This challenge is free and designed to help you develop new habits AND create a morning routine that makes your life better.
You can read about the challenge itself at the start of this post and then you can read about why morning routines are the best!!
The morning routine challenge is very simple. I have a few “rules” down below, but you can wake up at any time you like.
Do this challenge 5 days in a row at least.
After the 5 days, determine if you want to change anything about your routine and then do it again for 5 days, then so on and so forth.
- No snooze
- No checking social media/news
- Incorporate at least one thing for:
- Your physical health
- Your mindset
- Your goals
- Highly suggest: Journaling (I use this format)
If you fail to wake up on time/skip your routine during the challenge, don’t worry about it. Just move forward and pick back up the next day. However, DO NOT miss 2 days in a row.
Weekends are optional. Personally, I don’t wake up super early or do the same routine on the weekends. I prefer to sleep in. Besides, my life is “stable” at the moment so it’s not as easy to stick to it on the weekends.
Even though I sleep later on the weekends, I’m right back to waking up early and completing my routine come Monday.
If you participate in this challenge SHARE WITH ME!! Tag me in your stories/posts on Instagram (@LivinglikeLeila) or feel free to email me at email@example.com. I will always answer!
If you choose to post on IG, don’t scroll through your feed (see rules)!! It’s only to keep you accountable.
Why should you have a morning routine?
First of all, you already have a morning routine…everyone does.
The important thing to ask yourself is, why do I wake up?
Obviously you can’t sleep forever, but if your answer is, ‘for work,’ then it’s time to change that.
If you wake up for work, that means you probably hit the snooze button multiple times. Then you finally get up for enough time to get ready, eat breakfast, and commute to your job.
This routine probably leaves you feeling bored and mundane.
This routine leads to unhealthy habits, an unhealthy mindset, and burn out.
On the other hand, what if you started waking up for YOU?
This is why I want you to create and implement a morning routine because I promise you it’s worth it.
If you wake up with intentionality by doing things for yourself that lead to a better life, you will become happier, healthier, and more grounded. You will probably be more productive too!
You may be thinking…but I don’t want to wake up super early. You don’t have to!
Your morning routine can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 3+ hours, but that’s the beauty of it. It’s completely customizable and you can change things up whenever you want to.
A morning routine:
- Sets the tone for the day
- Helps you develop healthy habits
- Puts you first (consider it self-care)
Do you need to wake up really early?
We all have different lives, schedules, and situations.
Waking up really early (as in before 5:30 am) does have its benefits, such as waking up before everyone else and just feeling on top of the world in general, but it is not necessary.
The important thing here is that you’re waking up early enough to implement your morning routine.
So whether that’s 4:30, 6:50, or 9:00 am, is up to you.
I will run through some benefits of waking up early and HOW you can do it too though.
How to wake up earlier than you need to be up
I asked my Instagram what they needed out of a morning routine challenge.
I actually had several people say just “waking up” in general or even “the will to live.” I need to touch on this because it is very important.
If you are having trouble waking up because of underlying issues (depression, anxiety, etc.) I highly suggest you seek professional help. There is no shame in speaking with a therapist and figuring out what is best for you.
Life can be amazing and not being able to get out of bed because you think otherwise is not normal.
Most days I feel quite negative when I wake up so early. I question life, I feel bad, and so on. However, I know that I am only having those thoughts because I am tired. I recognize that, push past it, and know that my life is pretty awesome and I can make the most out of my day.
My motivation to wake up early and get out of bed is gratitude, the future I am designing, and continuing to be an example for my audience.
I have a couple of tips for finding the “motivation” to wake up earlier.
Do something in your life that fulfills you
Knowing that I have my blog, YouTube channels, and other passions to work on is exciting to me. I have these things in my life that give me greater purpose and fulfillment in my life.
If all you have in life is going to a job you hate and Netflix, you have the power to change that.
You can pick up a hobby or side hustle, or you could start going after a meaningful goal.
No, you won’t spring out of bed like you have a flight to catch that’s headed to Hawaii, but it really does give you something to look forward to.
Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude
I talk about gratitude a lot, but there is just so much to be grateful for.
At the time of me writing this I have been reading the book, Man’s Search for Meaning. A book written by Viktor Frankl who survived years of concentration camps. There are many, many examples of how bad life really could be, but this book really shifted my perspective.
I am not saying any problems you may face are not very real/traumatic to you, but sometimes it really helps to see things as they are.
I get out of bed knowing I have so much opportunity and greatness in life, that keeps me motivated to push through the “pain” of waking up early.
Benefits of waking up early
You wake up before most people
If you live with anyone else, waking up early gives you time to yourself. It’s a sacred time of silence and stillness that can’t be matched, even if you can find that for just 5 minutes.
This is also great if you want to head to the gym, a cafe to work, or even your job…you beat just about everyone.
This means less crowds, less waiting, less disruptions, and so on.
You will probably be more productive
Once you get used to waking up earlier and overcoming the morning grogginess, you will probably get more done.
Otherwise, what’s the point of waking up earlier?
I find myself being the most focused and creative in the early morning but it’s also the time where I have the most willpower.
With more willpower, you can knock the big things off your list for the day, as well as the things you probably wouldn’t make time for otherwise.
This includes working out, meditating, reading, journaling, stretching, writing, etc.
Days feel longer
Depending on who you are this could be a good thing or a bad thing.
I feel like every year is going by faster and faster and there is so much to do. When you wake up early you could still be having the same amount of awake time, but because you front load your day it feels like you’ve done so much.
I love that we can create a morning routine that incorporates priorities and we can feel good about our days even if we only followed through on our morning routine.
When you wake up early and create an intentional routine, you do more before 8 am than people do their whole day.
You get to see the sunrise
I’m a sucker for sunrises.
They’re just so beautiful and mesmerizing and I love when I get to watch the sun come up.
Since I wake up so early, I usually beat the sunrise even after exercising and showering. I can watch the rays come up while I eat breakfast and drink my coffee.
It’s a small benefit that adds even more value to my day.
You develop more discipline
Waking up early, not hitting the snooze button, and doing things that require effort while sleepy require SO much discipline.
Waking up so early and showing your alarm whose boss is powerful. You’re also proving to yourself that you can do these hard things and be disciplined.
It builds character and confidence.
How to wake up early
Go to bed on time
You might hate to hear it, but waking up early truly does start the night before. You can’t stay up until 1 am watching Netflix and eating junk food and expect to feel good waking up at 5 am. That’s nearly impossible.
Having a solid night routine where you wind down will help to make this transition a lot easier.
I suggest the following:
- Not eating too late
- Avoiding caffeine/sugar after 12pm
- Putting screens away at least 30 minutes before bed
- Reading/meditating/doing something relaxing before your lights are out
- Practice good sleep hygiene (dark, cool, silence/white noise)
- Prep whatever you need for the morning (lay out workout clothes)
All these things will make waking up earlier feel better and should help to eliminate more decision fatigue/use of willpower.
Shift your mindset
If you claim that “you’re just not a morning person” then recognize that it will be harder for you to wake up early. Being a morning person or not is not a set trait…you can change that. You convincing and believing that you are not a morning person will keep you that way.
I understand some people just function better at night, that’s exactly why this challenge is so flexible. However, if you want to wake up early you can. Just get it out of your head that you can’t.
You may also wake up early and feel very negative/anxious. This is normal because you will feel tired.
The trick is to learn more about yourself AND to learn how to push past those feelings.
For me, this involves lots of self-talk and gratitude.
I know I feel negative because I’m just tired, that’s OK and I tell myself that.
I also tell myself it’s going to be a great day and I think about all the things I have to be grateful for. I then proceed to write those down.
Trust me, in the early hours you’re not going to feel so grateful. All you’ll want to do is get back in bed. But I recognize my privilege and opportunities in this life.
First of all, I woke up so that means I’m alive. Not everyone will wake up today.
My body is healthy and can get me out of bed. If it’s raining or cold outside I’m especially grateful for my home and cozy bed. I feel gratitude for the day ahead of me full of time and opportunity.
With time, you’ll get better at shifting your mindset but this plays a HUGE role in getting up and staying up. Otherwise, you’ll just crawl right back into bed.
Put your alarm across the room (+ deep breaths and water)
Put your alarm across the room (somewhere that you have to walk several feet to get there) and when you shut it off just pause for a moment.
Your phone across the room does 2 things:
- Gets you out of your bed
- Gives you time to process what you are trying to do
I am well aware that you can shut off the alarm after getting up and get back in bed. However, since you’re trying to implement a new routine, your brain is going to kick in now.
During that pause, take some deep breaths and reflect on why you’re doing this. Everything in you is going to try to convince you to give up, but think about how you’ll feel in 15-30 minutes.
Having water by your alarm also helps so that you can drink it right away.
Deep breaths and water deliver oxygen to your brain and both will definitely help you to perk up a bit.
My morning routine
I change up my routine every few months or so, but below is my morning routine at the time of me writing this:
- Wake up at 4:30 am
- Use the restroom/brush my retainers
- Meditate for 10-12 minutes
- Journal (how I’m feeling, my goals, gratitude, top 3 tasks for the day, and how I’ll improve from yesterday)
- Put on workout clothes, wash my face, brush my teeth, scrape my tongue, tie up my hair
- Fill up my water bottle and put on my sneakers
- Walk down to my apartment gym (it’s usually about 5:05 am at this point)
- Workout until 6/6:30
- Come back up to my apartment and shower
- Get ready for the day
- Make breakfast and coffee
- Eat breakfast (usually while watching a YouTube video)
- Brush my teeth
- Start my work day (I’ve been working for home for awhile now)
Here are a couple of my past morning routines:
My 4:30 AM Ayurvedic Morning Routine
My Healthy Work Morning Routine
Ideas for your morning routine
There are SO many amazing things you could incorporate into your morning routine. Depending on how much time you have of course.
As I mentioned, for this challenge I want you to incorporate at least one thing for your physical health, your mindset, and your goals.
Many of the things listed below can also be combined.
For example, if you go for a walk you can also listen to a podcast or audiobook.
Don’t overwhelm yourself with ALL the things. Just choose to incorporate a few things that truly add value to your life.
Personally, I find meditating in the morning to be easiest and more impactful. It has become something I look forward to once I get out of bed.
Starting your day with meditation will set a tone of calm and peace for the rest of your day. One of the major benefits I’ve experienced from years of meditation is not being so reactive. Instead, I can approach problems in a calm manner or not at all.
Morning meditation gives you the opportunity to “be” before doing anything in your day.
You can experience benefits even from 5-10 minutes of daily meditation! You have the time.
Getting a workout done in the morning is so liberating and powerful. I can wake up feeling completely ‘blah’ but after working out I feel refreshed and on top of the world.
Exercise is different for everyone. I have been weightlifting and doing circuit training lately, but you may prefer to jog, take a group class, or workout from home.
Exercise in the morning really helps to wake you up because you get lots of oxygen to your brain and your blood flowing.
I did yoga every morning for months and absolutely loved it. It was relaxing and energizing all in one. Yoga incorporates a lot of deep breathing, which really helps you to feel alert.
It’s also an amazing way to get your body moving/stretched out after sleeping.
There are tons of free morning yoga videos on YouTube with various lengths and levels.
Journaling is another thing that looks different for everyone. It could involve a brain dump, writing your thoughts/feelings, gratitude, goals, affirmations, etc.
You also may prefer to have some sort of guidance by using things like The 6-Minute Diary or The Morning Sidekick Journal.
As mentioned above, I’ve been quickly journaling the following:
- How I feel
- My goals
- What I’m grateful for
- Top 3 tasks for the day
- How I’ll improve from yesterday
These things help me get clear on what I need to do to make my day and future better.
Similar to yoga, stretching is a great way to go from lying down for hours to movement. This will help loosen up and warm your muscles.
Don’t expect to be flexible in the morning though. Stick to simple stretches like cat/cow, shoulder shrugs, neck mobility, child’s pose, etc.
Warm lemon water
Warm lemon water is a nice cozy treat in the morning with lots of benefits.
It will help with rehydrating your body, kicking your digestive system on, and boosting your immunity. It tastes great anyway and you can spruce it up with fresh mint leaves or cinnamon.
You can then sip on it while you journal, do yoga, etc.
Dry brushing is exactly as it sounds. You use a dry brush (usually before a shower) in a specific pattern along your body which helps support your lymphatic system, exfoliate your skin, boost energy levels, and may reduce cellulite.
Dry brushing actually feels very good and is easy to do. Starting from your feet, brush towards your heart and move up the body. Be gentle and be sure to wash your brush every so often to clear off dead skin.
Oil pulling involves swishing around 1 tbsp of coconut, sesame, or sunflower oil in your mouth for 20 minutes and spitting it out.
This is an Ayurvedic practice that can improve your oral health by killing bacteria. This helps to whiten your teeth, improve gum health, and prevent decay and bad breath.
It’s a cheap and simple thing to try out to see if you notice any benefits.
Tongue scraping is another Ayurvedic practice that involves passing a stainless steel scraper over your tongue multiple times.
This is also great for removing bacteria from your mouth (which prevents bad breath and tooth decay) as well as improving your sense of taste.
You’ll scrape off that icky white layer on your tongue and it’s pretty satisfying!
Side hustle work
If you have a side hustle that you’re struggling to make time for, try making it a part of your morning routine. I did this for quite some time while I was creating a course.
I found that once I get ready for my job and make a cup of coffee, I was able to be laser-focused for 30 minutes to 1 hour before I had to leave. Remember, extremely focused work in less time is better than hours of unfocused work.
Make that money and work on your dreams. This is how many, many people start their businesses that eventually go full-time.
Reading in the morning is very relaxing to me. Nothing quite beats curling up on the couch with a good book and coffee. Depending on what you read, it’s a great way to get inspired early in the day.
I love reading and I think a lot of people struggle to find the time to read. But fitting in 10 minutes of reading into your morning routine will allow you to get through several books throughout the year.
Go for a walk
Getting some fresh air in the morning is amazing. You’ll also wake up your body and get your blood flowing.
Talking walks outside are one of my favorite things to do. Walks allow you to get exercise, some vitamin D, oxygen, time to think/reflect, and exposure to nature.
Plan your day
While you eat breakfast or drink your coffee, you can sit down and plan out your day.
Planning is different for everyone, but I think to-do lists are super helpful. You can plan your day based on your priorities and also be sure you didn’t miss anything important.
Take a shower
I love morning showers. Of course, you’re probably going to shower after a walk or some exercise, but for those of you who don’t do those things you can still enjoy a morning shower.
They’re a refreshing way to wake up and feel good about yourself. Bonus points if you can manage a cold shower!
Spending a few minutes visualizing what you want to achieve in life can be powerful for a lot of people.
There are guided visualization practices you can follow or you could create a vision board and really feel yourself achieving the things on it.
I write down several things I am grateful for while journaling, but you could specifically use a gratitude journal or think/recite those things.
I will usually think of things I’m grateful while I get ready, in order to push out negative thoughts.
Expose yourself to light
If you wake up really early, you probably won’t wake up with the sun (also depends on where you live). If you have the option to get some natural sunlight in your eyes/on your skin, aim for that.
Otherwise, there are light boxes that mimic outdoor light that you can use while you get ready, eat, journal, etc. These boxes are often used in the Winter months to help symptoms of seasonal depression as well as improve your sleep, mood, focus, and energy.
The breath is used quite a lot during meditation and yoga, but breathwork takes it up a notch. There are many styles of breathwork but all of them help with reducing stress and improving your overall health.
I look forward to my morning coffee every day and I consider it a part of my morning routine. Coffee itself can be motivation enough to get up for a lot of people!
Listen to a podcast
There is so much to learn out there and podcasts are a great way to “compound” your time. Meaning you can listen to a podcast while doing just about everything on this list.
For awhile I was practicing/learning Spanish while I ate breakfast. You can squeeze in some time to practice a new language, an instrument, or work through a course.
There are many, many options for your morning routine. Don’t make it complicated, just design it until it feels right.
You also go through different seasons in life, it’s OK to change things up to incorporate other things that you see fit.
By the way, I just got my logo Stickers from Sticker Mule and I’m obsessed!! They’re available on my Etsy shop but if you want to order your own stickers, Sticker Mule just released 3 new tools, Trace, Upscale, & Redraw to help anyone create high quality, print-ready images. You can literally create stickers with any photo or your own design!
Hi Leila, what time do you go to bed? I find it hard to get up early and also make healthy sleep habits a priority. I try to be “lights out” for at least 8 hours, even if I’m not sleeping the whole time. I have to leave the house at 7 so I would need to be getting up at 4:30am like you, but that would mean I’d have to be lights out by 8:30pm! Can you give any advice on how to manage this? Thank you!
I usually go to sleep by 9:30/10pm but I am in bed by 9 and reading a book (which helps me relax). I find 8 hours of sleep does not leave me any more rested than 6.5-7 hours of sleep, but of course everyone is different. I try to be in “bed” mode by 8:30 (no screens, no work) but that doesn’t always happen.
Could you try to wake up at 5 or 5:30 instead? Otherwise the only other option would be to sleep less if getting to bed at 8:30 is too difficult.
What were you hoping to include in your morning routine? You might be able to adjust it a bit while still getting enough sleep!
Hi Leila, thank you for answering me! I think I’m going to just try one or two morning activities so my new wake-up time is not so radically different that it used to be, at least to start. I know that getting back into regular exercise will make the hours I do sleep more restorative!
This is a good reminder. I have had a lot of changes on top of covid and have completely given up any morning routine. I used to get up at 5 and jog, but now I get up at 5 and sit on the couch surfing my phone for 2 hours. I too am having trouble getting out of this rut and needing 8, 9 or sometimes 10 hours of sleep. I’d love to cut down to 7 hours of sleep and get back into my morning routing, but I am just not sure how to take action and just do it… it sounds so easy, but I just want to sleep and when I do get up, be lazy. Should I just rip off the bandaid or start smaller. I just feel depressed and I don’t want to jump right to meds. I know if I was able to eat well again and clean up my routine, I would feel much more aligned, but getting started has been really hard for me. Maybe I need to start with being more grateful… Thanks for the write up.
I completely understand where you’re coming from. This week I’ve actually been in a very weird mental space and was feeling the need to sleep longer, which I allowed myself to do.
Have you considered/do you go to therapy? I’ve actually been looking into it myself because I know it helps so much.
Of course nutrition and exercise will help a ton, but definitely start small! Be kind to yourself and just choose one or two things to aim for each day.
This pandemic and everything about it has made life really weird and I’m feeling the effects of it too.
Please feel free to email me (leila@livinglikeLeila.com) if you would like to chat or if you need anything, you’re not alone 🙂
Don’t feel pressured by my post to wake up early again and get right back into your routine either!
You are right Leila, I suppose it is just seasons. I will try to start small – and really truly appreciate your response and kind words – also the offer to email! You are a great role model!