9 successful women share the morning routines that kickstart their days

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Have you ever wondered how the most successful women in the world give themselves the best start every day? From Jennifer Aniston’s face wash routine to Shonda Rhimes’ favourite dance tracks, this is how the trailblazers of our time greet the day in style.

Whether you rise at 6am like clockwork, coiff your hair and down a homemade juice before strolling into the office, or sleep through seven alarms then take a lengthy Instagram scroll before you can drag yourself out of bed to face the day, everyone does their morning routine a little differently. 

Regardless of our personal preferences, the way we spend the precious hours in the a.m can promote a positive mental attitude, boost our productivity, and help us take control of our lives

And while there’s a well-worn narrative that the most successful people in the world have already done a day’s work by the time most of us roll out of bed, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to letting the morning unfold. In fact, some of the most iconic female faces of our time completely reject the stereotype of the early morning achiever and thrive by following the rituals that suit them best.

So, if you’re in search of a little inspiration to shake up your morning routine, or are simply curious about the everyday habits of some of the most prominent changemakers around today, read on to find out how nine remarkable women power up for the day. 

Spoiler: they dance around their bedrooms, just like you.

Morning routines: Shonda Rhimes has a dance party

shonda rhimes
Morning routines: television writer and producer Shonda Rhimes dances to Beyoncé every morning as part of her daily routine.

“I have breakfast with myself, figure out what I’m going to do for the day… I have to admit, pretty much every morning, I have a tiny little dance party… Lately, it’s with Beyoncé,” the television writer and producer told Vulture

“So Beyoncé and I are having a little dance party every morning. I’m getting in formation. And that usually puts me in a good mood. And then I leave the house.”

Morning routines: Jennifer Aniston washes her face

jennifer aniston
Morning routines: Jennifer Aniston starts her day by washing her face.

She might be a world-famous actor and producer, but Jennifer Aniston’s morning routine is refreshingly laid back (apart from the fact she wakes up at 4.30am on work days).

“When I wake up, I’ll make my standard cup of hot water with a slice of lemon in there,” she told Well and Good.

“Then I wash my face – my whole face regime is just soap and water to wake myself up, then some sort of Aveeno daily moisturizer that’s got SPF in it. It’s quick. I never linger too long anywhere, to be honest; things need to be as easy as possible [for me].”

Morning routines: Whitney Wolfe walks her dog

bumble dating app founder
Morning routines: Whitney Wolfe spends the first half an hour of her morning walking her dog.

“Most of my days are unpredictable and start at different times, so I try my best to keep up a stable morning routine,” the CEO and founder of dating app Bumble told The Entrepreneur. “I sleep with the drapes open to rise with the sun. I think that’s a healthy thing to do because even if you don’t like to wake up early, your body does adjust.

“I have a yoga mat and a huge bottle of water next to my bed so when I get up, I drink that and then try to stretch and do some form of a morning workout. I do my best to avoid the direct-to-phone dive, because once that starts it’s nearly impossible to escape.

“I spend the first 30 minutes of the morning being cognizant of my family and dog – taking him for a walk, spending time with my fiance – before it goes into madness and work mode.”

Morning routines: Jasmine Hemsley scrapes her tongue

jasmine hemsely

Chef Jasmine Hemsley has a surprising – but brilliant – morning routine.

“The first thing I do is scrape my tongue,” she told the Stylist Live crowd in 2017. “It’s an Ayurvedic practice.”

The Charaka Samhita (an early Ayurvedic text) says that cleaning the tongue “removes foul smell, tastelessness… and by taking out dirt coated on the tongue, teeth and mouth brings relish immediately.”

Hemsley cited the invigorating effects this practice has; by removing the coating and stimulating the tongue you are helping “to balance the heavy and dulling qualities of Kapha dosha in your physiology”.

Morning routines: Arianna Huffington practises her breathing

arianna huffington
Morning routines: Arianna Huffington practises deep breathing once she's awake.

“A big part of my morning ritual is about what I don’t do: when I wake up, I don’t start the day by looking at my smartphone,” the author and founder of The Huffington Post told Soul Cycle

“Instead, once I’m awake, I take a minute to breathe deeply, be grateful, and set my intention for the day. I also practice yoga most mornings. And I breathe! The connection that conscious breathing gives me is something I can return to hundreds of times during the day in an instant. A conscious focus on breathing helps me introduce pauses into my daily life, brings me back into the moment, and helps me transcend upsets and setbacks”.

Morning routines: Oprah Winfrey takes her vitamins

Morning routines: Oprah Winfrey gives thanks for life when she opens her eyes each morning.

“I have never set an alarm, I don’t believe in them,” the media mogul told The Hollywood Reporter. “They are… alarming! I put the number in my mind and I wake up before that, usually between 6:02 and 6:20, because the dogs are trained to go out around that time. My first thought in the morning is, ‘Oh, I’m alive. Thank you!’ I hop up, brush my teeth and go take the dogs to do their thing. They do the real downward-facing dog!”

After drinking a a chai tea or skim cappuccino, Winfrey works out in her home gym and follows up with some walking or sitting meditation. At 8.30am, she’ll sit down to her breakfast. “I eat medium-boiled eggs and a piece of multigrain toast for breakfast. I have actually noticed that lately I have been eating breakfast at 8:38. And I take some vitamin D. Then I go on and do my day.”

Morning routines: Nancy Pelosi power walks

morning routine nancy pelosi
Morning routines: Nancy Pelosi power walks along the Potomac every morning.

“On a recent Friday, Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, showed up for her morning power walk along the Potomac,” wrote Jane Meyer in a profile of the 52nd Speaker of the House of Representatives in The New Yorker. “It was nine o’clock, and she had been up for hours. She had read several newspapers. Her lipstick was perfect, her hair was professionally styled, and she had on an impeccable white running jacket over black jogging pants. ‘This is like noon for me,’ she said. Instead of carrying weights when she walks, Pelosi, who [was then] 71, carries an iPhone – and uses it incessantly.

“During her 45-minute walk, she plans her day, touches base with her staff, makes thank-you calls to donors, and keeps up with overnight developments.”

Morning routines: Elizabeth Gilbert welcomes the morning

elizabeth gilbert author
Morning routines: Elizabeth Gilbert welcomes the morning when she wakes up.

“The first thing I do is open the blinds to bring in the light,” the bestselling author told organisational guru Marie Kondo in a conversation about creativity, writing and tidying our homes on Konmari. “I always say hello to the morning. I’d be willing to bet that the first prayer that the first conscious human ever spoke was to say hello to the morning – the miracle that the light went away, and now it’s back! It’s a clean slate.”

Morning routines: Gloria Steinem keeps it real

Morning routines: Gloria Steinem watches TV while she gets ready for the day.

There’s no early wake up call and strict schedule for feminist icon Gloria Steinem in the morning. “I wake up in a panic and it’s because my life is organised by deadlines and events,” she told The Sunday Times

“I have a television in the bathroom, so when I go do my ablutions I’ll listen to the news. I’ll then head downstairs and make scrambled eggs. I live in New York on the Upper East Side, in a converted townhouse over two floors. Around the corner, on Lexington Avenue, is Alex’s deli, where I go after breakfast and get a chai.”

philosophy is the wellbeing beauty brand inspiring you to look, live and feel your best, and is the official partner of Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards 2020.

Images: Getty

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Christobel Hastings

Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.