Despite what you might be feeling right now, mornings don't have to be a punishment. But knowing exactly what to do if you're not a morning person — which breakfast you should be eating, what stretches you should be doing — can be overwhelming. It can all get awfully aspirational, which is why when the most successful people in the world share their morning secrets, we listen (even if we know we'll never be that Type A).
But it is worth figuring out what works for you, because the science shows it really is easier to have a tolerable day if you've had a pleasant morning. Researchers at the University of Nottingham published their findings from 83 different studies, reporting that self-control and energy are daily resources that we run out of as the day goes on. What we do as soon as we wake up every day, though, can significantly affect how quickly we lose our grasp on these factors.
If we get rid of bad a.m. habits, we can keep our levels of self-control and energy even throughout the day, which makes us more productive (and less miserable). So, yeah, that means no gluing your eyes to the computer screen right after you roll out from under the covers. Because it's the smallest things that can screw with your sensitive bedhead.
Here are 11 little things you can do in the morning to feel more energized all day.
1. Wake Up At The Same Time Every Day
Having a solid routine does wonders for your ability to get stuff done throughout your day. Hal Elrod, motivational speaker and author of The Miracle Morning , writes that it's super important you kick off at the same time every a.m. Without a reliable rhythm to fall into, it's easier for you to feel disorganized and discouraged for the next several hours. Commit to the same alarm clock setting, and, if needed, adjust your bedtime to make sure you're getting enough shut-eye.
2. Drink A Large Lemon Water
I can attest to this. I adopted this morning ritual a year ago and I still swear by it. It makes you alert. It also encourages your stomach to function at its highest capacity, so it absorbs more nutrients from your meals, and it really helped to clear up my skin. Drink 16 oz of warm water with fresh lemon juice squeezed into it (room temperature is good too). Wait at least 15 minutes before you eat anything, though.
3. Get Your Heart Rate Up For 10 Minutes
At the University of Bristol, researchers found that those who exercised in the morning had more energy and possessed a more positive attitude. All it takes is 10 minutes of moderate movement to release a neurotransmitter called GABA, which gives you self-control and leaves you feeling calm, cool, and collected. No hour-long spin class required.
4. Eat Breakfast Before You Drink Your Coffee
Jennifer Lawrence's former trainer, Dalton Wong, spoke to Cosmopolitan about his greatest secrets to getting J-Law fit and healthy, which he wrote about in his new book The Feelgood Plan . Here is the order she did things in the a.m. in order to get the most energy out of each day: hydrate first thing (lemon water, coconut water, etc.), have a full breakfast, and then drink coffee. Wong says this routine helps you think straight, as well as hinders you from mindlessly grazing on food throughout the day.
5. Have A Serving Of Complex Carbohydrates
Whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, what have you. All of these complex carbs will immediately get you going. They're said to optimize your energy levels. Even better, they prevent you from crashing later in the day, as if you would from white bread or refined sugar, and improve your digestion. So consider saving the cinnamon roll for the weekend, and have a bowl of all-natural oatmeal instead.
6. Stretch Out Your Back
After several hours of sleeping, your spine is stiff. Wake it up with a simple seated spinal twist, a standing side stretch, cat/cow pose, and a gentle backbend in a posture like Cobra. These movements wake up the joints and lubricate the vertebrae, preventing you from getting the late afternoon lower back pain after sitting in your desk for so long.
7. Give Yourself A Cold Rinse In The Shower
It sounds a bit masochistic, but there is some real evidence as to why cold showers are awesome. In 1994, a study found that being exposed to chilly water without first acclimatizing resulted in a greater tolerance to stress and an increase of an antioxidant called gluthathione, which keeps all the other antioxidants functioning at their very best. Actress and icon Katherine Hepburn swore by cold showers in her time, insisting that they gave her energy for the whole day.
8. Get A Difficult Task Out Of The Way First
Your brain beckons you to check your email or scroll through your favorite Instagram accounts. I know it's tempting, but your best bet is to tackle something that requires more of your problem solving skills first. You've got a lot of will power and energy in the morning; if you use it to check off something on your to-do list that is substantial, it will give your brain the boost of self-confidence it needs to make it through even the dullest moments of the rest of the day.
9. Do Nothing For A Few Minutes
Meditating regularly is proven to reduce in inflammation in the brain and chill you out in general, as a study published in Biological Psychiatry revealed. The authors simply defined mindful meditation as "an open... nonjudgmental awareness of your present-moment experience." You don't even need a mantra.
If you're not into meditating, you can still gain a lot from shutting down all your electronics for a few minutes in the a.m., and enjoying the silence. That brief moment of respite can prepare you for the chaos that hits you later.
10. Take A Multivitamin
You're probably not eating a perfectly balanced diet that would provide you with the exact amount of each and every vitamin your body needs. For example, if you're not a big meat eater, you're likely missing out on enough B12. Dr. Kathi Kemper, director of the Center for Integrative Health and Wellness at Ohio State University, told WebMD that, without proper amounts of B12, "your internal energy factories just don't work as well."
Even if you are getting your B12, there are a whole lot of other vitamins you might still need to get you through the day. The big players women should look out for are vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron.
11. Sniff Some Mint Before You Walk Out The Door
By now, you know how useful scents can be. Lavender is the natural ticket to help you drift into sleep, but did you know that mint is a reliable energy booster? A cup of mint tea or just a sniff of peppermint or spearmint oil can wake you up in a jiffy. A study at the University of Cincinnati showed the mere scent of mint improved the participants' alertness, concentration, and memory retention.
Don't expect to incorporate all the good habits in the world into your routine within a day or two. Gradually add in one at a time, and, little by little, your mornings will become your best friend. Yes, really.
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