At a glance
• Great Mornings Begin at Night
Think back to this morning. When you woke up, what did you do first?
Some people like to stretch, others open their blinds to let in the sunlight, and most, of course, check their phone for the latest emails, texts, and viral posts on social media.
There’s no right or wrong way to navigate your morning. After all, everyone has their own things they choose to do and enjoy when they first wake up.
But if you feel like you always start the day a step behind — or simply want to switch up your morning routine to get the most out of your day — then you will want to continue reading.
And for those who believe they’ve already mastered their mornings — congrats to you! But there’s still always more to learn...
Whether it’s making sure you get enough sleep, drinking enough water, or simply putting the phone down in favor of physical activity, there are plenty of things you can do to help elevate your morning each day.
So, before you make your bed, fire up that first pot of coffee, and change into your “day clothes,” be sure to keep these tips in mind to master your morning!
For A Better Morning, Prioritize A Good Night’s Sleep
We all need sleep. It is the key to helping your mind and body recharge through the night, which helps you feel refreshed and ready to tackle the day in the morning. Additionally, the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan agrees that sleep is important, calling it essential to every process in the body, including physical and mental function, our ability to fight off disease and develop immunity, and our metabolism.
Dr. Merill Mitler, sleep expert and neuroscientist at the National Institute of Health, agrees with the notion that sleep is vital to well-being: “Sleep services all aspects of our body in one way or another: molecular, energy balance, as well as intellectual function, alertness, and mood.”
It also affects higher levels of reasoning, problem-solving, and attention to detail, which can lead to a lack of productivity at work, a higher risk for traffic accidents, a change in mood, and more. It even impacts the immune system, stress hormones, cardiovascular health, and blood pressure.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep each night can set you up for a successful morning and rest of day. Think of sleep as homework and the morning as the test – not doing enough the night before may render it difficult to perform to the best of your abilities the following day.
Break Your Fast
They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day….and they’re right!
Sleep is the “preparation” for the morning; it may even be considered the “battery pack” that charges you up and sets the stage for a successful start to the day.
But breakfast replenishes the energy and nutrients in the body — and helps boost brainpower, control weight, and, of course, serves as the perfect opportunity to throw your hat into the “sunny side up vs. over easy” debate.
The traditional first meal of the day is called “breakfast” for a reason: it breaks the overnight fasting period.
Depending on the amount of sleep you get, your body may go multiple hours without nourishment from the late night to the early morning. The role of breakfast is to restore your glucose levels (the body’s energy source) and provide key nutrients such as calcium, folate, fiber, iron, and an array of B vitamins.
Better Health Channel stresses the importance of breakfast and its role in daily nutrition, stating that people who eat breakfast are more likely to meet their recommended daily intakes of vitamins and minerals than those who skip this meal.
Mastering your morning begins with getting enough sleep — but be sure to prioritize eating a good breakfast to keep your energy levels high and your alertness razor sharp.
Put Pen to Paper
Busy schedules, multiple responsibilities, and seemingly endless commitments...
You may find it difficult to do some self-care in the midst of all these activities. After all, everyone is busy these days, so who has time to take care of themselves every single day?
But mornings are meant for fresh starts and new beginnings, so why not try something different and practice some self-care in the form of journaling?
Picture this: you get a good night’s sleep, wake up early, fix yourself a hearty breakfast, but still feel overwhelmed and stressed about all the things you need to accomplish before the day ends.
Your mind races, your stress builds, and your nerves just seem to frazzle by the minute.
Enter journaling — your new tool to assist in managing your mental health by providing a medium to express emotion in a healthy manner. The University of Rochester Medical Center states journaling can do the following:
- Manage anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Prioritize problems, fears, and concerns
- Foster positive self-talk and identify negative thoughts and behaviors
The university also provides a four-step guide on how to keep an effective journal:
- Try to write every day.
- Make it easy. Try to keep a paper or pen on your person, but there are plenty of useful journaling apps on your smartphone as well.
- Write or draw whatever feels right. Make it yours and don’t fret about structure. It's your journal — feel free to create whatever you want to express your feelings. Spelling mistakes are welcomed here!
- Use your journal as you see fit. Sure, it can serve as a useful tool in the morning but use it to your advantage — and leverage the benefits of keeping a daily journal at any time of day.
Journals provide structure and control in an otherwise jam-packed daily schedule. It provides an outlet to log your fears, thoughts, feelings, and other sensitive things that are on your mind. Look to use a journal as part of a greater goal to master the morning.
If you’re looking to literally start your morning on the right foot, then you probably want to participate in some light physical exercise before the afternoon rolls around.
Think of this as the physical version of journaling — a way of clearing your mind of obstacles that may stress you out or hinder your good mood.
Like journaling, there’s no such thing as a right or wrong way to carry out this part of your morning routine. You don’t need to lift heavy weights in the gym nor run ten miles on the treadmill. A brisk walk/jog, jumping jacks, push-ups, and even yoga would suffice. the choice is yours!
And though everyone has their vision of how to check off this box on their journey to master their mornings, research shows that getting your body moving in morning yields multiple benefits:
- Boosts your mood and reduces stress
- Increases melatonin levels and promotes healthy sleep patterns
- Helps with weight loss and with making healthier food choices throughout the day
Morning exercise can also serve you better than a strong cup of coffee, according to a 2018 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. The findings determined that older adults experienced improved memory and cognitive function when they enhanced their mornings with moderate-intensity walking sessions.
Furthermore, research found that serum brain-derived neurotrophic growth factor — a substance in the brain that improves memory and cognitive function — increased after the walking sessions.
So, if you’re able, make an honest attempt to get up and get moving with some exercise in the morning!
…But Also Lean Back and Relax
After you complete your physical activity, you may want to reward yourself with some well-deserved downtime. We’re not talking about a full-blown slumber but allotting some time to carry out a few relaxation techniques may be worthwhile — especially if your afternoon and evening are chock-full with meetings, classes, social gatherings, and other events that fill your calendar.
And these days, we’re anything but relaxed, so the idea of taking some time to chill may fall at the wayside — or even be looked down at.
But the importance of relaxation goes far beyond being “lazy” or “unproductive.” In fact, it is quite the opposite, as it can help you be more productive in the long run and provide other benefits as well.
According to the Mayo Clinic, relaxation techniques can reduce stress symptoms and help you enjoy a better quality of life. It serves as a great way to help manage your emotions; a process that reduces the effects of stress on the mind and body. Such techniques can even help with stress-related health issues such as heart issues.
And if you’re like one of the many who wake up in a panic every morning, then there may be no better time to relax than the first stage of your day.
So, with that, “relaxation techniques” is the final box to check off in your morning mastery list. Try on each of these techniques for size to see which fit the best:
Autogenic Relaxation: the practice of keying in on calm feelings and relaxation to reduce stress.
Find a quiet, comfortable place and focus on your breathing. “Autogenic” means “self-generated” or “from within,” and leverages the power of the mind to relax the body.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: a method that involves tensing up one muscle and relaxing it shortly thereafter.
Eliminate distractions and wear comfortable, loose clothing. Focus on one muscle or group multiple together. A common practice is to tense your neck and shoulders for a moment and subsequently release the built-up tension.
Visualization: also known as “guided imagery,” its purpose lies within its name.
Create an image in your mind that calms you — perhaps it’s a garden, the ocean, or a warm, crackling fire. Use your imagination to achieve and experience a feeling you desire — peace, confidence, determination, etc.
Other relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, mediation, yoga, and music and art therapy are options as well.
Rise, Shine, And Win Each Morning!
Tomorrow morning will be a good one.
No, we don’t have a crystal ball that sees the future — but we are equipped with a list chock-full of activities to do before you wake, after you get out bed, and right up until the clock strikes noon.
Whether it be getting enough sleep, eating the right kind of food, practicing relaxation techniques, or other methods to master the morning, it is always a good idea to take care of your mind and body — especially during the morning hours.
Now, it is up to you to decide how you’re going to win the morning!