Guest post by Gillian Dewar
Mornings are incredibly important – they start and set the tone for each day. They are often pretty difficult for those of us that have a hard time getting up and going in the early hours. Even a missed alarm can fill you with dread and stress that puts a damper on the rest of the day.
By creating a morning routine for yourself, you can build the stability you need to be productive and positive. Routines have a positive effect on stress levels, sleep, and physical health.
By getting your body moving, centering your mind, and providing your body with the nutrition it needs, you will set up for success each day feeling refreshed and clear-minded.
1. Keep the wake-up consistent
Whether you have a regular schedule that allows for consistent sleep times or it bounces all over the place, the one thing you can control is keeping it consistent. If you have to wake up at 6 am every morning during the week, try to rise at 6 am on the weekends, too.
By waking at the same time, your body will send tired signals at the same time every night, priming you for a better night’s sleep. Plus, you can have a little spare time to yourself in the morning hours with that extra time on the weekends.
2. Leave the phone alone
Leaving your phone on your bedside table every night is a recipe for disaster. Not only does the blue light keep you awake far later than you should be, but it is far too tempting to pick it up upon waking and spend a few or several minutes mindlessly scrolling through social media.
When you head to bed at night, try leaving your phone in another room, perhaps the kitchen or living room, so that you may concentrate on waking naturally and avoid the call of social media for as long as you can.
By staying more present in the morning, you’ll find you have way more time to focus on your routine.
3. Make your bed
When I was young, I didn’t understand why people made their beds. ‘Why make it if you’re just going to sleep in it again tonight?’ I’ve now fully converted and love going into my room and seeing it well organised.
Retired Navy Seal William McCraven says it best. He believes that making the bed is a signal to the start of the day – it is the first task that encourages you to continue doing your other morning tasks. It is a boost to be productive throughout the day.
Making the bed also makes your bedroom look better, creating positive feelings while you’re in your room and returning to it throughout the day. An unmade bed looks chaotic, and those feelings rub off onto you subconsciously the more you’re exposed.
4. Stretch it out
Preparing your mind is important, but your body must also be ready for the day. Luckily, stretching helps both your mental and physical health.
Take 5-10 minutes to do some gentle, whole-body stretches. It will help to wake up tired muscles, increase range of motion, and shake the aches and pains away. If you have extra time, you can do a short yoga routine instead.
Your body releases endorphins, the happy chemical, while you stretch. Endorphins have been shown to help with mental stress and pain.
5. Meditate and journal
To help get your mind right in the early morning hours, try meditating for 5-20 minutes. Meditation is a terrific way to quiet the mind and center yourself.
To meditate, you can focus on a specific phrase, or simply your breathing, and concentrate on feeling present within your body. As your mind wanders to thoughts, don’t resist but allow the flow and bring your mind back to the present as often as possible.
This practice can be quite challenging for the beginner to meditation. With practice, the time spent in the present will increase, and the process will feel more comfortable.
If meditation isn’t your thing, try keeping a journal near your bed and write in it every morning. You can free-flow thoughts or find a journal that offers writing prompts for you to follow. If you’re struggling for inspiration, write down 3 things you’re grateful for that day. Practicing gratitude has been shown to positively improve your mindset.
6. Get your heart pumping and blood flowing.
Now that you’ve stretched your body out, it’s time to kick it up a notch. By performing your exercise routine in the morning, you will:
- burn more fat, as fat oxidation occurs best when exercising before breakfast
- amps up your metabolism throughout the day
- releases chemicals which will help you sleep better at night
- build muscle more effectively, as testosterone (the muscle-builder hormone) levels are highest in the morning
- reduce stress and depression
If you can make the time in the morning to exercise, we highly recommend you try it.
Grab a few resistance bands and do your workout from home to save a bit of time. This pull-up assist band can attach to a pull-up bar or be used to perform full-body weight resistant work.
7. Cold shower
If you’re anything like me, a cold shower sounds like your worst nightmare. But there is good reason to try and keep the temperature down as low as you can handle for your morning shower.
Cold showers tend to:
- increase alertness, which will instantly make you feel more awake
- strengthen the immune system
- improve hair and skin, which can become dry in hot temperatures
- help increase weight loss
- improve muscle soreness
- help combat stress and depression
If trying a cold shower is too much for you, start your shower off with warm water and decrease the temperature slowly as you can manage it.
Try going through this morning routine from top to bottom for best results, pick a few ideas, and slowly incorporate them into your routine.
The #1 most important thing is creating a routine that works for you, and you can stick to – the point is to enjoy your mornings, not dread them.