many ways you can use a journal. You can simply jot down your thoughts and feelings on whatever comes to mind, some refer to this as 'brain-dumping'. You can also be more specific, for example you could set your intentions for the day or write out a gratitude list. Journaling has been shown to help with mental health because it can help you understand your thoughts and feelings more clearly, which can then help you gain control of your emotions.
  3. 3. Exercise - We all know that exercise boosts the feel-good hormones, yet you may feel that morning exercise isn't possible due to your hectic schedule. However, just 10 minutes of exercise or even simple stretching still works wonders. Exercise is often a mindful practice, therefore getting you out of your head and in to your body. We also use up some of those early morning stress hormones and shift energy and tension in the body. Psychologically, even the smallest amount of exercise will boost your mood.
  4. 4. Reading - When we're feeling stressed our brain is wired to look for threats, which therefore means we're more likely to look for the negatives in life. However, if you start your day reading or listening to something positive and uplifting, you will cut through the negativity bias and condition your brain to start thinking of possibilities rather than lack. Either set-aside time in the morning to read 10-20 minutes of something motivational or listen to an inspirational podcast or audio-book whilst getting ready. If you do this every day, you can and will change the lens through which you see the world.
  5. 5. Prayer - Whether it be a specific religious practice or your own personal ritual, prayer will have much the same effect as the previous suggestion - you are priming your mind for positivity, faith, trust, love, hope and possibilities.
  6. 6. Gratitude - Research suggests that you cannot feel fear at the same time as feeling gratitude. For this reason, many people recommend that you focus on gratitude first thing in the morning and/or last thing at night. Again, this wires your mind for positivity and in turn calms the nervous system, therefore alleviating anxiety and stress. A simple way to do this would be to think of five things you're truly grateful for every morning as soon as you wake up. Writing these things down makes this practice even more powerful.

Incorporating into your Daily Life

You might be reading this and thinking you'd absolutely love to be able to incorporate just one of these practices into your morning routine, but you simply can't because you have such an early start already and if you have children as well, you'll have a hectic morning seeing to their needs. In which case, being realistic, you might not be able to spare 30 minutes in the morning to yourself, but everyone can take just 1-2 minutes soon after waking to think of what they're grateful for.

  • You could find time for a 3 minute stretch routine to loosen up your muscles and disperse the early morning stress hormones say, for example, when you've just got out of bed.
  • You can probably listen to a podcast, read a motivational book or meditate whilst on the way to work - this isn't straight after waking but it will still go some way to prime your mind for positivity and possibilities
  • The key here is to realise you have to consciously build in time rather than 'try' and find the time. It will require discipline, especially in the beginning, but the beauty of this is that you will start to crave the time to yourself off the back of the positive side-effects

And lastly, if you want to take your morning routine to the next level - there's no way round it - you will need to wake up a little earlier. Yes, it takes serious commitment, but ask anyone who actually does this, and they will tell you that the benefits far outweigh the earlier start.


Kate Horwood is a wellbeing & personal excellence coach,