“If you’re not where you want to be in life, I recommend visualizing your perfect morning and filling in the gaps from where you are to where you want to be.” – Tara Hanrahan Share this quote on Twitter

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Tara Hanrahan

What is your morning routine?

I wake up at 5:30am Monday through Friday. I’m normally awake before my alarm and snuggle in bed for a few minutes (but not for too long, otherwise my brain will try to talk me out of getting up!). I get up, weigh myself on the Fitbit Aria scale, make my bed (well, pull the covers up), and throw on my gym clothes to exercise.

I get home from exercising just after 6:30am. I light some incense and run the bath. I always have a bath in the morning and a shower at night. I adore having morning baths. I live in a condo and my bathroom has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the street, so I love having a look at people as they walk by, imagining their lives, and giving them a silent cheer. Opposite me is a local hotel that hangs its laundry on the roof to dry, and I lazily view the people hanging the sheets out.

I have a beautiful range of bath oils and salts to use. I’m an aromatherapist, and scents/aromas are very important to me. I also work with spas, so different skin and body products feature quite prominently in my routine! I choose the bath oil based on how I want to feel—it’s normally an uplifting, energizing blend like eucalyptus and rosemary or perhaps a sensual blend like rose and black pepper. I also throw in a handful of magnesium salt—fabulous for just after exercise. While the bath is getting ready, I do my morning skincare routine. This involves a cleansing balm, a citrus-infused warm towel compress, and a gentle press exfoliant. Then I apply a face mask, depending on what my skin needs for that day, and that stays on until I finish my bath.

I prepare my clothes for the day. I normally have an idea already of what I will wear, and I lay the clothes on my bed. I choose my accessories (jewelry, shoes, etc.) and get them organized.

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Then I go out to the kitchen, make a life-affirming espresso, and choose what to listen to while I’m in the bath. It’s normally affirmations or a ten-minute morning meditation (from my YouTube playlist). I do a dry skin body brush all over for a few minutes to increase circulation and get rid of any dry skin. I jump/fall/plop into the bath and lie back, sipping my coffee, perusing people walking down below on the street, all while listening to the lovely words.

Then I get out, dry myself off, and use a dry body oil to moisturize my skin. I have struggled with weight for many years and have tended to ignore my body. I find that the self-nurturing process of massaging myself with oils allows me to reconnect. (It helps that I am a trained massage therapist.) So, I do that, then I layer serums on my face (I’m a fan of the Korean beauty trend of layering), and go to my perfume bar. I choose my scent for the day, spray a few pumps in the air, and walk through it.

I change the music to something upbeat and get dressed. Then I sit down at my duchess (dressing table) and do my makeup. I might also say some quick mirror affirmations.

Then I get breakfast organized. I sit outside on my balcony to have breakfast and write. I have a little book that I write in daily—just some musings on what’s come up. I’ll then come back inside and floss and clean my teeth. Then I put on my lipstick and shoes, grab my handbag, and leave for work. It only takes twelve minutes to drive to work, so I normally listen to a TED Talk on the way.

The above sounds as though it takes many hours, but it doesn’t! I normally leave home just before 8:00am. I arrive at work and I feel so accomplished and full of energy. I feel as though I am on my path, and that carries me through for the rest of the day!

How long have you stuck with this routine so far?

Since January 7, 2018. I can pinpoint the exact date because my morning routine has literally transformed my life over the past year. I really believe it is the single most powerful change someone can make. Over the past year I’ve lost forty kilos (eighty-eight pounds) because of my morning routine. I feel so much better about myself; I wake up with determination and go to bed with satisfaction.

Two years ago, I was not living my best life and I felt quite stressed. Events out of my control undermined my confidence, and I put on weight. I knew I had to do something and I decided to start with a morning routine. I read so many books, blogs, and articles; listened to many (TED) Talks; and put together the best routine for me.

I did a lot of visualizations around “What is my perfect morning?” and realized that, for me, my perfect day revolved around a series of small rituals and self-care habits that would make me excited to get out of bed, nurture me, and help me achieve my goals—all before 8:00am!

How has your morning routine changed over recent years?

One of the interesting facets of my morning routine is that there’s a lot of decisions to be made in the moment (e.g., “What will I wear today?” “What bath oils shall I use?”). This is quite different from a lot of other people who try to minimize decision fatigue in the morning by preparing everything ahead of time or deliberately not having many choices available. I tried that—I put together my wardrobe for the week ahead and hung it on a clothes rail, I decided ahead of time what bath oils to use, etc. It didn’t work for me. I love being able to ask myself “What do you feel like today?” and go from there. It’s quite nurturing and helps me live in the moment.

A few months ago, I also experimented with seven days, seven chakras. Mondays were all about the root chakra—grounding and the color red. For breakfast, I incorporated fruits like strawberries and pomegranates. My affirmations were based around feeling safe and centred. I mixed my bath salts with frankincense and patchouli. Tuesdays were focused on the sacral chakra (orange fruits), Wednesdays were solar plexus chakra, etc. But it was too constricting for me; again, I feel free by making decisions in the moment.

My current routine has got me to where I am today—feeling so much better about myself, excited to wake up each day. It will be interesting to see what changes I make in 2019. Will my current routine remain the same or will it lessen? I’m not sure. I can say I am still very much enjoying it now.

What time do you go to sleep?

I don’t have a specific time, but for the past year I’ve averaged seven hours of sleep a night (thank you Fitbit for measuring that!), so it would be around 10:00pm that I go to sleep.

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I have breakfast around 7:30am. I make Martha Stewart’s green juice every morning in my cold-press juicer (celery, pear, cucumber, lemon, ginger, and spinach/kale), and I serve it in a champagne glass! I also have Special K cereal every morning with a dollop of yogurt, a scattering of blueberries, and a little bit of fresh mango. I sprinkle some nuts, seeds, and coconut flakes on top.

Do you have a morning workout routine?

On Tuesdays and Thursdays I do yoga. I meet my yoga teacher on the roof of my condo building and do yoga on the deck next to the pool. It’s lovely up there—fresh air, the wide expanse of sky, a few palm trees. This time of year (winter in Thailand), there are dragonflies and tiny swallows swooping around high in the sky and I love it—it’s quite a sacred time.

On Mondays and Fridays I go for a walk/jog in Lumpini Park, Bangkok’s version of Central Park, which is gorgeous! It’s an urban oasis—so many trees, a big lake in the center, and a two-and-a-half-kilometer jogging path. I do one or two laps, depending on how I feel. It is so special that time of the morning; you see so many people doing yoga and chi-gong, people practicing tai chi with large fans or wooden poles, groups of people sitting around having tea and chit-chatting. If you’re lucky (or unlucky!) you might see an eight-foot monitor lizard emerge from the lake, flicking its tongue and looking around.

Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?

I normally wait until I get to work. Luckily, in the nurturing world of spas, there are rarely any emergencies!

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your sleep or morning routine?

No, I don’t use apps.

What are your most important tasks in the morning?

I don’t see them as tasks but rather as self-nurturing rituals or self-care habits. Probably weighing myself—I do that every day as soon as I wake up. Saying my affirmations is very important as well—the power of words! Also, my skincare routine—I feel the difference if I don’t do it.

Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?

Weekends are a little different. On Saturdays I have personal training with a friend at 6:30am in Benjakiti Park, which is another lovely park in Bangkok. I really enjoy this because we do strength training. I come home from that, have a shower, and join friends for breakfast at a cafe somewhere. We aim to go somewhere new each week—Bangkok has so many gorgeous brunch places.

On Sundays I normally have a lie-in, but once a fortnight I try to be at Lumpini Park by 8:00am. That’s when the entire park stops for the National Anthem—it’s so amazing to see. It’s normally a hive of joggers and walkers and—suddenly at 8:00am—everyone stops, stands stock still, and listens to the national anthem over the loudspeakers. No one moves and it’s a poignant few minutes. And then, suddenly, everyone starts moving again. When I first experienced it years ago, I thought I was in a candid camera moment. I couldn’t understand why the entire world seemed to stop and stand like statues!

On days you’re not settled in your home, are you able to adapt your routine to fit in with a different environment?

I travel a lot for work, but I’m lucky that most of the spas are in resort locations, so I can adapt what I do. This means I will either go for a walk along the beach in the morning or, more often, exercise at night either in the resort gym or in my room (YouTube has some great Zumba videos that I quite like!). Breakfast I have at the resort restaurant. They have lots of fresh juices, and I normally have scrambled eggs. I don’t have to worry about my skincare routines because part of my job is to conduct spa audits, and the best way to do that is to… *cough cough* have spa treatments! So, my skincare routine is boosted by the treatments.

What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?

I think it depends on why I miss it. When I don’t do my routine because I must be somewhere super early, then I feel fine and have no issues over missing it. When I don’t do it because I need more sleep, that’s okay as well. But when I don’t do it because I am in a sad or bad mood or, frankly, I can’t be assed—that’s when I need it the most. That’s when I know that my morning routine has the power to change how I feel about myself and external situations in my life.

Of course, I don’t always have the enthusiasm to follow through with my routine, and on these occasions I feel out of sorts for the rest of the day. There’s a saying: “You’re only one workout away from a good mood.” I think that can apply to a morning routine as well.

Anything else you would like to add?

The decision to create and curate my morning routine has changed my life. How strange it is that implementing tiny (one might even say frivolous) habits in the morning can have such a profound impact on someone’s well-being, weight, and sense of achievement.

If you’re not where you want to be in life, I recommend visualizing your perfect morning and filling in the gaps from where you are to where you want to be.

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