Not a morning person? 10 morning routine ideas that'll make early starts enjoyable

Research has found that structured morning routines can boost both mental and physical health.

woman stretching in bed thinking about morning routine ideas
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Morning routine ideas can feel overwhelming if you're not someone who loves mornings. The thought of getting up and doing things before getting to work will feel inconceivable if even getting out of bed proves challenging.

That said, various research has found that sticking to a set morning routine - whether that's as simple as showering, brushing your teeth, and feeding your cat before heading out, or going the whole shebang and working out, doing some chores, then getting on your way - can boost both physical and mental health.

Do note here - it's important to work out a routine that works for you. While the Tiktokers might tell you that rising at 5am and packing in 101 things before your day job works for them, figuring out a routine that works with your schedule is key or you'll find it difficult to keep up. 

With that in mind, we've spoken to personal trainer and founder of SEFI, Stef Williams, to pick her brains on how she starts her days. She's a self-confessed fan of a morning routine and here, she shares her top tips for creating your own.

Don't miss our guides to workout recovery, fitness tips, and how to stay healthy on a budget, while you're here, and do read up on the many meditation benefits and perks of breathwork training, too.

Morning routine ideas: your guide to shaping a start that works for you

What is a morning routine?

Good question. According to Williams, a morning routine constitutes a set order of events that you do every morning to start your day. Humans are largely creatures of habit, and research has shown that a set morning routine can do everything from boosting your mental health to increasing your productivity levels.

"It's about setting yourself up for the day so you can be clear and organised, and should include taking small steps that make you feel good," she shares. "Personally, I think it’s important to have a moment of still - the calm before the storm - without your phone and to yourself before the day properly begins."

A routine can be important for a number of reasons - as Williams says, to take a moment for yourself before a busy working day, to have some productive time outside of working hours, or even just as a way of building healthy habits.

"It helps you build discipline which you can then apply to all aspects of your life," she goes on. The logic is that even if you can stick to a morning routine - even if it is super dark and cold and horrible outside and you’re really not feeling it - then you’ll be able to conquer anything.

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Williams' morning routine consists of warm lemon water, a face wash and cleanse, and then writing a to-do list and some positive mantras in her gratitude journal. She always makes time for some movement, too, whether that's a strength training session or a walk.

Keen to work out a morning routine that works for you? Keep scrolling for Williams' top morning routine ideas for building your own.

10 simple morning routine ideas to try

Use the following as prompts and remember, not all will work for you. Just be flexible in working out what does.

1. Hydrate with water

We all know drinking water is important - staying hydrated is great for your skin, hair and general wellbeing.

Having a glass of water on your bedside table will act as a visual prompt to remind you to drink. Research has shown that drinking water first thing will aid both your digestion and metabolism.

2. Make a hot drink

Next up, making a hot drink can be an easy way to take time for yourself and have a
peaceful moment before a busy day. A hot drink could be coffee, tea, hot lemon water, or herbal tea.

Never feel like you have time? Set your alarm five minutes earlier than usual, and pop your mug on the side the night before with your tea bag or coffee granules ready to go.

3. Introduce a phone free zone

Charging your phone on the other side of the room or even in the hallway can be a good addition to your morning routine. Stats show that 80% of us check our phones within fifteen minutes of waking up, and charging it out of arms reach means you're less likely to immediately pick it up and start mindlessly scrolling.

Research has shown that not only can mobile phone use can trigger mental health issues like depression, but also trigger your "fight or flight" stress response, putting you in a state of tension for the rest of the day.

4. Give yourself enough time

It goes without saying that you'll only be able to enjoy a morning routine if you give yourself enough time.

Struggle to get up or carve out the time? Going to bed earlier the night before and investing in handy gadgets, like a sunrise alarm clock, could help.

5. Write a gratitude list

The act of putting pen to paper can be cathartic, and also act as a reminder of the many things you have to be happy about.

Stuck for what to write? Try the following prompts:

  • What are you grateful for today? 
  • What are you looking forward too? 
  • What makes you feel happy?
  • What makes you feel good about yourself? 

6. Write a to-do list

Next up: jotting down your to-do's for the day can help clear your mind and ease any anxieties you have.

Top tip: order them from small ticks to big projects. That way, you'll make sure to start your day productively by getting a few quick ticks crossed off.

7. Try some movement

While morning movement might not sound the most appealing, trust that it'll boost your mood tenfold and help your energy levels throughout the day. Even ten minutes can be beneficial. 

Check out our guides to Joe Wicks workouts, home arm workouts, and full body home workouts if you're looking for a quick session to stream from home. 

8. Have a nice bath or shower

Did you know? When you take a bath or shower, your brain produces dopamine, otherwise known as your rewards hormone. You'll not only feel ready for the day ahead, but motivated to be productive, too. 

9. Meditate

As above, taking some time for yourself in your morning routine is key for starting your day feeling your best self.

Our guides to meditation and breathwork training might come in handy here. 

10. Eat a breakfast you enjoy

One of the main first things you skip when you're in a rush is breakfast - but actually, nutritionists have proven time and time again that making the time for breakfast is key to sustained energy levels over the course of the day. 

Aim for a balance of protein, fats and carbs - think eggs, avocado, and toast, or a smoothie with nut butter, chia seeds, and blueberries.

Our guide to some of the best self care ideas might help, too - remember, you can build your morning routine around whatever works for you. 


♬ Queen Serena - ❦

I find the idea of a morning routine challenging

Williams' advice? Don’t be too strict or unrealistic. "Start by adding one thing at a time and seeing if you can stick to that for a few weeks," she shares. "Once you have ingrained that new habit, add the next one. Implement changes that you actually enjoy as then you’ll be more likely to stick it out."

Listen to your body, too - sometimes your morning routine will consist of staying in bed because your body needs rest and relaxation, she shares.

"We’re all so different - some people really are not morning people but as structure is so important, maybe those people would work better with an evening routine that helps them unwind and get themselves sorted ahead of the next day," she goes on.

Any positive change should be seen as a way of life rather than a short-term fix. Consistency is key, and as long as setbacks don't hold you back completely, it's never too late to reset and start again.

Ally Head
Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, eight-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She regularly hosts panels and presents for things like the MC Sustainability Awards, has an Optimum Nutrition qualification, and saw nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw, with health page views up 98% year on year, too. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.