Personally, I can't remember the last time one of my days didn't start with at least five hits of my alarm's snooze button. And even though I know it's not ideal, I rarely eat breakfast. I have a bad habit of checking my email and social media accounts before I even get out of bed, I always put sugar in my coffee, and I typically don't do my stretches until later in the day. Basically, I've been sabotaging my mornings for awhile now, and it's starting to stress me out. If you've been doing the same thing, I have some good news: There are plenty of little ways to make our mornings healthier, and they're all actually pretty easy.
Whether you work primarily from home like I do, or you have to endure one hell of a commute before you even start your workday, or you're currently not working at all, our morning routines can seriously affect everything from our physical and mental health to our productivity throughout the day. So, if you're one of the five people out there who has their sh*t so perfectly together that you don't need any instructions on how to have a healthier morning, then good for you. Otherwise, read on.
1. Put Your Phone Or Alarm Clock Across The Room
As I've already admitted, I'm horrible about hitting snooze multiple times every morning. I don't know why I'm having such a hard time kicking this habit, because it always sets a negative tone for my day, it keeps me from being as productive as I know I could be, and it's actually a pretty unhealthy way to start the day.
According to Corrie Pikul over at the Huffington Post, hitting snooze causes sleep inertia, which can last for up to two hours after you finally drag your butt out of bed. In case you're unfamiliar with the term, sleep inertia is what happens when your body and brain are awoken abruptly, and it causes grogginess and a decrease in motor skills. When you hit snooze and go back to sleep for ten minutes, your body and brain are shocked awake when your alarm goes off again. Sleep inertia is inevitable.
If, like me, you're having a difficult time breaking your snooze habit, try leaving your phone (or alarm clock if that's what you use) across the room. When I actually fall asleep with my phone across the room, this trick always works on me, because I'm forced to get completely out of bed just to turn the thing off. This also should help with looking at your phone in bed first thing in the morning.
2. Drink A Glass Of Water First Thing
I'm sure you don't need me to tell you the importance of drinking enough water. That said, you may not realize just how much healthier your morning would be if you kicked it off by downing a glass or two of water right away. Drinking 16 ounces of water right when you wake up won't just re-hydrate you, it can help boost metabolism, flush out toxins, plump your brain, and even make your appetite more manageable. If you enjoy lemon, know that adding lemon to your water can do wonders for your digestive tract, too.
3. Listen To Your Favorite Tunes Before You Get To Work
Unless you just hate music, you might want to consider putting together a few morning playlists for yourself. As I'm sure you already know, music and/or white noise can positively affect both our bodies and our minds. As Everyday Health put it in their article on morning routines, "When we listen to a beautiful song or the sounds of nature — a babbling brook or ocean waves — our bodies produce chemicals that can boost our moods." Additionally, music can help with everything from chronic back pain to memory loss.
So whether you're stressed out and need to be soothed, or you just need a little help getting motivated, find the Spotify station that fits your needs and listen to it when you wake up tomorrow morning. You might already listen to music at work, but this will help put you in a better mood before you even get there.
4. Sprinkle Cinnamon In Your Coffee
While I'll drink black coffee if I have to, I generally prefer to sweeten it up. I'm definitely a spoon-full-of-sugar and splash-of-half-and-half kind of coffee drinker, so adding cinnamon to my coffee greatly appeals to me. Even if you drink your coffee black and think sweetener is for the faint of heart, though, you might want to try sprinkling some cinnamon in your morning coffee from now on.
Apparently, cinnamon is not just an all-natural way to sweeten your coffee, it can also prevent sharp spikes and and dips in blood sugar, boost your immune system, reduce cravings, and help with congestion.
5. Have A Couple Go-To Morning Stretches
I'll be the first one to admit that I rarely stretch when I first wake up. Mainly because, when I wake up, all I feel capable of doing is stumbling to my coffee maker — but also because I prefer to stretch after my workouts in the evening.
I really am going to try to change my ways, though; stretching in the a.m. not only gives us a mental release, it can also relieve muscle tension, allow for greater range of movement, and promote better posture, too. Even just a couple simple sun salutations or a side stretch can do wonders for your back. Follow what feels good.
6. Take A Short Walk
I'm a big fan of walking, and when I lived in Missouri, it wasn't uncommon for me to walk in the mornings. Since I've moved to NYC, though, I haven't taken too many morning strolls — but with warm weather right around the corner, I may have to get back into my walking practice.
The benefits of walking, whether you do it in the morning or not, are well documented. That said, walking first thing in the morning might be particularly beneficial. According to Everyday Health, this is even more true if you take your walk outdoors. Beginning your morning with even a 10 minute walk around your block will energize you, boost your mood, help you focus, and allow you to soak up some immune-boosting vitamin D, too.
If you drive to work, try parking a little farther away. If you take the train, consider budgeting 10 extra minutes to walk to the train station that's one stop closer to where you work or go to school.
7. Read Something — But Not On Your Phone
Although scrolling Facebook and Twitter while we sip our morning coffee seems to have replaced reading the newspaper over breakfast, looking at your phone as soon as you wake up will most likely just stress you out.
Tomorrow morning, go as long as you reasonably can without looking at your phone. Instead, try sitting quietly and reading a good book while you're getting caffeinated. As you may already know, reading stimulates the mind, reduces stress, and improves both focus and memory. Plus, if you're a writer, (like me) reading can help you improve your craft.
8. Journal For 10 Minutes
Though I haven't been keeping a journal lately, I've greatly benefited from doing so in the past. Not only has keeping a journal helped me control my anxiety and soothe my heartbreak, it can be really fun and encouraging to see documented proof of your personal and professional progress over the years.
Keeping a journal can help you become more self-aware, it can help you let go of past conflicts, it will probably inspire you, and it will definitely allow you to keep track of your goals. Plus, as Psych Central reports, journaling has been proven to greatly improve both mental and physical health. As Maud Purcell, LCSW, CEAP, reported in her post on the topic:
Moreover, Purcell praises the mental benefits of daily journaling, saying, "Through your writing you’ll discover that your journal is an all-accepting, nonjudgmental friend. And she may provide the cheapest therapy you will ever get." Even if you can budget just five or ten minutes in the morning or on a train commute, the results will be immediately palpable.
9. Eat Something With Fiber, Calcium, Protein & Fat
Eating healthy is important at any time of the day, but what you eat when you wake up might matter the most. As WebMD explains, eating breakfast boosts brainpower, promotes a healthy weight, and protects us from disease. The site suggests eating a breakfast of, "at least 5 grams of fiber, one serving of calcium (equal to a cup of milk or yogurt), and some protein and fat."
If you're one of those people whose lack of appetite in the morning makes even eating french toast seem about as appealing as munching on cardboard, though, at least throw a granola bar in your bag before you leave the house. That way, when you finally do get hungry, you won't turn into hangry grouch.