Susceptible to Burnout? You Might Need a Morning Routine.

Note: This is part 1 out of 5 of the Morning Routine Series. Take what serves/resonates with you. Leave behind the rest.

The alarm goes off. Snooze. Get up. Rush out the door. Arrive to work/school and try to focus throughout the day.

Sound familiar? (If so, are you sick of it yet?)

That was me - often in a rush, trying to catch some sleep on the bus, completing assignments and attending meetings with half-assed attention. Shit focus meant I worked longer hours, which made me more tired. This lifestyle, intersecting with a few other factors, led to severe burnout.

One of the first things I changed for recovery? Morning routines.

Some of the most successful people in the world practice morning routines. And we read about them but we don’t really do them. Why?

Often, they are described like... an extra vitamin. For self-optimization. For going from mediocre or okay to ideal. And reality is, most of us are comfortable enough to live in mediocrity. But when burnout is on the line, it's a different story. So if you’re a student, an entrepreneur, a professional working in health services, or if burnout affects your industry (which it probably does) - read on.

The Benefits Of A Morning Routine

  • To separate work from rest: Do you find yourself thinking about work when it’s time to go to sleep? Or checking emails when you’re out with friends? Stop. It’s time to set those boundaries.
  • To enjoy me-time: We’re bombarded by other peoples’ demands, expectations, and messages every day. Take some time for just you.
  • To build structure & routine: Have you felt like you’re floating? Lost? Chaotic? Structure can help with that.
  • To energize yourself for productivity: There’s no point in trying to work when you don’t have the energy to focus. Energize first. Then focus and work.

As a recovering workaholic who went from intense academia + student leadership to entrepreneurship, I’ve been quite susceptible to burnout. So admittedly, these four reasons have been my reasons for practicing a morning routine, and I thought this might be relevant to you.

Morning routines vary from person to person. Some people might make their bed and meditate while others might check the news and call up a loved one. For individuals who are especially prone to the exhaustion aspect of burnout, I recommend building a routine that energizes you. Rejuvenate yourself before you start the day, every day.

How To Build Your Morning Routine

Energy can be categorized in a variety of ways. For this context of daily self-rejuvenation, I like to categorize it into four parts: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.

Physical energy is pretty straight-forward. What about the rest? Mental energy is your ability to focus. Emotional energy is the mixed bag of emotions (or single emotion) that you feel at each moment. My look at spiritual energy is the sense of belongingness to self, to community, and to the rest of the world/Universe/God/Creator (whichever you prefer) - in other words, a sense of hope, faith, and belonging.

In your routine, incorporate one activity that helps you rejuvenate/optimize each type of energy. Below are some examples,

  • Physical - yoga, stretching, walking the dog, a workout
  • Mental - meditation, planning out the day
  • Emotional -  journaling, calling up a friend, dancing, affirmations
  • Spiritual - gratitude, prayer, nature walk

QUESTION: Which activities will help you rejuvenate and maintain energy on the daily? Pick four or five. Yes, right now.

Cool, now there’s your morning routine.

It doesn’t need to be elaborate or long. If you find yourself needing more physical energy on one day, you can focus on the physical activity. If you need more mental energy on another day, spend more time on that mental activity. Once in a while, you might not have the time for the complete routine (like when you accidentally sleep in). That’s okay, just do a few. Tim Ferris says a morning when he completes 3 out of the 5 practices is a good start to the day.

A Few Extra Tips

DO:

  • Launch yourself out of bed with the 5 second rule
  • Make your bed right away
  • Let in natural light if possible
  • Drink 2 cups of water first thing

DON'T:

  • Check your phone until after the routine (unless it’s a part of your routine for energy rejuvenation)
  • Give up on the routine because you missed it for a few days
  • Dismiss the power of small habits


My Morning Ritual

In the past 18 months, I’ve tried Hal Elrod’s Miracle Morning, Tim Ferris’ morning routine, and a mix of many others. I’ve even gone back to not practicing a morning routine for a little while and experience how that felt. It took me some trial and error to discover what works for me, but I think I’ve got it down. 

  • Alarm goes off: drink water + take meds, open up the curtain, turn on music, wash face + brush teeth, get dressed.
  • Stretch from top to bottom. Hold a few yoga poses.
  • Read out loud the daily passage from the Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. Write down reflections if I have any.
  • Journal: Write down current thoughts + emotions, 3 things I’m grateful for, 3 things that would make today amazing, one affirmation (the 5 minute journal practice). On my laptop, complete the day’s sentence-completion exercise of the self-esteem building program - created by Nathaniel Branden, author of the 6 Pillars of Self-Esteem.
  • Meditate for 10-20min. I use Headspace*.
  • Make coffee.
  • Plan out my day on the Focus Journal*: top 3 Priorities, scheduled tasks, energy management assessment
  • Talk to the Universe.
  • Get started on the biggest frog on my to-do list.

The entire routine usually takes about 1-1.5hrs. Most days, I do the whole thing. Some days, I just stretch, journal briefly, meditate briefly and plan my day. Either way, I make the time for this routine because it helps me focus and work more effectively and efficiently through the day. This is why I call it my morning ritual. It helps me feel more alive and present, and thus it is sacred. Sacred as in worthy of devotion.

Back To You

NEXT STEPS:

  • Choose 4-5 practices to incorporate into your morning routine. Make sure to cover each energy. List out which order you'd like to try them on a post-it note and stick it next to your bed or bathroom mirror.
  • Read the rest of the morning routine series on journaling, meditation, body awareness, and faith.
  • For some ideas and examples of everyday people, check out MyMorningRoutine.com.  Then get started tomorrow!

I challenge you to make yourself a priority. Make your well-being and personal growth a priority.  If not now, what is it going to take?

In the following weeks, the Morning Routine Series will dive into the four energies and the associated practices I use to rejuvenate daily. Self-care advice can be so vague, and most of the time, they are things you already know. My intention is to get into the HOW. You already know WHAT to do. So I want to dive deeper on HOW to do them - addressing the step by step processes, strategies, and tools for you to implement and apply what you already know.

To receive updates on the Morning Routine Series, subscribe to my newsletter here. And if you could you use some guidance on disciplined self-care or burnout prevention, reach out and let's make it happen.

 

Much love,

Ji-Youn

 

*These are the tools that I personally use and recommend. I am not sponsored or affiliated with any of the tools/products listed in this post. They are simply suggestions that have the potential to help you out.