At the start of the pandemic, when stay-at-home orders were first issued, and many workers shifted to a remote-only arrangement, many of those working remotely developed a toxic-leaning morning routine: The alarm goes off, you snooze your device, and you fall down a vicious doomscrolling rabbit hole of reading about bad news. It makes sense, then, that Arianna Huffington, author of The Sleep Revolution, recommends you avoid your phone first thing in the a.m. and to replace that habit with setting a daily intention. If intention-setting isn't your thing, though, don't worry; there are plenty of positive things to do in the morning for a decidedly joyful wakeup call that don't involve
And it's certainly an important habit to strike. According to clinical psychologist and author of Joy From Fear Carla Marie Manly, PhD, poor boundaries with technology can be damaging both as a day is winding down and also just beginning. Just as reading a heavy email before bed, for example, can disrupt your sleep quality, checking your phone first thing can spike your cortisol levels, making you feel out-of-control from the jump.
"While we can’t control the world, we do have a great deal of control over our own thoughts and behaviors; starting your day off with a joyful attitude can change the tone of your entire day." —Carla Marie Manly, PhD
So, what can you do about it? "[Choose] to engage with peace and joy first thing in the morning," Dr. Manly says. "How you start you day sets the pace for how you will live your day. While we can’t control the world, we do have a great deal of control over our own thoughts and behaviors; starting your day off with a joyful attitude can change the tone of your entire day."
So let's reroute ourselves, shall we? Below find 25 ideas for things to do in the morning before grabbing for your misery machine.
24 ideas for things to do in the morning that don't involve grabbing your phone.
1. Go for a run
Get your daily cardio over with early (or um, enjoy your daily cardio, if that's a happy lifestyle choice for you).
2. Or take it easy and go for a brief walk
Pace doesn't matter here! Getting some sun first thing in the morning may help you feel more energized, so take a leisurely stroll to soak in the vitamin D.
3. Savor a cup of hot coffee
Many of us already have a caffeine-oriented ritual first thing in the a.m., but this tip is just more about enjoying the cup of joe mindfully than rush-drinking your Starbucks before spilling it on the subway. Related: I don't miss my daily commute.
4. Take a cold shower
Beauty and fitness editor Zoë Weiner tried this out when mimicking popular celebrity morning routines. Suffice it to say, you'll certainly be awake after this one!
Curious about other celebrity morning routines? Watch the full video below:
5. Read your horoscope
If you want a cosmic roadmap for the day, reading your horoscope in the morning is ideal. Consider it a reason to support your local newspaper.
6. Write out a to-do list
To help you organize your day, have a clear EOD deadline in mind, and work backward from there. This way, you'll be better equipped to have healthy boundaries between work and play.
7. Do the 5-3-3 breathing technique
A breathwork method like 5-3-3 can simultaneously calm you down and spike your energy.
8. Throw on your leggings and do some yoga
Or wear the leggings you've been living in for three days—no judgment here. This 15-minute routine is perfect to get you all bendy.
9. Have an orgasm
I personally find morning sex to be less than ideal, but it's also better than no sex at all. And solo sex certainly counts, too. There's no rule, after all, about your nightstand goodies being limited to nighttime.
10. Or cuddle to simmer your sexual energy
Stimulating your oxytocin levels can act as a sort of foreplay to get you through the day (and make you feel more in the mood by the time the sun sets).
11. Record your dreams
Whether you're having routine pandemic nightmares or erotic adventures with [sigh] Jake Gyllenhaal, your dreams may be worth remembering down the line.
12. Pump up the jams
I actually feel worse on the days when I don't integrate music into my morning routine. Make yourself a bouncy little playlist and feel free to dance into the day.
13. Finish a chapter of your favorite book
This may mean simply setting aside 15 minutes to read in order to quell morning anxiety, so try it out! If nothing else, the habit will help work through your reading list.
14. Diffuse an uplifting scent
Peppermint essential oil may have you feeling immediately fresh and ready to go!
15. Have a tall glass of water
Your body tends to be dehydrated upon waking up as it is, so consider grabbing a little water and lemon before you reach for some coffee.
16. Do an EFT tapping sesh
EFT tapping is an energetic strategy for rewiring your negative thoughts and recharge your energetic battery.
17. Or embrace a morning mantra
What's something uplifting you can tell yourself before you get out of bed? I lean on "everything's working out, best-case scenario" because it's positive enough to help me out of bed, and vague enough to not be instantly disappointed if the day goes south. But feel free to find any morning mantra that resonates with you.
18. Do some quick journaling
You can jot down some freeform thoughts, but if you want something more structured, there are plenty of journals with built-in prompts on the market.
19. Set a daily intention with a tarot-card pulling
Whether the High Priestess tells you to go with your gut feelings or Two of Pentacles urges you to balance your priorities, a simple one-card pull might give you some guidance.
20. Change out of your pajamas
This might feel radical for the WFH set, but I promise that sense of normality might help you feel better in the long run.
21. Write out your worries
You can do this with a worry journal or a mind map—no rules here!
22. Tend to your plants
Catering to your ferns and flowers can be a sneaky form of self care that allows you to naturally de-stress without needing to forest bathe.
23. Recite a list of things that make you grateful
As Dr. Manly points out, "there’s no better way to start your day than by counting your blessings."
Empty your mind, and it might help the daily scroll from sucking you into the void.
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