You know the old saying, “She got out of bed on the wrong foot”? Well, it might not be as cliché as you think. What we choose to do in the morning has a ripple effect throughout the rest of our day.
Often, our first hours after waking are slow and groggy, and many people’s morning routine consists of little more than brushing their teeth and grabbing a cup of coffee on their way to work.
In this article, you’ll learn how fleshing out your morning routine can help you level up your day, and you’ll get tips on how to get started.
3 Reasons You Need a Morning Routine
Though often talked about as boring and repetitive, routines provide us with much needed structure in our lives.
Jumping out of an airplane is exciting, but it would be terrifying if we didn’t know that someone had gone through the routine work of checking the parachute to make sure it’s working properly.
In the same way, routines provide us with safety and security which then allow us to better enjoy the other, more exciting parts of our lives!
Helps Manage Stress and Anxiety
The COVID-19 pandemic brought with it many unexpected difficulties, but one of the most striking was the pandemic’s impact on mental health. Stress, anxiety, and depression have all gone through the roof as people have struggled to adjust.
In response, the World Health Organization published a set of guidelines for navigating mental health challenges in the pandemic. Interestingly, one area they highlight is routine. For children and adults alike whose routines were disrupted by the pandemic, they recommend building new routines.
Routines can establish a sense of normalcy, controllability, and predictability in our lives which can combat the impact of stress exposure on our mental health.
You’ve heard of the circadian rhythm. It’s your body’s internal clock, and it controls all sorts of things, including your sleep cycle. A strong circadian rhythm makes falling and staying asleep easier, and you can't build one without a consistent routine.
Without a daily routine, you may find yourself playing catch-up when bedtime rolls around. Then you stay up late, and even when you’re in bed you may find yourself lying awake worrying about all the things that didn't get done.
A morning routine is an opportunity to plan and get a hold on the day. When you use your time wisely, it is easier to go to bed at the right time and also easier to fall asleep. Keeping a regular routine has even been shown to improve sleep quality!
Better Physical Health
Having a morning routine may improve your physical health in several ways.
First, you might actually have time to eat a better breakfast instead of just rushing out the door with a bagel in your hand. Eating a healthy breakfast has been linked to all sorts of benefits including better digestion, improved metabolism, and stronger bones. It also gives you the energy to be alert and focused throughout the day.
Second, a morning routine gives you time to plan out the day. When your day is planned out and you are using your time more deliberately, you actually find you have more time than you thought. This makes it easier to make time for things like exercise and sleep which are crucial to maintaining health.
Morning Routine Tips
Everyone’s morning routine is going to be a little different. You have to tailor it to meet your needs, but here are a few suggestions in case you’re looking for ideas.
The More Structure, The Better
In the morning, our brains are still waking up. We can feel groggy which makes it difficult to think. The more structure your morning routine has, the easier it will be to keep because you can just follow the schedule instead of forcing your brain to make decisions about what to do next when it's tired.
Same time, every day. Consistency is how we train our bodies to adapt to new schedules. Have you ever looked at a farmer and thought, “No way I could wake up at 5 a.m. every day.” You could if you did it long enough! With time, your body will adapt to the schedule that you choose for it.
Also, don’t snooze! Hitting the snooze button doesn’t improve your rest, so it’s best to just get up when your alarm goes off. If this is difficult for you, consider putting your alarm clock or phone in another room so that you have to get up to turn it off.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
A healthy breakfast should include whole, unprocessed foods. Aim for a mix of whole grains (bread, rolls, bagels, muffins, cereals, waffles), lean protein (eggs, lean meat, legumes), low-fat dairy (milk, low-sugar yogurts, low-fat cheeses), fruits and vegetables.
Don’t forget to drink water! After sleeping, your body is often dehydrated. Drinking 8oz of water shortly after waking is a good way to get yourself back to normal.
Include Physical Activity
Some people lift weights or run as part of their morning routine, but those aren’t your only options. You can stretch or go for a walk, anything you can think of to get your body up and moving.
The important thing is that you send the message to your muscles that it’s time to wake up!
Not everyone is a morning person, but a morning routine is certainly for everyone. No matter who you are or what stage of life you are at, starting your day with a strong routine is an excellent foundation upon which to build stronger overall health.