A good argument can be made that the first hour of the day is the most important one. You set the mood and pace of the whole day in the morning. The phrase “getting up on the wrong side of the bed” reveals how a poor start can ruin the entire day. The flip side is that starting off in a positive and energetic manner can help you feel your best all day long. Here are ten morning habits that will change your life if you practice them.
- Go For a Walk
Taking a walk of 10 to 30 minutes is a simple way to start out the day in a positive way. Depending on where you live you can walk around the block, in a nearby park, or on a road. One of the many nice things about having a dog is that it forces you to take walks. Some people, however, just let their dogs out in the yard. With or without a dog, get some fresh air in the morning no matter what the weather.
Meditation has many proven benefits. The morning is a great time to clear your mind and prepare for the coming day. Meditating can help you face the day’s tasks in a more centered way. You don’t need to learn any complicated techniques. Simply sit still and focus on your breathing. Don’t try to suppress any thoughts that come up but simply be aware of them. If you’ve never meditated before, start with 5-minute sessions and work your way up to 15 or 20 minutes.
- Do a Short Workout
A morning workout gets your blood pumping and creates endorphins that can last for hours. There are many options for morning exercise sessions.
- Go for a jog, run, or bike ride.
- Go to the gym on the way to work.
- Take an early AM yoga class.
- Do a workout routine at home. Use a DVD or streaming video workout for inspiration.
- Get a mini-trampoline, which is great for a fun and healthy workout.
- Take a Cold Shower
A cold shower may sound like an extreme, even torturous way to start the day. There’s growing evidence, however, that there are many benefits to exposing your body to cold for short periods. Cold showers are good for circulation and may help with weight loss, supporting the immune system, and even relieve symptoms of depression. You can get many benefits by simply taking a cold shower, though. You don’t have to jump into a freezing cold shower. Start at a comfortable temperature and make it cold for the final 30 seconds. Then gradually increase it until you can endure cold water for 3 minutes.
- Drink Healthy Coffee or Tea
Most people start the day consuming caffeine in one form or another. You can get more out of your morning coffee (or tea) ritual by following certain guidelines.
- Don’t drink caffeine immediately upon rising. Wait for at least one hour. Starting the day with coffee interferes with the body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol. It’s best to do your short workout and eat breakfast first.
- Drink your coffee or tea plain, without milk or sweetener. This keeps calories down and helps you get more out of the antioxidants found in both coffee and tea.
- Make coffee healthier by adding superfoods such as cinnamon, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, or unsweetened organic cocoa.
- Write in Your Journal
Journaling is a powerful activity to add to your morning rituals. You can jot down your thoughts the first thing when you wake up or with your morning coffee. Keep in mind that a journal isn’t a to-do list. You can include goals, of course, but the idea is to give yourself the freedom to express your thoughts and feelings in a spontaneous manner.
- Listen to Music
Music can quickly shift your mood and energize you. The type of music you choose depends on your preferences, but in the morning it’s best to find something that makes you feel like moving. You could combine this with another activity such as listening to music on your phone or tablet while walking or exercising.
- Create a Flexible Plan For the Day
Creating a flexible to-do list makes it easier to start tackling the day’s most important tasks. When possible, arrange a schedule that has you working on the most important and difficult tasks first. Write down anything you plan to do for the entire day. However, leave yourself enough flexibility for unexpected events or changes in your schedule. Using a scheduling app can help. It’s also fine, however, to jot down your to-do list in a notebook.
- Wake Up Earlier
This is one habit that will make it easier to put others into practice. Getting up an hour or even a half hour earlier will give you valuable extra time to get more done. In a mere 30 minutes, for example, you can fit in a quick walk or workout, and write in your journal. So as not to deprive yourself of sleep, go to bed earlier as well. Most people find that they can fit in more healthy and productive activities early in the morning than late at night.
- Avoid Habits That Start You Off on the Wrong Foot
There are some common morning routines that actually get you started in the wrong way.
- Eating sweets. Starting the day off with a donut, pastry, or other highly sweetened items may give you a rush of energy, but it’s shortlived and contributes to mid-morning crashes.
- Brooding and worrying. It’s a new day so don’t start it by rehashing events from the past or worrying about the future. It’s fine to plan and mentally rehearse but avoid imagining potential mishaps and catastrophes.
- Watching or reading the news. Most of it is bad news that you can’t do anything about.
- Browsing social media. If you want to start the day off in a focused way, looking at random posts, images, and videos isn’t the best idea. In fact, try not turning on your TV, phone, computer, or tablet for the first hour you’re awake.
You don’t necessarily have to do all 10 habits every day. Try them and find out which ones work best for you. The main point is to realize that you can consciously create your day by getting it off to a great start!