How you start the morning has a big impact – positive or negative – on the rest of your day. By practicing a healthy morning routine, you can increase your productivity, reduce the stress, increase happiness and more.
Many people wake up every day with a series of responsibilities that end up setting the pace of their mornings. If you have kids or pets, you need to take care of them. Many people have morning chores, they need to do the breakfast, get ready for work and so on.
I’m not suggesting you shirk your responsibilities. But the truth is, you’ll be better prepared to handle it each morning if you have a healthy self-care routine.
Below, I share some of my own healthy morning habits, as well as tips and tricks for creating a routine that lasts – and what to do when you falter. Some habits in my routine will resonate with you, while others won’t. As you read, keep in mind your lifestyle and health goals so that you can create a morning routine that works best for you.
1) Set the alarm clock to work for you, not against
The first step to start your day right is adjust your sleep to ensure enough time in the morning for you and your responsibilities. If your kids get up at 6:30 am, that means you need to wake up before them.
If you don’t have kids or pets to look after and you usually get up at 7am to leave the house at 7:30am, it’s time to start your day earlier. That said, sleep is important. When you set your alarm clock to wake up earlier, you also need to start sleeping earlier. There’s nothing healthy about being sleep deprived, so try to get at least seven hours of sleep a day.
2) Breathe in the new day
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Unfortunately, for many people the answer is “get my cell phone”. If you are like that, how many minutes do you spend every morning fiddling with your cell phone and potentially building up stress from news, social media and messaging?
What if you established a rule that – before picking up your cell phone – you took six deep breaths to focus your attention on the power and blessing of your own vital energy?
Because the diaphragm acts as a breathing and posture muscle, diaphragm breathing not only helps positively focus your mind, it also improves your body to support movement and good posture.
3) Drink water before breakfast
As we lose water through our breathing and sweating while we sleep, we often wake up thirsty. Considering that an adult’s body is made up of 60% water, hydration it is essential for good health.
Drinking water early will not only help with rehydration, it will also speed up your metabolism, increasing your stimulation by up to 30%, according to research.
4) Move your body in all directions
There’s a reason you instinctively stretch right after you wake up. Our bodies crave movement after becoming sedentary. Why not target that instinct to be as productive as possible?
Instead of just doing a quick stretch in bed and then getting on with your day, get your body ready and get ready for a daily routine of training, taking advantage of all planes of movement and using both sides of your body equally. It is possible to do this with a quick yoga stream.
5) Take time to exercise
You may not be able to fit a complete exercise routine into your morning. This is OK. You can fit exercise into morning habits you already do. For years, I have been doing push ups before showering and squatting while brushing my teeth.
This is called habit building, a concept James Clear cites in his book “Atomic Habits.” By building the habit of doing a new exercise into a morning habit that already makes up your routine, it makes it easier to maintain it.
6) Get your mind right
Give yourself a blank canvas to start your day with just a few minutes of meditation. There are numerous apps that offer free meditation guides of less than 10 minutes. Or you can set a time on your cell phone and sit quietly and focus on your breath sensations, repeating a positive affirmation, mantra, or intention that you want to set for the day.
7) Cultivate an attitude of gratitude
Research indicates that practicing gratitude can reduce pain, increase empathy and reduce aggression – which is a great way to start your day, especially if you have to spend time in traffic.
You can practice gratitude in the morning as you watch the sunset, write things you are grateful for in a journal, or incorporate a focus on gratitude into your meditation.
Personally, I share a whiteboard with my husband, and each of us writes down three things we’re grateful for every night. Technically, this is a nocturnal habit, but because of the location of the blackboard in our bathroom, it’s one of the first things we see each morning. We’ve been doing this for years, and I still love waking up and seeing what he wrote and remembering what I was grateful for the day before.
8) Make your bed
By making your bed each day, you demonstrate to yourself that you take personal responsibility for the chores and are committed to keeping your personal space comfortable and tidy. This sets a precedent that reinforces the foundation of your ability to accomplish something.
9) Repeat your routine
This is the hardest part. Establishing a routine is not easy. It’s understandable that you start out well, but then get tired. If you get more sleep in a morning or forget a new habit, don’t be too hard on yourself, but don’t give up either. Start again the next morning, try some of the above suggestions to help you stay on track.
10) Organize yourself for success
To make it easier for you to follow your healthy morning self-care routine, take steps the night before to make things more convenient. For example, set aside clothes for the morning.
If you have kids, take their clothes or ask them to. Another option is to prepare breakfast in advance. I make a big pot of oats, which I can warm up in the morning. If you bring food to work or need to prepare a snack for the kids, do this before too.
Waking up early can be one of the biggest tasks to overcome. Use technology to help you, Maybe you need a more gradual tone alarm to wake you up. Or maybe you need something louder, a scarier sound. Try different options on your mobile.
As I struggled and kept hitting the “snooze” button, I invested $30 in a watch with a warm light so it would gradually light up the room before the alarm went off – and it worked for me. Find what works for you.
Are you ready to start a healthy morning routine? Tomorrow morning is your chance! Life is hectic for all of us, but we can always make time for things we consider important. Trust me – your overall health and your daily perspective are worth it.
*Dana Santas, known as the “Creator of Mobility,” is a certified strengthening and conditioning specialist and a mind and body coach in professional sports. She is the author of the book “Practical Solutions for Back Pain Relief.”
(Translated text. read the original in English.)