A healthy morning routine can be an opportunity to set yourself up for a productive day. What we choose to do in the time after we wake can help set our intentions for the day and affect our outlook for the day ahead.
Here’s our recommended morning routine checklist with ten daily habits to help start the day feeling purposeful and inspired to get things done:
1. Wake up at the same time each day
Our circadian rhythm is like our internal clock, affecting the time we start to feel sleepy, the time we wake, and at what point we begin to feel hungry. An irregular circadian rhythm can impact the quality of our sleep and our mental health and wellbeing. Going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day (including your days off) are good daily habits that can help to regulate our circadian rhythm and make it easier to fall asleep at night and wake up in the morning.
This means avoiding hitting the ‘snooze’ button. If you find this a challenge, perhaps consider putting the alarm clock out of arms reach or using multiple alarms. Waking at the same time each day may also help you to feel more focused and less groggy.
2. Access natural light
Making sure we get exposure to daylight when we wake is another important part of maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm. Also, vitamin D, which our bodies create upon exposure to sunlight, helps our immune system1 and can improve our moods2. Opening the curtains when you wake up at the same time each day is a good way to give the body the signals it needs.
3. Incorporate exercise into your morning routine
The benefits of regular physical activity are well known. As well as the physical benefits, exercise can help reduce stress, alleviate anxiety, boost our mood, and promote a sense of wellbeing3. Finding time to fit physical activity into your morning routine can be a great way to feel energised and wake up your body.
4. Avoid screens first thing
It can be easy to reach for our phones as soon as we wake up, but this can be a stressful way to start the day. You may find messages or emails that you feel you need to answer or see negative news which could mean you start your day feeling anxious or upset.
Reaching for your phone can be especially hard to avoid if you are using it as your alarm clock. Try using an actual alarm clock instead of your phone, keeping your phone out of the bedroom to remove the temptation.
5. Plan your day
Spend a few minutes looking towards your day ahead and visualising what you want to happen and the things you would like to achieve. This can help put you in a positive mindset, mentally preparing you for the day ahead. Making a list of goals can help to keep you on track throughout the day, one of the benefits of having a good morning routine.
6. Start the day by drinking water
Our bodies rely on water to be able to function properly and reports show numerous health benefits to staying well hydrated, including improved mood, energy levels4 and short-term memory5. Drinking water when you wake up is a great way to kick start your metabolism and start the day as you mean to go on.
7. Set aside time for yourself
This could be setting time for meditation, reading, listening to music or something else you enjoy that might help you find the right frame of mind for your day ahead.
8. Be flexible
Allow yourself the flexibility to change your morning routine if it isn’t working for you. Remember there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’, so listen to your body and adjust your routine if necessary.
9. Keep to your routine as much as possible when travelling
When you're away from home, it can be easy to let your daily habits slip, so make an extra effort to stick to your morning routine while travelling.
10. Be kind to yourself
Remember not to be disheartened if you go off-track with your routine, just pick it up again the next day you are able.
1. ‘Vitamin D and the Immune System’. Aranow – National Library of Medicine. Last accessed January 2024.
2. ‘Effects of vitamin D on mood and sleep in the healthy population’. Huiberts (2021). Science Direct. Last accessed January 2024.
3. ‘Exercising to relax’. Harvard Health Publishing – Harvard Health. Last accessed January 2024.
4. ‘Effects of Changes in Water Intake on Mood of High and Low Drinkers.’ National Library of Medicine. Last accessed January 2024.
5. ‘Drinking Water Enhances Cognitive Performance’. Journal of Cognitive Enhancement. Springer Link. Last accessed January 2024.