Mornings are a wonderful time to nurture ourselves, because they set the tone for the next 12 hours. As Jones Loflin, told me, “The start of the day has such a huge impact on how we view and respond the rest of the day.”
For so many of us, mornings are the only opportunity we have all day to be by ourselves.
“I find that if I pour into myself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in that first 60-90 minutes, I have what I need to make it a productive and meaningful day,” said Loflin, a speaker and trainer who helps individuals and organizations that struggle with too much to do. This is how he structures his mornings:
- Physically: He does push-ups and drinks water.
- Mentally: He either reads a chapter of a book or several articles or blogs to deepen his understanding or perspective on a topic. (One of his favorites is Seth Godin’s blog.)
- Emotionally: He reflects on what he’s grateful for and records it in the Gratitude 365 app. He also makes time to be fully present with his wife and two daughters.
- Spiritually: He reads the Bible for 15 minutes (he’s currently reading through the Bible in a year), and prays.
This is a helpful framework for rethinking our mornings and organizing them—if this resonates with you. Maybe you don’t have an hour, but you’ve got 20 minutes for a calming morning routine. So you spend five minutes stretching your arms and your legs. You spend another five minutes reading through a poem as you eat your blueberry bagel. You spend another five minutes reflecting on how you feel and any dreams you want to explore. And you spend the last five minutes with your eyes closed listening to your favorite person recite your favorite prayer.
Maybe you prefer a more energizing morning routine, so you put on different fast songs and dance for 15 minutes by yourself—or with your kids. Then everyone pitches in and makes something yummy for breakfast.
Maybe focusing on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual elements feels too overwhelming and too much. Maybe you prefer a slower morning, where you take several deep breaths, write a few pages in your journal and sip your favorite tea. Or your mornings might include diving deep into a meaningful personal project (like NaNoWriMo next month!).
Or your mornings might include eating breakfast by an open window and writing down your intention for the day, which might be: “No matter what happens today, I’ll try to remain curious and open,” or “Today, I’ll practice being fully present,” or “Today, I intend to give others, including myself, some grace,” or “Today, I’ll focus on wonder and awe,” or “I’ll try to adopt a playful approach,” or “I’ll listen to and honor my feelings.”
Or, as Denaye Barahona mentioned in her latest podcast episode, your morning routine might simply be drinking a hot cup of coffee in silence.
Ultimately, it’ll depend on what season you’re in. If you have a newborn, an elaborate morning routine probably won’t be feasible. And the best way to care for yourself during that phase, anyway, is to sleep. If you’re a freelancer who works from home and has two kids, you might be waking up at 5 a.m. to meet your deadlines.
Either way, it’s important to reflect on what you need right now, in this season, during this time. Think about what your mind, body, and soul are craving, and certainly think about the realities of your days.
Your morning routine doesn’t have to be Pinterest-worthy. It doesn’t have to resemble a beautiful, clean, minimalist Instagram image. It just has to work well for you. And thinking about what “well” looks like for you is one of the best ways to practice self-care. On your own terms.