The Art of Slow Mornings:
5 mindful morning habits

A small potted plant on a windowsill in the early morning light between white half-drawn curtains.

All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast. — John Gunther

 

Slow mornings have become my primer for the day. I’ve always been an early bird, but I haven’t always used these early hours effectively. Like many, I found it all too easy to rush into the day. One second you’re reaching for your iPhone to turn off you’re alarm, and the next you’re opening your weather app. Or checking for new emails. Or scrolling through Instagram. We have fallen into the habit of consuming before we are even fully conscious. 

But it’s time to wake up, people! Mornings are not only for sleeping in, and they definitely don’t have to be rushed. Practicing mindful habits in the morning allows for you to be present throughout the day and improve productivity. You’ll feel focused, more energized, and less stressed. 

The turning point for me was viewing mornings as my down time. In the evening I’m normally socializing, cooking, or generally too wired from work to properly reflect on the day’s activities. But in the early hours of the day, with a still resting house and quiet street, I have found my space to be present. 

Here are 5 mindful morning habits to prepare you for the day.

 

Wake Up Early 

Don’t hit that snooze button! Stretching out your morning will give you the time you need to become present and get ready for the day. 

Having a hard time waking up earlier? Sunrise clocks are the latest innovation in morning alarms. An hour prior to your alarm they gradually grow brighter to mimic rising with the sun. This allows for a more natural awakening than a blaring alarm.

A hand holds a cup of coffee over a bedspread as a stream of light pours in.
(Photo by Iris Juana

Make Your Bed

When it comes to slow mornings, it’s the small things that matter. Checking off a chore early in  the day is a great way to get you into a productive mindset. 

Admiral William McRaven is a retired Navy SEAL and author of Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life… And Maybe The World. He believes that making your bed properly (aka, not just throwing the covers and pillows around) is an easy morning accomplishment that will set the tone for the rest of your day.

A made bed with blue and grey throw pillows, a grey duvet, next to a modern bedside table with a glowing lamp.
(Photo by Christopher Jolly)

Exercise 

Morning exercise is a great way to boost your mental and physical capacity — especially if you’re feeling groggy. While you may prefer a sweaty workout class, your early routine doesn’t always have to take this form. A morning stretch sesh or a leisurely walk can be a great way to energize your body and mind. 

Looking for at-home exercises? Try out some free YouTube yoga classes, all Yogi Approved, that vary from 45 minute vinyasa classes to 5 minute meditation. Or sign-up for Kayla Itsines’ Sweat app for 28-minute workouts that don’t require a gym membership. 

A woman walks down a country road in the early morning light, stretching her arms above her head.
(Photo by Emma Simpson)

Mindful Breakfasts 

Whether you start your day off with a big breakfast or just a cup of coffee, eat with intention.  Don’t just wolf something down. Make a ritual of grinding your coffee. Take your time to eat healthy foods that will keep you energized and satiated.

And here’s something else to chew on: Heather Lillico of Lemon Water Wellness believes that eating mindfully can make us more attuned to our body and its needs. Practicing this method in the morning can help to guide your eating habits throughout the day.

A hand pours maple syrup over bowls of oatmeal, surrounded by a place of grapes, sliced apples, and a bowl of ground cinnamon.
(Photo by Jennifer Pallian)

Journal  

Journaling is a great way to clear your thoughts in the morning. Whether jotting down to-do lists, expressing your concerns, or writing long streams of consciousness, journaling is a thoughtful way to set an intention.

Not sure journaling is for you? The Five Minute Journal is a great place to start. It comes with daily prompts for quick journal entries to help you set a mindful roadmap for the day. Close up of a young woman sitting on a cliff in nature reading her hand-written journal.
(Photo by Joao Silas)

The goal of slow mornings is not about squeezing everything in. If you have kids to take to school or a long commute to work, checking everything off this list may be damn near impossible. Slow mornings are about finding what works for you with the time you have, whether that’s two hours or thirty minutes. So make the time, and then take some time for yourself (and remember to leave your iPhone out of it!). 

And like so many things, a successful day needs a good night’s snooze. If you’re running on just a few hours of sleep, then slow mornings may be hard for you. Make sure you’re caught up on your zzz’s before you rise ’n’ shine. 

Your good mornings just got better!

 

(Header image by Eduard Militaru)