by Erin Bates September 10, 2020
To me, summer months are filled with lazy sun soaked days, numerous road trips, and maybe even more ice cream cones. And for my morning routine? As much as I thrive off good habits, I let some not-so-good ones slip in there too (anyone else hit snooze 5 times before actually getting up?)
But as the days get shorter and colder, it can be hard to transition into a morning routine that feels healthy for the body and mind. Having a consistent routine is actually shown to have certain health benefits, mostly due to the structuring and organization of one’s day. In one study, researchers found that routines were calming and reduced participant’s anxiety levels. This can be attributed to a lowered level of stress people face once they have a routine- their day is now more predictable and controllable from the get-go.
By having your own morning routine, you can kickoff your day the right way, instead of slugging out of bed after a few too many snooze buttons. Check out these tips to crafting your own healthy morning routine, so you can work to be your best self.
I can attest that this is by far the most difficult for me, but waking up early has a bundle of benefits. When we wake up, we experience something called sleep inertia, which is the period of time between our groggy, sleep induced “brain fog” and when we are in a state of full wakefulness. This process can take anywhere from 2-4 hours; by getting up early, you give your body more time to wake up naturally instead of relying on caffeine.
Waking up early is also a key to success (well, according to some very successful people). Likely, by having more time in the day, you have more room for staying productive and getting things done. Another study found that early rising students had higher grades and were more productive throughout the day. It seems that the earlier you wake up, the more proactive you are throughout the day. If you want to try waking up earlier, just be sure to start in small increments- wake up earlier by 15 minutes, then give your body time to adjust before setting that alarm even earlier.
Your alarm rings and you reach to your phone to grab it- do you get out of bed right away? Or do you sit on your phone for an extra 10, 15 or 30 minutes before getting up? Looking at your phone right away can pose numerous issues, namely timing. 30 extra minutes in bed can easily cut away time from other morning routines like exercise or eating breakfast- especially if you have to get somewhere like your office.
By spending the first part of your day being bombarded by notifications, messages and news from overnight, you also increase feelings of stress and anxiety. A recent study found that heavy smartphone users had higher levels of anxiety and depression, so cutting out screen time can play a role in mitigating those effects too. It might be tough to start, but avoid looking at your phone until you are out of bed and started with your day- you may be surprised at how much more productive you feel.
Yes we all know hydration is important, but we still often don’t meet our daily intake needs. For men, drinking 15.5 cups a day is the recommended amount, and for women, 11.5 cups a day is enough. In the morning, grabbing a glass of water before anything else is the best choice you can make. When waking up, your body is typically dehydrated after a nights sleep, and if you head straight to your coffee pot, it will become even more dehydrated.
Dehydration itself can cause a number of issues, so it’s best to get started early with water intake. Fluids help carry nutrients to cells, maintains bodily functions and even improves mood. By kicking off your day with water, you set yourself up to stay hydrated throughout the day.
A great addition to any morning routine is adding some movement or exercise early on. Morning exercise has actually been found to improve attention span, visual learning and decision making. On the flip side, sedentary folks tend to have lowered cognition and abilities to retain information. By working out right away, you give your brain a boost to carry throughout the rest of the day.
Exercise is also known to be a natural way to combat stress. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins that lead to that “runner’s high” feeling. It also combats fatigue by giving you more energy throughout the day, literally. If you’re looking for the best boost to get you going, add some movement to your morning routine.
Once you have a better idea of what you want to accomplish with your morning routine, write down each step somewhere you will see it (a journal, list, calendar, etc). Writing down your new morning routine will help with a few things. For one, seeing them written down can help you visualize and anticipate each step. Writing your routine down also can hold you accountable- if you stick to the list, you will stick to your routine.
Writing also improves recall information in the brain, and the sooner your brain takes to your new routine, the easier it will be. The idea is to make your healthy routine as automated as possible- the beauty of a routine is that it shouldn’t have to have much thought put into it. Once you are consistent with your steps, it will only get easier.
While these are just a few healthy tips to keep in mind, there are numerous ways to build on one’s healthy morning routine. Is there something that you do every morning that helps you get going for the day? If so, let us know!