How To: Whip Up A Genuinely Decent Morning Self-Care Routine

This post is sponsored by Traditional Medicinals. Three and a half years ago I decided to become a full-time freelancer. One of the biggest mis-conceptions about being a full-time work-from-home blogger is that it's all sunshine and sleeping in until 11, skipping through town with the insta-husband taking photos of you eating spaghetti al fresco. Well, straight off I can proudly tell you I personally haven’t yet let any human take a photo of me eating spaghetti (noodle slurps are not cute). Anyway, my point is that blogging is like any freelance work: it’s about 80% business and 20% creative.

When I first started freelancing I thought the biggest perk of the job was self-managing my time. As a chronically late person (I’m 5 minutes behind everyone else’s internal clock apparently) not having to be anywhere at a certain time was SO relieving. Not having a manager felt like Christmas every day!

However, I quickly learned the down side to self-managing my time. Specifically: I’m not naturally very good at it. I didn’t come into this world with a sense of time-as-an-important-thing so the learning curve there has been big. And freelancing is ultimately ALL about self-management. Yes you can take a nap in the middle of the day, or spontaneously take a Monday afternoon to thrift for photography props, but that probably also means you’ll be working on the weekends or stress-sweating at 4am about that invoice you never sent. But I gotta tell you, the learning curve on my time-management skills has been one of my greatest teachers. Developing some maturity in this area has made me a better person, even if I forget my own rules some days. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: my morning routine is my everything, and the key to my functional (read: happy) freelance life.

For me the perfect morning routine is flexible, feels spacious, meets all of my hygiene / nutrition / organization needs and includes time for both reflection and movement. Self care is a big priority for me in the mornings. That means taking care of my skin, eating a nourishing breakfast, getting hydrated and being nice to my brain and body. My morning vibe makes or breaks the rest of my work day, so I take it seriously. If my morning has a good flow my day usually ends up productive and fulfilling. If I’m rushed and distracted the day will end up feeling scattered and empty.

Here’s a slice of what my loose routine generally looks like:

  • 7am Wake up. Cuddle with the husband (he gets up earlier than me and usually ends up waking me up with funny little songs he’s made up / trying to get me to tickle fight whilst half-asleep).
  • 7:30am Get out of bed. Spray my face with Organic Rose Water (it reduces inflammation) then put on facial oil (currently: pure jojoba) and brush teeth.
  • 7:45 am Either sip a hot cup of Organic Tulsi Tea with Ginger with fresh muddled ginger root OR simply sip warm water with lemon. Then I drink a large mason jar of water with a few drops of Trace Minerals.
  • 8:00am Make breakfast. This is a MUST. I never skip. I usually eat half of a gluten free millet & flax bagel smeared with ghee and topped with a pile of smashed avocado and a sunny-side-up free-range local egg. Sometimes I'll also add radish sprouts or dulse seaweed flakes. That's been my go-to legit for years. When I don't do avo toast I'll drink a smoothie (this one) or have a bowl of sprouted oatmeal with nut/seed butter stirred in -- topped with fanciful fixin's like cacao nibs, coconut flakes, raspberries or sugar free jam.
  • 8:15ish am Sometimes I'll photograph breakfast if I'm feeling cheeky.
  • 8:30 am Logan makes coffee and we sip it over breakfast. Sometimes I’ll make my life-changing adaptogenic latte (which is kind of like amped up bulletproof coffee). I’m partial to subbing the coffee out in that recipe for hot steeped Organic Roasted Dandelion Root Tea for mornings I need less kick.
  • 8:45am Talk over breakfast with Logan about dreams and the day ahead.
  • 9:00am Shower as necessary. Also having an elimination in the morning is absolutely essential. All of my morning drinks are ultimately about helping this process along naturally.
  • 9ish am Journal. I write three pages of “brain dump” quickly, without looking back. There I’ll list everything I am thinking about and processing: memories, dreams, to-do lists, anxieties, fantasies, etc. It really gets me into a more clear-headed state. I follow the morning pages method designed by Julia Cameron. Highly recommend her book.
  • 9:15ish am Yoga stretch. I like to do at least 20 minutes, but that often turns into an hour.
  • 9:30ish am Meditation. Honestly I don’t do this every day. I’m pretty on-again-off-again with meditation. It’s always beneficial to my flow when I practice regularly.
  • 10ish am Make a list-style outline for the day. Check over my editorial calendar (both digital and hard-copy). Go over what I accomplished the previous day, and take note of unfinished projects (the list is truly infinite).
  • 10:15ish am Respond to DM’s and emails.
  • 11ish am Take some photos for Instagram + update Instagram stories.
  • I usually drink an infusion of Organic Chamomile with Lavender Tea throughout the day to stay hydrated. I'm also a big fan of sipping Traditional Medicinals Nighty Night tea all day, which might sound odd since its a "sleepy" tea. It's composed of passion flower, chamomile, linden flower, catnip, hops, spearmint, lemon verbena, lemon peel and lemongrass. For my constitution it acts as a soothing nervine (aka good for keeping me in relax / restore mode all day long) and it doesn't make me sleepy unless I sip it before bed. I'm also partial to the occasional La Croix / Kombucha fix. Fancy drinks just make life better.

A Journaling Exercise for Developing Your Own Morning Self-Care Routine (Even If You’re Legit Crazy Busy)

  • Step one: In your journal list out all of the most basic things you need in order to function in the morning (e.g. shower, brush teeth, eat breakfast). Great! Now you have a “survival” list. Let nothing get in the way of this!
  • Step two: Now write down what your mornings currently look like. A quick list will suffice (e.g. I roll out of bed, drink water, check my phone, eat 20 pizza bagel bites then head out the door, etc.)
  • Step three: List out what your perfect average morning would look like. Not the most perfect morning you could ever have. We're not talking chocolate croissants with Beyonce here. Think of what a normal but ideal every-day type of morning would look like. Take some time to think about it. Would it include a romantic partner? What kind of living space do you occupy? What is the landscape around you? What are you wearing? What do you eat? So for example, you might say "I would wake up at 6am to go surfing, then shower, then cuddle with my dog, read a chapter from a new book over coffee, drink a smoothie, then work on my great American novel, etc." Include as many details as possible.
  • Step four: Circle the things in your “perfect average morning” list that give you the most joy to think about. This is how we prioritize the things you are going to work towards first.
  • Step five: Compare how close your “perfect average morning” list is to your current life. Are you already making choices for your morning routine that align with your "perfect average" morning? Or does your perfect average morning feel impossibly far away? Write down a few ideas for how you can get your "survival" list and “perfect average” list to meet in the middle. Don’t despair my friends, you got this! Do you need more time in the morning? How can you protect your time better? Do you need to wake up earlier, or prep your breakfast the night before? Do you need to ask a friend or partner to help take some stress off of your morning so you can enjoy it more?
  • Step six: Start by making one or two changes to your routine that are in alignment with your ideal. No need to rush in to massive overhaul mode. Start small and celebrate you're achievements as you go!
  • Step seven: Pin up your perfect average list either on your bathroom mirror or on a board near where you work, somewhere you’ll see it all the time. This is how we sneakily train the subconscious to make decisions in alignment with our goals! Feels good to be so smart, eh?
  • Step eight (a bonus step!): Find an accountability partner. Tell a friend who you trust about your goals. You're far more likely to keep up with this routine manifesting thing if you share it with someone out loud. Hey, maybe you can even do this journal practice together and keep each other on track!

What do you think, my fellow creatives and self-employed boss babes? How does your morning routine impact your day? What's the hardest part about your morning? What's the one thing you wish you could change? And what does your perfect average morning look like? Leave a note in the comments! xoxo -- Renee

This post is sponsored by Traditional Medicinals! Thank you for supporting the brands that support this site. Also: I really do drink their teas all day long and I would tell you that even if this post wasn’t sponsored. They’re intelligently formulated by herbalists and mostly very simple. Simple is just better!