Routines are basically the guardrails of life for getting me through the work-from-home day. (If you know, you know.) Specifically, my morning routine has become the backbone of my daily regimen, because it sets me up for feeling as energized, motivated, and clear-headed as possible so I can tackle my seemingly-never-ending list of to-do’s.
And something about me? I’m always on the hunt for new ways to punch up my routine for the better. So, on top of going on a pre-work walk, putting on pants that aren’t pajamas, and making myself a protein-rich breakfast, I’ve begun adding in a five-minute breathwork exercise—courtesy of Nike Well Collective trainer Briana Thompson—in order to really focus on myself (not the list of tasks waiting for me!) and kick off my day feeling more centered.
“Establishing a morning breathwork practice gives you a head start for the day,” Thompson says. “It’s a personal moment to connect with the most important person in your life—you.”
“Establishing a morning breathwork practice gives you a head start for the day. It’s a personal moment to connect with the most important person in your life—you.”
And I don’t know about y’all, but when it’s a busy morning—with tons of calls on my calendar, tasks to get marked off, and more projects are being added to my plate—I tend to jump right into the chaos and let it steer the trajectory of my morning. On the flip side, starting with breathwork felt like permission to (literally) put my mental well-being before work, and it has made all the difference.
“We often overlook moments to regroup with ourselves, ” Thompson says. “So prioritizing taking just a few minutes for yourself in the morning is like setting your internal compass to ‘calm’ and ‘focused’ before the chaos of the day begins.”
How to add breathwork to your morning routine
Okay, so let me take you through what my (new-and-improved!) morning routine looks like: I typically wake up early, make a cup of coffee, and go on a walk. Then, I’ll come home for breakfast and cup of joe number two. Then, I dive into my breathwork session, which first involves getting comfy in a quiet spot. For me, that’s sitting cross-legged on my couch with my favorite blanket, and my cats nearby for kisses.
“Sit with a tall, straight spine,” Thompson says. “Imagine a string pulling you up from the top of your head, aligning your spine. This posture promotes alertness and open breathing.” I especially love this part because I’ve been serving Hunchback of Notre Dame working on my laptop lately.
Then, I close my eyes, and take deep breaths through my nose as I count to four. “Feel your lungs fill with air, expanding your chest and abdomen as you breathe in,” Thompson adds.
After inhaling through my nose for four seconds, I exhale for six, letting all of the air out of my lungs—and continue this four-to-six second pattern for five minutes. Thompson says to give all your attention and focus to your breath, which helps ground any wandering thoughts. “Before finishing, set a positive intention for your day,” she says. “It could be a specific goal, an affirmation, or a word that represents how you want to feel throughout the day.”
And that’s it! After just a few minutes, I feel so much less stressed about starting my day, thanks to deep breathing’s ability to help reduce the production of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, according to Thompson.
To round out my morning routine, I jump in the shower for a rinse-off, and always make sure to get properly dressed before starting my work day. Picking out a real outfit is another way I’ve learned to support my mental well-being, so even on the days when I’m only in the mood for sweats, I try to pull together a stylish-looking outfit—like the fun matching sets from the Nike Feel Good collection—so that I never have to sacrifice that automatic mood-boost.
So far, I’m a few weeks into my upgraded morning regimen, and my productivity is scoring an A-plus all around, but more importantly I’m feeling less anxious and more excited to take on my day as a whole—work tasks, personal projects, life things and all—and feel a sense of internal fulfillment that’s paid off in ways I didn’t expect but I’m super grateful for.