Roused from sleep the alarm buzzes softly. I yawn and debate to turn it off and roll back over. Sleep is calling to me but thoughts surface above the deep. It’s 4:30 a.m. and time to meet with Jesus. Coffee permeates up the stairs as I descend. Journal, Bible, and pen in hand as I grab a hot cup of coffee and settle on the couch. Then it’s the gym, breakfast, shower, and getting my family ready for the day too.
Getting a good start in the morning is the difference between having an okay day or a great day. The days when I choose to stay in bed seem to suck me into two vortexes: the vortex of busy and the vortex of feeling unanchored. Unfortunately, most of us choose to hit the snooze button instead of creating a cadence with God.
We were created to work in rhythm with the world around us through rest, work, and play. This includes how we start our days, what we put into our bodies, being nourished by God’s word, and how we move our bodies. Instead, we favor more sleep, so we hit the snooze button two more times, jump out of bed, gulp down some coffee, and rush out the door. Even if you don’t go to work, the rest of the day just seems…off.
Like most things in life, having a successful start to the day begins with good habits. In fact, Jesus teaches us in Mark 1:35 how to have an uplifting morning routine. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” That’s right; get up my friend. It’s time to follow his example:
- Jesus got up early.
- Jesus left the house.
- Jesus spent time alone with God.
- Jesus got exercise.
We can have a great morning. We can have a great day. We can have moments where we feel anchored, healthy, and whole no matter how crazy the world spins around us. How? Here are five anchors to cultivate a rich, uplifting morning routine.
1. Your Morning Actually Starts the Night Before
Many of us wake up feeling more tired than when we went to sleep. Why? We aren’t getting enough of it. The key is choosing to go to bed at a decent hour in order to get at least eight hours of sleep. Is there anything on the TV that’s really worth losing sleep over? Many of us still think staying up late is a treat. It’s time to flip this notion and think, extra sleep is a treat.
Create a bedtime routine. Shut down all devices at least an hour before bed. Set clothes out for the next day and prep what you can for breakfast. Go to bed early and read something inspirational, journal your thoughts or prayers before turning out the lights.
2. Wake Up in the Dark Hours
Choose to get up early. If you win the morning, you will win the day. It’s a choice that allows you to prepare mentally, emotionally, and physically for the day. There are so many benefits of rising early. It allows you to create a better diet, you have a chance to eat better meals instead of rushing out the door. It reduces the chance of skipping breakfast. It gives you more time to be in the gym which will leave you feeling energized for the day. If you can rise as soon as your alarm clock rings — if you can master St. Jose maria’s ‘heroic minute‘ — you’ve already won. Jesus did this often. He got up early to spend time with God and mentally prepare himself for the ministry and tasks ahead.
3. Jesus, a Pen, and a Journal
One of the reasons Jesus got up early was to be alone with God. If nothing else, choosing this step is vital. It is so worthwhile to seek first the Kingdom of God. God wants to meet with us. He has so many things he wants to share. He’s waiting to commune and communicate. He’s waiting to fill our souls before we race through the day.
Writing has the power to help you see the beauty of God’s fingerprints all over your life. It allows you to quiet your mind and write from the depths of your soul. Reflections surface on top of re-reading firsthand accounts of prayers and then penning how God answered them.
4. Move Your Body
When it comes to exercise, the best time of day to get in a workout session is one that you can do consistently. Everyone is different. The “right” time depends on factors like your preference, lifestyle, and body. Yet, research suggests exercise in the morning is uplifting and has a positive impact on the rest of your day. There are fewer distractions, the morning hours are cooler, it increases alertness, and enhances the circadian rhythm. Exercise sets the tone for a healthier day along with better focus, mood, energy, appetite control, decreased anxiety, better blood pressure, and better glucose control.
God created our bodies to move and when we honor how we were created, we reap the benefits mentally, emotionally, and physically. There are over two dozen references to caring for your body in the Bible. 1 Corinthians 10:31 reminds us, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”
- Go for a prayer walk.
- Jazzercise. Yes, it’s a thing nowadays, this isn’t your grandma’s jazzercise class. The classes are truly a dance party workout, blending Pilates, yoga, strength training, and kickboxing. One session can burn up to 800 calories. On top of that, your cup is filled with encouragement from fellow classmates.
- Find a spin class. An hour-long spin class can burn anywhere from 400-1000 calories depending on the intensity of the instructor and how you push yourself. It relies on a combination of fast-paced cycling and strategic lighter rest intervals to get you recovered for the next burst.
- Join a gym.
- Create a workout routine at home that you enjoy. There are workouts like Body Boss, X-tend Barre, and more.
- If the weather is nice, enjoy the outdoors. There’s nothing quite like watching the sunrise while on a morning run.
5. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
No matter what challenges your day brings, it’s easier to face the world when your spirits are high. Eating certain foods boosts your morning routine and the rest of the day. Dietary changes bring about changes in our brain structure, chemistry, and physiology, which lead to changes in behavior!
We are reminded in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies.” Our bodies are designed to be healthy and fit — to thrive. By honoring the cues of hunger and fullness, you are honoring God’s design for your body.
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Heather Riggleman is an author, national speaker, former award-winning journalist and podcast co-host of the Moms Together Podcast. She calls Nebraska home with her three kids and a husband of 21 years. She believes Jazzercise, Jesus, and tacos can fix anything and not necessarily in that order! She is author of I Call Him By Name Bible Study, the Bold Truths Prayer Journal, Mama Needs a Time Out, and Let’s Talk About Prayer and a contributor to several books. Her work has been featured on Proverbs 31 Ministries, MOPS, Today's Christian Woman, and Focus On the Family. You can find her at www.heatherriggleman.com or on Facebook.