“Make each day your masterpiece”
How does your typical morning begin? Do you generally hit the snooze button on your alarm several times to get a few more minutes of sleep? Do you grab your phone each morning and check your email and social media accounts before you even get out of bed? Do you often feel stressed and anxious when you begin your day?
Speaking personally, my mind was very active first thing in the morning. I used to wake up in the morning, check my email, and then read news alerts which were often negatively focused. Then I’d get up, and on alternating days I’d either hit a workout by 7 am or begin my workday.
These habits led me to feel stressed early in the day. After years of handling things this way, I finally realized that I needed to reset my morning routine. Now, when I wake up, I resist the urge to grab my phone. Instead, I begin my day with a short breath-focused meditation and feel gratitude for this new day. I then get out of bed and mindfully begin my morning rituals. My life has dramatically improved; I am more reflective, calm, and focused.
If you are like most people, you haven’t taken the time to analyze your morning routine. I’d encourage you to take a pause and do so. You may find that your morning habits are leading to unnecessary stress as you begin your day. Developing and maintaining an intentional morning routine will help to enhance your energy, positivity, and productivity! Over time, your morning habits can become a powerful source of personal growth.
Here are some of my best healthy morning routine ideas to start your day off the right way!
Meditation is a powerful tool for stress relief. Even a short meditation (five to 10 minutes) can distance you from what you are thinking and feeling and provide some mental and emotional freedom from stressors that may be troubling. I’ve found mindfulness meditation, which involves focusing on the present moment without judgment, to be a valuable addition to my morning routine. Another useful approach is a mantra meditation. A mantra is a syllable, word, or phrase that is repeated during meditation. During your meditation, try repeating a word (such as “calm” or “peace”). Whichever approach you choose, a short meditation is one of the best healthy morning routine ideas and a great practice that will help set you up for greater possibilities in your day.
When I exercise early in the morning, as compared to the days that I don’t, I’ve noticed that my day is significantly better. Not only do I feel better, but my day is generally more positive and productive.
It’s important to move your body in the morning, as mobility is critical to both quality-of-life and cognitive health. Exercise increases endorphins (the feel-good hormones) and helps you to start your day in a positive way. Even after a short 20-minute workout, you will feel more energetic, and your mind will be ready to take on the activities of your day.
What type of exercise should you do? My recommendation is to plan a workout that you can look forward to and that you want to do – walk your dog, take a jog, jump rope, or dance if you like it – and you’re more likely to keep it up.
3. Practice Gratitude
Another one of the best healthy morning routine ideas is practicing gratitude. Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for what a person receives, whether tangible or intangible. Cultivating feelings of gratitude early in the morning can help you to feel more at peace throughout your day. As you practice gratitude, you acknowledge goodness in your life. You connect to something larger than yourself, whether it be a higher power, spirit, nature, or something else that’s meaningful to you. Scientific studies have shown that the practice of gratitude leads to more positive emotions and that those who practice daily are more likely to be happy and successful. For example, here’s something I’ve found to help me personally guide my practice: keeping a gratitude journal on my nightstand and, when I awaken each morning, consistently writing down three things for which I am grateful.
4. Stay Unplugged from Technology
If the first thing you do when you wake up is grab your smartphone and check notifications and email, you are adding to your own stress by cultivating a reactive mindset. You are actually starting your day on someone else’s terms rather than creating a plan of your own and considering the possibilities of your day.
Instead, detach from technology for the first hour of your day so you can begin your day from a place of peace and control. Start the day on your terms, not with yesterday’s news. You’ll feel much better.
5. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
You’ve probably heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As a physician and someone who regularly eats breakfast, I can attest to the truth of this statement. On the few occasions when I miss breakfast, I feel miserable. I get shaky and lightheaded and can’t think straight. These are typical symptoms of low blood sugar.
When you make time to eat a healthy breakfast (lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains), you’ll have more energy throughout the day and a stronger ability to focus and concentrate. Eating a nutritious, well-balanced breakfast each day helps you to control your weight and can also prevent you from eating too much during the rest of the day. Good breakfast choices, depending upon your food tolerances and preferences, include eggs, Greek yogurt, oatmeal, berries, chia seeds, flax seeds, avocados, nuts, and nut butters. A healthy breakfast has a low glycemic index, so avoid sugary breakfast foods, such as cereals, bars, bagels, and juices that set you up for an energy crash later in the day.
Journaling can be a powerful tool for your morning routine. We’ve discussed writing down three things for which you are grateful each morning. In addition, journaling is a method of aligning your daily actions with your higher goals and ambitions. If you want to set goals and actually achieve them, it’s important to keep them top of mind. In your journaling practice, you can visually remind yourself of your goals by writing them down and reviewing them each day. Journaling can also help you to clear negative thoughts that tend to clutter your mind by writing them down. Ridding yourself of negative thoughts opens space for greater creativity and productivity during your day. Your morning journaling practice does not need to be lengthy: even five to 10 minutes of journaling per day can support you in meeting your goals in a thoughtful and reflective manner.
The bottom line: own your morning! Whatever you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for the remainder of your day. Start slowly. Determine what works best for you and then execute that plan each and every morning. Your morning routine will support you in living your life more happily and with greater intention. Let us know which one of these healthy morning routine ideas works out the best for you (or which one you’d like to try out first)!