I Can't Stop Watching People's Morning Routines on TikTok
Every day, 21-year-old Dana Priadkina wakes up and makes herself an iced coffee. Her apartment overlooks a leafy square, and the large windows mean that her bedroom has a dreamy glow as she lights candles and does her skincare routine. The full-time student always thought that her morning routine was idyllic, but it wasn't until she started using TikTok last year that she realized just how many people would agree.
"I downloaded TikTok at the start of the pandemic and posted a few videos back in April," she says. "But it wasn't until I made a video showing a day in my life as a student that I started to go viral."
In November Dana shared a video of herself getting up, watching a recorded lecture, and catching up on Netflix. It attracted tens of thousands of views, and Dana has since amassed almost 35,000 followers by filming and posting her morning routine on TikTok. She racks up likes by running baths, showcasing her outfits, and making smoothies, all set to soothing backing tracks. But Dana isn't the only one getting in on the trend. The #morningroutine hashtag has 2.3 billion views on the platform, while the similar #getreadywithme tag has 952.9 million.
So what is it about morning routines that are so irresistible? And what makes people like me, more prone to dashing to start my laptop in my pajamas two minutes before my morning meetings, so drawn to watching someone else's early start play out?
For Emma, a 29-year-old TikTok fan from the UK, watching the videos appeals to her because they are so different from her own day.
"As the mother of three boys, getting the chance for morning self-care is never an option," she says. "But I find some of the routines inspirational and therapeutic to watch. I guess that they're a form of escapism."
Emma finds that get-ready-with-me TikTok is an insight into a calmer way of life, one dominated by young women who often have plenty of time to themselves in the morning. Social media has always presented a rose-tinted version of reality, but rather than showing off glitzy events and glamorous outfits, morning routines display a part of our day that doesn't feel totally out of reach.
"I think morning videos have become increasingly popular as so many of us have lost our normal routines," Emma explains. "When you're stuck at home, TikTok gives you a great insight into how others are coping and how they have changed up their mornings. There's an intense sense of community."
In a time when many of us feel profoundly isolated, Emma has found that watching the day-to-day aspects of other people's lives has provided a sense of connection. After all, there's something undeniably intimate about peeking into the inner-workings of a stranger's morning.
Of course, taking everyday inspiration from others is hardly a new trend. For years, the daily routines of high-achieving individuals have been pored over and fetishized by aspirational individuals wanting to achieve the same level of success. Who could forget Mark Wahlberg's gruelling regimen, which involved waking up at 2:30 a.m. to squeeze in a 95-minute workout, golf, and a cryo chamber recovery all before 10:30 a.m.? Or Jennifer Aniston, who is up at 4:30 a.m. to fit in a spin session, yoga class, AND a trip to the gym, all before the day begins?
The difference with morning routine TikTok is that people aren't only interested in what products their favorite celebrities are using, or how the top performers in their field get organized first thing. In fact, most creators posting the first few hours of their day are ordinary people with desk jobs or college work to complete. While at the start of quarantine many of us sought out more high-octane entertainment, a dizzying binge of Tiger King and Zoom quizzes, people are now looking for calmer content. Morning routine videos are often thoroughly mundane, but for some viewers the ordinariness is part of the appeal. The TikTokkers often live in ordinary apartments with desks squeezed into their bedroom. Rather than showing off perfect houses, they use candles and flowers to get a social media aesthetic in rented accomodation. As one TikTok user went viral for explaining:
"When I go on Instagram it's showing me everything I don't have… and then I go on TikTok and it's beautiful montages of everyday life. But that's what real life is — boring tasks punctuated by moments of excitement, and TikTok encourages us to embrace that in a way that other social media platforms don't."
For many, the fact that content creators lead lives that feel not too far from their viewers own lives is what makes get-ready-with-me routines so addictive — even inspiring their own updated morning rituals.
"Since I've been working from home prioritizing my mental health has been really important," 24-year-old Leah, a TikTok user from Chicago, says. "Watching other people's day unfold has helped me to establish good habits. I have started meditating and lighting candles to start every day. It's made me realize that making the morning a positive time of day isn't completely out of reach – if the people that I follow can do it, then so can I."
Leah's changed pace of life is another of the key principles behind the popularity of morning routines. Pre-pandemic, most people's mornings might have consisted of cramming down a piece of toast, a quick shower and a dash into the office. Get-ready-with-me TikTok presents an idealized vision of a slowed-down world, one which has become increasingly familiar to many viewers as more of us work from home. It reframes the monotony of being stuck inside as a romanticized vision of a simpler style of living, and viewers are often entranced by how a soothing audio and good lighting can give watering plants or cleaning the kitchen a new lease of life.
One such TikTok star who has made the most of her newly pared-back way of life – and attracted plenty of followers in the process – is 22-year-old Rumeysa Mete from New York. She gained over 100,000 followers in just three months after she started posting her morning routine, and her videos now have over 1.8million likes.
"Before the pandemic most of us, including me, spent our days running from one errand to another," she says. "I would wake up fifteen minutes before school or work, brush my teeth, and head out with an empty stomach. After years of constantly being on the go people are now staying at home, and it's helped them to improve things that they've always wanted to, including morning routines. There's something very intriguing about seeing how other people perform everyday tasks, whether it's journaling or skincare. For me, watching other people's videos gives me hope that there's a possibility to gain control over your life."
In a year defined by turbulent events and a total disruption of our way of life, TikTok morning routines offer people a chance to relax and enjoy the banal. When things are far from perfect, lingering shots of shower gel and sunrises have a soothing kind of power, a window into an idealized world that feels just within our grasp and an opportunity to see how others are creating a sense of normality in our altered reality. For Dana, who continues to post the view from her apartment and sumptuous shots of breakfast bowls and avocado toast, the response from her followers pushes her to continue to create content.
"People tell me that my videos relaxed and motivated them to start their day, or boosted their serotonin levels," she says. "It makes me so happy to hear. Lockdown has highlighted how important it is to enjoy your time at home, and people have been given an opportunity to change something about their mornings… I'm just really glad that I can help people to feel better."