I’ll just come out and say it — I’m a perfectionist, and it has taken months for me to nail down a balanced morning routine. I find solace in knowing that as soon as I wake up, there’s a bed to be made, a skincare routine to be followed and a wholesome, healthy breakfast waiting to be prepared.
Of course, if you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression, you’ll want to consult with a licensed doctor of your choice (more on that from our experts later). Nevertheless, seeing those perfectly curated TikTok morning routines — dubbed as becoming “that girl” — can seemingly add to overwhelming feelings.
“You need to allow some flexibility within your morning routine,” Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW., a board-certified psychotherapist, told The Post. “The takeaway of a balanced morning routine is to provide time for yourself before you start your day — whether that’s moving your body, reminding yourself what you’re grateful for or nourishing your body with good food.”
What’s more, a 2018 study published in Neuropsychopharmacology Reports found “acute psychological distress” is higher in the morning rather than the evening, once cortisol levels and circadian rhythms were assessed.
But, as long as you craft your morning routine to what suits you best, you’ll kickstart your day on the right foot. “It doesn’t have to be black or white,” Sonnenberg added. “If you’re someone that typically hits the snooze button and then wants to wake up at 6 a.m., that’s going to be difficult.”
On a related note, repeating one constant ritual each day — even if it’s waking up at the same time each morning — will bring a sense of consistency and accomplishment within your first hour awake.
“Consistent things in your life can bring you fulfillment and that feeling of safety, even if we’re going through a pandemic or experiencing a job layoff,” Andrea Owen, a North Carolina-based life coach, author and speaker, told The Post. “It can be as simple as having your morning coffee every morning in your kitchen or going to your favorite cafe and ordering the tea you love.”
Another important note — you don’t have to strive to jam-pack your morning with a million and one to-dos. Your rendition of a balanced morning will likely look different from someone else’s.
Ahead, find nine tips to implement into your early morning rituals, along with products to help you achieve a structured morning you look forward to. And remember — this isn’t a rigid manual. Find the tips and products that work best for you to reset, recharge and get your day going.
Tip #1: Make Your Bed
Let’s start with the most obvious component of your morning routine — a good night’s rest. If you don’t have that, your morning won’t be off to such a great start.
According to a 2018 study published in the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy & Therapeutics, there’s a cause-and-effect model between sleep deprivation and changes in overall mood. That said, it’s important to get those seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night.
Along with rest, making your bed is the first, quick and easy step that’ll make you feel accomplished.
“I’m someone who has struggled with control and a long time ago, and I had a mentor tell me to always control the things you can,” Owen said. “My bed is made every single morning and it takes less than a minute. And I like looking in the bedroom and having it clean.”
Brooklinen Luxe Core Sheet Set, $157.50 (originally $175)
Ever since I switched to Brooklinen’s Luxe Core Sheet Set, I was awe-struck by how I went years without them. They’re super dreamy, come in all sizes from twin to California king and have a selection of cozy colors and patterns to choose from.
To start your morning off to a refreshing start, read our review of Brooklinen’s Luxe Core Sheet Set for a comprehensive overview of why we love them.
Drmtlgy Natural Lavender & Chamomile Linen Mist, $12.99 (originally $16.95)
Typically, spritzing a clean scent around your room is an evening to-do, but this linen mist, infused with lavender and chamomile, adds a rejuvenating aroma to your bedroom in the morning. Plus, the natural ingredients help to boost your overall mood and relinquish feelings of stress.
Bedsure White Duvet Cover, $29.99 (originally $32.99)
As a favorite in our guide to the best duvet comforters, Bedsure’s White Duvet Cover is a clean, affordable option for your cushion-y bed. Not to mention, white simply looks clean, so this simple bed covering will automatically make you feel refreshed.
Tip #2: Don’t Check Your Phone Right Away
In a 2014 study published within the Computers in Human Behavior journal, researchers found limiting time spent checking emails reduces daily stress and improves well-being. So, tapping the envelope app in the morning may not be the best instant scroll.
“There will be entire weekends when I don’t go on social media, leading me to take eight months off social media last year,” Owen said. “I didn’t want to go back on; I noticed the dopamine hit I used to experience and I decided to delete some apps altogether.”
Jall Wake-Up Light & Sunrise Alarm Clock, $46.98 (originally $59.99)
For some, it’s unimaginable to not keep their phones by their bedside table. After all, it’s how the vast majority set their alarms.
But the Jall Wake-Up Light gradually becomes lighter (so you arise naturally) and has a built-in alarm clock. It’s the perfect way to start your morning without cluttered notifications and a scroll through social media.
iDiskk Smart Phone Auto Timer Lock Box, $36.99
Akin to the cell phone prisons from our elementary school days, the iDiskk Smart Phone Auto Timer Lock Box is a practical solution if you just can’t get off your phone. And it’ll fit both iPhone and Android devices.
BookFactory Dream Journal, $9.99
Instead of keeping your phone by your bed, placing this dream journal at arm’s reach is a nice alternative to that inevitable morning scroll. It’s also an interesting and whimsical way to keep track of your dreams to look back on.
Tip #3: Drink Plenty of Water
According to Harvard Health, the vast majority of people should drink four to six cups of water daily, as it helps carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells, aids in digestion and stabilizes your heartbeat, among other benefits.
“I always wake up thirsty and I notice, even if I drink enough water throughout the day, my eyes still tend to be puffy and my skin tends to be dry,” Owen said. “I always drink water before coffee, too.”
HydroJug 64 oz. Half-Gallon Water Bottle with Handle, $24.99
The HydroJug Half-Gallon Water Bottle is one of the most-shopped items on Amazon (and much loved by influencer Kenzie Elizabeth). It’s a sustainable, goal-driven way to hit your daily water intake, too.
Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier (16-Count), $24.99
Adored by many in our Influencer Picks series, the Liquid I.V. Hydration Multiplier is an efficient way to boost your water intake. Plus, it’s a nifty toss-in to your purse when you’re on the go.
Hydro Flask 32 oz. Wide Mouth Water Bottle, $44.95
The Hydro Flask was the infamous ringleader for the reusable water bottle wave, and for a good reason. It’s double-wall insulated, made from durable stainless steel and is BPA-free — perks aside from aiding you to drink more water in the morning.
Tip #4: Get Some Exercise In
In a 2019 study published in the nationally acclaimed research journal Cell Metabolism, researchers found “morning exercise appears to increase the ability of muscle cells to metabolize sugar and fat,” which, in turn, helps to increase your overall metabolism.
“I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to work out but I like checking it off,” Owen said. “I see a big difference in my mental health when I workout versus when I don’t. Exercise makes a huge difference in how I feel emotionally, too.”
JFIT Dumbbell Hand Weight Set, $50.50 (originally $59.95)
As one of our top picks in our guide to the best dumbbells, JFIT’s Dumbbell Hand Weight Set is a quality option that includes sets of three, five and eight-pound weights. The neoprene coating is a nice touch, too, for a firmer grab that won’t be too abrasive.
B Yoga Everyday Yoga Mat, $84
Nothing compares to a reliable, well-sized yoga mat, and this one from B Yoga comes in an array of fun colors. It’s essential for morning pilates, yoga flows and even HIIT workouts for a flat and comfortable surface.
Not to mention, this mat made the cut in our guide to the best yoga mats.
lululemon Power Thru High-Rise Crop 23″, $118-$128
The Power Thru High-Rise Crop leggings from lululemon has a flattering fit, come in an assortment of beautiful colors and are a reach-for pair for any activity. For other lululemon leggings, joggers and pants, check out our roundup here.
Bala Weighted Bangle Set, $49
As another product adored by many content creators in our Influencer Picks series, the Bala Weighted Bangle Set is wonderful for multi-taskers. Simply attach them to your ankles while you’re cooking, cleaning or working throughout the house for an extra tone.
Tip #5: Take A Refreshing Shower
Yes, there’s a study that exists on showering in the morning. A 2016 study published in Plos One found cool morning showers can boost productivity throughout the day — even a quick rinse.
“I prefer to shower in the morning, even if it’s just to rinse off on mornings when I don’t work out,” Owen said. “I feel more awake.”
Herbal Essences Sulfate-Free Potent Aloe + Hemp Shampoo & Conditioner, $18.08
I’ve been using Herbal Essences’ Sulfate-Free Potent Aloe + Hemp Shampoo & Conditioner for weeks now, and my hair has never felt smoother. It’s an affordable duo that revitalizes your hair in the morning and is infused with sweet-smelling aloe and cooling hemp botanicals.
What’s more, it’s one of our favorite curly hair products, though it’s a versatile line for all hair types.
Dyson Airwrap Styler, $549
If you want to get ready and go in a pinch, the Dyson Airwrap Styler is one of Sephora’s bestsellers, an investment and a game-changer for drying and volumizing your hair. Once you commit, you’ll never go back.
Gisou Honey-Infused Hair Oil, $87
Two of our Influencer Picks creators are obsessed with the Gisou Honey-Infused Hair Oil because it’s ultra-hydrating, smells divine and will last for a good while.
To treat yourself — specifically, your hair — in the morning, apply a pea-sized amount to your locks, ears to ends.
Truly Coco Cloud Luxury Shave Butter, $20
Made famous by TikTok, Truly’s wonderous tubs and potions of heavenly smells and creamy lotions are one of a kind. Truly.
I’ve been using the Coco Cloud Luxury Shave Butter for weeks and my legs have never felt smoother. If you shave in the morning, you’ll be feeling buttery soft all day long.
Tip #6: Eat a Healthy Breakfast
You’ve heard it before — breakfast is the healthiest meal of the day. And it truly is. According to a 2017 study published in Oxford Academic, researchers found, after assessing 50,000 people over seven years, that people who prioritized breakfast as a hearty, healthy meal were more likely to have a lower body mass index (BMI) than those who ate a larger meal for lunch or dinner.
“I have to have protein in the morning or I’ll crash later,” Owen said. “I always make overnight oats with lots of peanut butter or eggs, chicken sausage and hashbrowns.”
Smeg 4-Slice Toaster, $229.95
Doesn’t this Smeg 4-Slice Toaster just make you want to whip up some Instagram-worthy avocado toast topped with Everything Bagel Seasoning? Me too.
Perfect for apartments, this retro-looking toaster will soon become a morning essential in your routine. And it’s durable, coming in multiple color options to match your space.
La Colombe Draft Latte Cold-Pressed Espresso Variety 12-Pack, $30.99
Influencer Brooke Miccio adores her La Colombe iced coffee and makes whipped creations nearly every morning. Shop the 12-pack to add a cold treat to your early routine, all while switching up the mocha, vanilla and triple shot flavors.
For a natural and sweet taste, I’ve been loving Nutpods’ creamers for my morning coffee. Specifically, its original and hazelnut are my two favorites.
Vitamix 5200 Blender, $416 (originally $549.99)
As one of Amazon Prime Day’s bestsellers, the Vitamix 5200 Blender is worth the splurge. I’ve been making everything from smoothies to hummus for weeks with this model. The best part — it’s self-cleaning, so you never have to start your morning tirelessly scrubbing with a sponge or soap pad.
Our Place Always Pan, $145
Everyone and their mother has seen the Our Place Always Pan in Instagram ads and YouTube sponsorships, and it’s just beautiful. The do-it-all multi-tasker will replace eight traditional pieces of cookware, too, including a frying pan, steamer and spoon rest.
Not to mention, it comes in a beautiful terracotta color — along with eight others — to display on your stovetop. It’s the quintessential pan for making scrambled egg hashes and veggie omelets, too.
Tip #7: Solidify A Skincare Routine
If there’s anything we’ve learned from the pandemic, it’s that skincare is everything.
CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser, $13.56
I’ve used CeraVe’s Hydrating Facial Cleanser for nearly a decade and it’s worked wonders on my sensitive and dry skin. As a dermatologist-recommended product, it has never produced any irritation to my face, either.
This cleanser is great to wake yourself up in the mornings. I use mine each morning and evening before bed.
Alpyn Beauty Wild Nettle & Niacinamide Firming Serum, $58
Alpyn Beauty’s Wild Nettle & Niacinamide Firming Serum is a wonderful treatment to apply after cleansing your face (read here for our dermatologist-backed FAQ on all things skincare). The squeeze-and-release applicator makes me feel like a million bucks — and makes my skin feel light and airy.
For more of a splurge, check out our guide to the best products from SkinCeuticals.
First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration, $36
Along with my CeraVe cleanser, First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream Intense Hydration is the second half of the duo that makes my skin fully rejuvenated. It’s as soft as marshmallows on your skin and is great for eczema-prone skin, too.
Supergoop! Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 PA+++, $34
You’ve probably heard it before — it’s important to use sunscreen every day. I use a generic brand, but this one from Supergoop! is all the rage. It’s great to apply after your moisturizer in the morning (especially on your way to Starbucks for coffee).
Tip #8: Journal & Make a To-Do List
Sometimes, you just have to write it down.
In a heavily cited study published in The Arts in Psychotherapy, people who spent 15 minutes journaling found a reduction in feelings of anxiety, depression and overall distress.
“I only journal when I feel like I have to. I don’t do it as often now — only when I’m feeling a lot of anxiety and need to write out my feelings,” Owen said.
The Five-Minute Journal, $24.95
The Five-Minute Journal is truly life-giving. It’s worth every penny, too, and I have loved filling mine out.
Inside, you’ll find sections on morning journaling what you’re grateful for, what would make today great and daily affirmations. In the evening time, there are prompts on ‘amazing things that happened today…’ and ‘how could I have made today better?’
Plus, the pages are un-dated, so if you skip a day, there’s no stress. It’s one of content creator Michelle Reed’s favorite products that bring her joy, too.
Moleskin Cahir Journal (Set of 3), $15.13 (originally $19.88)
When I was in college and needed a new journal, Moleskin was always the brand I picked up at Barnes & Noble. It’s a minimal, lined and quality journal perfect for writing down morning mantras, goals and daily feelings.
Hadigu To-Do List Notepad, $9.99
If you shop anything from this roundup, it’s this to-do list. Doesn’t it just sound nice to keep track of your tasks — from work to general errands — in a simplistic way? Plus, you can flip it up to jump ahead to future days.
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert, $16.04
Big Magic is, undoubtedly, one of my favorite books. For a productive, optimistic and balanced morning, it’s a great idea to read a chapter in the early hours (while journaling, too) to keep that creative spark growing and alive.
Tip #9: Wear a Fresh Outfit
Nothing beats a fresh and clean outfit when getting dressed in the morning.
Ahead, find basics and cozy essentials to shop, before they sell out.
Cozy Earth Women’s Ultra-Soft Bamboo Jogger Shorts, $56 (originally $70)
Cozy outfits have been a must-have staple in practically everyone’s wardrobe, but hear me out. Cozy Earth’s Ultra-Soft Bamboo Jogger Shorts are exactly how they sound and I almost live in them.
If you want a put-together outfit, match the shorts with the brand’s Rib-Knit Bamboo V-Neck Lounge Tank that’s currently on sale. It’s the two-piece ensemble I can’t seem to keep in my dresser drawer.
Madewell Northside Vintage White Chalk Tee, $16
Nothing screams fresh, clean and ready for the day than a classic white T-shirt. This quality one from Madewell is less than $20 and can be dressed up or down, depending on what’s on your daily agenda.
Lulus Daze Denim Moneymaker Light Blue Distressed High-Rise Skinny Jeans, $79
It’s 2021, and everyone’s starting to have mixed opinions about jeans. First off, while they may not be your everyday closet grab, a stylish pair can complete any outfit — day or night.
My favorite places to pick up jeans are Lulus, Abercrombie and Levi’s, with Lulus’ Daze Denim being a fan favorite. They would look great paired with the Madewell T-shirt, too.
- Beth Sonnenberg, LCSW.: A board-certified psychotherapist, licensed in New Jersey and New York, with 20 years of clinical experience. She runs her private practice and guides clients who feel “overwhelmed or just plain stuck.”
- Andrea Owen: A certified life coach, author and speaker with 14 years of experience, based in North Carolina. She’s also the host of the “Make Some Noise” podcast, which touches on topics like perfectionism, control and people-pleasing.
- Libby Rhee, MD: A board-certified dermatologist and founder of Liora Dermatology & Aesthetics in Manhattan. She specializes equally in cosmetic and medical dermatology, natural rejuvenation and preventative aging. She’s also a clinical instructor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
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