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My productive and mindful 5am morning routine - how to create your own for 2021

Do not underestimate the power of a morning routine. It can change your life.

I've not always been a morning person. I certainly wasn't as a student. The only time I saw 5am would be on return from a long night out where my heels would be thrown across my bedroom before crawling into bed to sleep the morning away. Even if I went to bed at a more reasonable hour, I did not see the point of getting up before 9am if I didn't have to. Later in life, when I was working as a waitress to save for my master's degree, I begun to despise mornings. The breakfast shift meant I had to catch a bus at the ghastly time of 6.50am. I distinctly remember getting up as late as I possibly could, just in enough time to throw on my uniform and grab some breakfast to go before sleepwalking/running to the bus. This was not the most nourishing morning routine.

My definition of 'early' changed after I started my current role as 'Capercaillie Advisory Officer' for the RSPB. Monitoring capercaillie involves counting males when they are lekking in the spring (read about how we do this here). The catch here is that these birds start lekking pre-dawn. So 4am. My first lek season was certainly a shock to the system. My body had no idea what was going on. I have never felt exhaustion like it. As I was rising so early, I would often be finished most of my work for the day by 9am. I marvelled at how much I was able to achieve before most people had even gotten out of bed. This planted the seed as I was curious to see what else I could do with my mornings...

Lucky to see many a forest sunrise

For the past couple of years, I have gradually awoken earlier and earlier. I came across the idea of the '5am club' last year. The concept is that getting up at this hour meant that you would get a head start. I didn't want to get up early just for the sake of it. If I was going to make this effort, I wanted to get the most I possibly could out of my mornings. Hence, creating a strong morning routine.

Its taken some practise to nail this routine. I've done my research and learnt how others use their mornings and taken elements that would suit me. It was important that I create a routine that was productive, and perhaps even challenging, but also nourishing to my mind and body. I have revamped my routine ready for 2021 with every minute accounted for, as the following schedule demonstrates:

5.15 - Awaken - I jump out of bed as quickly as I can. Before given myself an opportunity to think about it. This has been massively helped by setting my alarm across the room and NEVER hitting snooze. That will be your downfall.

5.20 - Take my supplements - I take vitamin B12 every day and vitamin D now its winter.

5.25 - Feed my cat - he wouldn't let me do anything else...

5.30 - On my my mat ready for a workout. This tends to be Pilates, often following my favourite app 'Boho Beautiful', or a more cardio based workout if I'm feeling energetic. I generally workout between 20-40mins, but even a 10min workout is worthwhile and what I fall-back on if I'm really busy. I also do more gentle yoga to stretch my muscles most evenings.

6.10 - Meditate for 5-15mins. This is new for 2021 as it is something I want to incorporate into my life more.

6.25 - Shower and skincare routine - I keep my skincare fairly minimal, with just a couple of Body Shop products, but its something I really enjoy in my mornings. I also layout my clothes the night before so I don't have to make this decision in the morning.

Some of my favourite skincare products

6.45 - Make breakfast and warm water with lemon. Breakfast has been overnight oats for the past year. I soak these oats with chia seeds the night before, heat in the morning and add some fruit and superfoods (linseed, hemp seeds and cacao nibs). I've not got sick of it yet!

6.55 - Eat breakfast and write 1 page in my journal - again, this journaling is relatively new and another way for me to get some peace before starting my day.

7.15 - Work on my blog. This can be writing/editing posts, brainstorming ideas or planning social media posts. Its only a short timeframe but this makes such a difference. I spend more time on this at weekends and in late afternoon/early evenings.

7.45 - Wash breakfast dishes and ensure my work place is clean and tidy. I found this is essential for focus now I work from home.

7.55 - Make a pot of tea and a jug of water with lemon as my morning refreshments.

8.00 - Start work. Still one hour early so I can get my head start.

That's it. Phew. I know this may read a little intense. But I really love it. This routine may not be right for you. Not everyone can, or wants to, get up this early in the morning. Everyone's life is different but don't let that put you off making your own routine. My top 3 tips for creating your own custom mornings include -

1. Identify your priorities

What's important to you? What would you like to do more of if you had the time? It could be anything, from fitness to reading your favourite book, as long as it benefits your life. Start your day putting yourself first.

2. Reman flexible

I know, I haven't come across entirely flexible here! But in reality, this routine can change and it often does. Some mornings, I may need to get out the door earlier if I'm doing fieldwork. On others, I may have to shorten my workout if my body tells me to, or spend more time meditating. Some mornings I will rise slightly later if I have been unable to go to bed at the time I would like. The important thing to remember is that this is ok. This doesn't mean I have failed and I should just give up. Accepting this will make it far more likely that your routine will stick as it moves with your life.

3. Trail and error

This routine has taken me over a year to perfect. It still might change yet as life has a tendency to shift and my priorities may need to be tweaked. Get inspiration from others, but keep tweaking this routine until it fits. Remember, this should be enjoyable. If its not, change it up!

My morning means that I spend the first few hours of my day on myself. It has improved my physical and mental strength, my sense of peace and allowed me the opportunity to consistently work on my passion projects. I can honestly say that this is one of the best decisions I have made.

I'm excited to read about your routines so please leave a comment or join me over in Instagram or Facebook. Lets start our own 5am club...


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