I never used to be a morning person, in fact I hated mornings. I’d wake up tired, sluggish and frankly a little pissed off. I found it hard to get going and would procrastinate doing anything until it had to be done. Finally I decided things needed to change and I wanted to better myself. I started to look at each morning as a fresh start and a chance to accomplish new things. I created some good habits that really work to help me wake up, get going and feel good. Of course I don’t always manage to do everything but on those days I notice I’m not as ‘switched on’ as others. Some of these stem from studies but others are simply what works for me, and worth a try in case it also works for you.
Wake up Earlier
This is the priority number one because otherwise you’re going to read through this list and say “I don’t have time for that.” And it isn’t so much that all this takes a lot of time, but more that it so much more a positive thing to start your day in a relaxed (yet productive) way, rather than racing around like a mad person trying to get out the house 10 minutes ago because you overslept. Give yourself ample time to get ready in the morning and accomplish some small tasks so that you can progress through the day on a great note.
As soon as you wake up, before you get out of bed, the best thing you can do is take 10 deep breaths. Breathe deep into your diaphragm (where your belly button is) for a count of four, and then out for a count of four. This will re-oxygenate your blood and brain very quickly and kick start your day.
As soon as you get out of bed, make your bed (I fold the cover in half back over itself to allow the bed to air out) and open the curtains. The military use this task in their training and right through the recruits careers because it instills a sense of responsibility and accomplishment first thing in the morning. If you can do this one small task, you’ll find the next task more inviting and that good flow of positive energy will continue with you throughout your day, helping you to accomplish more. Also, you won’t come home to a dark smelly room that hasn’t had any light on it all day.
The best thing you can do for your body when you wake up is drink water. It starts your system, flushes out toxins and rehydrates you after a good night’s rest. Hot water is best, so herbal tea is a great option, otherwise try adding the juice of half a lemon for a serious detoxifying start to the day. Try to drink at least 15-20 minutes before you eat, or even 30 minutes if you’re striving for perfection.
Exercise is the best way to wake up your body and mind. I know that on the days I can’t exercise before work I feel sluggish and tired, compared to the days that I do exercise where I feel alive and alert, irrespective of how much sleep I’ve had. If you can fit in a gym session, great, otherwise walk the dog, go for a run, or if it’s raining try a home workout or some yoga. It’s best to get exercise done first thing in the morning before you can come up with an excuse to get out of it.
Ideally you’ll be having a shower but it’s surprising how many people don’t wash their face in the morning. Perhaps you think that because you took your makeup off at night you don’t need to cleanse in the morning too but you do. At night your skin releases all manner of toxins, sweat and oil from your pores to the surface of your skin, so rinsing with water is not enough. Care for your skin properly and invigorate your complexion by cleansing thoroughly morning and night. Morning is also the best time to apply a facial scrub.
Put yourself in a great mood first thing in the morning. While you’re making and enjoying your breakfast, turn on your favourite radio station, or Spotify. I quite like to have the Paul Henry Show on because I like to start the day informed about what’s going on but morning news and debate isn’t for everyone (and if you’re a highly empathetic person I’d avoid morning news), so choose something you’re into, the key is that it uplifts you and makes you feel good.
You need fuel to focus so start the day with food that will fuel your body. I like quite a big breakfast (and then I don’t have a big dinner at night) but essentially it should contain some fruit or vegetables, some protein and some carbohydrates for energy. I think it’s ok to have a tea or coffee, so long as you don’t rely on it to get you going, and you just have it to enjoy it. If possible, eat with your family or flatmates; a bit of positive social engagement is the best thing to put you in a good mood.
Finally, before you leave the house, list your top priorities that you need to get done today. It can be big or small jobs but no more than 3-4 so that you can make sure you actually get them done. I’ve found there is very little more satisfying than ticking jobs off a list and it reaffirms that sense of purpose and responsibility you started your morning with.
It might seem like a mammoth list of unachievable things but if you take it one week at a time, adding a new challenge each week, it’ll be so easy and you’ll reap the rewards.
Let me finish by saying the absolute worst thing you can do in the morning when you first wake up is look at your phone. It’s the biggest distraction ever created and you’ll end up laying in bed for more time than you really have available scrolling through social media and getting literally nowhere. Try your best to leave the phone alone until you’ve done everything else on this list.