A considered, regular morning routine is a powerful thing. A physically and mentally healthy low-stress morning can really help to set the tone for the day. It can energize and empower you to kickstart a positive and productive day. Timing-wise, a healthy routine actioning the suggestions below would take about an hour. If the thought of finding that time makes you want to dive back under the covers and hide, trust me, this is the power hour redefined. It’s worth it!
1. Wake Up at the Same Time: First things first: Wake up earlier. Yes, most of us do have to carve out some extra time to have a healthy morning routine! But fear not, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to survive on less sleep. Instead, work with your body’s natural circadian rhythm by adjusting both your wake and sleep times. By waking at around the same time every day (even weekends!), we tap into our natural circadian rhythm’s energising power. When you hear the alarm in the morning, don’t snooze it. Slowly, we can train our bodies to get out of bed earlier than we thought comfortably possible! Here are some tips for waking up earlier:
- Start by going to bed 15 minutes earlier than usual. The following morning, wake up 15 minutes earlier than usual. Once you adjust to this new pattern, move your sleep/wake schedule by 15 minutes earlier again. Keep doing this in 15-minute increments until you hit your desired wake up time to ensure a smooth sailing morning routine.
- Make it very difficult to hit snooze. Place your phone/alarm clock across the other side of the room if you have to!
- Remind yourself that if you can work through the somewhat uncomfortable process of waking up earlier than you’re used to, you’ll likely start to feel great once you get moving and get started on your positive morning routine.
2. Stretch your body: We can all enjoy a good stretch in the morning, in fact stretching post-waking is very instinctive (just watch your cat or dog!). However, consider putting a little more time and attention into your stretching. I’m not saying you should be sun-saluting in your bed from the moment you wake up, but just a few stretches to awaken the body and get the blood flowing. There’s a reason morning stretches feel so good. When we sleep, our muscles lose tone and after being relatively still for a long period of time, fluid tends to pool along the back. Stretching helps to massage fluid back into the normal position gently. So, mindfully uncoil yourself from your sleep position and start your day reaching for the stars!
3. Ditch Devices: I understand the temptation to reach for your phone as soon as you wake. Try not to engage with the phone beyond turning off the alarm! Emails and social media suck you in and demand your focus and energy before you even have a chance to wake up. Consider postponing those activities for at least 20 minutes after you rise. Every time we check our phones, we invite a flood of stimulation, stress and clutter into our brain space. Our phones hold many potential stressors, like doom and gloom news notifications, your bank balance, and messages from seemingly a zillion apps all needing your attention stat. And for many of us, once we check our phones, we’re pretty much hooked into the demands it presents for the rest of the day. Try and delay the plug-in until after your healthy hour or power! When you rise in the morning following a good sleep, you’re in a naturally relaxed state. The goal is to maintain that level of calm for as long as we can in the morning. Engaging with your phone beyond the alarm first thing is a quick way to potentially curb your whole morning routine. Anyone else familiar with getting lost down an Instagram hole before even getting out of bed?
4. Meditate: Now you’ve stretched your body back to life and you’re not spending time checking your phone, consider allocating just 5-10 minutes to meditation or mindfulness. Find somewhere quiet, comfortable and warm (snoozing under the duvet doesn’t count!) There are countless studies that prove the benefits of meditation. Research shows that along with its calming and focusing effects, regular meditation can permanently rewire the brain to raise happiness levels, lower stress, and even improve immune function.There’s no right or wrong type of meditation! Research online, explore apps and see what feels right for you!
5. Drink some lemon water: It’s a great idea to go to bed with a glass of lemon water next to you, ready to drink first thing upon rising. Most of us are well-versed in the benefits of drinking water. We know we should be hydrating throughout the day, but a glass of water in the morning kind of gets the whole process going. Adding lemon to the water helps to “wake-up” your liver, the body’s main detoxifying organ. It also helps to stimulate proper bile production, which aids in good digestion for the day. Lemons are also a great source of vitamin C, and immune-enhancement has never been so important!
6. Exercise: Since the body and mind are deeply connected, why not use the focused and calm state you’ve achieved so far to get some physical activity in for the day? Exercising first thing before eating has many health benefits. Research suggests it is the most efficient time to burn excess body fat and it is said to help improve glucose tolerance also. However, not all of us can go from our relaxed post-slumber state to pumping out push-ups. If you require a calmer alternative to a full-on workout, a walk is an excellent way to start the day. Exercising in nature can further improve focus and reduce stress too. Working out early in nature generally means you get more sunlight, which is one of the keys to properly setting your body’s internal circadian rhythm.
7. Write or review your daily to-do list: For some people, the dream morning routine is a protected bubble where thoughts about work aren’t allowed. Fair enough. But another way to look at it, is the calm of the morning (for those early-risers) is the perfect time to get some strategizing done before becoming distracted by the inevitable onslaught of family responsibilities or the flood of emails. When you invest the time to write out or review your game plan for the day, you’re ahead of the game. Consider writing your daily to-do list on paper as opposed to your phone. Why? It means you can access your goals without having to look at your phone and get sucked into the “reactive” mode of checking texts, emails and social media notifications!
8. Fuel-Up: Phew, we’re nearly ready to kick the day into full-swing! But, I’d hardly pack you up and send you off to achieve your day’s tasks without making time to fuel-up. A healthy breakfast is an important part of many people’s healthy morning routine. A well-fed body is a well-fuelled mind. Consider prepping smoothies the night before if time is of the essence, or make large batches of protein-packed breakfasts such as freezable breakfast frittatas.
You don’t have to change your entire morning routine overnight dramatically. Perhaps you’ve never thought you could ever be one of “those” people – the people who’ve already om-ed, sweated, set goals, and thrown back a superfood smoothie before the rest of us have even reached over to snooze the alarm clock for the first time. But with some tweaking to your current routine, it can be achieved! A healthy morning routine is intended to be experimented with, adjusted, and added to. Frequently remind yourself about the benefits of your healthy morning routine, so you stay motivated, especially at the start. As the routine starts to pay off, the positive impacts will propel you to keep it going!