Oh, the lovely, dreaded morning. Lovely for how effective it can be in setting the tone for the rest of your day, and dreaded for how difficult it is to actually get out of bed and do stuff.
But a little effort goes a long, long way in the morning.
Put in the work to form a few healthy morning habits, and soon the morning will be easier, more enjoyable, and allow you to have a much better day to boot.
When we say better, we mean that you’ll feel better, think more clearly, be more productive, improve your mood, and so on.
There is a mountain of scientific and anecdotal evidence to support this, and all it takes to experience the benefits is to try out a few healthy habits for yourself. That said, there are tons of ways to go about beginning your day, some better than others.
We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorites to help wake you up and get you ready to take on the day ahead.
Brief disclaimer: Try to avoid getting overzealous by piling on too many habits into your morning. Exhaustive morning routines sound perfect and complete, but for most, it’s impractical to spend 25% of your day on getting ready for your day.
Aim to master one or two healthy habits at a time, beginning with the ones you enjoy most or are most useful to you, and build from there if you have time. Some may seem uncomfortable at first, but the more they become habitual and integrate themselves into a greater, healthy morning routine, the more enjoyable they will become.
With that, here are nine healthy habits you can implement into your healthy, morning routine.
1. Establish a healthy evening routine
No matter what habits you decide to make part of your morning routine, they can be made easier or more difficult depending on how the previous night goes. In other words, the quality of your morning is largely determined by the quality of your evening. Here are a few things you can do in the evening that can contribute to a successful morning:
- Get to sleep at a reasonable hour--preferably at the same time every day.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol. Smoking marijuana or drinking alcohol before bed can negatively affect your circadian rhythms, reducing the quality of your sleep. If you are going to drink in the evening, avoid binge drinking and aim to stay hydrated as much as possible.
- Eat a lighter, earlier dinner. You don’t want to go to bed on a full stomach. Nor do you want to go to bed having eaten a boatload of sugars or carbs, which will energize you and make it more difficult to fall and stay asleep.
2. Wake up well
The hardest part of getting up in the morning is physically getting out of bed. But it doesn’t always have to be a slog. The process can be made much less painful by engaging in activities that don’t require you to actually get up. So for this section, we’ve listed some healthy things you can get done from the comfort of your own bed that will help you feel more motivated to begin the rest of your day.
- Break up with the snooze button
We all love hitting it in the morning. It feels great and only takes a few minutes out of your day.
But in all seriousness, each time you wake up from a short snooze you’re interrupting a sleep cycle. The result is worsened mood and even more drowsiness -- the opposite of the snooze button’s intended effect. This can be reduced if you wake up and stay up the first time your alarm sounds.
A glass or two of water, preferably with lemon, can help hydrate and alkalize your body and give you energy straight away. Keep a glass on your nightstand for easy access.
Practicing breathing exercises in the morning is a great way to energize your body and mind with minimal movement. There are countless breathing exercises one could perform; one of the most straightforward and effective is to inhale deeply, hold for a moment, exhale completely, and repeat.
3. Perform a small task
Completing a small task in the morning can set the tone for the rest of your day. The most classic example is making your bed; however, there are many others that fit the bill just as well. Water a plant. Sweep the floor. Make it small, but productive. (Scrolling through memes on Instagram doesn’t count.)
4. Stretch your muscles
Performing a few stretches, either in or out of bed, will help wake your body up by getting some blood flowing. Focusing on your breathing and the sensations of your muscles as you stretch can help clear brain fog, waking up the mind in addition to the body. It also feels good, and the release of tension in your muscles will keep you feeling more relaxed throughout the day.
Perhaps one of the most effective and elusive habits to establish in the morning is some form of exercise. This is because of all the habits listed here, exercise might be the one that takes the most effort, preparation, and willpower to complete. But it is for precisely this reason that exercise is one of the timeless staples of an effective morning routine.
By getting in some movement in the morning, you’re getting blood flowing, your muscles engaged, and your breathing activated, all of which will energize your mind and body. Not only that, but beginning your day with tasks that require self-motivation will help you feel more motivated to tackle the rest of your day as well.
The best way to work this into your morning routine is to perform exercises you enjoy. If you’re not a runner, try some push-ups or pull-ups. Maybe go even lighter and take the dog for a walk. Any sort of movement that facilitates an increase in heart rate can afford you more energy and stamina for the day ahead.
Careful that you don’t overdo it. A full session at the gym (if you’re able and willing to carve out the time) is one of the most coveted and invigorating ways to begin a day, but if you’re lifting weights to the point of complete exhaustion it could leave you feeling more fatigued than energized. Strength training can certainly work wonders in the morning, but the bodybuilding routines are best left for the afternoon or evening.
6. Eat a healthy breakfast
Breakfast can be delicious and energizing, so there’s no reason not to make it part of your routine. Proteins and complex carbohydrates are recommended, as well as natural sugars from fruits and vegetables. Try to keep the processed sugars and carbs to a minimum (we’re looking at you, cereal) as these will cause you to crash early on in your day.
On that note, if you’re going to eat breakfast you may as well make it Oats Overnight, which checks all the boxes for what breakfast should strive to be—vitalizing, healthy, and delicious. They come loaded with natural ingredients, complex carbs, and protein, which will keep you feeling fuller longer and provide clean energy to keep you on point.
Waking up your mind is equally as important as waking up your body in the morning. When we’re groggy and let our minds wander as we’re waking up, our thoughts often run haphazardly down a winding path that leads nowhere in particular. (The most likely destination is back to the snooze button for the seventh time.)
Meditation is the art of becoming aware of your patterns of thought and exercising some control over them. It’s a wonderful skill to have at your disposal throughout your day, one which becomes even more available to you if you practice meditation first thing in the morning.
We recommend mindful meditation, or Vipassana, which trains you to be more aware of your thoughts and emotions and sharpens your ability to concentrate on one thing at a time.
8. Open up your journal
Another great way to activate your mind in the morning, the art of journaling can encompass a wide range of techniques to help you tackle your day with more positivity and motivation. Here are a few we recommend specifically for the morning:
A classic journaling technique, morning pages double as a form of meditation and creativity. Get up, sit down, and write two or three pages in your journal in a stream of consciousness style.: Tthat means no filter, no stopping, no second-guessing yourself. Just push forward and allow yourself to accept whatever words you write without poring back over them. The idea is to induce a state of flow in writing that trains your awareness, sharpens your focus, and helps you be more creative throughout your day.
Write down five things you’re grateful for. Beginning your day with a positive mindset can make whatever obstacles you're tasked with overcoming much less intimidating and much more enjoyable to conquer.
Another way to begin your day on a positive note, affirmations are reinforcements of positive attributes you see in yourself (or aspects of your character you would like to develop further).
Write down a few things that you like about yourself like, “I’m a kind person,” or, “I am focused and motivated.” The key is to be kind to yourself. Sounds cheesy, but give it a shot and see what the power of positive thinking can do for your mood and motivation.
9. Read a book
Reading is a great way to start your morning if you enjoy beginning your day with some form of entertainment. It gets your mind engaged and primed to take on whatever else lies ahead of you, all while being fun and absorbing. For those who have trouble mustering up the motivation to turn the lights on and crack open a book, the Kindle app makes it easier than ever to read for the comfort of your own bed.