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Letting Go of the Overstuffed Morning Routine

In 2021, the “That Girl” trend took the internet by storm.

“That Girl” is someone who gets up early, meditates, drinks a smoothie, journals, works out, eats healthy food, and takes her vitamins all before 8 a.m.

The craze has died down now, but there’s still a lot of advice out there telling you to cram as many ‘good’ habits as you can into your mornings.

I know I’ve gotten sucked into Pinterest lists about the perfect morning routine and thought to myself ‘If only I follow that list, my life will be so much better’.

In fact, there’s been many a time I’ve written an ambitious list of things at midnight of things I want to do the next morning, imagining that I’ll be a completely different version of myself tomorrow.

But then I wake up in the morning and realize I’m the same person, I’ve already slept through my alarm, and I don’t even have time for ‘the list’.

Now there’s nothing bad about wanting to have the “That Girl” habits. After all, these activities on their own are good for you. 

However, it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to sustain that kind of routine day in and day out.

The more we let our lives be ruled by endless checklists, the less mindful we can be at actually doing those tasks.

Of course, I’m all for spending time on the things that matter, but life doesn’t have to be filled to the brim to be fulfilling.

So what’s the alternative? What does a more realistic routine look like?

The routine reframe

My mindset around routine and habits has changed a lot as I’ve gotten older, and I’m no longer trying to do everything all at once.

These days, I feel more comfortable taking things at my own pace and doing things the way I want to do them; essentially, not holding myself to unrealistic expectations.

My mornings are simple and repetitive.

I wake up and read ten pages of whatever book I’m reading.

That’s followed by showering, eating breakfast, and taking the dog out — the order of which depends on my needs in the moment.

Sometimes I’m starving when I wake up so I need to eat. Other times I have somewhere to be so taking a shower first makes the most sense. Sometimes the dog is whining so I take him out immediately.

After those things, I write for 30 minutes (read more about why I started doing this here).

And that’s my pretty simple morning routine. I can get lost in a book, take in some fresh air with the dog, nourish my body with breakfast, and feel refreshed after a shower.

I don’t have to cram all of these ‘good’ habits in to make my mornings feel meaningful.

How to embrace a simple routine

Many of us figure that if we can get a bunch of things done as part of our morning routines, we’ll feel better about ourselves. If we get the ‘good’ habits done as early as possible, the rest of the day will be smooth sailing.

And while that’s true in some ways, if you keep telling yourself you’re going to do those things but don’t have the time or energy to do them, you’re not going to feel good about yourself.

It’s better to be realistic and slowly add things in when you have the capacity.

At the end of the day, what’s essential is making time for the small activities that bring you a sense of peace.

With all that being said, here are a few things that have helped me create a simple routine that feels nurturing:

1. Keep it minimal

I want to emphasize not trying to do a million things in the morning. You have to start small, or else you’re going to overwhelm yourself. Start with your basic needs, and then move on to add one thing that feels meaningful to you.

2. Let things be flexible

You don’t have to follow a specifically ordered plan in order to be consistent. It’s okay to switch up the order you do things depending on your needs each morning. Try writing down a ‘menu’ of items you can choose from if it helps reduce overwhelm in the morning.

3. Do what you want (and need)

Often we think that if we follow the exact order other people do their routines, we can be successful like them. Remember that you probably have different needs, different interests, and different responsibilities than others. Success doesn’t come from a specific routine but rather a dedication to pursuing what matters to you.

What do your routines look like right now?

About the Author
Picture of Catherine Beard
Hi, I'm Catherine! As the creator of The Blissful Mind, I love exploring ways to make life more fulfilling, especially when it comes to our daily routines, habits, and well-being.

15 Responses

  1. I try 30 minutes of exercise most mornings before a healthy breakfast. Lately, I have fallen short as I have had some other pressing issues. That being said, I’m trying to stick to this as much as possible. It’s a simple floor routine followed by a steel-cut oats breakfast. Simple but it keeps me centered.

  2. I needed that Thank you. I been pretty stressed out trying to keep up a daily prayer at 3am. Im going through a lot trying to save my Home and deal with my Health It’s very draining sometimes

  3. Your morning routine should be whatever you need it to be in the season you’re in and it will likely change over time. I used to get up and exercise right away but realized I’d rather save the exercise for after I’ve had a chance to gently wake up. So now I get up and quietly drink my coffee while either reading or journaling or sometimes both, then get out for a morning walk or do an Peloton ride after getting my kids off to school. Then I start working for the day. I absolutely love my quiet morning time. It’s my favorite part of the day!

  4. I have an older girlfriend tell me that you don’t have to do 30 minutes yoga in the morning but just 5 minutes is still great. By shortening out time for tasks in our routine we still feel just as good because it’s really the act for taking care of ourselves that really makes us feel good.
    In the morning I drink my green tea, take 10 deep breaths and 5 minutes of gratitude, 5 minutes of yoga and it makes me feel great!

  5. 7:30 alarm
    Thank God before I get out of bed, that I have been given yet another day.
    2 cups of coffee
    Pray for my 2 adult children, I have a picture of Mary holding the baby Jesus and a lamb between pictures of my 2 children when they were both 3 years old. I have a special prayer for them.
    I don’t do social media of any kind or the news. I tidy up my house and I walk my neighbors dog every weekday at 11:00. That’s my mornings at 64 1/2 years old. And yes, it is simple and easy and I deserve it. Early retirement at 62 years old was the best decision I’ve ever made for myself.

  6. This post is like food for my soul. (Or should I say breakfast!) Thank you for sharing your experience with letting go of busy mornings. Since slowing down in the mornings and allowing for a coffee ritual in which I can slowly feel into my body and greet the day, my life has changed. This new approach seems to allow my nervous system to gently reach out to the activities of the day, rather than being pushed to do so. It’s wonderful to see you embracing this “less is more” approach as well.

  7. “Success doesn’t come from a specific routine but rather a dedication to pursuing what matters to you.”

    This line sums everything up perfectly!

    Essentially redefining what success looks and feels like for you is what will help. It doesn’t have to look like what we see on social media, which we often forget is curated to look a certain way. But, that doesn’t mean it is actually effective or feasible.

    I’ve been stressed about morning routines lately because I’ve been choosing rest and sleeping through my alarms, but it makes me late to work and then I beat myself up over the choices I made that put me in the situation. I try to overhaul everything about myself and the morning, and I end up more overwhelmed and stressed than I began because I can’t maintain the overhaul.

    So, I resonate with all of this so deeply.

  8. Thanks for this. I am currently in a routine review and re-boot. As a person retired from a secular job but not from ministry, I know what kind of pressure is placed on people to do certain things first thing in the morning (prayer, devotions, planning etc.) but the reality is first thing in the morning, I am not that person, even more so now that I am retired. I have had to learn what my routine is and embrace it as it is. I have to be somewhat flexible but my basic start of the day is make the bed, let the dog out, feed the pets, be quiet for awhile, write in my morning pages, then we can deal with breakfast, or a walk, a shower and devotions, in no specific order. The most important thing for me is that quietness.

  9. Couldn’t agree more! Simple to me is a cup of coffee and get started slowly writing my books.

    Never really thought of this before I read your post! Now I will value my mornings even more!

    Keeping it simple creates a huge space of freedom for me. And I love quiet simple mornings :-)

  10. My routine
    wake up and drink water
    Praise God
    Make bed
    Dress for the day
    Eat a healthy breakfast: oatmeal is my go to
    .Pack my backpack
    Fix up my hair/face

  11. Thank you for those words! I relate. For ages, I tried to be “that girl” ending up more frustrated than ever because I could not cram everything in.

    Today, I’m more gentle with myself following my needs & desires rather than a strict and redundant morning routine. I feel better.

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