Professional Practice

How to Create a Morning Routine to Beat the Pandemic Blues

good morning mug

A lot happens before you even step into your art room each morning. Nothing feels worse than rushing and scrambling to find your keys, only to realize the coffee maker is going bonkers and you forgot something. With the added stress of the ongoing pandemic, you may feel exhausted before you even have a chance to teach art.

Starting your morning off on a positive note sets the tone for the rest of your day. The good news is you can set yourself up for success by establishing some healthy habits as you move into the new year. Building strategies into your morning routine will help you to get the most out of your day. Choose what is best for you and your situation. You may even consider working closely with physical or mental health professionals as a good starting point.

Keep reading for five tips to create a smoother morning routine to beat the pandemic blues.

good morning mug

1. Prepare the night before.

Taking time to complete a few simple tasks the night before a school day can save you priceless minutes the next morning. There may also be things you can take care of over the weekend to prepare for the week ahead. Whether you are on your own or managing the morning routine of others in your household, consider checking off the following from your to-do list before the alarm sounds in the early morning hours.

Meal Prep

Planning, preparing, and packaging your snacks and meals can easily save you time when you need to head out the door. Meal prepping on Saturday or Sunday can be helpful for evenings when you come home exhausted from a tough day in the classroom studio and are not in the mood to cook.

Making the effort helps you choose healthier options to fuel your mind and body for the days to come. Why stop at just one meal to grab in the morning for your lunchbox? If you schedule ahead, think of how many meals you could have ready to go in your refrigerator for the entire week!

What to Wear

Choosing your outfit and shoes before bedtime prevents endless morning minutes staring at your wardrobe. It also stops the frantic fashion shows that steal precious morning time from you or your loved ones.

AOEU outfit

Weather Check

No matter where you are in the world, inclement weather can put a damper on your morning routine if you are not expecting it. Staying up to date with the forecast can give you ample time to dress appropriately, get to school on time, and prepare art supplies for a smoother lesson before class starts.

Inspiring Podcast

Whether you are getting ready for school or are navigating your commute, AOEU has something to motivate you for the day ahead. The podcasts, Art Ed Radio and Everyday Art Room, along with The Art of SEL, have episodes that will add value to your life and inspire you to be the best art teacher you can be. If you have listened to all the latest podcasts and are looking for another art-related one, check out the list in this article.

2. Hydrate when you wake.

Water is necessary for all of us to survive this life. To make the most of your morning routine, start every day with a tall glass of water. You can even have it filled up and ready the evening before. According to, drinking water as soon as you wake up helps to “activate your internal body organs.” Not only will that morning glass of water wake up your organs, but it will also wake up your mind. Add flavor to your water with citrus or berries.

3. Sustain yourself with breakfast.

Your body and mind benefit when fueled. Guess who else benefits from your energy? Your students! Starting with a well-balanced breakfast each morning can give you the stamina you need to survive the hours until your much-needed lunch break. Healthier options can be prepared and stored so you only have to serve and enjoy when you wake up.

Just like the meal prep idea mentioned above, planning and preparing your breakfasts not only saves morning time but decreases the likelihood of grabbing foods that lack nutritional value or skipping breakfast altogether. If you often make excuses about skipping breakfast, consider waking up 10–15 minutes earlier each day to avoid a growling stomach in the middle of your first media demonstration.

Breakfast may not be the most important meal of the day for all art teachers. In an article by Cleveland Clinic, what time you begin fueling your body can vary from person to person. Listen to your body to determine whether or not a big breakfast is the best option for you.

4. Move more.

Art teachers are constantly on the move during the school day. By the time you arrive home, you may be tired and ready to rest. On top of that, many of us find that after-school activities or school work consume our evening, making it challenging to find time to focus on our physical health.

Regardless of your situation, there are benefits to starting your day with movement. According to, exercising in the morning can set a positive tone for your day, help you to make healthier meal choices, and keep you on your toes—both in mind and body. Dynamic stretching, brisk walking, or light cardio can boost your mood and give you the energy you need to tackle that to-do list.

palette clock

5. Write for peace of mind.

When we awake from our evening slumbers, sometimes our minds are off to the races, thinking about all that awaits us for the day. If this ever happens to you, you might like to turn off the mental chatter. Challenge yourself to wake up a little earlier so that you can think and write about your thoughts.

Here are three writing activities to create a peaceful mind for your day:

1. 5-Minute Free Write
Grab a timer, paper, and something to write with. Find a comfy place to sit. For five minutes, just write. Give your mind space to empty thoughts. Allow yourself permission to let go of whatever is on your mind.

2. Gratitude Journaling
Making time to intentionally practice gratitude is a key component to well-being for Dr. Rachel Hallquist, Adjunct Instructor for AOEU and author of MEGA Morning Routine: The Secret Self-Care Morning Routine for Busy Teachers. Journaling about all of the good things that are happening in your life, despite teaching art during a pandemic, can keep you focused on what matters, and therefore keep you feeling positive.

3. Daily Goals
Sometimes, our to-do lists bog us down, and it can be all we think about first thing in the morning. Keep a small notepad handy, so you can start writing down everything that you need or want to accomplish once you enter your art room. Getting these down on paper can help you focus on what needs to be done, help you take action, and stop only thinking about it.

art journaling

Discover more resources to help you express your thoughts:

If you are still craving self-care strategies beyond your morning, take a look at the following:

Whether you are searching for ways to kickstart your day or bring more happiness to your life, creating small changes to your morning routine can make a big difference. The pandemic has taken a toll on our lives, and a morning self-care routine could be the trick to beat the blues. Consider trying one or more of these tips to intentionally take care of yourself before taking care of your artists.

What does your morning routine look like?

How could you more intentionally start your day with self-care?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Madenford

Jess Madenford, an art educator and department leader, is a former AOEU Writer. She believes in the magic of personal and professional development and coaches others to rise to their potential.

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