There is no denying how important a morning routine is. I love having that personal time to myself and setting myself up for a good day. Here are some ideas that I have incorporated into my morning routine that have worked for me.

1. Working Out

I know that I may sound like I am beating a dead bush since this is not the first time I have mentioned the benefits of exercise. Like anyone, I am human, and a workout doesn’t always happen, but I find that I feel infinitely better when I do make the time to fit one in. For me, exercise and my mental health go hand in hand.

Exercise can help you get out of a funk and provide a good outlet for your energy when you hit a plateau with what you’re doing. If I’m being totally honest, I’ve been slacking on exercise recently, but I can’t deny that I feel better when I do exercise, which is why I’m trying to jump back on the bandwagon.

Everyone works out at different times, but I have found that I function best if I work out in the morning instead of later in the day. The endorphins from the physical activity help me get into a good mindset, which allow me to perform my best that day. If I feel better, I perform better.

2. Meditating 

Growing up, I was introduced to the concept of meditation thousands of times, but I would dismiss it almost immediately afterward; I could barely sit for 5 minutes, let alone 15, which was the recommended amount of time that I often saw. Moreover, I knew that I have a history of doing something intensely for a short period of time and then burning out rather than putting in a small amount of time and effort consistently, so I doubted that I would ever stick with meditating.

However, I was proven wrong.

Meditation became an essential pretty much as soon as I moved to Taiwan. Meditation gave me a consistent place to be calm and be alone with my thoughts, something that I discovered that I had no time for once I began teaching. Having that quiet time to myself in the morning and experiencing the comfort and familiarity of silence was something that I discovered that I needed before I taught English to kids ranging in age from 6 years old to 18.

Like exercising, meditating consistently has been scientifically proven to yield significant benefits. I started with 5 minutes of meditation per day because that was all I could handle at first. I won’t tell you that I have steadily worked my way up to a half hour of meditation by now, because that would be a lie. Sometimes I find myself meditating for only 5 minutes, others more, sometimes even less. When I don’t meditate on a workday, I definitely feel it, and as much as I hate to say it, I have noticed that I perform better at work when I do meditate in comparison to the days I don’t.

Sitting still for a while can be a daunting idea, but my recommendation would be to start with a time limit that you know that you can handle. Listen to your body and take care of yourself. If you feel like pushing yourself and doubling your time to 10 minutes instead of 5, do that. If you feel like only meditating for 5 minutes, do that. Listen to your instincts and take the amount of time you need to feel grounded.

3. Journaling

Writing has always been one of my favorite means of creative expression, and journaling has been essential for me to maintain my sanity. For me, there is something incredibly cathartic and comforting about having a blank page in front of you. You can rage at it, you can cry on it, you can share your happiness with it; no matter how you’re feeling, a blank page won’t judge you, and I take incredible solace from that.

I don’t write every day, but writing does ground me when I’m feeling angry, upset, or overwhelmed. Seeing how I feel written out on the page allows me to acknowledge how I feel, and sort through my emotions when I’m feeling confused. Journaling has also helped me maintain a sense of professionalism within the workplace; if something is bothering me, I can write out my frustrations and leave those emotions at the door in order to focus on the task at hand.

Maybe I’m being sentimental, but I also love having the journal as a means of seeing how much I grow and change over a period of time.

Related: Guide Your Goals: 31 Heart-Centered Questions For Purposeful Living

4. Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) Tapping

For someone who craves scientific facts in order to back up anything, this is slightly out of my wheelhouse, and I admit, when I first heard about it, I was skeptical. Focusing on the negative emotion or the issue at hand and tapping on certain pressure points on your body while talking through the issue was something that I wasn’t sure would work. This website does a far better job of explaining tapping than I can.

I started to include EFT in my morning routine because it gives me a chance to acknowledge and let out my negative emotions verbally. This is not to say that after a few minutes of tapping that I feel better all the time, but I do notice that my negative emotions diminish slightly when I engage in this technique. I often do this technique prior to interviews, and I’ve noticed that my anxiety does lessen a bit after I do this.

Although this is not a daily practice for me, I do include it in my morning routine when I feel it’s necessary, and it does ground me and make me feel better.

A morning routine can set the foundation for the day ahead, so it’s important to have a routine that works for you.

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