A good day ultimately begins with a good morning. While sometimes things will happen that are out of your control, building a solid morning routine will help set you up for a positive experience. Try including these 10 rituals to upgrade your morning routine in the new year — from packing your lunch ahead of time to lighting scented candles, you’ll be getting started on the right foot.
1. Prepare the night before.
The key to a good morning and a productive day is getting as much done as you can the night before. Pack up your lunch, lay out your outfit for the next day, declutter your house, etc. Better yet, before you leave the office, make a to-do list for the following day so you can start work with a clear idea of what’s needed to get done.
2. Drink some water.
Your body gets dehydrated while you sleep, so it’s important to drink water right when you get up in the morning. Leave a water bottle on your nightstand and begin sipping from it as soon as you get up. You don’t have to chug it all at once — just make sure to drink throughout the day, and bring it with you to work and the gym.
3. Optimize caffeine intake.
Believe it or not, the best time to drink caffeine isn’t first thing in the morning — because your cortisol levels begin naturally rising as soon as you get up. Try waiting three to four hours after rising to consume your first cup of joe. If you’re a #coffeeaddict and need that warm cup feeling to start the day, try switching to decaf to get the coffee taste, smell and essence — without the caffeine.
4. Eat breakfast.
Eating breakfast is good for your body and your brain. Having a healthy meal shortly after you wake up can kick start your metabolism, help stabilize blood sugar levels throughout the day, provide energy and improve concentration and focus. If you usually skip breakfast because of time constraints, snag some ready-to-go choices at your local grocery store such as granola bars, one-minute oatmeal, yogurt cups and whole fruit that take little or no time to make.
5. Avoid your technology.
While it’s incredibly tempting to check your email or social media first thing in the morning, try not to. While this behavior may make you feel productive, it could end up being a distraction — and can even cause an increase in cortisol. Instead of scrolling endlessly, put your phone down and do one of the other things on this list, like drinking water, eating breakfast or doing some stretches.
6. Incorporate some movement.
Many people swear by morning workouts and, if you’re an early bird, getting it out of the way will give you a sense of accomplishment and free up the rest of your day for other activities. Even if you’re too groggy to work out first thing in the morning, incorporating some movement into your routine can help you wake up and get your blood flowing. Perform some light stretches, complete a yoga flow or go for a quick walk around your neighborhood to get the day going.
7. Soak up some sunshine.
Sunshine tells your body and brain that it’s time to wake up, which is one of the reasons that it’s so hard to get out of bed during dark, winter months. Open up your windows and let in as much sunlight as possible, or better yet, go for a walk if the weather is nice. If you don’t get a lot of natural sunlight in your house, you can recreate it using a light alarm clock or a light therapy lamp.
8. Review your to-do list.
Before you leave the house, or right when you get into the office, review the to-do list you made the night before. Identify the things you need to get done that day and complete a few of them during your morning to get them out of the way. Taking a few minutes to hit pause and review what needs to be done instead of jumping right in can help you stay centered and focused for the rest of the day.
9. Accomplish one small thing.
Giving yourself a quick win first thing in the morning can help set a positive tone for the rest of your day. Decide what counts as a win for you personally; it could be making your bed, fitting in a run, packing a healthy lunch or meditating for 15 minutes. This task can be as large or as small as you want it to be — as long as it makes you feel accomplished! In fact, you can add it to your to-do list and then cross it off to make you feel extra productive.
10. Take a few minutes for yourself.
In the morning, you might feel compelled to cram your schedule, however, it’s important to take a few minutes for yourself, especially if you have trouble waking up in the morning. Light a scented candle, meditate for a few minutes, do some journaling or even just sit and do nothing except drink your (decaf) coffee or tea. These few moments don’t have to take long, but it can make a big difference — and help you begin your day feeling calm, centered and ready.