Does this scenario sound familiar to you?
After hitting the snooze button too many times, you rush out of bed at the last minute. You attempt to get dressed while brushing your teeth, and you probably get toothpaste on your shirt. A frantic search of your house leads to you finding your car keys in the oddest of places, and you spill your coffee as you run out of the house, 15 minutes late to work. To top it all off, you hit what must be every red light in town on your commute.
While a good morning routine cannot guarantee that bad days won’t happen, it can help to set a positive tone for the rest of the day. In turn, a positive outlook can help you deal with many challenges that come up and will help you to have a more productive day.
Even if you aren’t a morning person, there are a few morning habits that you might be able to incorporate for a less stressful start to your day!
As simple as it sounds, it’s always a good idea to prep for your morning the night before.
By preparing as much as you can the night before, you’re less likely to feel overwhelmed in the morning. As you tackle any tasks or prep work, remember the phrase “One less thing!” This will help you to stay motivated, and to ultimately have one less thing to worry about in the morning.
How much sleep do you get on an average night? Did you know that the average person needs about 7-9 hours of sleep? While it can be hard to go to sleep early enough, your body will appreciate the earlier bedtime, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed.
Try going to bed and waking up each day around the same time. Waking up around the same time each morning will help your body’s circadian rhythm settle into a natural pattern. Improving your circadian rhythm will naturally lead to better sleep.
It is so tempting to hit snooze a few times when your alarm clock goes off in the morning. However, doing that will generally leave you feeling more tired than just getting out of bed. When you hit snooze, your body doesn’t have time to fall back into the REM sleep cycle. At the end of the day, those few extra minutes of dozing aren’t beneficial.
If you frequently hit snooze, move the alarm out of arm’s reach. If you have to physically get up to silence the alarm, you are less likely to go back to sleep.
Our bodies contain up to 70% water. 7-9 hours of sleep leaves the body dehydrated. Drinking 20 to 30 ounces within the first hour after waking can increase your metabolism and combat dehydration. Hydration is such an important part of creating a morning routine.
If you drink your morning cup of coffee first, this raises the body’s cortisol levels. Cortisol levels are already high in the morning, so drinking caffeine before hydrating can cause these to rise even higher. The caffeine stimulates the kidneys to expel sodium and water, so the body dehydrates even more. While cortisol can help you feel more alert, a sudden increase can also raise anxiety and stress levels.
Consuming water before caffeine also helps prevent the caffeine crash. Caffeine prevents adenosine from binding to the receptors in your brain. When the caffeine wears off, all of the blocked adenosine now floods the brain.This causes you to feel the intense crash characterized by drowsiness, inability to concentrate, irritability, and not feeling good overall.
Make sure to eat a healthy breakfast balanced with high quality protein, healthy fats, and complex carbs. Eating breakfast results in a short term increase in energy levels and concentration, along with many other benefits. Experts call breakfast the most important meal of the day for a reason!
Try to start your day with some type of movement. If you can, get in a morning gym session. This can help you feel awake and to be ready for the rest of the day. As an added bonus, it also provides a boost to your metabolism.
If you aren’t a morning gym enthusiast, add light stretching or yoga flow to your first 30 minutes of the day. Moving your body first thing in the morning leaves you feeling more energized and awake. Even if you only have five minutes, that’s better than no movement at all.
Find an inspirational podcast or listen to music that helps you start your day on a positive note. Try to avoid stressing about the day ahead (we realize this is easier said than done) and focus on what you are listening to. A podcast that brings you joy or inspiration focuses your mind away from potential stressors.
This habit is perfect for a longer commute, which can be very stressful in itself.
Including intentional quiet time in the morning really sets the tone for the day.
Start by focusing on gratitude, which can be as simple as stating 5 things you are grateful for. Gratitude journaling is helpful if you want to look back on your thoughts later.
Conscientiously focusing on the positives can cause your perspective to shift. A former inconvenience may suddenly turn into a positive thing. For example, getting stuck in traffic might seem like an annoyance. However, it could give you more time to listen to a podcast, or give you more time in the car with your kids.
Morning meditation is similar to gratitude journaling. Start by finding a comfortable place to sit, and find a focal point to look at or simply close your eyes. Then, imagine your intentions or goals for the day. You might think of things you are thankful for, repeat positive affirmations, or intentions for the rest of the week.
There are several guided meditations on YouTube that are easy to follow, and can help you get started. You can also add uplifting essential oils like lemon, bergamot, orange, or peppermint.
By incorporating some of these ideas into your routine before leaving the house, you may find your morning is just a little less stressful!