Mornings can be rough. They often entail hitting the snooze button (sometimes multiple times), and dragging ourselves out of bed. Or worse, the can include over-sleeping and a mad rush to get out the door. And it's a shame, because starting your morning off the right way — as in a way that doesn't entail wanting to curl back up in a ball and sleep for another eight hours or an influx of "I'm gonna be late!" anxiety — can make a huge difference to our day.
I've always found that my mornings can set the tone for my entire day. When I take the time to center myself, eat a good breakfast, and not feel rushed, I tackle everything else with a way better attitude. And on the flip side, the days that start out with stress or unpleasant moments are generally not so great. A bad morning affects my perception of everything going forward that day, which can turn little things, like missing the subway, or spilling some coffee, into way bigger and more annoying deals than they actually are.
"OK," you're probably thinking, "starting your morning off right makes us feel good. Duh. But how do we go about actually doing it?" The good news is it's not hard and it's mostly just about carving out time and space to do a few things that you'll enjoy.
If you're looking to start your days off in the most awesome and helpful ways possible, here are are eleven things that should help.
1. Go To Sleep ASAP
This isn't technically a morning routine, but making sure you got enough sleep the night before is key for being able to have an ideal morning. I try to limit my use of over-stimulating phones and tablets once I get into bed each night and instead opt for a good old fashioned book. It works like a charm! And a study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that consuming caffeine as early as six hours before bed (and that includes sodas and many teas!) has "important disruptive effects" on our sleep patterns.
2. Don't Hit Snooze
In a piece for Oprah.com, Rafael Pelayo, MD, a sleep specialist at the Stanford University Sleep Medicine Center noted that our bodies experience an instant jolt of adrenaline when our alarms go off. However, she noted that when you allow yourself to fall back asleep and then are awoken a second time, your body becomes confused, leading to that groggy, confused feeling.
3. Make Your Bed
In a now semi-famous speech given by Navy Seal Admiral William McRaven at the University of Texas, the Admiral explains why making your bed each and every morning is one of the single most important things you can do for yourself. He said it means you have already accomplished something when you walk out the door each day, and no matter how the day goes, you will come home to that accomplishment.
4. Get Some Light
According to Natalie Dautovich, the National Sleep Foundation’s environmental scholar, in a piece for The Huffington Post, "your body’s internal clock is sensitive to light and darkness." She recommended opening the shades as soon as you wake up or eating your breakfast outside or by a window. You can also think about investing in a wake up light that gradually brightens.
5. Don't Drink Caffeine First Thing
You might want to think about reaching for the caffeinated beverage right when you wake up. According to health writer and blogger Linda Wasmer Andrews for a piece for Psychology Today, our bodies already produce adrenaline when we wake up, meaning waiting an hour or two for our levels to dip will yield the most effective results.
6. Wait To Check Email And Social Media
According to social psychologist Dr. Ron Friedman in a piece for Psychology Today, when we spend the first minutes of our day checking e-mails and social media, we're instantly put in a "reactive" state, meaning that we're responding defensively to outside stimuli. He recommended taking the first ten minutes of each day to just sit with yourself and find a place of center before engaging with the world — you'll have plenty of time to do that all day
On his website, life coach Tim Ferris said that meditating for 15 or 20 minutes each morning helps him approach the entire rest of the day with calm. He also noted that this doesn't have to mean sitting and chanting "om" with your eyes closed. Mediation can be as simple as being totally present in the moment and not letting your brain wander to anything else as you make breakfast.
8. Listen To Feel-Good Music
This is a personal tip. Nothing will put you in a good mood faster than some pump up music. I keep a regular old FM radio in my room that I can turn on effortlessly as I get ready each morning. I listen to whatever comes my way and don't worry about playlists or song selections.
9. Blast The Cold Water
According to a piece in Entrepreneur by CEO and productivity writer Phil Dumontet, a blast of cold water for 30 seconds before leaving a morning shower works wonders for our overall alertness, as it increases our heart rate and breathing. Give it a try! It just might become your new morning go-to.
10. Have A Wakeup Routine
I've always found that while I never can truly bring myself to do a "hard core" workout in the morning (it's just not how my body works) embracing some light and gentle movement that gets my heart rate moving and loosens my back and joints always makes me feel SO much better. I love the above morning stretch routine from K Perfect Fitness TV.
11. Get The Green
Smoothie that is. According to Dr. Rhea Mehta, green smoothies (those with a green vegetable base as opposed to fruit or yogurt bases) are awesome because they "hide" full servings of healthful greens like spinach and kale, and generally don't include super sugary foods that can spike our blood sugar and make us crash later. It also mean that you'll be sure you got a ton of veggies in no matter what you eat for lunch or dinner later in the day.
Mornings don't have to be a rush of grogginess and stress — they can actually be a source of enjoyment that (bonus!) set us up for a way better day. So wake up — and enjoy!
Images: Pexels (12)