By Alison McGill
I know what you’re thinking: you’ve got this one down. Wake up, scroll social, shower, tea, smoothie bowl, office (home or actual). But where is the mindfulness and time for you?
Pre-pandemic I commuted over three hours a day to work. I built zero time into my morning hustle for me and had everything timed down to the minute. I bolted out the door every morning, drove 10 panicked minutes to the station, ran to catch my train…my morning routine was seriously ugly.
Now that I work from home, all this has changed and I have never felt better. I credit my morning routine recalibration as being a large part of that. I now wake up naturally at 6:00 am, ease into my day stress-free and arrive at my desk for 8:00 am relaxed, refreshed and infinitely more productive.
I spoke to Carolyn Plater and Stephanie Kersta, both psychotherapists and owners of Toronto’s Hoame meditation studio and hosts of The Hoame Podcast, about why mornings—and how you handle them—are so important. “The body thrives on stability and consistency and a morning routine allows us to set the tone for the day,” Kersta says. “A morning routine conditions your body and brain to know what to expect. It allows us time and space for peace and stillness, and to practice mindfulness which will benefit us throughout the day.”
Below, some ideas to help you create and maintain a morning routine that works for you.
Planning is key
“If we don’t plan and schedule things they don’t get done,” Kersta explains. “When you commit to a routine, over time it will become a habit and something you do instinctively. She highlights a few things to consider as your morning plan takes shape. How do you want to feel? Peaceful, energized, contemplative and grounded are a few good concepts to focus on. What practices are important to you? Also, how much time and space do you have in the morning—be realistic.
Start prepping before bed
“Your morning routine actually starts the night before,” Plater says. “For a morning routine to actualize, you need to have enough sleep, both in length of time and quality of sleep. Go to bed early and practice good sleep hygiene.”
“After lying in bed for eight hours it’s important to get things in gear when you get up,” Plater shares. “You need to get the blood flowing in your body to keep you flexible, mobile and energized. If you can go for a walk, practice yoga, or do something as simple as stretching for a few minutes upon waking.”
“Mindfulness is the act of being present in the moment,” Kersta says. “Taking time to tune into yourself and how you are feeling before the demands of the day kick in is critical—it helps balance and calm the mind. Your mindfulness could be a journaling practice, gratitude practice, a short affirmation or meditation.”
The importance of hygiene, hydration & food
“Everyone’s physical self-care practices are different, but it may include showering, oral hygiene, skincare, hair and makeup and getting dressed,” Plater explains. “This signals to your brain and body that you are awake and starting you day; think of these moments as acts of self-love. When it comes to breakfast, it’s water first, then coffee. Hydrate then nourish your body—kick off the day with nutrient dense whole foods to feel your best.”
Adjust your routine seasonally
In the colder months it can be hard to stick with your routine—light is a huge morning motivator. With that in mind, adjust your routine accordingly. “Listen to your body,” Kersta says. “We may need more sleep or feel groggy in the morning, so give your body what it wants. Consider shifting some of your practices indoors and choose to eat more warming foods. The lack of sunlight equals a lack of vitamin D—the hormone responsible for mood regulation—so add in a vitamin D supplement or invest in a happy light. Trust your body, it knows what it needs!”