How a Healthy Morning Routine Can Benefit Your Mental Health

Woman smiling on street with coffee and bagel

I’ve never understood the people who are able to set one alarm for the morning and actually wake up at that designated time. I didn’t count, but I think I set 15 alarms this morning all in 5 to 10 minute increments. Once I finally got out of bed, I threw on clothes, didn’t eat breakfast and ran out the door — only to be angry at myself, and still not feel well rested. On the way to where I needed to be, I asked myself, “WHY AM I LIKE THIS!?”

I set out to figure out if I’m alone in this mayhem by asking some of my friends about their morning routines (or, lack thereof).

How My Friends Wake Up

“Alarm set for 6:15, 6:30, 6:45, and 7 as an ‘Oh s***!’ alarm. I snooze them all a million times. I don’t get out of bed until 7:15. I take a quick shower. Let my dogs out and feed them. Half-ass my makeup and appearance. Rush out, don’t eat.” – Diana, 29

“I sleep ‘til the last second. Snooze two times. Check my phone, pee, wash my face, turn my sound machine off, brush my teeth, do my makeup, then rush to find something to wear and I don’t eat.” – Amanda, 28

“I snooze as late as I can until I hate myself for being so late, make coffee, take Pancho out, wash my face, do my makeup, make my bed, maybe answer work emails if I’m still drinking coffee and have time, put on overalls, and leave. Breakfast optional.” – Caroline, 24 (who really does wear overalls most days)

“I wake up at 5, grab my work clothes, lunch, and gym bag, go to the gym, shower at my parents’ house halfway between gym and work, hang out with my dog, then go to work” – Pete, 33

Which Routine Is Healthiest?

Now, as daunting as waking up at 5 AM sounds, doesn’t it seem like Pete has the healthiest, most productive morning?

When you think about it, the way our morning begins sort of sets the mood for the whole day. So, by having a positive, relaxed morning regimen, you can set yourself up for having a good day. We can’t control external forces — the traffic we might face on the way to work, the rude people we might encounter on the subway, and so on — but we can control what we do before we leave home in the morning, and that may make a big difference.

Your morning routine, as with any other aspect of how you live your life, can certainly be an indicator of your current mental health, as well as the way you approach self care in general. As much as I want to think aggressively tapping the snooze button on my phone is self care, it’s not.

Why Routine is Important

The same routine isn’t going to work for everyone, but what can be agreed upon is that, scientifically, routines are great for our mental health. They’re especially great to help out people with depression and anxiety (so, um, maybe I should take a hint and do better in the morning). While building and maintaining a routine sounds boring or stressful, in the long run, routine will reduce stress and anxiety. Routines are also very beneficial for recovering addicts.

A hormone called cortisol in our body is working in our favor in the morning. Levels of this hormone are highest when you first wake up, which will give you a little lift in energy. Use the hormone to your advantage!

If you like yoga, go for a round of sun salutations to wake up your muscles. If you’re extra stressed out, try meditating (you can do so with the help of an app, I won’t judge). And here’s a revolutionary idea—instead of refreshing Instagram 20 times before breakfast, why not read a newspaper article or do a crossword puzzle? Warm up your brain!

If that’s not enough inspiration for you, you can research morning routines of extremely successful people. But, you know, take baby steps!

A Routine Challenge

So, if you made it this far, I challenge you to make at least one little change to your morning routine this week and see if it makes you feel any different. I’m going to do the same, and I think we’ll both be glad we did so.

Published by

Ashley Laderer

Contributor