Mindful Morning Routine for a Satisfying, Less Stressful & More Productive Day

Mindful morning routine

Hey, I'm Emilie!

A certified life coach, meditation instructor, and spiritual entrepreneur. I’m here to help you create a vibrant life around your higher purpose and heart’s desires. 

Your life is a series of days. To live a happy, fulfilling, and meaningful life, you must own your days — and that starts with your mornings.

As Robin Sharma says:

“Take excellent care of the front end of your day, and the rest of your day will pretty much take care of itself. Own your morning. Elevate your life.”

How can you “master the day”?

What morning rituals should you adopt to make the most out of your day and, by default, make the most out of your life?

Well, lately, I’ve been exploring and experimenting with Stoic principles, and it seems like these ancient philosophers understood the formula for living a good life. I’ve started implementing Stoic ideas into my morning routine and can say that it’s going well so far!

If you tend to get easily distracted, procrastinate, and perhaps even experience anxiety, I think it can tremendously help you with those issues, too.

Try it for yourself, and let me know what you think.

Here we go: a 9-step mindful morning routine based on Stoic principles.

Morning Routine Step #1: Wake Up at Dawn

“At dawn, when you awake, know that you are getting up to do the work of a human being.” —Marcus Aurelius

The Stoics believed in rising with the sun. Yeah, I know; it’s early for me too!

However, it seems to be a healthy thing to do. Research shows that “the wavelengths at sunrise and sunset have the biggest impact on brain centers that regulate our circadian clock and our mood and alertness.” (Source: Science Daily)

When your internal (circadian) clock is properly aligned with your natural environment, you sleep better and have more energy throughout the day.

If you can manage to wake up early enough to catch the sunrise, watching the sun come up is one of the most effective ways to properly set your circadian clock. 

Mindful Morning Routine

Morning Routine Step #2: Meditate

“Meditate often on the interconnectedness and mutual interdependence of all things in the universe.” —Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.38

I usually prefer to meditate in the afternoon after exercising.

However, the benefits of meditation are said to be greater when you meditate first thing in the morning. At that time in the day, your mind is much calmer, and your brain produces alpha waves, making it easier to enter a meditative state.

Meditating even just a few minutes in the morning isn’t a waste of time. On the contrary, it’ll help you have a more productive day because you’ll be more clear-minded, focused, and less reactive throughout the day.

As Chase Jarvis, a successful photographer and entrepreneur, points out:

“The science finally agrees with the thousands of years of practice: that meditation increases creativity, reduces stress, [and] adds clarity and focus and a lot of joy to the lives of many people the world over.”

If you’re new to meditation, you can take my free class to learn the easiest and most popular meditation technique.

Mindful Morning Routine

Morning Routine Step #3: Reflect on Your Mortality

A central idea of Stoicism is the awareness of death and impermanence. The Stoics constantly reflected upon their mortality, not to live in fear, but to ensure that they appreciated each moment and used their time wisely.

“This is the mark of perfection of character—to spend each day as if it were your last, without frenzy, laziness, or any pretending.” —Marcus Aurelius

Again, the goal of being aware of our mortality isn’t to depress us but to help us stay focused on what truly matters and not waste our time and energy on what doesn’t.

Here are three journaling prompts to help you apply this wise principle and live a regret-free life:

1) If your time on this planet, in this life, came to an end right now, what would you regret not having done, experienced, accomplished, and become?

2) If you knew you had only six months to live, how would you use the time you have left? Then add: What would you change about your life? What would you prioritize and focus on for the next six months?

3) Based on your answers to the previous questions, how can you make the most of the time you have today?

You could answer the first two questions once every few months and the third one daily to remind yourself of what’s truly important to you.

It’ll help you spend your precious time on the essential things in your life and reduce the chances of having regrets in the future.

Mindful morning routine

Morning Routine Step #4: Be Grateful

Like many spiritual and ancient traditions, the Stoics advocate a daily gratitude practice.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” – Marcus Aurelius

It could be as simple as writing a few things you appreciate in your life in a notebook or even just spending a few minutes thinking about these things.

Personally, I use The Five Minute Journal for my morning gratitude practice; otherwise, I tend to forget about it.

Having a morning gratitude practice trains the mind to notice more of the positive in life and reduces stress and other toxic emotions like envy and frustration.

When you cultivate an attitude of appreciation daily, you become a generally happier, more optimistic, and more agreeable person to be around. In my experience, this has been proven to be very true.

Mindful Morning Routine

Morning Routine Step #5: Practice Voluntary Discomfort

The Stoics also believed in the importance of training the mind to become more resilient by practicing voluntary discomfort.

“Now, there are two kinds of [Stoic] training: one which is appropriate for the soul alone, and the other which is common to both soul and body. We use the training common to both when we discipline ourselves to cold, heat, thirst, hunger, meager rations, hard beds, avoidance of pleasures, and patience under suffering. For by these things and others like them, the body is strengthened and becomes capable of enduring hardship, sturdy and ready for any task; the soul too is strengthened since it is trained for courage by patience under hardship and for self-control by abstinence from pleasures.” — Musonius Rufus, Lectures 6

I think that practicing intermittent fasting most days and doing a longer fast once in a while are great ways to apply this principle.

Plus, they are said to be some of the healthiest things we can do for our bodies! I try to fast between 8 pm and noon most days, and I do longer water fasts once every few months.

When you voluntarily refrain from having certain things you enjoy (ex: food), you develop self-discipline and self-control— two other essential qualities to live a good life, according to Stoics.

“Mastering one’s appetite for food and drink is the beginning of and basis for self-control.” —Musonius Rufus, Lectures 18A.1

Meditation will change your life

Morning Routine Step #6: Read a Nonfiction Book

The Stoics considered ongoing learning and education an essential aspect of living a good life.

“We should not trust the masses who say only the free can be educated, but rather the lovers of wisdom who say that only the educated are free.” —Epictetus, Discourses, 2.1.21–23a

I read for about an hour most mornings, usually personal development books.

Taking this time to relax and learn something useful in the morning before tackling work and other tasks helps me reduce feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.

I’m currently reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi, which goes hand in hand with the Stoic idea of “Memento Mori” – awareness of our mortality. It’s a great book; I highly recommend it!

Mindful Morning Routine

Morning Routine Step #7: Write Down Your Goals

The Stoics also stressed the importance of having goals: something to move toward, something that gives our actions a sense of purpose.

“Let all your efforts be directed to something; let it keep that end in view.” —Seneca, On Tranquility of Mind, 12.5

I like to set and write down my goals quarterly, then read them daily to remind myself of where I’m heading. Doing this helps me be less easily distracted by “shiny objects,” avoid procrastination, and be less likely to experience anxiety as a result.

If you, too, tend to lack focus, I highly recommend writing down your most important goals.

Mindful Morning Routine

Morning Routine Step #8: Prepare for the Day Ahead

Stoics anticipated challenges and prepared for them. Preparing involved being clear on their values and having strong moral principles to guide their conduct at all times.

They held firmly on their values even when the meanest person crossed their path. 

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: ‘The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.’” –Marcus Aurelius

Being clear on your values, what you stand for, and how you want to show up, and acting in alignment with your moral principles, will give you great peace of mind.

Every morning, decide how you want to show up, and do your best to meet your expectations.

Mindful Morning Routine

Morning Routine Step #9: Work on Your MIT First

Stoics also valued work (and work well done), and they refused to procrastinate.

“Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future.” – Seneca

One of the most helpful productivity strategies is to “eat the frog,” an idea shared by Brian Tracy and his book, Eat That Frog! Your frog is your MIT: your “most important task.”

It’s the one task that, if you get done, you’ll feel satisfied with your day. It’s the one task that can get you closer to your goal faster.

Try not to procrastinate on your MIT; get it done first before working on something else. 

What helps me is to define my MIT along with 2-3 secondary tasks the night before. This way, I know what I’m supposed to be working on the following morning and in what order.

Otherwise, half the day can easily end up going to the wasteland.

Mindful Morning Routine

Putting It All Together

What do you think about the Stoics’ way of starting and owning the day? Do you feel inspired to implement some, or perhaps all, practices mentioned in this article?

Let me know in the comments. Also, let me know if you already do some of them most days.

Stoicism has brought me clarity and peace of mind. It reminds me to focus on what I can control – the choices I make and my behavior and attitude – and let go of what I can’t control. It also helps me appreciate each moment and make sure to make it count.

If you’re new to Stoicism and would like to learn more about this ancient philosophy, a good starting point is Marcus Aurelius’ book, Meditations.

Thank you for reading till the end! Have a beautiful week. ♡



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