Written by Hannah Eva, Eating Disorder Recovery Coach and Accredited Clinical Hypnotherapist
Every few months when the trend resurfaces, trying to scroll through my social media feed without coming across a widely productive morning routine content feels like a Herculean challenge. It’s even more of a kick in the (unbrushed) teeth when you stumble across one whilst still cocooned in the warmth of your duvet in the morning hours. Come on, you’re not already 2 meals down, trained and showered and mid-meditation by 6 by now?
Nope. Us neither. Detailing the impossible isn’t our style. Instead, this blog post is going to provide a peephole into the lives of our team, who describe their realistic morning routines. The reason we feel these glimpses of normality are so important is that although a lot of social media content we come across is inspirational and seemingly harmless, after the 100th viewing of these type of videos, the mental impact is largely negative. When your average time-strapped, over-worked, sleep deprived Joe or Josephine consistently this content, psychologists believe that rather than motivating individuals, it actually reduces feelings of self-worth. According to clinical psychologist Terri Bacow, Ph.D., though meditating, gratitude journaling, podcasting and stretching with the backdrop of an immaculate house may appear ideal – it is often hugely unattainable. Therapist Kiaundra Jackson, agrees, observing that parents with young children are particularly vulnerable to these messages. If a mother or father can barely use the bathroom in peace – where is the time for a two-hour morning routine? This said, the existence of some sort of morning routine is certainly of value. Your mission when establishing it should first be to remove the expectation for it to exactly replace that which you may see online, and instead facilitate your overall wellbeing. Not only have studies shown that having structure in your day reduces anxiety, but also that knowing what to expect and forming habits enables a sense of mental order and control. What’s most important is that while the duration of this routine doesn’t need to be extensive, nor necessarily aesthetic, a manageable and repetitive formula can lead to a feeling of familiarity. In turn, this familiarity leads to comfort, which stimulates a sense of control and well-being.
So, even if your own routine simply involves having a cup of coffee, listening to music while you get dressed, or giving your partner, or child a hug before your day begins....it is still serving you. You’re not failing if you don't have the time and/or the resources to create morning routines that match those of your favourite influencers – whose job it is to curate a visual perception of effortless juggling. And if that thing you do every morning — i.e. doomscrolling on social media — isn't serving you well? Well, maybe your a.m. routine would be better without it. If you can, replace them with one or two activities that genuinely make you feel good. Instead of the 10-minutes of scrolling, we here at Superzeros have all recognised huge benefits from simply hydrating ourselves, and getting in some form of movement, no matter how brief. If you are already a morning person who has an ace routine involving a litany of activities – great. Keep doing your thing. But if you aren’t, and self-care would more likely look like taking things off your plate, rather than adding, adding, adding, this is also a valid necessity.
We have two young kids at home so my morning routine has definitely changed quite a bit in the last few years. I used to be up and out super early, go for a PT session, grab a coffee and a protein bar and be at my desk by 8am. It feels like a lifetime ago! Me and my wife both work full time and so mornings now can be pretty hectic. I’m normally up from about 630 and I try to get a coffee in before the chaos begins. Our kids normally wake around 7 and then it's getting them up, dressed, breakfasted, cleaned up and then off to school and nursery. I feel like I've done a full day's work by 830am! Luckily I’ve had flexible working for some time so I now go for a morning run or swim afterwards. This helps me feel much better and I don’t think it would happen if I didn’t do it in the morning. I try to get a few weights sessions and some tennis in during the week too but this is normally afternoons and evenings. After a run or swim I love coming back in for a quick shower and refuelling on a bowl of cereal and green tea before hopping online for a busy day ahead. On the weekends I love to take the time to cook pancakes or eggs for breakfast but this is definitely a luxury when there’s a bit more time.
My morning routine is certainly a realistic and relatable one, and not something an influencer would brag about on social media. I live somewhere very noisy, so in the summer when I have to sleep with the bedroom window open, I get woken up at the crack of dawn by a symphony of seagulls, metalwork, cars, and children. To counter this, I try to make my morning routine as relaxed and calm as possible. After doing the usual things of brushing my teeth and washing my face, I’ll go downstairs and make a smoothie for breakfast. While I drink it, I’ll do a crossword puzzle or similar to help wake up my brain and get everything firing as needed ready for work. This also really helps if I wake up with brain fog. Working from home means no commute, so then I’ll catch up on emails and anything pressing for the day. Mid-morning is when I head to the gym as it’s generally less busy than first-thing. I find the exercise and related endorphins help get my creativity whirring - as a writer, this is really important for productivity.
In the winter, everything is much quieter so I’m able to sleep in later, which I generally find I need because of the darkness. Instead of going to the gym mid-morning, I’ll go for a run or a walk first thing to help me warm up both physically and mentally. I then take a lovely warm shower and settle down at my laptop for the day, feeling noticeably perkier than I would otherwise thanks to the exercise.
I would usually say that I am morning person but recently I have gotten into social dancing - which I absolutely love. This seems to go on quite late, so my nights have gotten a bit later and I've gotten into the habit of snoozing more than I should! I've been trying to sleep a bit more recently though, and am aiming for 8 hours. I regularly end up with more like 7, so it' a work in progress. I set my alarm for 6:45 and just this week I have made an extra effort not to snooze - so far so good, but it's only three days in so we'll have to wait and see if I keep it up. I tend to get up, drink over half a litre of water and put on my gym stuff which I pretty much always leave out ready the night before and then I go straight to the gym without even cleaning my teeth! This is something I wouldn't necessarily recommend but it works for me to just leave it until later to reduce the pre-gym faff. Luckily the gym is just a four-minute walk away and I love to be out of the house right away, especially in the summer because the mornings are so light and bright and the streets are quiet. I do a combination of abs, cardio or stretching in the morning and I love to get a bit of an early morning sweat on and then I head back home to finally clean my teeth, shower and get dressed. I either have a yogurt or a full-blown breakfast and then do about 15 minutes of meditation or journalling before logging onto my laptop and getting to work. An hour or so later I'll probably be snacking on a yogurt or going for the full-blown breakfast if I haven't had that already!
I am a morning person through and through. To the annoyance of my boyfriend, I find it really easy to get out of bed and I actually really don’t like staying in bed once I’m awake. Mostly due to habit now, I guess, my body wakes me up at around 6am every morning. I alternate stretching and working out for around 30 minutes each morning, depending how my body feels. I then settle down for breakfast by 6.30am. I always, always have a large cup of tea. Though it’s a must and one of my favourite moments of my day, I’m really not at all bothered about brewing time or brand or anything like that. Piping and with milk is all I’m fussed about. Whilst I’m eating breakfast, I flick through the paper we get delivered each morning. I don’t read much of it at this point, but scan through the headlines and destroy the crossword with an incorrect answer before anybody else can get to it. At around 7am, I’ll usually take my dog for a walk, so I can be back, showered and at my desk by 08.30. I’ll work on my laptop until around 10.30 – taking calls, having meetings, responding to emails or creating content – and then grab a morning snack. I’ll pair this with another tea. or two. This will carry me through the next couple of hours of work on my laptop until lunch. My afternoon isn’t nearly so go go go. I’m glad I didn’t get asked to write about that.
About the author: Hannah is a mental health coach whose area of interest lies primarily in nutrition and movement. Hannah also delivers workshops in the community and workplaces, with a goal to advocate for the achievement of long-term and sustainable wellbeing.