Everyone knows starting your day at the gym with a smoothie is what we should be doing. But realistically, our morning routine ideas include hitting snooze, skipping breakfast, and grabbing a coffee on the way to work.
It’s hard to change when you don’t anticipate much payoff. But here’s the thing: multiple studies show healthy habits have a knock-on effect with the rest of our actions. Since a day is made up of actions and life is made up of days, that snooze button might be the thing standing in your way from a successful morning routine.
One way to make positive changes to your morning routine? Start small and build momentum.
While it can be tough to establish new habits, research shows that small changes and consistency can lead to significant results. On average, it takes around 66 days for an action to become automatic — so you could develop a new routine in just over two months.
The benefits of healthy habits may not be immediately apparent, but remember that small, consistent actions can lead to significant changes over time.
Here are 25 healthy morning routine ideas to get you started.
1. Ignore your phone
In the morning, grabbing your phone and scrolling through notifications is tempting. However, this could set your day off on the wrong foot.
The psychological impact of checking your phone first thing in the morning is well-documented. According to a survey by Deloitte, 61% of people check their phones within five minutes of waking up. The constant need for stimulation causes increased stress levels, especially if you see bad news.
So what can you do? Instead of reaching for your phone, practice mindfulness techniques or lightly stretch your body to help you wake up. You could also try journaling to focus your thoughts and set intentions for the day ahead. Alternatively, meditate for a few minutes to feel more centered and grounded. Try to resist your phone for as long as possible, and push yourself further each day.
2. Get moving
Regular exercise has been shown to have positive effects on mental health. Exercise reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety, boosts mood, and improves overall mental health.
Starting with low-impact activities like walking, cycling, or swimming can be a great way to build endurance and improve cardiovascular health without too much stress on the body. Or, for an even lower effort option, search for brief, low-impact workouts on YouTube.
You might consider high-intensity interval training (HIIT), running, team sports, or weight training as fitness levels improve. These activities provide additional benefits like enhanced endurance and stamina.
3. Start your day with a cold shower
You know how a nice hot bath gets you relaxed and ready for bed? Well, a cold shower does the reverse. Cold water stimulates the body’s production of norepinephrine, which increases heart rate and blood pressure, increasing energy and alertness.
In addition to its impact on mental clarity, cold showers can also positively affect physical health. Cold water reduces inflammation and muscle soreness, improves circulation, and boosts the immune system. One study found that cold water immersion may help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, so why not try it?
4. Have a healthy breakfast
According to multiple studies, people who eat breakfast are more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI) and lower levels of cholesterol and blood pressure. Eating breakfast can maintain stable blood sugar levels, improving mood, energy, and concentration throughout the day.
So, what does a healthy breakfast look like? Aim for a balanced meal with protein, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. This will help keep you full and energized until your lunch break.
Here are some healthy (and tasty) options:
- Greek yogurt with berries and granola
- Avocado on toast with chia seeds
- Scrambled eggs on rye bread
- Oatmeal with seeds, nuts, and fruit
- Smoothie bowl with banana, seeds, and almond butter
Processed foods and sugary cereals can lead to a crash in energy later in the day. Instead, opt for whole foods that are rich in nutrients and fiber.
5. Plan the night before
Preparing your morning routine the night before can reduce stress, save time, and prepare you for a productive day.
By preparing everything, you can move through your morning routine efficiently, which means a more positive outlook for the day.
Here are some things you can prep:
- Lay out your clothes for the next day
- Pack your gym bag and briefcase
- Prepare your breakfast and lunch
- Make a to-do list for the next day
- Make sure your commute is easy (car filled with gas, bike tires have air, train/bus pass isn’t misplaced)
6. Embrace scent and light
In addition to previous morning routine ideas, we turn to the advice of Dr. Michael Breus, a sleep specialist and author of the book The Power of When. His tip? Use scent, which is scientifically proven to affect your mood.
He suggests choosing an energizing and invigorating scent, such as peppermint or citrus.
You can use this scent in various ways:
- Add a few drops of essential oil to your shower
- Use a scented body wash or lotion
- Light a scented candle or use a diffuser
7. Crank up the tunes
Research has shown that music can profoundly affect our emotions and physiology. Listening to music can trigger the release of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that make us feel good. It can also decrease cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress.
In addition to its emotional and physiological effects, music can improve our cognitive function, memory, attention, and creativity.
Here are a few ideas to incorporate music into your routine:
- Create a morning playlist with your favorite upbeat, energizing songs
- Listen to a specific genre of music that you find uplifting
- Use music to set the tone for your day, choosing songs that reflect your intentions or goals for the day ahead
The great thing about music is that it is accessible and easy to incorporate into these morning routine ideas. Whether you prefer to listen to music while getting dressed, during your commute, or while exercising, the benefits of music can improve your mood and set the tone for an enjoyable day ahead.
8. Eat the frog
American writer Mark Twain once said, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.” In other words, tackle your most important, challenging, or unpleasant job first thing in the morning.
By completing your toughest task first, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that will carry you through the rest of your day. Getting the most challenging thing out of the way will make you less likely to procrastinate the task as well.
Our willpower and decision-making ability also typically decline as the day progresses. If you save your most challenging task for later, you may not have the mental energy to complete it to the best of your ability.
Here are a few tips to “eat the frog” first thing in the morning:
- Identify your most important or challenging task the night before, so you can hit the ground running
- Break the task into smaller steps to avoid feeling overwhelmed
- Create a plan of action for completing the task, including any necessary resources or support you may need
- Set a specific time limit or deadline for completing the task to avoid getting bogged down or distracted
9. Wake up naturally
Most of us hate the sound of our morning alarm, but it doesn’t have to be this way.
Waking up at a right time is crucial for a healthy routine and can make waking up easier.
Sleep cycles consist of multiple stages of non-REM and REM sleep, determining sleep quality and how refreshed you feel when you wake up. The average adult has a sleep cycle that lasts around 90 minutes, each consisting of four or five stages of sleep. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle can leave you feeling groggy while waking up at the end of a cycle can help you feel refreshed and energized.
Various products and apps can help you track your sleep cycles and wake you up at a time that’s right for you. These range from clocks that combine light and sound to gently wake you at the optimal time.
Another option is the SleepCycle app, which uses your phone’s accelerometer to track your movements during the night and determine your sleep stage. The app then wakes you up during your lightest sleep phase within a customizable time window, helping you feel refreshed and ready to start your day.
10. Get a good night’s sleep
Not getting enough sleep can significantly impact your day, leading to fatigue, mood swings, and reduced cognitive function.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night to maintain optimal health and well-being — but many of us struggle with this.
Here are some tips to help you wind down before bed:
- Establish a consistent sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, even on weekends. This helps regulate your body’s internal clock, making it easier to fall asleep and wake up naturally.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine that helps you wind down and prepare for sleep. This could include taking a warm bath, reading a book, or practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation.
- Create an environment that’s conducive to sleep. Keep your bedroom cool, quiet, and dark, and invest in a comfortable mattress and pillows that support your body’s natural alignment.
- Avoid using electronics like phones or tablets in bed, as the blue light emitted from these devices can disrupt your body’s natural cycle.
- Try using a white noise app or earplugs to drown out distracting sounds. Additionally, a weighted blanket can provide a comforting sensation that helps you relax and fall asleep more easily.
11. Avoid the snooze button
If you’ve followed the “wake up naturally” tip, hopefully, you won’t need this one — but we all have our off days.
While hitting snooze may seem like a way to get more sleep, it can do more harm than good. When you go back to sleep, you interrupt your body’s natural cycles and disrupt the transition from deep sleep to being awake.
In fact, hitting snooze makes you feel more groggy when you get out of bed. When you hit snooze, your body starts to fall back into a deep sleep, making it even harder to wake up and feel alert when the alarm goes off again.
To avoid the snooze button, set your alarm for a time that allows you to get the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep per night. This will ensure that you wake up feeling rested and refreshed, making it easier to get out of bed.
Another trick is to place your alarm clock or phone across the room from your bed. This forces you to physically get out of bed to turn off the alarm, making it less likely that you’ll hit snooze and go back to sleep.
You can also establish a morning routine that motivates and energizes you, such as exercise, meditation, or journaling. By incorporating activities you enjoy into your morning routine ideas, you’ll be more likely to get out of bed and start your day on a positive note.
12. Recite positive affirmations
Positive affirmations are short, uplifting statements that you repeat to yourself to shift your mindset and focus on positivity and gratitude. Research shows positive affirmations can have various benefits, including reducing stress and anxiety, increasing self-esteem and confidence, and improving overall well-being.
To incorporate positive affirmations into your morning routine, choose a few statements that resonate with you and reflect the outlook you want to cultivate.
Here are some examples of positive affirmations:
- “I am capable of achieving my goals.”
- “I am worthy of love and happiness.”
- “I am grateful for all the blessings in my life.”
- “I choose to focus on positivity.”
- “I am worthy of respect.”
Once you’ve chosen your affirmations, find a quiet place to repeat them to yourself in a calm tone. You can do this while sitting, standing, or going about your morning routine, such as brushing your teeth or getting dressed.
As you repeat your affirmations, try to visualize yourself embodying the qualities you’re affirming. Focus on the positive feelings and emotions that come with embracing these beliefs, and carry this positivity throughout your day.
13. Enjoy yourself
Take a few minutes to engage in activities that bring you joy. Enjoy a nice cup of coffee, prepare a good breakfast, or simply sit outside for a few minutes, enjoying the sights and sounds.
You could also give conscious breathing a try. Taking slow, deep breaths can help calm your mind and body and reduce feelings of anxiety or stress. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down, close your eyes, and take several slow, deep breaths in and out to calm your mind and obtain a sense of peace and clarity.
Try these other morning routine ideas
- Hydrate: Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning can help kickstart your digestion and rehydrate your body after a night of sleep. Aim for at least 8-10 glasses of water throughout the day.
- Stretch or do yoga: Taking a few minutes to stretch or practice yoga poses in the morning can help increase flexibility, improve posture, and reduce tension and stress.
- Get outside: Spending time in nature or getting fresh air can help boost your mood. Take a walk, go for a run, or sit outside for a few minutes.
- Review your goals: Take a few minutes to review your goals and aspirations for the week, month, or year ahead. Visualize yourself achieving these goals and take small steps towards them each day.
- Make your bed: Starting your day by making your bed can help increase feelings of productivity and set the tone for a more organized and structured day ahead.
- Take a power nap: If you struggle with feeling groggy in the morning, try taking a quick power nap after breakfast or before starting your day. This can help increase alertness and improve cognitive function.
- Connect with loved ones: Take a few moments to connect with loved ones, whether through a phone call, text message, or in-person interaction. This can help increase feelings of social support and happiness.
- Learn something new: Challenge your mind by learning something new each morning, whether it’s a new language, skill, or fact. This can help improve cognitive function and increase feelings of motivation and accomplishment.
- Practice self-care: Take a few moments to practice self-care each morning, whether it’s taking a relaxing bath, doing a face mask, or engaging in a favorite hobby. This can increase feelings of self-love and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Take some vitamins: Daily multivitamins or other supplements can help you get the nutrients you need to support your overall health. Consult your doctor or a qualified nutritionist to determine which vitamins and supplements are right for you.
- Listen to a podcast: An inspiring or educational podcast can help boost your mood and motivation in the morning. Choose a topic that interests you and listen while preparing for the day or during your commute.
- Meditate: Take a few moments to yourself each morning, whether through a guided meditation or simply focusing on your breath. This can help reduce stress and increase feelings of calm and relaxation.
By prioritizing your health and trying these morning routine ideas, you can create a foundation for a more rewarding life.
To keep the good energy going beyond these morning routine ideas, ensure your workplace is prepped for productivity. This is where project management software comes in handy. These tools can help you stay organized, manage your time, and track your progress toward goals, whether those are professional, personal, or both.
Once you’ve accomplished these morning routine ideas and tracked your progress for a few months, you can see how far you’ve come.