Can My Mornings Be More Mindful?
Drink water. Brew coffee. Take medicine. Feed my pets. These are the last few pillars of my morning routine that have remained in the wake of 2020. I used to have a strict wake up time, a morning journaling habit, and time for meditation and proper skincare, but the disruptions of the past few years have shaken all of those loose.
I know I’m not alone—every single one of us has experienced life-changing events that have shaped the way we start our days. Maybe we’re consuming more news or less social media, or forgoing a morning routine altogether and diving straight into work.
But I do believe there is power in adding just one moment of mindfulness, even if it’s small, to the time just after we wake up. (Not everyone starts their day in the morning!)
But waking up at 4AM for elaborate workouts and hour-long meditations isn’t always—shall we say—accessible or sustainable. If you can’t swing an elaborate routine, it’s okay to start where you’re at and add small moments of presence and calm where you can.
Right now, I ask my own mornings what I need from them rather than forcing a routine I don’t enjoy. Do I need preparation? Connection? Stillness? I’ll follow that whim until I find a new rhythm. Our mornings can be a great testing ground for habits, where we throw new routines at the metaphorical board to see what might stick (nothing has for me just yet).
So if you’re looking to begin your day with more presence and groundedness, here are 99 ideas to get you started.
1. So many morning routine suggestions include meditation and for good reason. It quiets your mind and allows you a moment of presence before getting caught up in the day! You can meditate using an app—with kids or solo—or simply sit and practice letting thoughts float through your head without dwelling on them.
2. Apply cuticle oil slowly to each fingertip, and use your favorite lotion to moisturize your hands.
3. Smooth a body oil over your arms and legs, with particular focus on dry areas like your elbows, knees, and ankles.
4. Run your hands across your body and examine for any new bumps, lumps, or updates to your shape. Practice kindness here. (Plus, it’s a good time to do a quick self-breast exam!)
5. Pack up your favorite warm beverage and head to the nearest park to watch the sunrise. As the light emerges, consider all the opportunities you have today to begin again.
6. Create a playlist of songs that remind you of your current intentions and hit shuffle—let the first song you hear be your guide for the day. Return to it when you need to.
7. Slice an apple or peel an orange as preparation for a hydrating and nourishing mid-morning snack.
8. Pray, whether it’s a moving prayer, a prayer to a deity, or a prayer to yourself.
9. Read a few pages of something that inspires you for the day—maybe it’s fiction, poetry, or an autobiography. You can set a page goal, or just set a timer for ten minutes as a way to keep you moving forward on reading a little every day.
10. Write a poem; it can be structured or you can free-write a list of words that are on your mind, and sensations that you’re experiencing right now in the present.
11. Step outside for a moment to witness the start of your day, or stand by your favorite window and gaze as far as you can see.
12. Instead of using overhead lights, perhaps you quietly turn on warm-colored lamps to ease your eyes awake.
13. If you have an intention, resolution, or vision board, take a few moments to reflect on it. This is a good opportunity to consider how any goals or “words of the year” will show up for you today.
14. Do a crossword or sudoku the old fashioned way, on paper; help wake up your brain with a game.
15. Or you can even put together a few pieces of a puzzle (or help your kiddos put together a simple puzzle!).
16. Plan out your day as well as you can, if it helps you—here’s a nice template that reminds you to take care of yourself, too.
17. Make coffee or tea slowly—opt for french presses and tea kettles over Mr. Coffees and microwaves. Add a dollop of steamed milk and relish in the process.
18. Switch your vitamins to something you enjoy taking (like gummy vitamins or chewables) so you have an additional motivator to take the supplements that support you.
19. You can also make your morning medicine routine feel special with some sparkling water, a cute pill organizer, and pairing it all with an internal reminder that your health and wellness are worth caring for.
20. Turn off all the lights one by one before you leave. You can recruit the littles to help on this one, too.
21. Keep a fidget or sensory toy by your coffee maker or breakfast spot, so you can engage in stimulation if you find meditating without one challenging.
22. Make a list of three things you like about yourself (these can be noted on paper or just mentally).
23. Do a few stitches or a row on a textile craft. Or, perhaps you spend a tiny bit of time mending a garment that’s been torn.
24. Swap your morning news podcast for something that more gently eases you into your day. Here are our favorite podcasts on sustainability, mental health, and motivation. The news will still be there when you’re done.
25. Or if you’d rather escape a little more, listen to a poetry podcast (like Poetry Unbound), a fiction podcast, or an audiobook. Like bedtime stories, but for the morning!
26. Share a window with someone else around the world with this website. This can be especially nice if your usual view is a tad gloomy, although there can be beauty in gloom, too. 🥰
27. Color on your own or with your kids (here are some of our favorite mindful coloring books).
28. Call a grandparent, parent, sibling or friend just to say hello.
29. Remove one thing that’s causing you a disturbance—maybe that’s the shirt you can’t stand in your closet (donate pile!), the newsletter you’re sick of (unsubscribe!), or that one part of your beauty routine that doesn’t feel good (skip it!).
30. Instead of mindlessly pulling on the first clean outfit you can find, pause first. What can you wear that will feel like a celebration for yourself today? Which outfit will serve you best considering the functions of your day? Which outfit will comfort and support you emotionally today?
31. Once you’re dressed, comb your hair gently and put it into a comfortable style. Take your time—braid it if you’d like. This is self-care, too.
32. Sort your recyclables carefully; clean the cans, break down the boxes, and empty the bottles. Take it outside as a favor to yourself (and for a breath of fresh air).
33. Switch to an old-fashioned clock radio—or a sunrise lamp—to wake up to, in order to reduce your reliance on your phone alarm.
34. Play a musical instrument or improvise a song about what you’re doing as you get ready for your day (this can be extra special with kids).
35. Connect with the people who have gone before you. Spend a few moments telling a loved one who’s passed on about what you’re excited about for the day. This can be done out loud, in a journal, or silently as you commute.
36. Do a tarot reading for your day and let your interpretations wash over you in waves—there’s no need to contain them or force them.
37. Play a game of solitaire.
38. Plan out your rest and your self-care for the day.
39. Reflect on what happened yesterday and practice remembering—write it out.
40. Or sit down and note the small wins from yesterday. Our journals can become so full of the big stuff that we could forget the small ways in which we support ourselves in our day-to-day.
41. If you’re a fastidious journaler, re-read the journal entry you wrote on the same day in the previous year.
42. Make a playlist for the day. Don’t self-edit too much, just listen to your gut about which songs you want to hear without long deliberation.
43. Keep a running list of petitions to sign and representatives to contact—and why you want to reach out. Pick one, and start your day with a little bit of forward movement on causes you care about.
44. Write a letter to (or read a letter from) a friend. Bonus points if you actually mail it!
45. If you keep a garden or have greenery around your home, snip a sprig of a flower or foliage that needs trimmed (or better yet, pick it up off the ground) and set it in a vase on your desk.
46. Soak in the slowness of morning and chop any vegetables or fruit you’ll be cooking with in the evening. Stow it away in the fridge until it’s time to make dinner.
47. Check in on yourself. Do you like where you’re at physically, mentally, emotionally? You don’t have to change anything right now. Just notice.
48. Find a cozy place to sit quietly and set a gentle goal for the day. What does success look like for you today? (Think outside of work—like eating nourishing foods, remembering to switch to decaf at 3PM, or having time to play with your kids). Before bed, return to this same spot: Celebrate yourself if you met your goal, forgive yourself if you didn’t.
49. Reconstruct your views on the snooze button—it is not a failure, it is an opportunity. If you need to take it and you’re able to, take it!
50. Do a short guided stretching session. These stretches can be adapted for the AM, or practice alongside this video.
51. After you’ve stretched, give yourself a massage. Ease your body into the day.
52. Make a list of musts, wants, and shoulds. Do the musts and the wants today, and go easy on yourself with the shoulds. The others come first.
53. Did you know there was originally no plural for the word “priorities”? The word, by its nature, was only supposed to indicate one thing. What is your priority today? Reflect on that.
54. Set a timer for five, ten, or fifteen minutes and go down a rabbit hole of random articles on Wikipedia. See if you can learn something new!
55. Likewise, learn a new word each day with this random word generator.
56. After you eat breakfast, prepare your breakfast for tomorrow. Think overnight oats or chia pudding.
57. Give thanks to everything you touch as you go about starting your day—thank you, coffee maker. Thank you, faucet. Thank you, hand towel for helping me clean the mess I inevitably make while brewing my morning cuppa.
58. Do one thing to care for the plants in your home. Mist them, dust their leaves, rotate the pots, water them, or boil water to dechlorinate it (let it cool before you water the plants!).
59. Use social media or your phone’s saved memories as a time capsule to see what you were doing last year, two years, five years or more ago on this day. Remember how you felt, who you were, and reflect on how you’ve grown.
60. Gently apply SPF. Need I say more?
61. Afterwards, tap a fragrant balm onto your pressure points and drink in the aroma. Breathe deeply.
62. If you’re known to tote around a purse, backpack, diaper bag or otherwise—unpack it. Shake out any crumbs or scraps of paper that remain. Re-pack it with only the items you’ll need for the day.
63. Toss veggie scraps into a pot with water and bring to a boil—let the stock simmer all day long and enjoy the warmth and nourishment that comes with.
64. Keep a few positive affirmations handy and repeat them as you prepare for the morning ahead.
65. Do you find it helpful and calming to know where your money is? Review your expenses from yesterday and balance your budget to make sure you’re still on track.
66. Similarly, see if there’s one recurring expense you can cancel—or add. Setting up a recurring savings transfer can help keep your savings fed and your headspace free from that constant reminder. Or, set up a monthly donation to a cause you care about.
67. Refresh the linens around your home—put couch blankets and bedding in the laundry, swap out bathroom towels, and put out a clean kitchen hand towel. These little things often get overlooked, so set yourself up for forward momentum with this one simple task.
68. Give yourself the gift of a short breathing exercise. It’s so grounding to return to your body.
69. Use the 750 Words app to help you free-write each day.
70. Grab a brush, put on some music, and sit and groom your pet as you both rise to face the day.
71. Then hug that pet, a person, or a pillow. Exude love.
72. Open an artist’s pad to a blank page and doodle. You can choose random themes, draw your dreams, or just simply follow the flow of the pen.
73. You can even sketch your favorite place from memory whether it’s your home or some far-flung city (maybe it’s just your couch!). Either way, practice gratitude and invite the happy memories that come with.
74. Draw a foot bath and soak your feet, while you indulge in your favorite AM beverage.
75. Add a luxurious taste to your morning breakfast—it doesn’t have to be expensive or over-extravagant. Perhaps you add a few dark chocolate shavings on top of your oatmeal, squeeze fresh lemon into your water, or swirl real vanilla extract into your coffee.
76. Or if you’d rather indulge another sense, select a fragrance for your morning routine. You can use incense, candles, sprays, or burn herbs that are mindfully harvested and part of your cultural or spiritual traditions.
77. Is there something weighing heavily on your mind? Write out your worries on a dry erase board. Then, erase them and while you practice self-compassion and self-affirmation.
78. If you work or spend a lot of time on the computer, close out all of yesterday’s tabs, update anything that needs updated, and wipe down your screen and keyboard. Prepare your workspace for the day ahead out of kindness for yourself.
79. Find a simple morning skincare routine that energizes you—focus on how it makes your face feel rather than what it purports to do. Because if you don’t like the products you use, why are you using them?
80. Keep a gratitude journal. If that’s difficult, you can jot down three things you love about your partner, your home, or your family. Or kick off the day by asking your kids what they’re feeling grateful or optimistic about today.
81. Find one—just one—way to be kind to your future self. This could look like starting a 401K, setting a dentist appointment, or even just moving your empty tea mug from your nightstand to the dishwasher.
82. Send an encouraging text to a friend. It can be “just because,” but you can also add a calendar invite to your phone for their most important dates like first days at jobs or school, anniversaries, or other notable moments.
83. It’s not always easy to practice gratitude and it’s healthy to allow ourselves to feel a multitude of feelings. If optimism isn’t coming naturally this morning, ask yourself or your loved ones (including kids) how you can be of support today.
84. Forgive yourself for something you’re holding on to. You might have to forgive yourself for the same thing every single day, and that’s okay! This doesn’t remove or replace accountability—but can be a step forward in taking it.
85. Set a timer for your social media exposure, because, if we’re being honest, socials are a huge part of many AM routines. Just be kind to yourself and have a motivating reason to reduce your screen time—maybe it’s to feel better about yourself, to reclaim the time you spend scrolling, or to feel less influenced by what other people will think.
86. Or, use your phone as a mindfulness tool! Take a one-second video of your morning (and stitch it together at the end of the year), or snap a photo of your routine to capture the time and place. Especially in these pandemic years, it’s helpful to have a little visual journal to track how time progresses.
87. Meet up with a friend for coffee, breakfast, or a walk around the neighborhood first thing. If you’re anything like me, the extra accountability will get you out of bed and into the world first thing.
88. Keep a dream log and write in it first thing when you arise.
89. Give yourself a manicure and let your hands rest before they become busy for the day.
90. Unload the dishwasher. It’s not glamorous or fun, but it clears space for your day ahead to carry on seamlessly (and to keep dishes out of the sink, although it’s okay if that happens). Or, put away dry hand-washed dishes instead.
91. Do you shave your face? (I do.) Work it into your AM routine in a positive and uplifting way if it’s confronting for you. Get a soothing shave soap and a beautiful safety razor to make it comfortable and—dare I say it—enjoyable.
92. And if you shower in the early morning (I don’t, I’m an evening bather), drop some eucalyptus essential oil in the tub and give yourself an extra way to perk up your senses. You can even meditate in the shower if you’re short on time or personal space to do so otherwise.
93. If you’re still short on time, turn your existing habits into mindfulness exercises. Here’s a guide to adding mindfulness to brushing your teeth (you can even teach little ones this and do it together!).
94. Press pause and give yourself a steam facial two or three times a week. Here’s how.
95. Put your bare feet in some grass. Focus on how it feels, the smell of the morning dew, the sound of birds chirping. On colder days, you can bundle up and grab a handful of snow or sit on a nearby rock. Just connect with something in the natural world as a way to remind yourself you exist beyond computer screens and Zoom windows.
96. Record a voice memo on your phone of how you’re feeling today, what you’re doing, or what your intention is. These can be handy for revisiting later, but you can also delete them to release heavy expectations we can often put on ourselves.
97. Pack your reusable grocery bags and produce bags and set them by the door, in your purse, or in the car—so that they are ready and available when you need to use them next.
98. Take a different path on your commute and get to know your city just a little bit better—extra bonus if you try a new form of travel like walking, biking, or public transport. This can help take your brain off of autopilot!
99. Most importantly, follow the whims of your body to whatever capacity you are able to—schedules, jobs, families all require our responses. See if you can identify one proactive step you can take that embraces where you are and who you are. ❤️
What’s your favorite way to start your morning with presence and mindfulness? Share in the comments below!
Emily Torres is the Editorial Director at The Good Trade. Born and raised in Indiana, she studied Creative Writing and Business at Indiana University. You can usually find her in her colorful Los Angeles apartment journaling, caring for her rabbits, or gaming.