Mornings can be hard. For a lot of us they entail painfully and groggily emerging from sleep, and then frantically rushing to get out the door. But there are a few simple things you should be doing every morning that can dramatically improve your whole day (and in some case, whole life). And the good news is they're usually things that are pretty easy to do.
The ironic thing about mornings is that while many of us dread them and declare we're "just not morning people," they actually provide an opportunity to fit in some of the most beneficial and enjoyable parts of our day. Not only that, but I've found that when I actually stick to a fairly regular morning routine and make sure I check off a few specific boxes, I feel way more centered overall.
Morning is also the time of day when a lot of us get the most concentrated "me" time, since we haven't yet been met with a barrage of work requests or social invitations. This also means it's a prime time to take advantage of a little precious breathing room.
If you're looking to jump start your day in the best way possible and set yourself up for maximum productivity, here are eleven things you should be doing every single morning.
1. Make Your Bed (Seriously)
In a now famous commencement speech given by Navy SEAL Admiral William McRaven to the University of Texas, Admiral McRaven said that when you make your bed each day, you'll have already accomplished something by the time you walk out the door. And what's more, no matter how the days go, you'll return home to that accomplishment. It's a super simple, yet super impactful morning ritual.
2. Drink A Green Smoothie
This is a personal tip I've recently adopted and it's made a huge difference in terms of how I feel each day. By drinking a green smoothie first thing (a smoothie with a veggie base, as opposed to milk or fruit bases), I've already had a ton of fruits and veggies before I've even had my morning coffee. I like to use a couple handfuls of spinach, some carrots, an apple, half a pear, and some ginger blended with water, but there are tons of different recipes out there!
3. Get Some Natural Light
According to Dr. Mariana Figueiro, program director of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center, in a piece for Prevention, getting about 30 minutes of sunlight every morning helps keep our circadian rhythms on schedule, meaning we won't end up feeling sleep deprived. So eat breakfast by a window, or sit on your stoop with some coffee.
4. Don't Reach For Your Phone
According to social psychologist Dr. Ron Friedman in a piece for Psychology Today, when we spend the first minutes of our day checking emails and social media, we're instantly put in a "reactive" state, meaning that we're responding defensively to outside stimuli. Friedman 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. And it doesn't have to be ten minutes of doing nothing — you can always use it towards focussing singularly on making tea, or even applying your makeup.
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. And he stressed 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.
Not only does the Mayo Clinic list a slew of benefits that come from daily stretching (increased circulation to muscles and increased flexibility and range of motion to name just a few), but I find it just helps wake me up. I leave a morning stretch routine feeling more alert and way more ready to tackle the day.
7. Assess Your Priorities
In a piece for Forbes, office efficiency expert Michael Kerr recommended creating a To Do list (if you haven't already the night before) and assess your priorities for the day. “Too many people get distracted first thing in the morning with unimportant activities such as diving right into their morass of e-mail, when there may be a whole host of more important issues that need dealing with," he said.
8. Check The Weather
This is another personal, super common-sensed-based tip that took me way too long to fit into my morning routine. Nothing sucks more getting caught without an umbrella, or leaving your spring jacket at home because you assume it'll be way warmer than it actually is.
9. Listen To Your Favorite Music
According to a study featured on Healthline.com, music can potentially lift our moods, making us happier day-to-day. However, Yuna Ferguson, one of the study's authors, noted that we shouldn't listen to music while thinking, "Am I happy yet?" and instead just let the experience take its course.
10. Tidy Your Workspace
In that same piece for Forbes, business author Alexandra Levitt noted that ensuring that our workspace is organized first thing makes a huge difference to our approach to the rest of the day. Otherwise, she noted, we can feel more overwhelmed than we need to simply because our space looks overwhelming.
11. Set An Online Time Limit
In a piece for LifeHack, life coach Samantha Sutton recommended creating a time limit for your morning e-mail and internet use if you're someone who really can't go without it first thing. "Don’t fall into an email pit and spend the whole morning on email: set a time limit and address only the most important emails at that time," Sutton said. For me, I like to give myself 20 minutes — it keeps me focused and ensures I don't go down any time-consuming rabbit holes.
Mornings don't have to suck, and in fact they can set you up for the best day possible. Incorporate some or all of the above tips into your routine and get ready to feel awesome.
Images: Pexels (12)