Full transparency- I used to really struggle with creating a morning routine for myself. Due to the nature of my career I have a variety of different 'mornings': from having to be up bright and early to travel to see my clients, days when I work from home and have more flexibility in my schedule, super busy starts to the day when speaking or facilitating workshops, or a new addition to my schedule, which is travelling to NYC once or twice a month.
Because my days look different throughout the week I thought there would be no way I could implement a morning routine, even though I thoroughly understood the importance of setting your physical and mental tone for the day.
However, whilst working as Head of Nutrition and Wellbeing at a boutique health retreat in Switzerland this year I found myself to have the same (demanding) schedule every day, which gave me a chance to develop a morning routine, the parts of which I now mould to fit my schedule for each day. Whilst working on retreat this morning time also became my saviour - it was the 1 hour in which I had to myself before working on my own business for another hour, then committing myself fully to the guest's needs from 7am until bedtime.
Naturally, I wake between 5 and 5.30am every morning, and I think this is partly my Lion chronotype (see Dr Michael Breus's fascinating 'The Power of When' for more information on maximizing health and productivity for your chronotype) and years of teaching early morning barre classes at the studio in London! This early rising means I have time for the following, even if I have an early start with clients or am travelling, and it is my favourite time of day.
When I do wake up I am super switched on and found that if I laid in bed and did nothing my mind would start to wander to unhelpful or negative thoughts, so I read a least 1 or 2 chapters of a professional or spiritual book to help me start my day with a positive mindset. Recent favourites have included 'Daring Greatly' by Brene Brown, 'You are a Bad Ass' by Jen Sincero, 'The Slight Edge' by Jeff Olson, and I am currently reading 'Tribe of Mentor's by Tim Ferriss. Earlier this year I reluctantly bought a Kindle (reluctantly as I love the feeling and weight of real books in my hand), but now it is one of my greatest loves as it has enabled me to read so much more (I usually have 3 books on the go at one time - one for self-development, one for work and one novel), it means I can read in bed early in the morning without putting the lights on and waking Husband Hanway, and is so easy to travel with.
Whilst reading, I drink a strong black coffee. Coffee can be controversial as a health food, and as such, I have really done my research on whether this is a good way for me to start my day. Coffee can have a negative effect on health if it is not organic (it is one of the most pesticide sprayed crops in the world), due to its caffeine content (caffeine raises our stress hormone Cortisol) and can be highly acidic.
However, it is also one of the highest sources of antioxidants in the world, and makes me feel amazing when I drink it! So I recently had my cortisol and thyroid levels checked by my doctor which were all in the 'thriving' range so I gave myself the green light to enjoy my favourite morning ritual. I drink a low acid, organic coffee called Puroast, my first cup black, then the second cup currently 'Fat Coffee', made with Brain Octane Oil and Fourth and Heart Grass Fed Ghee. If I am travelling I switch to Four Sigmatic's Lions Mane and Chaga Mushroom Coffee packets that just need hot water (because I love myself too much to drink plane, train or hotel room coffee)!
I then fill in that morning's entry in my 'Five Minute Journal'. This has been a game changer for me, it is so quick and easy to do that I have no reason not to complete it, and now my brain is conditioned to find things to be grateful for from the minute I wake up. If I am travelling I use the Gratitude app on my phone, which I love as you can also add pictures of the things you are grateful!
Then I refer to my daily planner to check my schedule and tasks for that day. If I am at home I use a 90-day Daily Action Planner from Savor the Success (I've tried a ton of daily planners, and this works best for me), or if I am travelling I transfer my schedule and ideas to Evernote. I do not check my schedule or my email/SM before the steps above, which takes so much discipline for me!
Lastly, I take 1000 mg of Liposomal Vitamin C, which I discovered when recovering from major dental surgery last year. Not only is it wonderful for immune health but it also boosts collagen production, making it wonderful for tissue growth and repair ( I am passionate about creating great skin from within). It is much more easily digested and bio available than a capsule or a powder, and as such it needs to be taken on an empty stomach, followed by 15 mins of not eating.
The last three of my non-negotiable health habits depend on my schedule for the day:
Breakfast - I always leave at least 12 hours (ideally more) between my last meal of the day and breakfast the following morning. This means if I finish eating at 6 pm, I do not have any food until at least 6 am the next morning. This is a very gentle way of getting the benefits of intermittent fasting, and I find that it is really beneficial for my digestive system. Usually, I break my fast with a 'fat' coffee (see above)' and then have a Superfood Smoothie a couple of hours later.
Meditation - a daily meditation practice is still, well a practice for me, but meditating in the morning does not work for me, as I am super switched on, and want to maximize that cognitive function. Meditating for 10-20 minutes as I close out my work day (usually around 5 pm) is the best fit for me so far, but again can change depending on my schedule. I'll use either the Headspace or Gaiam Yoga Studio apps or The Chopra Centre Guided Meditations (I first discovered these whilst travelling in South America eight years ago, and they still take me back to meditation on a mountain in Peru)!
Working Out - this is the hardest element for me to stay consistent with. I have had to do away with my idea of a perfect workout regime, in favour of just getting it done (BTW, done is always better than perfect). If I am working from home then I'll hit up a 20 or 30 minute HIIT workout on our spin bike using the Peloton App (which you can still use, even if you don't have a Peloton bike), if I am seeing training clients at the gym I'll fit in my strength training workout around them, and if in Boston or New York I love to take a studio class.
These daily practices have helped me so much in regards to my health and productivity, and as a lover of routine centre and ground me even if every day in a week looks different. I'd love for you to share your morning routines and habits below!