A (realistic) resilience-boosting morning routine

Set yourself up for feeling good - and getting things done - during the day with a routine that focuses on brain health, optimism and nervous system calm.


What kind of morning person are you? No judgment, because most of us live lives where it’s not possible to gently ease into the day for the first few hours. In fact, all too often we have the kind of start that sets us up for stress and failure. For example, did you know that if you pick up your phone as soon as you wake up (thanks to your dopamine reward system) you’re much more likely to feel ‘addicted’ to it for the rest of the day and blast through your screen time limits by lunch?

Most neuroscientists will tell you that your brain is incredibly malleable first thing in the morning. This is the ideal time to fill your mind with what you actually want to be in there - to plant the seeds of resourcefulness, calm and positivity for the day. If you don’t do that intentionally then you may accidentally be filling your mind with anxiety, tension and negativity - and that’s going to have a big impact on the hours that follow.

Even if you only have a few minutes to yourself before the day begins, what you do in that time can transform your day-to-day experience in ways that might surprise you.

Your morning routine

There are three key things to pay attention to when you’re thinking about a morning routine.

  1. Just as you’re waking up is the moment when your brain is the most receptive to ideas. This is the time when your unconscious mind is the most active and you can train your brain to use this subconscious activity to think positively and accomplish more throughout your day - at this time, something like visualisation is at its most effective.
  2. What you do to your nervous system first thing can determine focus and consistency for the rest of the day. If you shove it straight into fight, flight, freeze (e.g. by looking at work emails) then you’re starting the day in the most unproductive state (survival mode). A calm nervous system = creativity, innovation, productivity and effectiveness. You’re much less likely to end up in an anxious place later in the day if you start the morning focused on keeping your nervous system calm.
  3. Connecting to your body first thing is really important, from the perspective of physical health but also when it comes to giving yourself the chance to experience emotions like joy, gratitude and peace at the start of the day,

What makes a resilient morning routine?

If you want to be consistent, adaptable, able to bounce back and not give up (i.e. resilient) then the key components are mindset, nervous system, energy and connection to self. I'm a resilience coach and I’ve devised a resilience-boosting morning routine that covers all of these. I think it feels realistic if you’re working, have kids etc - but you may find it needs adapting to suit your lifestyle. Or that you actually have more time to focus on some of these areas.

Brain health: first 15 mins

No phone for the first 15 minutes of the day. Staring at a screen when you open your eyes can disrupt the process of waking up and mean you’re not fully alert for the rest of the day. It can also shove you straight into a stress response in your body that generates instant anxiety about the day ahead. Instead, try some gentle visualisation focusing on the best possible version of the day.

Positive mental cinema activates the reticular activating system (the 'scientific explanation for manifestation'), which will then make you alert to the opportunities, situations and people that can deliver the day you want to have.

Nervous system calm: 5-10 mins

If the first part of your day has a lot of noise, rushing and pressure in it, then you’re beginning at the top of a roller coaster ride that isn’t going to stop for the rest of the day. Even five minutes of calm will make a difference - use this time to send the signal to your body that it is safe through meditation or breathing.

I love a short guided meditation - there are loads on YouTube that will fill your mind with positive imagery and self-compassion at a time of the day when it’s going to have the most impact on your body and mind.

Mindset clarity: 5-10 mins

Pick up a pen and paper and free write. Write down everything that is in your head. This will give you the opportunity to organise your thoughts and to see any self-critical narratives that you can challenge now if you don’t want to take them into the day ahead. Pick a question to ask yourself on repeat through the day - one of my favourites is “How can I do things differently today?”

Kickstart energy, connection and joy: 10-20 mins

Move your body - and connect to it before you launch into a day that is probably going to involve a lot of sitting, thinking and talking. Especially if you struggle with negativity, getting out of your head and into your body early in the morning will lift your mood and increase your energy.

Dance to two songs, have an orgasm, do your favourite type of movement, or express yourself with your body. Doing this will fill your body with endorphins at the start of the day. If you opt for something that feels pleasurable too (doesn’t have to be sexual) then you’ll shift your brain chemistry, as pleasure releases, not just endorphins, but also serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin. No better way to begin your day than flooded with feel-good hormones.

Resilience and routine

A calm nervous system, an optimistic mindset and an authentic connection to you are all a big part of what makes us resilient. Because it’s hard to be consistent if you’re in fight, flight, freeze - and bouncing back is almost impossible with a negative mindset. Given that we’re all fighting battles no one else knows anything about - as well as the shared hardships and sorrows - it’s really important to take a bit of time each day to refill your reserves of resilience. And a morning routine is the perfect way to do it. 

We make life harder for ourselves in so many ways. New habits, like a fresh and focused morning routine, can bring in a whole new level of energy and perspective with just a few small changes.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Winchester, Hampshire, SO23
Written by Alex Pett
Winchester, Hampshire, SO23

Alex is an ICF trained and NLP cert coach focused on helping people to deepen their resources to adapt and bounce back - and go on to thrive. She works with resilience to help clients build confidence, motivation, recover from burnout, set boundaries, find joy and move beyond limiting beliefs. Clients achieve tangible change in 6-9 sessions.

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