Not everyone’s a morning person. But if digging yourself out from your duvet each day is a task you’re not interested in dealing with right now, you may be interested to know that having a morning routine can make you a happier person overall.
According to science, a morning routine that becomes habit-forming can reduce stress, increase confidence and give the brain more energy to focus on important stuff other than “can I really smash my alarm by violently throwing my pillow at it?”
One study from the University of Toronto shows that those who rise early and get things done tend to lead happier healthier lives than the folk who snore on and wake later. Several other studies have highlighted the health benefits of folk who work out first thing, noting that because mental and physical stamina is increased, you’re more able to engage with any challenges the day throws at you.
Morning routines don’t have to be complex, though. You certainly don’t need to wake at dawn and have an hour of yoga, a breakfast of liquidized veggies, and the entire oeuvre of whoever the latest productivity guru is finished before you head out the door to work! Not unless you want to, of course!
A morning routine that fits with your personality and lifestyle is the best bet if you want a routine that sticks and benefits you. However, even while saying this, there are a few general tweaks everyone can make to ensure their early routines get off to a good start.
Make your decisions only once
Most of us have heard the story of Barack Obama wearing one of the same blue suits every day during his presidency. He didn’t want the hassle of thinking about his wardrobe each morning when he had other pressing matters to contend with, like, you know, running a country. So, he made the decision once and then that was it.
The same can apply to your morning routine. Just decide that you’re going to get up at 7am or at whatever time applies to you – and do it. That way, when the alarm goes off, you don’t set off on some internal argument whereby you’re trying to convince yourself to have an extra few minutes or another hour in bed.
Not only will getting straight out of bed leave you less cranky, but it’ll also make you less tired in the long run. Research shows that inconsistent sleep patterns can throw off your circadian rhythm leaving your brain cloudy and increasing the likelihood you’ll perform below par on cerebral tasks.
Plan the night before
Planning what you want to achieve each day the night before is another decision you can dodge as soon as you wake. Your plans could include something as basic as having a shower along with putting on clothes you picked out the previous evening, or it could involve any activity like stretching or meditating to get you centred and feeling capable of tackling the day.
The point is, if it’s already part of the plan, you’re more likely to actually do it.
Heavy on the water, but hold the coffee
Drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning has been proven to benefit your health. It flushes out any toxins in your stomach, which helps balance the lymphatic system, and, in turn, strengthens your immunity.
Because it also hydrates you after hours of not taking in fluids, your level of alertness also increases, enabling you to act on any goals you’ve planned as part of your morning routine.
While a glass of water gets a thumbs up, reaching for a cup of coffee first thing gets a thumbs down. I know, I know! Boycotting coffee as part of your morning routine might be difficult for the caffeine fiends among us but hear me out!
Studies note that consuming caffeine when your cortisol levels are high, such as 20-30 minutes after you wake, negatively impacts your body’s release of the hormone. And as cortisol is necessary for metabolism and blood pressure among other things, it’s not a good idea to go messing with it.
Furthermore, the boost you get from knocking back a coffee first thing is actually short-lived. If you want to feel energised in the morning and ready to tackle the day, you’re better off waiting about an hour or two before taking your caffeine hit, as your cortisol level is lower and the hot brew will have a much greater energising effect on you. This then is perfect timing if you decided you did want to do that hour of yoga and get through that productivity guru’s latest tome!
Photo by Ron Lach