How do some people manage to look so darn perky as they sip coffee and smoothies in their Instagram stories in the morning? It all comes down to establishing a winning routine, one that’s easy for you to do every day and leaves you feeling awake, alert, and inspired. You don’t have to steal an entire routine from these fitness and wellness experts, but they have some pretty great suggestions of places to start.
Once you begin to develop a routine of your own, optimize it to your specific needs. Meditation for 20 minutes might not work for you, but maybe you can handle five minutes. Yoga might not be your jam, but what about a few basic stretches instead? And journaling can feel a little cliche, but what about a Google Doc where you list one thing daily that you’re grateful for? We don’t all need to be fitness and wellness junkies, but we can all get a little bit better at managing our mornings and crushing the rest of our day.
"I'd say my number one tip is to get ready for your day, whether that be breakfast, journaling, meditation, or working out before looking at your phone,” Sophie Gray of WayofGray.com says. "I recommend being off of your phone for at least 30 to 60 minutes in the morning! I like to do this because I can check in with myself first, before checking in with others.”
Productivity gurus and the authors of Peak Performance, Brad Stuhlberg and Steve Magness, also back this one up. The more time you can stay off your phone and not be distracted, the better. Getting your primary workout for the day done before the flood of emails, Instagrams, and text is going to make the day feel a lot smoother.
"This year has officially been the year of slowing down and learning to give myself what I need in order to thrive throughout the day with sustained energy and inspiration,” adds The Balance Blonde blogger Jordan Younger. "You could say I am a notorious overcommitter and a workaholic-slash-iPhone-aholic—who isn’t?—so I decided to get serious with my morning routine, to start to cultivate more peace and serenity in my daily life. I start each day with a digital detox where I do not look at my phone until I feel ready to be on and communicate with the world!"
Get Some Sun
"Working from home can sometimes mean there’s no need for you to leave the house, but, for me, getting outdoors every day for fresh air, a sense of vitality, and vitamin D is so important,” says Melissa Hemsley of the Hemsley Sisters. "Daylight helps to reset your internal body clock, also known as the circadian rhythm, leading to better sleep and allowing your body to tune into what it needs. I’ve got a staffy called Nelly who I take for runs around my local park, so it’s a non-negotiable for me!”
Studies bear this out: We need vitamin D to stay happy and energized. One such study even linked vitamin D deficiency in young women with depression. You don’t need to start supplementing to get it. Just getting sunlight should do the trick. And if, like Melissa, you work at home, a walk outside can give you the divide between "you time" and working hours.
Add a Yoga Flow
It’s no shock that Strala Yoga creator Tara Stiles starts every morning with a yoga flow, though as a new mom, her routine varies daily depending on what she needs and how she feels. And that’s a good thing! Even if you’re not nursing a newborn, switching up your yoga flow makes the morning a bit more exciting. Strala Yoga has a ton of quick and simple morning flows that Stiles created, and most of them run between seven and 12 minutes. Check out this one and this one if you prefer to have a video to flow with, or just do a few sun salutations and poses that make you feel particularly good.
A regular yoga practice—10 minutes a day is over an hour a week!—can increase strength, balance, and flexibility, calm the mind, and reduce stress, according to the American College of Sports Medicine. It can even help battle things like lower back pain, according to a recent study.
Scrape Your Tongue (or Whatever)
"Tongue scraping with a copper or stainless steel tongue scraper removes the toxins that brushing and flossing your teeth doesn’t,” says the other Hemsley sister, Jasmine. "Quite frankly, I’d rather forget to brush my teeth!” If tongue scraping isn’t for you, that’s fine, too, but having a morning beauty/cleansing routine can go a long way toward making you feel more awake and alert if you’re having a tough time crawling out of bed and perking up.
"I wake up, make a matcha tea or coffee in my kitchen, stretch on my yoga mat, and do a mindfulness meditation practice,” says Younger. "I have also gotten very into crystals, sage, essential oils, and palo santo. The morning is my 'me time' to play around with all of my yogi, kundalini grounding practices and also get some reading or journaling in. Then I head off to teach yoga down the street and feel like a new human! Also breathing. It sounds simple, but it's been a game changer to really focus on my breath.”
It’s not just the yogis who are doing morning meditation, fitness junkies are into it, too. "Everyday is different for me, but no matter where I am, I make sure to spend a few moments alone setting my intention and purpose for the day through meditation,” says Karena Dawn of ToneItUp.com. It really helps me stay centered and focused. After that, I head out for my workout. If I don't workout in the morning, it usually won't happen."
Get in a Quick Workout
Dawn also digs a morning workout to get the blood pumping. If you’re an early riser and can sneak in a quick run or strength workout, it’s a great way to kick off the day. And bonus, if you do a low-key workout before you eat breakfast; you’ll reap the benefits of fasted state training and gain extra strength and aerobic capacity in the process. Bonus: You can burn almost 20 percent more fat if you exercise pre-breakfast, according to one study. Plus, let’s be honest, breakfast will taste a whole lot better when you’ve really worked for it.