The way you start the morning can have a big impact on the rest of your day. If you begin every day feeling harried and rushed instead of productive and streamlined, it may be time to revamp your morning routine. Start by getting into action with simple activities like taking a walk, going to the gym, or practicing an invigorating morning exercise, such as tai chi or yoga. These activities can help you feel focused and ready to meet the challenges of your day. Be sure to power up with a healthy breakfast to give your body the fuel it needs.
One great way to start your new morning routine is by taking a few quiet moments after you wake up to focus your positive energy for the day. You can achieve this through meditation, thinking positive thoughts, doing affirmations, or practicing visualization exercises, says Valencia Porter, MD, MPH, director of women’s health at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, in Carlsbad, Calif. Studies have shown that regular meditation may lower blood pressure, boost the immune system, and help relieve stress and fatigue.
Eating a good breakfast is an essential part of a morning routine. “It’s important to break the fast,” says Dr. Porter. “When you skip breakfast, your body says, ‘Okay, I need to conserve energy.’ Then your metabolism slows down and you have less energy throughout the day.” Some people may need more calories for breakfast than others, but the most important thing to remember is that everyone should eat something, adds Porter. An example of a healthy breakfast is oatmeal sprinkled with cinnamon and almonds, yogurt and berries, and a cup of tea.
It’s important to have a morning routine — and to follow through with it — so you can streamline your schedule, says Jodie Watson, organization expert for TLC Real Simple Real Life and founder and president of Supreme Organization, a professional organizing service in Sherman Oaks, Calif. What you do and when you do it doesn’t matter as much as saving time by having your routine already planned out. “Do the same things in the same order at the same time each day,” says Watson. “Try out a morning routine for a few days to see what works best for you.”
Yoga is an ideal morning exercise and it can play a vital part in energizing your morning routine. Yoga can improve flexibility, posture, balance, muscle tone, and endurance. Yoga also has mind-body-soul benefits, providing an emotional as well as a physical lift. Doing yoga in the morning can give you a feeling of tranquility, boost your energy levels, and raise your spirits for the rest of the day, all while giving you a full-body stretch.
Walking can be an excellent component of a morning routine, and it’s even better if you can walk outside, says Porter: “Nature has a wonderful vital energy that we can benefit from. The plants are giving off oxygen. Plus we get a little bit of vitamin D, which is important for bone health and the immune system, and it may even help fight cancer and heart disease.” Another benefit of getting some sunshine is that sunlight helps regulate the pineal gland, which releases melatonin and helps us sleep better at night, adds Porter.
If you don’t have access to green scenery, or if you just want to mix things up a little, then hit the gym as part of your morning routine. Morning exercise can give you the energy surge you need for the rest of your day. “Exercise boosts energy levels and endorphins,” says Porter. “It can jump-start your metabolism and get your blood and circulation flowing so that you have more energy for the day.”
Taking a few minutes to write in a journal is an excellent way to get in touch with yourself. “Before the hustle and bustle of the day begins, you can sit with a cup of coffee or tea and slow things down,” says Watson. “Journaling can help you off-load so that you’re ready for the day.” Porter echoes: “Journaling is a great way to focus on yourself. It’s a good self-awareness tool that can help you focus on areas that need work.”
Listening to some music can add an invigorating dimension to your morning routine. Sounds can affect our mood and our body. When we listen to a beautiful song or the sounds of nature — a babbling brook or ocean waves — our bodies produce chemicals that can boost our moods. “The type of music depends on what you need and prefer,” says Porter. “If you’re stressed out about something at work, then soothing music might be good. If you want an energy boost and love rock ’n roll, then that might be better for you.”
List making is a good organizational strategy. Make a list as part of your morning routine or as a bedtime ritual the night before. “When you make a list of the things you’ll do the next day, such as going to the gym, attending a business meeting, and meeting a friend for dinner in the evening, you’ll be clear about at least 80 percent of your day,” says Watson. Knowing what to expect can help you hit the ground running when the sun comes up.
Ideally your morning routine will start the night before. “Before you go to bed, straighten up — do the dishes, finish up that day to the best of your ability so that you’re ready for the next day,” says Watson. Lay out your clothes — the complete outfit including shoes, purse, and jewelry, suggests Watson. If you have children, help them pick out their clothes for the next day. Pack lunches and set out the dishes for breakfast. Put all essentials you’ll need for the next day, such as your briefcase, library books, or dry cleaning to be dropped off, by the door. Now get a good night’s sleep, knowing you already have a head start on the brand new day.