Morning Routine Ideas: How Happiness Researcher Dr. Gillian Mandich Kicks Off Her Day

A morning routine is more than just a TikTok trend; it’s how successful people choose to set the tone for the rest of their day. This is true for happiness researcher Dr. Gillian Mandich, who believes morning routines allow us to “take control of our time and our schedule, rather than having our schedule control us.” Starting with one thing and building onto that slowly is a surefire way to curate a routine that works for you. Want to learn how the two-time TedX speaker, on-air expert and published researcher spends the first hours of her day? Here is the morning routine checklist that sets her up for success.

Step 1: No phone, no problem

It might be tempting to roll over and check your phone for what you missed overnight, but Mandich has let that habit die. And there’s a good reason for it, too: during that daydreamy state when you first open your eyes, your brain is working overtime to switch between brainwaves: delta (sleep state), theta (dreamy state between waking and sleep) and alpha (relaxed, idle state). Looking at your screen right when you get up forces your body to skip that vital theta stage, reportedly the most ideal time to tap into your subconscious.

Step 2: Practice gratitude

“I’m very intentional with the first few moments when I wake up,” Mandich says. Before she opens her eyes (while in theta state), she takes a moment to think about something she’s grateful for or excited about. After noticing that she’d start her day with limiting thoughts like, I didn’t get enough sleep or I don’t want to get up, she decided to replace them with something positive. “Taking the time to choose my first thought, and making it a positive one, sets the tone for my day,” she says.

Step 3: Hygiene and hydration

Now that her eyes are open following her gratitude practice, Mandich heads to the bathroom to brush her teeth and scrape her tongue (“It’s a game-changer,” she says). She then drinks a tall glass of water and makes her coffee.

Step 4: Quiet time

Making time for quiet reflection every morning for five to 10 minutes is vital for Mandich’s day. Sometimes that looks like quietly sitting with her thoughts, other times she likes to play a guided morning meditation over a good-quality speaker. Even a short morning meditation can help boost your mood, improve focus, increase productivity, and lower levels of stress and anxiety throughout the day.

Step 5: Learning

For Mandich, no successful day goes without reading or listening to an audiobook or podcast.

Mornings are the perfect time to take in new information. Whether she’s listening or reading, Mandich needs plenty of highlighters for marking important parts of hard-copy books (“Highlighting them in a rainbow of colours is really fun to do,” she says), as well as a beautiful journal to make notes in.

Step 6: Movement

And no, it doesn’t have to look like a hardcore, sweaty workout. Moving in the morning, whether it’s a leisurely walk or a jog, has tons of benefits. It helps wake you up, increase clarity and focus throughout the day, provides a sense of accomplishment and — most importantly — gives you some time to yourself. Mandich loves to start her day off by taking her beloved dog Jocko out for a walk.

Remember: Be flexible

The last few years have been anything but ordinary. And that’s okay, Mandich assures. “Before the pandemic, I was very strict with my morning routine. Now, I allow myself the flexibility to do what I feel like doing, not what I feel I should do,” she says.

“The pandemic has really taught me how to give myself grace and compassion.”

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By Staples Canada

June 30, 2022