If anything has an Instagram-versus-reality dichotomy, it’s the morning routine (also filed under: things we love to hate). I love a picture-perfect plate of avocado toast and beautiful latte art as much as the next girl, but my #wokeuplikethis is less daily affirmations and more frantically thinking through my to-do list and already feeling like I’m behind.
My day typically commences well before the sun rises (at least this time of year, lucky me) and involves staring bleary-eyed through my glasses at my phone. According to Emma Lovewell, fitness expert and founder of Live Learn Lovewell, I’m already off to the wrong start.
Lovewell, who became a fitness instructor 10 years ago and was quickly given the 6 a.m. spin class, knows a thing or two about establishing a productive morning routine. “Don’t open your phone first thing in the morning,” she said at the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit in Brooklyn. Yikes, my a.m. habits are clearly in need of an overhaul.
“Having a routine in the morning is so important — it has to be something you can commit to every day, or most days,” Lovewell said. “It has to become habitual so you don’t have to think about it.”
Here, six things Lovewell recommends — and swears by — to start her day.
1. Practice Gratitude
Sure, you’ve heard you shouldn’t go to bed angry — but what about when you wake up? Lovewell is a firm believer in waking up to a grateful mindset.
“First thing in the morning, when I wake up, I practice gratitude,” she said at the conference. “I think of three things that I am grateful for — you cannot be angry, bitter, jealous, mad when you are grateful.”
2. Stretch It Out
As a fitness instructor, Lovewell is a bit of an authority on the subject of stretching. She recommends a few quick movements to help prime your body for the day ahead.
First up, the feet and ankles: “When you first wake up, start rolling your ankles because … there’s a lot going on with your feet,” she tells STYLECASTER. “So if you can flex your feet, point your feet, roll your ankles around, that’s really helpful for blood flow.”
Followed by your legs and hamstrings: “And then just touching your toes, or trying to touch your toes, whether you’re sitting on your bed or if you stand up and just reach toward the ground.”
Then, finally, your chest and shoulders: “Rolling your shoulders back, grabbing your hands behind your back and opening up your chest, moving your head side to side,” she instructs. “Just getting out all of those kinks in your back as well. We spend so much time hunched over our desk or phone, so trying to open up your chest and your posture is really good.”
3. Write in a Journal
Once she’s up and stretched, Lovewell finds sometime to put pen to paper. “I can’t wait for my coffee, my quiet time, my journaling,” she says.
If journaling sounds intimidating or time consuming, Lovewell recommends taking that “jumble” of thoughts — “whatever is on your mind, it doesn’t have to be well thought out or something you’d want to show to anybody” — and just writing it down. “Journaling has been amazing for me, it’s a great way to get all of your ideas and thoughts on a piece of paper and it allows you to have your day a little more clear minded, a little less weight on your shoulders,” she told the crowd.
4. Have a Healthy Breakfast
If you guessed a fitness instructor would recommend a healthy breakfast as part of her morning routine, you’d be right. For Lovewell, a healthy meal means eggs, oatmeal or a smoothie.
When she’s teaching or working out early in the morning, she likes to eat her breakfast after exercising. “I’m usually not even that hungry when I first wake up, so I get the workout in and then I will have a breakfast,” she says.
Meditation is a key part of how Lovewell starts her day, but even she admits that some mornings making time for everything can be tough — she says that this is the first thing that gets left behind when she’s short on time. “I try to find that ten minutes somewhere else in my day,” she says.
During her presentation at the conference, she led the room in a quick breathing exercise — one she said is used by special forces in high-stress situations. To begin, inhale through your nose for three counts and then exhale for six counts.
“If I’m on the subway and my subway ride to work is 30 minutes, I’ll try to find even time there by just calming my mind and doing the breathing work [on the train],” she says. “For me, that’s sort of a modified meditation. It definitely changes your day. Anything that can help calm your nerves and calm your mind is going to help you. We live in such a busy place. it’s really crucial to find those moments of calm.”
6. Make Your Bed!
“You have to make your bed! You have to! It’s the first point of accomplishment in your day,” Lovewell says.
On this point, she and I are in perfectly synch. “You can actually manually do something and see the difference that it makes — that your room is clean and it gives you good energy through your house and throughout your day.”