Mornings. They can be tough.
The alarm goes off. You snooze. You snooze again.
The dog is barking. The kids need their lunchboxes packed. It’s not entirely clear whether you showered last night or you still need a rinse before work. The outfit you had planned for the day is at the dry cleaner. You just heard on the news that there’s a lot of traffic in the area, which means you’re in for a commute that’s a pain in the you-know-what.
We think pretty much everyone can relate to this chaotic morning scene.
There is, however, hope for better mornings… which lead to better days. It may require you to set that pesky alarm a little early (sorry!) so you can make time for good habits, like the ones listed below!
1. Hydrate. We get it — the first thing you reach for beverage-wise when you wake up in the morning probably has a little (or maybe a lot) more caffeine than straight H2O… but chugging water is a great way to get a jumpstart on hydration for the day. According to Healthline, water maximizes your physical and mental performance, improves digestion, and helps regulate weight. It also keeps you looking glowy and fresh! Leave an empty glass or water bottle by the sink overnight, then refill it in the morning and challenge yourself to finish it by the time you leave the house!
2. Practice gratitude. Start the day with an intentional gratitude practice and you’ll be amazed by how much better the world around you looks! Leave a notebook and pen on your nightstand so you can jot down a few things you’re grateful for before you even get out of bed — or use the Notes app on your phone if you prefer to be a little higher tech.
3. Stretch. If you’re anything like us, you’re usually so pumped up to start the day that you can’t possibly be bothered to take a little extra time to ease your body into what’s to come. As we get older (ugh), taking this extra time becomes all the more important. Fitness notes that stretching improves posture, eases back pain, prevents injury, reduces stress, and more. What’s not to love?
4. Play your favorite jam. Choose a morning anthem for yourself, a song that gets you in a positive mindset and psychs you up for everything you need and want to do in the hours ahead. Set that song as your alarm or play it while you shower or make breakfast. If you make it part of your daily routine, you’ll totally internalize all of those good vibes!
5. Eat breakfast. We can see you rolling your eyes over there… and yes, we know that you probably grew up hearing your parents tell you over and over that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The truth is, though, that, according to a 2015 survey, less than half of Americans actually take that advice on a daily basis. Why not get back to basics and make a real habit of breakfast? Even a quick piece of fruit or bowl of cereal is better than nothing!
6. Exercise. If you get that workout out of the way first thing in the morning, it’s one less thing you’ll have to worry about later on. Plus, per Shape, morning exercise will encourage you to be more active throughout the day and to consume fewer unnecessary calories. You’ll also sleep better, build muscle more efficiently, and burn more fat. Sounds like early workouts are where it’s at!
7. Meditate. Sure, mindfulness is trendy… but it’s trendy for a reason. Experiment with easy meditation apps like Headspace and Calm and see how much more centered and content you feel throughout the day.
8. Make your bed. It’s tempting to leave your bed unmade so that you can burrow right back into it after a long day, but there are a surprising number of experts out there who tout the benefits of a regular bed-making habit. Charles Duhigg notes in his book The Power of Habit that “making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget.” He also says that it starts a chain reaction of good habits that you’ll (hopefully) maintain until bedtime.
9. Smile. Spend your mornings smiling, even if it’s not at anyone or anything in particular. According to Daring to Live Fully, smiling releases feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins and dopamine. Why wouldn’t you want to release those as soon as you wake up?