• mbgarvey

Starting a Morning Routine (When You're Not a Morning Person)

Let me start with this: I am not a morning person. Not at all. I'm a persistent insomniac, and not the productive kind about which people say "that's why she gets so much done, she never sleeps." I'm the kind who stares at the ceiling all night, trying to figure out why I can't sleep and trying to put into practice all the things I talk with my clients about when they can't sleep. So mornings, with their frantic starts and multiple snooze button assaults, are not my best time. But I've always wanted to be a morning person. Those people look super productive, happy, mindful and eager to start their days.

My husband has gotten up early every day of this pandemic. He reads his book, sits in front of the fireplace with his coffee, prepares for his work day, hangs out with our dog. He is really good at morning stuff, so he is who I went to when I decided I wanted to become a morning person, and this is how the (texting) conversation went:

Me: The daily habit I want to start during COVID is getting up early. Which will be hard for me.

Husb: Me 2. You can do it. 2 weeks is all that it will take.

Me: I can. But it's going to be tough. I think it would result in signif change in my quality of life. I'll accept help.

Husb: If you do it, I'll shave after first week. (Referring to much discussed and a little bit creepy COVID mustache)

Me: DEAL!!!

So here I am, four successful days in, with accountability to, and support from, my morning person. But what prompts this change? I've been thinking a lot about something I heard in response to the pandemic: This is not the opportunity we asked for, but it is the opportunity we have. It made me consider how this time, whether I want it or not, has given me the opportunity to be more mindful, focused, and grateful. More intentional. Which is something important enough to continue when we get back to some kind of normal. A morning routine can establish your intention and set the tone for your day, and now is an opportunity to develop the practice. The benefits are many:

• A predictable routine reduces stress and anxiety and can increase focus, concentration, and productivity.

• A purposeful start to the day enhances our ability to regulate emotions, respond to challenges pro-actively, and recover more quickly when we don't get it right.

• An opportunity for self-care and reflection, it enhances our ability to be positively engaged in our interactions and our tasks.

• It can be an orientation to gratitude, which cultivates resilience and optimism - and physically changes the brain and how we see the world around us.

• There are physical as well as emotional benefits if we use the time for exercise, stretching, meditation or the simple act of drinking water (before coffee).

And in case you need additional reasons not to hit the snooze button, Dr. Christopher Winter, a sleep medicine physician, notes that every time you wake up, hit snooze and roll back over, you enter a new sleep cycle. This extra sleep you get from snoozing is light and fragmented, which could actually leave you feeling more tired.

There are many choices for a morning routine and what serves us will be unique to each of us. Your routine should be intentional, but flexible. You may choose one or a few of the practices you identify, depending on what your needs are that day. They may include journaling, a walking your dog, daily affirmations, stretching or exercise, gardening, a gratitude practice, listening to music or podcasts, reading, meditation or something creative.

So let's get up and go!


A few of my favorite apps that I plan to use in my morning routine:

And good podcast, by Tim Ferriss, on morning routines: