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Morning Routines: Create a calm and confident you for the day.

Updated: Apr 7

Mel Robbins says don’t hit snooze, hide your phone the night before and hop out of bed after a 5 second call to arms. 5-4-3-2-1 UP and GO! Now,you don't have to take on the world or March on high knees to the bathroom. You just have to get vertical and start.

Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, rises at 4:30, walks his dogs and does a workout before his first cup of coffee (which he makes using a French Press if you were curious.)

My husband can jump straight out of bed and engage in coherent, pleasant conversation.

My in-her-70s mom packed her house for her move between 3 and 6 am. These two overachievers in my life epitomize that classic army commercial about getting more done before we wake up than we do all day. Hmmmpf.

Then there's the rest of us. I used to either finish worrying about everything I couldn't control at 11pm and hit my first REM sleep cycle at midnight, or drink just enough wine to tuck those fears away until the morning. Neither of those tactics were leading me to a restful slumber or a productive morning routine.

But I am here to tell you that you can change anything if you want it badly enough.

I wanted desperately to become a morning person. I possessed genuine envy for those who rise before the sun so they can do things for themselves before they start doing them for others.

While I may never be a sunrise problem solver or a morning conversationalist, I have managed to shift my 3am anxiety wake ups and a finally-out-of-bed time of 9am to a 6:30 alarm that I often beat when the sun peeks through the curtains to say, "Heyyy, girl! I see that eye cracked open. Get up! Let's do this!"

I certainly didn't get to a 6:30 wake up overnight. It took practice, determination and a morning that I look forward to having to make that happen.

The secrets to a successful calm morning are actually pretty simple. It starts with small action steps that include having a good evening routine, snoozing the boozing, incorporating more movement into your day, and creating your own Morning Power Hour.

Remember, small action steps create big change. Let's break those down into more detail.

Evening Routine

Sounds weird, but one of the best ways to have a great morning is to have a good evening routine the night before. Here are 6 tips to incorporate into your plan:

1. Spend Time Alone

Get away from all the people. It is imperative that you have time to yourself in the evening to decompress, to process, to fill back up. Run an errand, fill the car with gas, go for a walk. Even if it’s only 15 minutes, give yourself the gift of quiet aloneness.

2. Zone Out

You have done so much thinking today, put yourself on autopilot. Do whatever it is that lets you completely disengage from all the things you did during the day. Examples include cooking, watching Netflix, reading, walking, sitting on the deck, swimming, bird watching, jewelry making, crafting. Anything that brings you joy and is the opposite of what you did all day.

3. Resolve Issues

Never go to bed mad, especially with someone in your household. Find a compromise, commit to thinking about it. Or just say you’re sorry. It just isn’t worth the toll on your mental health that harboring resentment and anger will take.

4. Get Clean

One of the best things you can do for your evening is investing in a good skin care routine. Cleanser, toner, serum and moisturizer are the must-haves. Find one that works for you by asking friends what they use and then checking that it is safe for you at the Environmental Working Group's Skin Deep website. Take a quick, cool shower at night. It washes away the day and lets you get into bed feeling clean. Change your sheets frequently and choose a pillow that works for you. Copper fiber fabric pillows are cooler and cleaner.

5. Form A Habit

Sleep experts know that perhaps the most important habit of an evening routine is getting into bed at a set time every night that will allow for 8 hours of sleep. Do what works for you. And don’t eat at least three hour before bed to stave off heartburn and nightmares.

6. Meditate

Find something you can listen to at night that quiets your mind. An audio book that is not self-help, calming music you love, maybe spiritual or smooth jazz. I am into bedtime yoga. I drift off before they are finished! Here are two favorites:

Snooze the Alcohol for Great Sleep

I know this one will sound daunting, but I cut out alcohol and my sleep improved dramatically. But drinking makes you tired, you say? Yes- a couple of drinks make us sleepy after the initial "upper" effects wear off, so it seems logical that happy hour will calm you down and make for a restful slumber. But the exact opposite is what actually happens.

Drinking depresses the nervous system so after multiple drinks you'll eventually pass out. But as the hours tick on, your body's main focus is on eliminating the alcohol during the night, and this overcompensation will lead to sleep disruption. Put simply, after your body has metabolized some of the alcohol it releases an excitatory neurotransmitter of your nervous system. This will steal your slumber and put you in an agitated, uncalm state.

Get Moving

When I started to move more - walking outside, practicing yoga, lifting dumbbells at home, playing pickleball, I noticed a deep sleep that i hadn't had before. I was having trouble keeping my eyes open after 10pm which was new phenomenon for me. Movement is non-negotiable self-care and there's a reason for that. It makes us stronger mentally and physically. It releases stress, tension and angst. and, it's also a key to better sleep.

Create Your own Morning Power Hour

The absolute best part of the day is the early morning. The night owl in me would have once vehemently disagreed, but having been on both sides of the fence, I can attest that taking the first part of the day to set yourself up for the rest of it is truly a game changer.

The more you can take control of the beginning, the better your odds of having a successful middle and end.

Having a routine in place, or even a basic outline of one, will get you to start checking off the REAL self-care boxes before your start checking your email and to do lists. I call this early me-time the Morning Power Hour. Don't panic about the hour part. This is the goal, but you can start off with 20 or 30. You make all the rules here.

I first learned of this concept years ago while listening to self-help guru and motivational speaker, Tony Robbins' CD collection. (This is a window into how long I've been self-helping.) Robbins sheds light on how do the most successful people start their day by setting up an “Hour of Power” or if you don't quite have the time for that yet, “30 Minutes to Thrive,” or “Fifteen Minutes to Fulfillment.”

This is the time in the morning that you will take fully for yourself to engage in first-hour rituals before hopping all over the powerful little computer that goes everywhere with us. You will most likely use it for this personal time, but I recommend doing the non-phone things first and then separating the apps you use during this time onto their own page or folder.

Tony and I suggest incorporating a minimum of these things into the Power Time: Hydration, Light movement, Meditation and prayer and listing what's going right.

I do actually write "AM Power" in my planner each day to acknowledge it's importance and make sure it happens. My AM Power Time consists of five to ten things that set my course for the day. But most importantly, this is my time to fully give to myself before I have to give myself to work, social media, and other people's demands and expectations of me.

Here is an example of my Morning Power Thirty to Forty-Five

First Things

When my eyes open, I do three things: gratitude, mediation, stretching. Then the bathroom, a tongue scrape, a "hey gorgeous" in the mirror, lemon and salt or electrolyte water, then 20 wall pushups and/or a quick unroll of the yoga mat for 3 classic poses looking out the window-sun salutation, tree, warrior. As my favorite yoga teacher says, "Roll out your mat, lay down on it. There, you have a yoga practice."

Outside Time

It's really important to get sunlight on your skin and in your peripheral vision within the first few hours of the day. A morning walk is the best. Give yourself 10-20 minutes of this bliss, ideally without sunglasses if you can. Expose some skin to get the vitamin D. This will suppress your cortisol and activate your melatonin. It will invigorate you and already start getting you ready for a good night's sleep. Our hormones regulate everything and getting to know how to help them do that is very important. The body is an incredible machine. It's mind-blowing how it was created and how it will work for you if you give it the fuel and attention it needs.

If it's cold outside, or if you have your outside walk or exercise scheduled for later in the day, try to give yourself at least five minutes outside. Grab your coffee and head out to the porch. Take some deep breaths, feel the warmth of the sun and be in gratitude for these quiet minutes you have for yourself. It's the perfect time for a quick guided meditation on Insight Timer, or your alone time with God. You don't have to get dressed, just throw on a coat and go do it.

More Power to You

You create this time, that's the beauty of it. Here are the steps described above, plus the rest of my morning. Some of it is woo woo, but just like everything else, you are the CEO of your Morning Routine and you decide what works best for you!

Put on the Fit Bit to start tracking those steps.

Start with Gratitude and Mediation for a calm, positive day. (Try Soul Space for a Christina Meditation or Insight Timer App)

Drink warm water with lemon and salt or electrolytes. This primes your digestive track and aids in detoxification.

While the coffee or tea is brewing / steeping, get in some movement 20 wall push ups and an arm dumbbell circuit OR a quick unroll of the yoga mat for 3 classic poses looking out the window-sun salutation, tree, warrior.

Get outside. Stay quiet or listen to something uplifting like Mel Robbins' podcast, 7 Good Minutes podcast, an audio book on the Audible app or Glorify App for Passage, Devotion and Reflection

Quiet time. For me, this means writing. This could be your time to read, journal, meet with God, do more yoga, insert yours here.

Make the bed.

Food: I don’t like to worry about food right out the gate so I start with a protein shake (see my favorites here) or a plant or Greek yogurt bowl mixed with protein powder, chia seeds, hemp hearts and berries, or PB Fit and monk fruit sweetened jelly like Choc Zero

I don’t put pressure on myself to ‘perform’ my morning routine and on days when I need sleep I sleep in, but the practice and the process of mornings makes me feel like I have so much more time in my life …

You have to adjust your routines for what works for you. I still have a goal of working out first thing in the morning, but as of year 52 that has not happened unless I can get on a pickleball court at 7am.

I stick to the Power morning though, and if I can't get the exercise in mid morning, I will later in the day. REMEMBER, this is NOT a half hour of cardio and a body pump class. This is walking-outside, at the mall, on a treadmill, practicing yoga on youtube, swimming laps, playing pickleball, doing tai chi, taking a barre, spin or stretch and flex class. Movement is for you and from you. It's a celebration of all your body has done and can do for you, and whatever you do for movement should be a reminder of that.

Bonus: Habit Stacking

Take something you already do and add in something else at the same time to increase your productivity. Here are some examples.

You are already going to the bathroom, add three sun salutations and a few balance poses (tree is my favorite) if you have a window. Or do your gratitude and what's going rights while in there.

Do coconut oil pulling while you do your wall push ups, squats and poses.

While you are drinking your warm lemon and salt water, take your supplements with more water, pull out the ingredients for your breakfast, and make the coffee.

In closing, I want to say that my sleep is super important.

Some days, I don't get all of this in, but I don't beat myself up for it. Always do what you can and if 30 percent is all you can give and you gave all 30 percent, you gave your all.

Until next time, Midlife Magic Maker!


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