The Success & Power of a Morning Routine
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The first few hours set the tone for the rest of your day. It can be hard to shake that frazzled feeling if you wake up late and immediately feel like you’re behind. Following a predetermined set of activities that gradually eases you into your morning, though, can help you feel more grounded, centered, and ready for anything.
Optimizing your morning routine doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, keeping it simple is often the best approach.
Best Ways to Optimize Your Morning Routine
Overly ambitious morning routines aren’t sustainable. Instead of vowing to do it all, choose one or two simple ways to optimize your morning routine so it better serves your needs.
If you’re looking to add some structure to your a.m., here are a few ideas to get you started.
Improve Your Sleep Hygiene
How you sleep at night has a direct impact on how you feel in the morning. Sleep hygiene refers to the habits and practices that promote quality sleep. Without healthy sleep habits, research suggests that you’re more likely to experience low energy, poor concentration, memory problems, and mood swings.
To optimize your sleep hygiene:
- Get on a regular sleep schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, even on weekends.
- Skip caffeine and alcohol before bed.
- Create a sleep environment that’s cool, dark, and quiet.
- Try not to use electronic devices in bed.
The more you practice good sleep hygiene, the easier it will be to wake up feeling refreshed and alert.
Reduce the Number of Decisions You Have To Make
American adults make somewhere around 35,000 decisions a day, but it’s possible to reach a point where you’re so mentally exhausted that it becomes more difficult to make good choices. This phenomenon is called decision fatigue.
If you find yourself feeling constantly overwhelmed by choices, try to streamline your decision-making process and take a load off your brain by prepping for the next day the night before. You can:
- Pick out your clothes.
- Make your lunch.
- Prepare your breakfast.
- Pack your bag or purse.
- Clean up the house.
By reducing the number of decisions you have to make in the morning, you can help yourself feel more mentally prepared to face the day.
Drink Water When You Wake Up
Staying hydrated is essential to maintaining your health. Dehydration can cause fatigue and confusion. There isn’t much research that’s focused on the benefits of drinking water first thing in the morning, but it can increase your overall consumption for the day and help you reach your recommended intake.
Get Some Sun
Your body runs on an internal clock, or circadian rhythm, that regulates everything from your sleep patterns to your hormones. Exposing yourself to sunlight in the morning helps to “reset” this clock by producing melatonin sooner, which helps you fall asleep easier at night.
Studies have also shown that morning sunlight exposure is an effective treatment against insomnia, premenstrual syndrome, and seasonal affective disorder. So enjoy your glass of water outside and soak up some sunshine.
Research has shown that mindfulness can reduce psychological systems, lower emotional reactivity, improve behavioral regulation, and increase your overall well-being. Setting aside 5 to 10 minutes each morning to tune in to your breath and focus on the present moment can help you start your day feeling more balanced and centered.
There are many different ways to practice mindfulness. Some people prefer to meditate, while others find that yoga or stretching helps get them into the flow. Journaling is also a great way to do mindful reflection and process your thoughts and feelings before the chaos of the day begins.
Hit the Gym
There’s a lot of conflicting evidence out there about the “right time” to work out. The benefits of exercise aren’t necessarily time-dependent, but if you’re someone who struggles to find the motivation to hit the gym later in the day, then working out first thing in the morning may be the best solution.
Not only can a morning workout help you make healthier food choices, but it can also improve your alertness, attention, and decision-making skills.
Eat Protein and Fiber
Your body needs fuel to power through the day, and protein and fiber are two of the best nutrients for sustaining energy levels. Protein helps to build and repair muscle tissue, while fiber aids in digestion and keeping you feeling full.
Studies show that eating a breakfast that’s high in both protein and dietary fiber can help you feel full longer. Try a fried egg on whole grain toast or oatmeal with peanut butter to start your day.
What Can Mess Up a Morning Routine
While adding a few new healthy habits to your morning routine can help you jumpstart your day, there are a few things that can sabotage all your hard work, like:
- Skipping breakfast: If you’re trying to lose weight, you might think that skipping meals will help. But going without breakfast can actually mess with your body and even result in poor sleep quality.
- Masking fatigue with coffee: Needing coffee to get through your morning routine is a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep. Consider going to bed earlier and working on your sleep hygiene practices.
- Waking up at drastically different times: Not sticking to a regular sleep schedule can throw off your whole routine. It makes it harder to get out of bed and can also result in feeling groggy and disoriented.
- Dehydration: Your body needs water to function. If you’re not properly hydrated, it can lead to fatigue, confusion, and dizziness.
- Hitting the snooze button: If you’re constantly hitting the snooze button, then it might be time to reassess your sleep schedule. Waking up and going back to sleep multiple times can actually make you feel more tired.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to developing a healthy and sustainable morning routine.
Morning routines can vary greatly from person to person. Finding just one or two activities that you can realistically commit to makes a huge difference in how you feel both physically and mentally. Experiment until you find a routine that works for you, and then stick with it.
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