Female listening to music eating at home

The importance of a morning routine

Layne Beachley AO shares how to build healthy habits

3 minute read
Female listening to music eating at home

Our morning routine is a paramount driving force to set us up for the remainder of our day.

With 82 per cent of people adhering to a specific morning routine, a study shows that daily routine disruption impedes work engagement and goal progress.

Drawing upon and testing a theory of human energy at work in the context of routine disruption, the results suggest that organisations may do well in helping employees develop, maintain and protect their individual routines before entering the workplace in the morning.

Healthy habits go a long way

AIA Vitality Ambassador and Australian former professional surfer Layne Beachley AO said morning routines often consisted of a range of habits and behavioural patterns we performed with relatively little thought or deliberation required.

Therefore, those habits must be healthy ones.

“Think about what you do when you first wake up in the morning. For example, for many of us, the first habit of the day is to check our phone,” Ms Beachley said.

“When we can create habits that incorporate exercise, mindfulness or a nutritious breakfast in our morning routine, we can improve our health and wellbeing and kick-start our day positively."

“In my own morning routine, I like to incorporate the Fresh Start Effect.

“This describes a theory presented by leading behavioural scientists, where people are more motivated to take steps towards achieving a goal immediately following a key milestone – for example, at the start of the new year.

“I use the Fresh Start Effect at the start of each new day, as it is an ideal time for achieving a goal or establishing an aspirational habit such as a morning walk.”

One example of implementing healthy everyday morning habits includes not underestimating the importance of water and the role it plays in sustaining our lives.

“The brain is 60 per cent water, the body is around 75 per cent water, and we lose about 1L of water a night just through our breathing,” Ms Beachley said.

“So, if you wake up hungry, it may be an indication that you are dehydrated.

“The body tricks us into believing we are hungry, when in fact, we are thirsty.

“As soon as I open my eyes, I recite a self-affirming mantra, do four cycles of breathing exercises, make my bed when I get up and then brush my teeth with my non-dominant hand.

“Then I hydrate my body, relax my muscles and switch on my brain with a big glass of water containing magnesium powder – a productivity life hack I learnt as a competitive athlete.”

Australian former professional surfer and AIA Vitality Ambassador,
Layne Beachley AO

Ms Beachley said when healthy habits were seamlessly integrated into our morning routines, they were more likely to stick long-term.

“In my experience, it can be effective to modify or use an existing aspect of your morning routine to prompt or cue a healthy behaviour. This can be achieved by using the When-Then approach,” she said.

“This is where you have an action plan to connect already existing cues or aspects of your morning routine with healthy habits.

“For example, you might negotiate with yourself – ‘when I am waiting for the kettle to boil, then I will use that time to do a morning stretch and practice mindfulness’.

“The When-Then approach acts as a commitment device or action plan, which can help incentivise behaviour.”

Be flexible

Although forming habits for our routines is a crucial aspect, Ms Beachley said every day was different, so we must be agile and adaptable with our routines based on our workload, energy levels and other commitments.

“Some days, I like to get up early and start my day with yoga, while on other days, I like to sleep in and wait for the optimal conditions to go for a surf,” she said.

“If I’m on the road and find myself in a hotel room, I utilise a couple of workout apps to boost my vitality and keep me active and healthy.

“Through my role as an AIA Vitality Ambassador, I’m passionate about helping people understand the power of the small somethings we can do each morning to help kick-start our day.”