Does Your Morning Routine Sabotage Your Day?

Is the first hour of your day setting you up for success or stress?

I ask because I realized recently that my morning routine – a routine I’ve put a lot of research and passion into getting right – had started to sabotage me. I explain what went wrong with my routine below.

But first, I want to encourage you to take a few minutes to think about your routine.

4 Reasons Your Morning Routine Matters

  1. The first hour of your day is probably the hour you have the most control over. It’s likely the best hour you have for building your resilience and capacity day-over-day. Don’t squander it. Own it!
  2. You can’t control the volume of stressors that come at you on any given day. But you can control how prepared you are to manage the stress by creating a routine that grounds you, nurtures you and fuels you.
  3. Starting each day in an energy deficit doesn’t serve anyone. Leaders who routinely respond to the world’s problems before breakfast, get mentally and emotionally hijacked before their day even starts. That’s a recipe for burnout. (FYI: These folks might start each day like Road Runner superheroes, but they end their days feeling more like Wile E. Coyote after he’s had the anvil dropped on his head. They don’t have to.)
  4. Research shows that cultivating a positive outlook first thing boosts your energy and has positive effects on creativity, problem-solving, relationships, physical and mental health.

Think about what you do first thing and ask yourself if it serves you. If you want some guidance, read on about my routine and take my morning routine survey for some prompts and tips.

If you’re saying, you know Chris, I’m really not a morning person, then let me ask you this: If you aren’t mindfully putting premium fuel in your tank first thing, when exactly is the better time???

My Morning Routine: Recently Revised

I admit it, I’m a bit of a geek about my morning routine. I treat the first hour of my day like an evolving, energy experiment.

I try out new foods, breathing techniques, meditations, exercise trends. Recently, I’ve been studying the neuroscience behind wiring our brains for resilience – suffice it to say I work at optimizing my own personal, premium fuel recipe and I’m ritualistic about filling my tank with it every morning. 

Here’s where I went wrong: I underestimated the impact that external inputs were having on my mood and mindset.

My morning routine usually leaves me feeling great. From my morning meditation to savouring my coffee, I consciously do things I love to do, and things that are good for me, to create the best possible start to my day.

I recently changed things up so that I could watch the news from my rebounder. Why not learn about my world while I move my body? 

It only took a few days to notice that I wasn’t feeling as good at the start of my workday. Same deep breathing, same mediation, same coffee, same time on the rebounder… it was the morning news!

The tragic stories, the seemingly unresolvable problems – the negative thoughts bouncing around in my head were sucking the bounce out of my step.

Ironically, I was being incredibly mindful about what I’d eat, and how I’d move, but not about what I was putting in my mind. I let my mindset – my frame for the day – darken and I could feel it.

Now, I’m not saying don’t watch or read the news. I’m certainly not sticking my head in the sand. I’m just picking a better time in my day. I challenge you to be aware of how external inputs positively or negatively affect your mood and mindset, and what effect that has on your performance. Then think about how you slot those inputs into your day.

Is there something in your morning that starts you off on the wrong foot? Can you change it up?

Maybe there’s someone you really shouldn’t meet with first thing anymore. Maybe you need to tell people you aren’t checking email before 8 AM (or whenever you are done fueling up). If you woke up 15 minutes earlier, could you save yourself the stress of rushing out the door and the negative self-talk that goes with that?

I really encourage you to use your first hour to foster a sense of control and self-care, instead of a sense that there isn’t enough of you to go around.  Ease into your day. It might be weird for a few days, and you might have to tweak it a few times but I’m telling you, when you get your morning routine right, it’s going to feel great. 

One small tweak and my mornings are back to serving me in a way that helps me serve others.

What can you do tomorrow morning – every morning – to put some bounce in your step and give your day some extra oomph? Not sure? Take my morning routine survey for some prompts and tips.

BTW: I’d love to hear what you do in the morning to ground yourself, nurture yourself, and fuel up on the kind of positive energy that helps you lean into whatever the day throws at you. Drop me a line.

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