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The Best Non-Toxic Morning Routine

by Dan Pittman 2 years ago in lifestyle
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5 Steps to a Solid Start to the Day

“When you first rise in the morning tell yourself: I will encounter busybodies, ingrates, egomaniacs, liars, the jealous, and cranks.”

-Marcus Aurelius.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up? Do you check your texts, emails, or the news? For a long time I’d find myself glued to my phone the moment my eyelids parted. I brewed coffee one-handed, made breakfast one-handed, got dressed… one-handed. It felt like multitasking began with the sun and never stopped.

Not only was I multitasking, I was focusing on everything BUT myself. No longer did I sit and indulge in every delicious sip of my coffee, nor did I embrace the tasty over-easy yolk spread across my tongue and excite my salivary glands.

The name of the game was gulp ‘n scarf ‘n get out the door… hurry to be successful… multitask to accomplish more than the other guy.

Forget that. All of it. Time to do TWO things:

Number one, do one thing at a time, and only one thing at a time.

“When you walk, walk. When you eat, eat.” -Zen Proverb

Number two, utilize the morning to focus solely on yourself. Rarely do we get to do this, and it is so vital. Remember, you can’t sufficiently take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself.

So, here is my personal morning routine I strive to maintain. Take it in and take it slow. Try that Zen Proverb on and see how it fits: when you read this article, read this article.


1. Adjust Your Alarm

I don’t think I’m alone when I say I have a mini heart attack every morning if I wake up to an obnoxious alarm. Time to ditch the noise. I recommend changing your tone to a soft melody of birdsongs that slowly rises in volume. Why? Birds singing is an auditory message to humans that tells us “everything is safe here”. If you have a fear of birds, try changing your alarm to only vibrate. It’s a much gentler stimulus than the typical racket. I do this often with great success and am an absurdly deep sleeper.

2. Scribble in Your Dream Journal

Dreams evoke all sorts of emotions, ranging from sheer bliss to complete terror. We sleep for 1/3 of our lives yet most people don't pay much attention to their dreams once they've woken up. I would argue that we aren't fully awake if we disregard our dreams; they're just as real as "reality". How could you argue the opposite? That would mean only 2/3 of your life is real.

Recently I've delved deeply into the world of dream dissection, and I can tell it's going to be a permanent part of my morning routine. Our dreams are mysterious, murky lenses allowing us to peer into the subconscious. When forgotten or disregarded, this lens remains dusty and out of focus. It wasn't until recently I dusted off my lens, took a deep breath, and dove deep into the recesses of my mind.

In this case, there's such a thing as too much instruction. Meaning, I'm not going to tell you how to journal your dreams. Just word vomit into your notebook, because dreams tend to escape our memory quite quickly. Later on you can parse through the mad scribbles to make sense of it.

I can guarantee you there will be more content coming on the topic of dreams, so keep an eye out. In the meantime, take a deep breath and dive on in.

3. Get Those Toes In The Grass

You can tell me i’m in a hippie haze all you want, I follow science, and science completely supports the benefits of grounding. If you’re not familiar, grounding is the act of making skin contact with the earth. One of the greatest benefits from grounding is a reduction in inflammation, which is a root cause of countless health issues. There is no better way to start off your morning than truly connecting to the Earth.

If you want to take this step even further, I highly recommend meditating while sitting in the grass. Headspace has a great guided meditation app with a solid free version. Waking Up, produced by Sam Harris, requires a paid subscription but Sam doesn’t want finances to prevent people from experiencing meditation. He allows full access for free if you simply send an email stating your finances aren’t substantial enough to purchase a subscription. What a guy.

Check out The Earthing Movie if you want to learn more about Grounding.

4. Drink Pu-Erh Tea

Being a coffee connoisseur (not kidding, I have a full blown coffee tattoo I designed myself), it’s somewhat difficult to recommend this, but I’m so happy with the results. Pu-Erh tea does have caffeine, but it's about ⅓ that of coffee. This is a more gentle rise in alertness to your adrenal glands, so jittery hands will be a thing of the past.

The morning beverage is steeped in routine (solid pun, no shame). Routines bring comfort because they are predictable. Just as brushing your teeth, changing into pajamas, and shutting out the lights tell your body "it's time to rest", your morning tea routine will signal your body to wake up and get crackin'.

5. Crack Open a Book

Get those neurons firing on all cylinders by reading a chapter of a book. Take this time to let the entire world take a back seat. It's just you and those pages. When you read, read.

One of my favorite aspects of this practice is to take the reading slowly by having my notebook handy. I've made it a habit to write down every unfamiliar word, look them up right after reading, then try to use them during the day. Trust me, you’ll feel your brain expanding with knowledge, and you’ll have a sense of accomplishment by learning something new at the start of your day.

Morning reads can sometimes be difficult to choose. Give Stoic Classics Collection a go. It contains writings from the great stoics Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Seneca, and is a book you can read time and time again and always learn something new.


Morning routines don't take root immediately - they take an investment of time and effort. Effort toward a healthier YOU will always be a sound investment. Go ahead and just try one of these activities tomorrow morning. Just one, and only focus on that singular activity. It's only you and that book, or tea, or journal. Let the outside noise fade and allow yourself to truly wake up.


About the author

Dan Pittman

I write to encourage perspective. I write to challenge readers to really peel back the layers of their mind and get their hands dirty. Our brains are fascinating and even moreso when we dive deep into their depths.

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