Are you feeling more stressed out lately? Is sleep becoming more of a luxury than a necessity for you? Do you feel like you’re on an emotional hair-trigger among friends, family, and co-workers? Are you accomplishing fewer tasks at work or are you constantly running after deadlines?
If you answered “yes” to all or just a few of the questions, you can remedy the situation you’re in simply by developing a morning routine.
Why You Need To Establish A Morning Routine
Whenever you hear people say, “24 hours a day is never enough”, chances are it’s not because they have a packed calendar every day. It might be because they start their day late.
Banks, supermarkets, schools, clinics, offices… these establishments start their operations at 7:00 am to 9:00 am, and end the day at 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. If you wake up at 11:00 am or worse – 1:00 pm – you’ve already lost half the day.
Instead of settling comfortably into the start of a new day, you’ll be chasing what’s left of it before the day comes to an end.
And if you’re working from home, guess what? You’re not exempt.
Yes, a Work-from-Home arrangement allows you to set your own time. But the people around you, especially your family, have different schedules.
If your spouse works in an office and you have kids at school, you won’t have the hours to spend quality time with them if you start your day late.
Starting your day early in the morning has many amazing benefits.
1. Physical Health
Wait. Before anything else, what’s the best time to wake up in the morning? You might have heard that 5:00 am is the best time to get the day started. While this hour is ideal for some, the answer will depend on 2 things:
- Your agenda for the day
- The number of hours of sleep you get every night
We recommend getting a 2-hour headstart to your day. Thus, if work commences at 9:00 am, set the alarm clock at 7:00 am.
By getting a 2-hour headstart, you have more time to settle in and prepare for the day ahead. No more excuses! You can set aside time for:
- Preparing a healthy, energy-packed breakfast.
- Exercise! 30 minutes to 1-hour of physical activity will get your mind and body primed and ready to handle the challenges of the day.
- Meditation or prayer to clear your mind and spirit.
When you eat nutritious food, exercise regularly, and spend quiet time for meditation and prayer, you’ll have a stronger immune system capable of protecting you from acquiring deadly diseases, illnesses, and infections.
People who don’t invest in their physical health are more susceptible to getting sick and missing days from work and time with family.
2. Mental Acuity
Waking up early in the morning allows you time to savor that all-important cup of freshly-brewed coffee.
Studies have shown that coffee helps support brain function, sharpen memory, and improve mental acuity. The moment the caffeine hits the bloodstream, you feel more focused and alert.
Also, you have more time to focus on the key tasks for the day. For example, if you have a business presentation to a major client, you can review the PowerPoint and do a quick rehearsal.
If you have to travel to a far-off location, you have the time to check and double-check your personal belongings and confirm your reservations, transportation accommodations, weather conditions, and the documents you need for the trip.
When you can organize your day, your mind can focus on the itinerary that’s been mapped out. You’ll have fewer distractions and be in a mentally-healthier place to manage issues and problems that could arise.
3. Emotional Well-Being
If you’re constantly rushing to meet deadlines or accomplish tasks, the quality of your work might not be good.
If you’re consistently canceling plans with the family because you still have work to do, over time this habit will affect relationships.
If you are pressed for time in the day to complete the tasks for work and obligations for the family, you’ll have less time for yourself.
The end result is a stressful lifestyle and stress has been identified by research as the root cause of many unwanted health conditions.
Waking up early is a big first step in eliminating stress from your life. If you have more time in a day to address the matters that need attention, you’ll have a more balanced lifestyle and lower stress levels.
If you’re physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy and awake as the rest of the world, you will be productive.
That’s one reason why remote working arrangements have been successful. People who work from home are generally happier because they don’t have to deal with the inconvenience of the daily commute and the stress of office politics.
When they get up in the morning, they can slow down a bit, nurse the first cup of coffee, and have a few minutes to interact with the family. Without having to worry about rush hour traffic, they become more settled in and relaxed for the workday.
But as we mentioned earlier, even if you work remotely, you will be better off with a morning routine.
9 Tips To Develop A Morning Routine
To be clear, developing a morning routine isn’t for the purpose of increasing productivity. Yes, you will be more productive if you start your day earlier.
However, our purpose for having and maintaining a morning routine is to cultivate an environment where you’ll have more confidence, a positive disposition, and a mindset that’s capable of navigating through difficult situations.
Developing a successful morning routine starts the night before.
1. Have a Good Night’s Sleep
Doctors have long recommended that adults or those aged 18 years and older should get at least 8 hours of good quality sleep every night.
The sad reality is that according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 70 million Americans experience problems sleeping.
If you’re one of them, here are some suggestions on how to get better sleep:
- Establish a sleep schedule – and don’t break it.
- Don’t drink coffee or any beverage with caffeine close to bedtime.
- Shut off your mobile phone at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Keep your bedroom temperature comfortably cool.
- Take a nice, warm bath before bedtime.
- Avoid eating a heavy meal or a calorie-laden snack before you sleep.
- Don’t exercise close to bedtime.
- Have a cup of soothing and relaxing camomile tea mixed with honey.
- Get a nice, firm pillow that allows your head and neck to be perfectly aligned.
- Instead of dwelling on problems, express gratitude for the day’s accomplishments.
Sleep is your body’s way to recharge and recover from the stressors of the previous day. If you don’t get the required amount of sleep, you’ll feel sluggish, and moody, and you’ll have a hard time making decisions.
2. Don’t Touch That Snooze Button
Once the alarm clock sounds off, get out of bed. Don’t touch that snooze button. If you do, you’ll fall into a lull that might set your day back.
There will be days when the snooze button will be hard to ignore. Here are a few suggestions on how you can win the struggle:
- Set the coffee maker to brew at the same time as you wake up. The aroma of the roasted coffee beans will be enough to get you out of bed right away.
- Place your slippers near your bed. This will help especially during the winter months when the floors can get quite cold.
- Give yourself a five-count. Once you get to “Five”, jump out of bed.
- Make your bed right away. This popular hack from the US military is a proven way to get you out of bed and feel accomplished at the same time.
Think of the alarm as the starter’s pistol at a race. Once it goes off, it’s you against everyone else. You better get a headstart!
3. Drink a Glass of Water
Your body has gone for several hours without water. It’s dehydrated and needs water to help the organs and muscles to function properly.
Which type of water is best for you?
Some people prefer warm water because your body temperature is warm and it’s easier to absorb. Some people prefer cold water because it’s refreshing and presumably burns more calories because it requires more energy for the body to warm it down to the body’s temperature.
There have been numerous studies extolling the benefits of drinking lemon water first thing in the morning. Research has also shown that drinking a glass of water mixed with apple cider vinegar is best for you.
Regardless of your preference, just drink a glass of water first thing in the morning before you have that cup of coffee.
Speaking of which…
4. Enjoy Your (First) Cup of Coffee
There are other benefits to having a cup of coffee than just waking you up:
- Perks you up; energizes you
- Lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes
- Improves mental function, cognition, focus, and memory.
- Reduces the risk of developing Alzheimer’s
- Increases metabolism to help you burn more calories
- Loaded with healthy antioxidants
And it tastes great!
Coffee has also been known to manage depression. It calms and relaxes you. The aroma of coffee triggers emotions that soothe the soul and a smile.
Enjoying your first cup of coffee is a wonderful way of starting your day. A few minutes after it touches your lips, you’ll notice that your mind is clearer. Wait a few minutes more and you’re ready to seize the day.
What’s the biggest excuse people make about not exercising?
“I don’t have enough time.”
Find the time by exercising in the morning.
You can be like Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins who “begins” the day by doing pushups. You can channel the inner athlete and do a 30-minute to 1-hour exercise after having your first cup of coffee to feel more energized.
Lift weights… calisthenics… bike… swim… run… or take a 20-minute brisk walk. The important thing is to MOVE. Get your heart rate up and move those muscles.
Exercise not only keeps your heart and muscles strong but it improves blood flow throughout your body.
Your brain will function better, your immune system will be primed and ready to protect you from infections, and you’ll feel more energized and awake.
Make exercise a mainstay in your daily morning routine. You’ll be happier and more productive.
6. Fix Yourself a Healthy Breakfast
Calories are your body’s source of energy. Without enough calories, you won’t have the energy to do the tasks outlined in your agenda.
But not all calories are created equal. If you eat foods that are heavily processed with salt and sugar and fried in fatty oil, you’ll be sluggish and sleepy throughout the day.
Instead, fix yourself a healthy breakfast in the morning. Oatmeal is a good breakfast. It’s loaded with vitamins, minerals, protein, healthy fats, and fiber. The complex carbohydrates in oatmeal are slow-burning. They will sustain you until lunchtime.
You don’t have to spend a lot of time preparing oatmeal. Add fresh fruits and honey to sweeten your oatmeal. A quick and easy way to prepare oatmeal is to make overnight oats.
Put uncooked oatmeal in a container. Add milk, honey, fruits, and other ingredients such as cinnamon and vanilla extract. Leave the oatmeal in the refrigerator overnight.
Within a few hours, the oatmeal will absorb the milk and the flavors from the fruits, honey, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. If you wish, add Greek Yogurt and nuts for extra protein.
Other healthy breakfast ideas:
- Whole wheat toast with avocado and poached egg
- Scrambled eggs with turkey bacon
- Blueberries and banana with Greek Yogurt
- Low fat, high protein pancakes with honey, peanut butter, and bananas
- Whole wheat French toast with mushrooms and spinach omelet
Yes, buying organic food will be more expensive because the absence of processing gives them a shorter shelf life. Think of the money you spend as future savings because your immune system will be stronger.
7. Practice Self-Care
Self-care is any activity or routine that improves your state of wellness. It’s an activity that makes you feel refreshed, relaxed, and happy.
Here are a few examples of self-care:
- Warm bath or shower
- Skincare regimen
- Reading a book of inspirational quotes or stories
- Listening to a wellness podcast
- Reviewing the entries in a gratitude journal
With the exception of a warm bath or shower, you only need to spend a few minutes on any of these activities.
8. Meditate for a Few Minutes
Meditation helps clear your mind, filter out negative thoughts, manage stress, and keep you “centered” or focused.
How to meditate?
All you need is a quiet space where there are no distractions. Sit comfortably and wear clothes that help you feel more relaxed.
Close your eyes. Take a deep 6-8 second inhale followed by a controlled exhale. Think of a place or a memory that helps you relax. You can combine meditation with self-affirmation or gratitude recollection.
5 minutes of meditation will be enough to make a difference in how you handle the day’s agenda.
9. Review the Day’s Schedule
Do a quick run-through of the day’s schedule as a way to prepare your mind and body for the things you’re supposed to work on today. Focus on the first item on the agenda and get everything that you need ready and within reach.
For example, if you have an important ZOOM meeting, take a few minutes to go through the PowerPoint presentation. Practice your answers to possible questions. Make sure your computer is working properly – the headset and video camera.
Organize your workstation, clean up the background, and have your cup of coffee and a glass of water within reach.
Having to do 9 things within the first 2 waking hours of your day might seem like a lot but it isn’t. Exercise and self-care are the only activities that take more than 5 to 10 minutes.
With consistency, you won’t even think about them as 9 different things. You’ll be flowing seamlessly from one activity to another.
That’s when you know that you have successfully developed a morning routine!
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