If “how you spend your days is how you spend your life,” how you spend your mornings is how you spend your days. I am the opposite of a natural morning person. From an early age, I can remember my mom dragging me out of bed and dressing me half-asleep for school in the morning. To say the least, I am a night owl and sleep has always been the cryptonite to my Superman. I get my best creative thoughts at night and staying asleep has often been a challenge for me. I workout, I eat healthy (most of the time, at least), but alas, my mind likes to be awake, even when my body is exhausted. However, being a creative night owl doesn’t always serve oneself in the real world, so as I got into my 20’s, I forced myself to adjust. Staying up all night might be the standard when you’re 22, but it’s not so great as you get into your adult years and have more responsibilities. While I am not one to thrive on a monotonous schedule, it is important to develop healthy habits which will set the tone for the rest of your day -and rid yourself of the ones that set you back. Here are a few things I do in the morning to set my day into positive motion.
Never Hit Snooze
First off, I don’t set an alarm. I know my body pretty well and it’s rare for me under normal circumstances to sleep past 8am without waking up at some point, so unless I have something pressing, I just wake up naturally. If I do have to get up especially early, I will set an alarm and wakeup on the first ring. Hitting the snooze button repetitively actually makes you more tired. Instead, set your alarm to wake you up at a time when hitting snooze is not an option and you absolutely have to get up. For example, if you have to be to work at 8:30am, and it takes you an hour to get ready and 30 minutes to commute, wake up at 7am. Don’t set your alarm for 6:30am and then hit snooze for a half hour. All you’re doing is depriving yourself of an extra 30 minutes of quality to sleep and effectively making yourself more tired. 30 minutes of quality sleep is better than three interrupted 10 minute snoozes. And there is plenty of scientific evidence to back this up.
Be realistic about when you actually wake up. If your intentions are to wake at 6:30am, but you continuously hit snooze until 7am without fail, maybe it’s time to just set your alarm for 7am, discipline yourself and actually get up. Your body is telling you it needs more sleep, listen to it.
As soon as I wake in the morning, I read. Usually it’s an article from Entrepreneur or Forbes or a business book from my Kindle iphone app. This not only gets me motivated, but it also wakes up my brain. I am naturally a bit groggy when I wake, so reading something inspiring and informative immediately gets me excited for the rest of my day.
Whether you’re a freelancer who works from home or you go to the office every morning, get your body in motion. If you’re one of those rare people who loves working out in the morning, I applaud you. For the rest of us mortals who work out at night, some jumping jacks, push ups, mountain climbers or even a walk down the block to grab coffee will help get the blood flowing and wake you up. Whatever you do, move as soon as you wake up. As they say, “a body in motion, stays in motion.”
Eat & Drink Water
Yes, I know what it feels like to have no appetite in the morning, but you have to rehydrate and eat something -preferably with protein. I usually go for yogurt. It’s easy, requires no preparation, and it has a good dose of protein -a vital nutrient to support your brain health and cognitive function in the morning. However, if you have the appetite for it, eggs are really the best thing to eat in the morning due to their high protein, vitamin E, vitamin D, and omega 3 fatty acids. Also, if you’re feeling tired in the morning, you could be dehydrated. Be sure to drink a large glass of water to rehydrate. After all, you have just gone many consecutive hours without water and your body is probably dehydrated.
Sometimes we all wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Being grumpy in the morning is fairly common, but you can change that with a little gratitude and consciousness. No matter what is going on in your life, focus on all the great things you do have. Remember, nothing is permanent. Both good and bad things pass, so being thankful for the present moment is what you have here and now. There is always, always something to be grateful for -the only challenge is remembering that on days when everything seems to be going wrong. Gratitude is always the best defense to life’s roller coaster ride. So many of us take everyday things for granted like clean water, fresh air, shoes on our feet, or even a simple cup of coffee. Be thankful for the “small” things and your day and mood will be better for it.
Silence & Meditation
Find a quiet place to meditate; or if that’s not possible, just be with your thoughts for 15-20 minutes in the morning. This can be when you’re walking your dog, on the subway to work or while you’re taking a shower. Dedicate 15-20 minutes to silence. This is a time to put your phone away, stop talking, and make a conscious decision to just let your mind be. Put in your headphones with some zen music and let your spouse, room mate, kids etc. know that you’re checking out for a few minutes and will be unavailable. Most of all, do not feel guilty for asking for time away. Life can be demanding and you deserve time to rejuvenate and be the best version of yourself -not just for you, but for those around you.
Release Negative Habits
Last, but certainly not least, recognize and release what does not serve you. Every morning is a new day to start over and release bad habits. Anything that doesn’t serve your emotional, physical, and psychological well-being is a bad habit. Think about habits you’ve had that have set back your mind, body, and spirit, and strive to release those habits as soon as you wake up in the morning.
My mantra is, if something isn’t working and you’re not getting the results you want, change something. And keep making positive changes until you get the results you want. It’s a pretty simple concept, but so many of us continue bad habits that we know don’t serve us because it’s comfortable. There’s a saying that goes, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
None of us are perfect, but active transcendence is vital to maximizing your potential. I’m constantly learning and keeping my mind open to doing better and recognizing and improving my shortcomings. Releasing bad habits and making positive, conscious changes can be difficult, but it’s also more than worth it. Take action today to assess the things that are holding you back and start to make those adjustments every morning. Your days -and life- will be exponentially better for it!