For a long time, I have consistently practiced a morning routine that enables me to serve others to the fullest potential.
When skipped, I experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, anger, and moodiness. When done, I am much more relaxed, calm, present, and able to face life’s problems with clarity.
What is the morning routine?
A morning routine is a set of habits you do first thing in the morning that set up your day to win. It often involves a combination of one or more habits in these areas: spiritual, physical, and emotional. The routine is highly personal and unique to everyone. In other words, it is most effective when you do what works best for you.
My choice of morning routine often changes.
Here’s what I currently do.
After I wake up, go to the bathroom, brush my teeth, drink water, and take vitamins, my morning routine begins.
Here’s my current routine:
- Drink coffee
- Walk around the neighborhood (pray, enjoy a mental break, etc.)
- Read (optional)
Here are some benefits of a morning routine:
1/ Connection with God
Ok, this one is obvious. Prayer & listening to God’s voice – paying attention to what God is doing in your life, etc. You know why this is important.
There is nothing like starting the day focusing your heart and mind on Jesus.
2/ Acceptance of Reality
I have a basic idea of what I want to happen each day. I have a clear mental picture of how the week and month will unfold. I want things to go a certain way. I seek order in life. I expect my three kids to make good decisions and give 100% in all that they do. I have expectations in my business.
But the reality is often much different. Life is messy.
Circumstances out of your control affect you and those you care about. You mess up and hurt someone you love. Someone you care about dies. You get fired with little notice. You have a $3,000 plumbing problem that needs to be fixed, a.s.a.p. Three volunteers in your ministry quit all at the same time. Your daughter gets very sick. The senior pastor chews you out. Parents in your ministry don’t appreciate or respect you. There’s unresolved conflict among church staff. Your son has an ongoing attitude problem. Your youth group is shrinking. The list is endless.
How would your life be different if you were able to accept the messiness with less resistance?
Here is my journey over the last couple of years.
Yes, sometimes you can bring order to the chaos. You can be a part of the solution. You ask God for a miracle or to intervene in a situation, and you should. That’s important. By all means, do it.
However, there comes a time when you have to accept reality as-is.
This can play out in both the big and small stuff of life.
My morning routine helps me accept reality as it unfolds. I am more equipped to deal with the messiness of life because I have habits that enable me to accomplish this goal.
Otherwise, my default mode is to live in a state of stress, anxiety, anger, fear, doubt, etc.
Journaling helps me process each day. I’m able to identify and process emotions with clarity. It helps me to see blind spots. I identify unhealthy patterns of behavior. I’m better equipped to recognize when a problem can be addressed or accepted as a reality.
My prayers often have the themes of “surrender” or “letting go” of a particular problem or circumstance. I surrender it to God, give up control, and ask for guidance. There is a lot of power in making this a regular habit. The more often I do it, the easier and more natural it becomes.
I think you would benefit from some form of a morning routine that helps you accept what cannot be changed. Journaling and the “surrender” prayer work for me. I encourage you to experiment and discover what works best for you.
3/ Live in the moment
Past mistakes and circumstance haunt you. The thought of the future can lead to anxiety, fear, doubt, or a host of other negative emotions.
But the present moment is all you have. So, embrace and enjoy it. Live it. Soak it up. Be 100% present in the moment. Pay attention to what God is doing in you and around you.
Before journaling, I was not aware of how often I did not live in the present moment. I would often feel a strong sense of anxiety, focusing on all the things that had to be done, rather than focusing on what I was doing at that moment. It was sucking the life out of me.
Now is all you have! Be fully present in the now. Enjoy your life, as-is. Yes, it’s not perfect. You have problems. But learn to find enjoyment in each moment.
Living in the present is a way of being. Having a healthy habit that reinforces this state of being is helpful. For me, it is journaling and reflecting. For you, it could be something different.
When you live in the present, you’ll also enjoy something very rare – mental space.
4/ Enjoy a mental break
Have you noticed how your mind is always going? It never stops.
You’re thinking about the solution to a work-related problem while driving the kids to school. In the shower, you’re analyzing the comment your spouse made the night before. While cooking dinner, you’re beating yourself up for a mistake you made at work.
And other in-between moments, like standing in the line at the grocery store, are taken up by your smartphone and the endless rabbit hole of email, the internet, social media, etc.
The ability to allow yourself mental space is a rare quality.
Maybe you have lost touch with or don’t even know what it feels like to give your mind a break. A break from problem-solving, staring at a screen, thinking about the past or the future, worrying about the kids, or whatever else it is that you are thinking.
A time to be and to breathe. Exist without doing or thinking about anything in particular.
Headspace reduces stress, anxiety, and is essential for overall well being.
It’s possible to experience this not just on vacation, but in everyday life.
I’ve discovered that living in the present gives me some headspace. And it feels amazing!
So, how do you give your mind a break?
For me, it all comes down to my morning routine. It’s about starting the day off with a habit that will set me up to win the rest of the day.
I always allow a few minutes in my morning walk to give my mind time to rest. While walking, I observe the trees, the birds chirping, the squirrels running through the grass, my breath, how my body feels in that moment, or anything else I see around me.
If a problem that needs to be solved pops in my head, I surrender it to God, asking for wisdom and guidance. If worry or fear about a situation surfaces, I surrender it to God. Then, I just let it go for now. I can pick it up later. But at that moment, I want to “be.” This practice takes only a few minutes.
Since I start the day with this habit, I am more likely to take advantage of mental breaks throughout the day like driving in the car, waiting in a carpool line, or cooking dinner.
Over time, I’ve become more conscious of these opportunities.
When I lived in San Diego, surfing or body boarding provided a mental break.
I’ve started doing Jiu-Jitsu recently, which seems to have a similar effect.
Others I know find sketching, painting, running, or some physical exercise a great way to get some headspace.
What is it that gives your mind a break from all the chatter? When was the last time you did it? How can you do it more often? These are all great questions to explore.
5/ Insight, wisdom, and guidance.
I love reading the Bible, inspirational books, and stories of people who broke through their self-imposed limits.
I just signed up for Audible, and these days listen to books more often than read them.
That’s why reading is now optional in my morning routine.
The amount of personal and spiritual growth I’ve experienced throughout the years is a direct result of my consumption of books.
I’m also an avid fan of podcasts.
My guess if you made it this far in the blog post, you already know the importance of gaining insight, wisdom, and guidance. So, enough said.
6/ Physical exercise
I’ve heard it over and over again that some physical exercise first thing in the morning is good for the mind and body.
I’ve tried doing a full workout first thing in the morning, and it’s miserable. I prefer to do that later in the day. It takes me a few cups of coffee and a reasonable amount of time to wake up.
For me, a quick walk is perfect.
For you, it might be something else. Maybe you go for a jog, go to yoga class, ride a bike, or do something as simple as ten push-ups.
I encourage you to do some physical exercise early in the morning. Your blood flows, the body wakes up, and you’re ready for the day.
I hope you have found this blog post helpful. I wanted to end with some closing thoughts.
First, this is not a complete list.
There are a lot of other benefits, which are dependent on your choice of routines.
The possibilities are endless.
Second, something is better than nothing.
The idea is to do something.
If you have some unhealthy morning habits, like checking email right after getting out of bed, then start there. Replace that habit with something else.
If you have no morning routine now, start doing one thing that you would look forward to every morning.
Third, set your own rules.
Come up with your own morning routine, experiment. If you try something and don’t like it, stop doing it. Find out what you enjoy and focus on that.
I like peaceful and quiet mornings. You might like loud and crazy mornings. Set your own rules.
The benefits you experience might be completely different than mine. And that’s how it works.
Fourth, enjoy the process.
It’s all a process. Life will get hectic, and you might have to skip the routine sometimes. The benefits will feel more intense some days, and other days they won’t. You’ll be peaceful, inspired, or connected to God some days, and others you won’t.
And that’s all perfectly normal.
Have fun and enjoy the process.
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