15 Things I Learned About Morning Routines From 4 Wellness Professionals
Don’t skip on this sacred “you time” if you want to show up as the best version of yourself every day
“My morning routine is everything. I could not function without it. It’s a special time for me. I feel the most myself. I feel more connected. Refreshed. Just all the things.” — Angelee Andorfer-Lopez, Founder of Manifest House
If you’ve been following along on my IG, you know that over the month of December, I hosted four IG live conversations, diving into all things Morning Routines with four incredible guests!
In our wisdom - packed “Her Morning Routine” conversations, we heard from:
- Chelsey, Ayurvedic Coach, about fitting ancient Ayurvedic practices into a modern morning routine;
- Angelee, Meditation Guide and Founder of the virtual wellbeing space Manifest House, about the power of setting intentions;
- Courtney, Functional Health & Wellness Coach, about what a more intuitive, flexible morning routine looks like; and
- Lavender, Business Mentor, Nutrition & Wellness Expert and Angel Card Reader, about having a morning routine that starts before the kids wake up, and continues after the kids have been dropped off at school.
What you will learn
Grab a cup of something warm, put on your comfy-cozy socks, and relax into this article. You are about to learn from wellness experts, entrepreneurs, moms, type-A’s, and people who have experienced everything from burnout to anxiety to post-partum depression. Learn the exact mindsets, practices, and tools that these women use to unlock the best version of themselves in the mornings.
- Understand the powerful benefits of a morning routine;
- Shift your mindset towards morning routines by learning the surprising ways morning routines can differ;
- Learn tips/tools/prompts to help power some practices (like journaling prompts);
- Glimpse into what exactly is included in their calming, grounding, powerful, unique-to-them morning routines;
But first, my methodology
My experience conducting mixed-methods research in grad school allowed me to take an informal qualitative research approach to pull out some key observations and themes that stuck out to me about morning routines, that I think will be eye opening to you, the reader.
Here are the 15 eye opening things I learned about morning routines
Overall, the morning routine presents a chance to come back home to yourself, before you transition into all of the doing that life requires of you.
1) Drink warm water with lemon/lime/sea salt for deep cellular hydration
I was so surprised to hear that all 4 guests incorporate warm lemon water in their morning routine (one in the form of homemade lemon-ginger tea, but…same same). This is a simple, but deeply hydrating practice!
Chelsey explained the importance of adding a squeeze of lemon, lime, or a pinch of salt to your warm (or room temp… but not cold!) water because we are dehydrated when we woke up, and the lemon/lime/salt allows the water to be deeply absorbed by the cells. From an Ayurvedic lens, warm water is also important in the morning because it is internally cleansing and helps to stoke your digestive fire in the morning. This is an even more powerful practice if you are a coffee drinker, as it allows you to deeply hydrate your cells before you intake dehydrating caffeine.
2) Meditation is the key to unlocking all other benefits
Of all the morning routine practices, my guests highlighted meditation as the one that brings the most significant difference to their days.
Angelee, founder of Manifest House, went on to say, “The days that I don’t meditate– which happens, life gets in the way–I feel less grounded. That is something meditation brings me and everyone who practices it — you feel more grounded. I feel like I’m going into my day with more intention versus letting the day just happen. It allows me to feel more present and go forward and do the journalling piece. I think that’s the biggest difference, that’s what meditation does for me: It roots me in myself so I can show up better for everyone else. For myself and the people I’m going to encounter. I’m not just doing it for me, I’m doing it for everyone else, too.”
Similarly, when I asked which morning routine she could not live without, Lavender said, “…meditation is the one that makes the rest work the way they do, because of that grounding and connection with self before you start the rest of the day.”
- Length of time: I was delighted to hear that nobody was spending a long time meditating, in order to reap the benefits for their parasympathetic nervous system. It was whatever they could do…generally from a “2 minute quickie” to 10 mins.
- Tools: Insight Timer and Calm were mentioned as apps for guided meditations. Lavender explained how she loves the filters Insight Timer has, and she loves how it’s gamified (i.e., it tells her about her meditation streak and she always wants to keep it going!) I personally enjoy the 10% Happier App for guided meditations and mini courses and meditation challenges.
3) Journaling is a powerful way to connect to how you’re feeling and what you are desiring
An interesting observation I made around journaling practices, is the difference between “free journaling” and more “structured journaling”. Two of my guests enjoy the structure of following three specific journaling prompts every morning.
For Lavender, she’s journaling in the morning about: Gratitude, Desire (what do I really really want?) and Appreciation (something about myself — What do I appreciate about me?)
For Angelee — who does structured journaling in the AM and free-flow journaling towards the end of the day — in the morning she’s journaling about: Gratitude, Affirmations (“I am” statements like “I am worthy of love and affection”; “I am strong enough to embrace setbacks and embrace the unknown”; “I am connected and fulfilled to me career”), and an Intention (what she is calling in for that day — more on that below).
For Courtney, who has an intuitive morning practice, journaling is more free-flowing. Once she goes outside and asks herself “What am I needing in this moment?” sometimes that moves into journaling if a stream of thoughts or a dream that she wants to write about comes to her.
Bonus Journaling Tip:
Angelee recommends this “daily pages” journaling practice (this is from her members-only “With Intention” guidebook). Write these headings and journal about them:
- Today I feel… (Self check-in; where am I at in this moment?)
- I am grateful for…
- Today I am practicing… (Something I’m looking to practice, or to continue learning, such as confidence.)
- Today will be… (This is my intention for the day. Do I want today to be hectic and frantic? Slow and easeful?)
- I will care for myself by…
- 3 affirmations (I am…)
4) Set intentions to get what you want out of the day
Angelee and I went off on a bit of a tangent about Intention setting because she thinks it’s such an under-utilized practice, and I wanted to better understand: what is an intention; what does an intention look/sound like, and what is the value of intention setting?
Angelee describes setting an intention as asking: Where do I want to direct my energy towards? How do I want to feel and what do I want to attract? What do I want to bring into my life?
Let’s say her intention is patience, she says that, “Just by creating it, writing it down and thinking it, I’m absolutely going to start my day with patience and incorporate more patience throughout my day.”
Rather than something to achieve (like a goal), an intention is something to BE. A few other examples of intentions can be things like, “Today, I intend to stay focused and avoid distractions” or, “Today I want to be more open” or, “Today I want to stick up for my own beliefs” or, “Today I want to be present in the moment”.
To highlight the broader power of setting intentions, Angelee has even found that when she goes back to flip through her journals, she notices that even though she actively forgot about many of the intentions she set, it’s amazing to see the things that actually came to fruition through that intention.
5) The morning routine is, at it’s core, all about self check-ins and connection with self
Prior to my conversations with these women, I don’t think it ever fully landed that the morning routine is a time to check-in with yourself and take stock of how you’re doing. Chelsey really brought this home when she said it’s a way to “Check-in with yourself instead of mindlessly moving through the motions of your life,” and that, “It’s important to not ignore how you feel. Even if you’re not feeling great, that’s OK. You’re still checking in with how you’re feeling and it gives you an idea of where you can go from there. When you start to have awareness around these things, you may realize, oh my gosh, I’m running on empty and I really need to give myself this time.”
Courtney shared a really great gas tank analogy from her previous career in law enforcement. She said that they had a policy: Don’t let your gas tank in your vehicle get below half full. She went on to say, “My morning routine is a way to check in and see how my gas tank is doing. Most of the time it’s a bit below half and I need to take that time.”
6) Don’t connect with anyone until you’ve connected with yourself
Whenever I asked about the value of morning routines, my guests talked about how it changes how they show up in the world for their loved ones. Chelsey made me laugh when she said, “When I’m not doing these practices — these things that make me and my body feel good — I’m not a good person to be around! I’m a better version of myself for those in my life when I do these practices.”
Lavender makes sure she does meditation, journaling, and reading before she does anything else for any of her businesses because of how it alters how she shows up. In essence, she has spent a lot of time tuning into who she wants to be and how she wants to show up in this world (as a leader in her businesses, as a mom, and just in general) and she has spent a lot of time fine tuning her morning routine because it is absolutely vital to showing up as her best self.
7) Surprise: A morning routine does not have to be super structured! It can be more free flowing and intuitive
Some of the women I spoke with have a pretty structured morning routine, in that, they do the same things, in a similar order, every day (Their morning routines may change with the seasons, but at least for that season, it looks the same daily).
That’s why I was surprised to hear that Courtney, a self-confessed lover of structure, does not bring much structure to her morning routine! One of my favourite moments of all of my conversations was when Courtney described the part of her morning routine where she goes outside and lets her intuition take over, by asking herself, “What am I needing in this moment?” This simple but powerful question lends itself to the intuitive nature of Courtney’s morning routine because she can figure out in that very moment, “Do I need to move around and do flow yoga? Do I need to sit and do breath work? I’ll check in with my body and see how my lungs feel. Do I need to do visualization and ground myself?”
When Courtney described what led to her abandoning structure, she said, “I love structure — I crave structure. When I was first deciding I wanted to start this morning routine, I wanted it to look the same EVERYDAY, and it just didn’t work and it was like, ‘Why am I doing this if it’s not feeling good?’ So it changed once I decided that as long as I do it, it doesn’t have to look the same way every day. I can just check-in and see what is important, what do I feel like doing right now?”
8) Ditch perfection and don’t try a million things at once
One of the first pieces of advice Chelsey gave is, “You don’t want to bombard yourself with 10 new things in the morning”. As is the case for making any lifestyle changes, it’s important to bring an experimental mindset, and add things slowly. If you go from no morning routine to a one hour morning routine trying to incorporate all the things, it’s likely that it will feel like a chore, and you will not be able to take stock of which individual habits actually feel nourishing and helpful.
9) Kids can be incorporated — at least partially!
Courtney made special note about how important it is to enlist the support of your significant other (if you have one), if you have kids and you really want to take your morning routine seriously.
However, once Courtney spends time outside checking in with herself and asking herself what she needs in that moment (the most important part of her morning routine), she then goes inside where her family is, and journals. Courtney likes that her young daughter sees her journaling and doing this routine, and her daughter will even say she wants to journal and join her! Courtney emphasized the importance of children seeing you prioritize self care: “My daughter is witness to me taking care of that time.”
10) Morning routines don’t need to start and stop within one block of time
When I used to think of a morning routine, I thought it had to happen before the world starts — in the case of a parent, before the kids even wake up. I thought, it has to all happen within, let’s say, a 30 minute block of time. These conversations changed my perspective.
Especially when you have kids and might need to incorporate feeding them breakfast and getting them to school, the morning routine might be broken into, for example, two blocks of time. In Lavender’s case, she does a few things (such as drinking warm lemon water) before her kids wake up, and then she does most of the grounding/reflective practices like meditation, card pulling and journaling, after she’s dropped her kids off at school.
11) To caffeinate or not?
There is no right or wrong answer here! Some my guests loveee their morning coffee, and some find that their bodies are not a fan of coffee.
- Courtney’s Tip: Courtney mixes coffee with coconut milk and collagen just to add extra calories and not just pour caffeine into her body without something to absorb it.
- Chelsey’s tip: Chelsey brews a mold and myotoxin free decaf and adds Rasa herbal coffee alternatives which are loaded with adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms. Sometimes she brew that on it’s own and sometimes adds it to her decaf coffee.
- Angelee’s & Chelsey’s tip: Bring mindfulness/meditation to yourcoffee making ritual. You can use this time as a continuation/extension of your meditation, or go to do your meditation while your coffee is brewing.
12) Boundaries with your Phone
Courtney and I went off on a tangent about technology because she had me intrigued when she mentioned she does not check her phone for the first few hours in the morning…!
She finds that we are so reactive to our phones and we constantly feel like we need to respond right away, when in actuality, things can wait. Courtney doesn’t go to her phone until she feels like she is satisfied and that she has taken care of herself and filled her own tank. I loved how Courtney drew a connection between presence and phones when she said, “Our minds want to find things to distract ourselves from what’s important in our own lives. Our phones are such a great tool for that distraction.”
13) Minimum dose before you can move on to other things.
Especially if you are a perfectionist, or more “type-A,” you don’t want to start feeling stressed out if you can’t get through your whole morning routine, so maybe consider a minimum dose.
For example, once Courtney spends time outside checking in with herself and asking herself what she needs in that moment, she then goes inside where her family is and journals. At that point, if her family needs her attention and pulls her away from her morning routine, she’s okay with it because she has spent some time checking in with herself (aka the bare minimum). If her morning routine goes on for 10 minutes or 2 hours, she feels good knowing she did something.
14) Experiment and let it evolve
A lot of the women I spoke with emphasized that their morning routines have changed a lot over time. Some of their morning routines change with the seasons, or change as their kids’ schedules change and evolve, or as their own lives and schedules change.
As in Lavender’s case, it has taken a lot of time to really fine tune her morning routine and find exactly what combination of practices/rituals work for her.
So, stay open, stay flexible, and keep experimenting to find what works for you and what makes YOU feel your best!
15) It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Embrace what works for YOU
It seems like this one goes without saying, after writing the other 14 highlights. Nobody has the same morning routine, and they have all been intentional about figuring out which practices work for them, and going with that.
I love when Chelsey noted that, “It’s not about perfection, it’s about gaining awareness around these things and experimenting with what’s working for you and what makes you feel better.” What I gather from this is: As you start to experiment with morning routine practices, how can you tune in and become aware of what feels good for YOU? You don’t want to just add a bunch of practices for the sake of it, and just because everybody else is.
“Her Morning Routine” — Here are their actual morning routines
Chelsey — Ayurvedic Coach:
- Wakes up and doesn’t just jump out of bed — takes 5–10 mins while laying in bed to let body transition from “the sacred chamber of sleep” and takes time for gratitude to be thankful for another day.
- Tongue scrapes with a metal or copper tongue scraper from back to front a few times very gently to eliminate toxins, wake up taste buds, and stoke her digestive fire.
- Brushes teeth and washes face, rinses eyes with cool water to wake everything up.
- Before you shower, you can add in dry brushing and/or an oil massage (with a warm oil like sesame, coconut, almond oil) — these are lymphatic massage practices.
- Drinks a medium to huge glass of room temp or warm water with a squeeze of lemon or lime and a squeeze of sea salt — it’s internally cleansing and gets the digestion moving.
- Eliminated caffeine. Brews a mold and myotoxin free decaf as well as Rasa herbal coffee alternatives — loaded with adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms — sometimes brews that on it’s own and sometimes adds it to her decaf.
- When that’s brewing, goes and takes 5–10 minutes for a meditation (sometimes even 2 mins).
Angelee — Meditation guide + Founder of Manifest House:
Note: we did not talk about things like brushing teeth/washing face.
- Ginger and lemon tea made the night before (to honor her desire for ease and convenience).
- 8–10 mins of guided meditation using Insight Timer to find meditations to listen to.
- Makes coffee & tries to be present and use that time as a continuation of her meditation.
- Prompted journaling and reflection before the work day — topics/headlines are: gratitude, affirmations, and what she’s calling in for that day (intentions).
- From there it depends on the day. If she has a morning meeting, she might go straight to that. If she has a bit more time that day, she will do some more journaling.
Courtney — Board Certified Functional Health & Wellness Coach:
- Wakes up around 6 & spends some time with her toddler. No phone in the morning; not until she feels like she is satisfied that she has taken care of herself and filled her own tank.
- Scrapes tongue & brushes teeth.
- Cold shower/contrast shower — freezing cold for as long as she can — then warm — then back to the cold and then gets out.
- Warm lemon water — Even if she is out of lemons, she will have a glass of warm water before she has coffee.
- Goes outside — that’s when the intuition takes over and she asks “What am I needing in this moment?” and does those things.
- Goes quiet — listens to/observes the chatter in her mind and lets it go.
- Sometimes that moves into journaling.
- Makes coffee with coconut milk and collagen (and sometimes adds adaptogenic mushrooms).
- Gets ready to go to the gym (Still hasn’t messed with her phone at this point).
- Has coffee, gets changed, gets ready to go to the gym.
- Goes to gym & workout.
- Eats some breakfast — something to restore everything.
- That’s when she feels her day is actually starting, and she can start concerning herself with other people’s needs, around 9:30 / 10am.
Lavender — International Speaker, Business Mentor & Nutrition/Wellness Specialist:
Note: we did not talk about things like brushing teeth/washing face.
- Drinks lemon water with a high quality salt for hydration — just a pinch of Icelandic flake with 1/2 a lemon juiced into 20oz water first thing in morning on empty stomach.
- Gets kids up, gets breakfast going.
- High quality supplements with all meals but especially breakfast (breakfast within 45 mins of waking).
- School routine for kids.
- Meditation + always pulls cards: Angel, Fairy, or Spirit Guide cards. Sometimes it’s a 5 minute meditation. Will do a longer meditation if feeling disconnected mentally and not grounded.
- Journaling — 3 topics or headlines: gratitude, desire, and appreciation for self.
- Reads 2–5 pages of a book (always has 2 books on the go including a business book).
- Works out 30 mins 5 days a week in the morning —She is pretty intuitive about how her body is feeling and what it’s craving but she prefers heavy weights and focused on one muscle group at a time i.e., leg day, biceps triceps, chest and back.
- Coffee enemas — 1–3x week.
- An apple a day :)
- Then has lunch and starts the rest of the day!
Looking for support in cultivating a grounding morning routine?
If you’re interested in coming together virtually with a community of like-minded women in a safe space to experiment, explore, share and learn from one another when it comes to morning routines, fill out this form and I’ll get back to you!
About “Her Morning Routine” guests:
Chelsey Belz (she/hers) is an Ayurvedic Coach with a modern approach to the ancient science. Chelsey helps women heal from Hashimotos Thyroiditis and she recently released her free mini course which is all about morning routines, gut health and digestion called the Goddess Gut Guide!
Connect with her on Instagram at @chelseyfitzbelz
Angelee Andorfer-Lopez (she/hers) is a certified meditation guide and the Founder of Manifest House, a virtual wellbeing space rooted in community that helps BIPOC women and allies care for all aspects of themselves unapologetically.
Inspired by her own self-healing journey, Angelee is incredibly passionate about mental health, self-care, representation and inclusivity in wellness, and building authentic communities.
Creating Manifest House has been a dream come true, and she feels lucky to share this space of healing with those who need it. Angelee is excited to be building out an IRL overnight retreat space in Phoenix, Arizona that will open in 2022.
Courtney Ashworth is an ADAPT-Certified and Board-Certified Functional Health Coach. Specializing in Intuitive Wellness, Mindfulness, and Holistic Health, she supports her clients through 1:1 strengths-based coaching and through workshop style group offerings. Courtney’s services focus on developing intuitive practices around nutrition, movement, and connecting with inner wisdom to uncover a life defined by self-love, aligned with individual values and strengths, and leaning on the abundance of ancestral principles and earth’s natural resources.
As a sociologist and former law enforcement officer, Courtney has combined 12 years of education and experience and worked with individuals and families facing a multitude of concerns, including mental illness, addiction, domestic violence, and codependency.
Courtney believes the health of the collective and of the individual is deeply interwoven, and that a life full of wellness, peace, and ease is within reach for every body.
Connect with her on Instagram at @courtashworth
Lavender Morantz is an international speaker, and leadership expert, specializing in teaching people how to create growth with a proven strategic process.
She’s also a serial entrepreneur, founder of SwankPad Interior Design, Freedom Junkie, a business and lifestyle coach, mentor, international speaker, published author, Certified Nutrition and Wellness Specialist and a very proud mama of 2 awesome girls.
Connect with her on Instagram at @lavendermorantz