We’ve all heard the saying “how you start your day determines how you finish it." How you spend the first hour of your day can set the tone for the rest of your day goes. Developing a morning routine can help you start your day with a sense of purpose and intention. By setting new habits and creating a new morning game plan, you can set yourself up for success every day.
Here are some tips for creating a new morning game plan:
Wake up Early
Yep. Get your butt up out of the bed. Give yourself the gift of time that you're always complaining you don't have enough if. This doesn't mean you have to wake up as soon as the first worm starts rolling over in its little dirt bed, but if you wake up a mere hour before you normally would, and set that hour aside for doing a few things you ordinarily don't have time for, you'd be surprised at how differently the rest of your day will go. Giving yourself morning time just for you creates space to exercise, pray, meditate, write, set goals, or work on a project before the day even gets rolling.
Please don't lose sleep to do this -- go to bed a little earlier the night before. Sleep hygiene is important. Time: no time. It's your time.
Let Your Phone Sleep In
Most people check their phone first thing in the morning, but this can be a major distraction and can cause you to feel stressed or overwhelmed before your day even begins. One quick peek at TikTok or Instagram and any time you have set aside for morning tasks can be burned as quickly as a dry piece of paper. Try to avoid checking your phone for at least the first hour of your day. This will allow you to focus on your own needs and priorities, and start your day on a positive note.
Yeah I know. Sounds more lame than life-changing, but think of this: Plaque-causing bacteria multiply in your mouth while you sleep. When you brush your teeth first thing in the morning, that bacteria isn't going down into your body with your food. Also, toothpaste used in brushing may coat your enamel with a protective barrier against acid in your next meal (coffee, orange juice, anyone?) I've also read that brushing first thing in the morning helps jump-start saliva production. Saliva is good. We want it. It helps break down food and also kills bacteria in the mouth.
This is not meant to be a dental hygiene post, but brushing your teeth is quick, makes a difference in your oral health, and is so easy to do first thing in the morning. Time: 2 minutes.
Drink a Glass of Water
It's good to drink a glass of water when you first wake up. After a long night's sleep, your body is dehydrated, and drinking water helps replenish your fluids and rehydrate your body. This can help increase your energy levels, improve digestion, and reduce the likelihood of headaches later in the day. I say this as a well-versed migraineur. It helps. It's fast. Just do it. Time: 30 seconds.
Get the Morning Light in Your Eyes and on Your Skin
I strongly believe that sunlight is beneficial to the human body in many ways. Light therapy, also known as phototherapy or chromotherapy, involves exposure to specific wavelengths of light that have therapeutic effects on the body. Research shows that it is healthy for the human brain to see morning sunlight, so I believe in opening curtains, doing your morning routine either outside or near a window, and getting in a morning walk if you can, even if a short walk. Time - 10-15 minutes.
If You Eat Breakfast, Make It a Healthy One
Although I push off eating until close to noon on most days, that's not everyone's thing. If you are a breakfast eater, keep in mind that studies have shown that lower carb meals during breakfast helps you start the day without a big blood sugar swing, which helps your energy levels stay consistent throughout the day. Here's a link to an article that talks about the benefits of high fat low carb breakfast for type 2 diabetics. And since Tufts University has released research that says that 92% of adult Americans are not metabolically healthy, avoiding an am sugar bomb may be a good idea for most people. Blood sugar stability isn't a bad thing. Try plain coffee with some adaptogenic mushrooms, or some good fat, such as MCT oil or full fat cream. Then try a high protein breakfast without the carbs, such as an egg scramble. Or fast until lunch if you feel like it. It won't kill you, and in fact, may be beneficial for your overall health -- Takes ten minutes if you eat a simple breakfast. 0 minutes if you don't eat breakfast.
Pray, Meditate, Write on It
As someone studying stoicism, and also meditative prayer, I'm working toward creating a discipline of habit that involves a brief morning reading, then writing a bit in a journal about what I am learning. You can read about anything, then reflect on it, or just read about it, or just write in a journal. If you like, you can use the morning time to simply reflect on the unfolding day and write a list of goals you would like to achieve. Or you can write about whatever you want.
Whatisstoicism.com suggests to try 1 minute each on these prompts:
Prompt 1. What difficulties am I likely to encounter today?
Prompt 2. What one thing do I most need to get done today?
Prompt 3. What am I grateful for today?
Here's another great resource on several ways stoics might approach journal time. Time - 5-10 minutes.
Move Your Body
You may not have time to do a full workout in the morning, but starting your day with some sort of movement is a great way to boost your energy levels and improve your overall mood. Stretching is great, especially if you are getting ready for a long day in a desk chair. So is a quick 10-minute HIIT workout, or some nitric oxide dump work, which only takes 4-7 minutes. And like I mentioned before, I believe in the benefits of sunlight hitting the body and brain a few specific times during the day, and the early morning light is beneficial for brain health, so whatever you do, try and to it outside, or at least in a window. Try a walk! It doesn't have to be long, and don't wear sunglasses. Let the infrared rays get into your brain. Time- 10-30 minutes.
Total time commitment required for getting a few positive things done in the morning: 30-60 minutes. Try it. Let me know how it goes!