It’s been said that what you do in the morning sets the tone for your entire day. If that is, indeed, true (and based on our experience, it is), that first hour after waking up is crucial time that’s often spent pretty poorly.
Picture this: your alarm goes off, you hit snooze, and then you roll around in bed for the next 9 minutes counting down the time until the alarm goes off again, all while dreading having to get up for work. By the time you actually peel yourself from your bed, you’ve snoozed three times. Now you don’t even have time for a shower, let alone breakfast, so you run your fingers through your hair, throw on whatever clean outfit is closest to you, and run out the door. You run into a convenience store to grab a quick cup of coffee that you can drink while stuck in morning traffic. By the time you get to work, you’re frazzled because you have 3 minutes to spare. You put in a few hours before taking your lunch break. Since you didn’t have time to prepare a healthy lunch, you hit the pizza shop next door for a sandwich and chips or a couple slices of pizza. We’re not going to run through the rest of the entire day, but you get the point, right?
Now picture this: Your alarm goes off an hour early (because you set it that way), you stretch and then lie still, visualizing three things that you’re grateful for. You get out of bed, without hitting snooze, and sit down on the living room floor where you do some yoga stretches for 15 minutes. After stretching, you make yourself a quick smoothie, set your coffee to brew, and then you hop in the shower. When you get out of the shower, you pour yourself a cup of coffee and sip it while you’re getting dressed. After you get dressed, you prepare yourself the day’s lunch by transferring some leftovers from your healthy dinner the night before into a to-go container. As you drive to work, you sing along to your favorite songs on the radio because you have plenty of time to get to work, even with traffic.
Now which morning sounds better to you? We’re not psychic, but we’d bet that you chose the second morning. It invokes feelings of calm and relaxation, while just reading about the first morning leaves us feeling tense and stressed out.
Changing Your Routine
Changing your morning routine can take some time and practice, especially if you’re not a self-proclaimed “morning person”, but it’s worth the effort. A well thought out morning not only leaves you feeling calmer, it can help balance your hormones and lead to more productivity throughout the day. If your morning looks more like the first one, you may have a long way to go, but focus on making small changes – they’ll add up to big results down the road.
1. Don’t Snooze
We know it’s tempting to hit that snooze button and get that extra nine or 18 or even 27 minutes of sleep, but don’t do it. You may feel like it’s a good thing to get more sleep, but snoozing is actually working against you. According to Robert Rosenberg, the medical director of the Sleep Disorders Centers of Prescott Valley and Flagstaff, Arizona, when you hit the snooze button, you’re putting your body into a new sleep cycle that you’re not going to have enough time to finish. In addition to that, the sleep quality is poor, since you’ll only get about nine minutes until you’re jarred awake again. When you wake up, your body needs time to process and set the physiological processes that signal “awake” in motion. Waking up and then going back to sleep for a short time causes sleep inertia – the groggy, fuzzy-headed feeling you get when finally pull yourself from the sheets. Instead of snoozing, go to bed earlier and get up the first time your alarm signals that it’s time.
2. Practice Gratitude
If you lie in bed in the morning thinking “UGH, I don’t want to get out of this warm bed and go to work”, you’re not alone; unfortunately, however, this is doing you a huge disservice. By thinking these negative thoughts first thing in the morning, your setting your nervous system up for tension and stress. Instead, when you wake up, think of three things that you’re grateful for. Better yet, keep a small notebook next to your bed and write them down.
3. Let Those Emails Wait
It’s tempting to immediately check your inbox or Facebook notifications when you first wake up, especially if your alarm is on your phone, but resist the urge. Instead of checking in with the outside world, focus on yourself and easing into the morning. If you’re glued to your phone, keep it outside of the bedroom and get an alarm clock that wakes you up gently, without allowing you to check in on social media.
4. Eat Breakfast Within an Hour of Waking Up
No, coffee doesn’t count. As you may have heard, breakfast can be the most important meal of the day, but many skip it because their morning routine is just too hectic. Breakfast doesn’t have to be fancy; but it’s important to get some nutrients in your body after the fast that occurs while you’re sleeping. We like to prepare little smoothie bags in advance, so that breakfast is a breeze. Take a plastic sandwich bag, fill it with berries, a half of a banana, spinach, and a handful of nuts. Place the bag in the freezer. In the morning, empty the contents of the bag into the blender along with some protein powder and coconut milk, and you’re done!
Before you run off on us (pun intended), give us a chance to explain! We’re not suggesting that you do some form of high impact exercise first thing in the morning, but moving your body after you get out of bed is an important part of starting your day off right. It helps get your metabolism moving and eases any aches or stiffness you might have from the night before. Try 15 minutes of yoga or stretching before jumping into a hot shower.