What’s your morning routine like? Are there certain healthy and good things that you do each morning before you head out into the world? If your default morning routine includes hitting the snooze bar three or four times until you have to rush out of bed, barely get your teeth brushed and grab a coffee from the drive-through on your way to work, it might be time to create some better habits.
We’ve got some simple ideas to help you create a morning routine that serves you better. Your routine may or may not look identical to our suggested plan. These are just ideas to help you decide what will work best for you. The goal is to be intentional about the things you do each morning to center yourself and start your day on the right foot. Read on for our suggestions on creating a better morning routine.
Before You Even Get Out of Bed
There are a few things I like to do each day while I’m just waking up and before I’ve put my feet on the floor. These practices help me to get centered and set the tone for wellness throughout the rest of the day.
I’ve mentioned this practice before, but I can’t recommend it enough. Drink 20 ounces of filtered water upon waking every morning. Before bed each night, I fill a reusable water bottle with around 20 ounces of water and put a lid on it. I place this bottle on my nightstand so that in the morning ―before I ever get out of bed ― I can drink my 20 ounces.
This practice is important because your body has been without water for eight hours overnight. If you jump out of bed and rush into your day, eating some toast as you brew your coffee, the organs in your body must give up moisture to aid in the digestion of your food. This leaves your body desperately thirsty and somewhat dehydrated. Start each day with optimal hydration.
Deep breathing is another essential morning practice. It can help you to wake up and let go of any tension you have going into the day. Dr. Andrew Weil, alternative medicine pioneer and author of “Natural Health, Natural Medicine: The Complete Guide to Wellness and Self-Care for Optimum Health,” says, “Practicing a regular, mindful breathing exercise can be calming and energizing and can even help with stress-related health problems ranging from panic attacks to digestive disorders.”
Dr. Weil recommends a deep breathing method he calls the 4-7-8 method. Here, Dr. Weil explains how you can practice the method first thing in the morning:
“In this exercise, you’re going to breathe in through your nose quietly. You’re going to blow air out forcefully through your mouth, making a ‘whoosh’ sound and pushing your lips out. The exercise begins by letting all the air out through your mouth. Close your mouth. Breathe in through your nose quietly to the count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven. Then, blow air out through your mouth to a count of eight. You’ll do that for a total of four breath cycles. That’s it. It takes all of about 30 seconds.”
Dr. Weil says that the 4-7-8 breathing exercise is like a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. He adds, “Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it, but gains in power with repetition and practice.”
I like to practice the 4-7-8 breathing exercise upon waking. Sometimes, I do it while I’m still lying down. Other times, I’ll sit up and do the exercise. It’s an invigorating and mindful way to begin the day.
A crucial part of my morning routine is reading a passage from a meaningful book. I spend anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes reading a few chapters or listening to an audiobook. If you practice any type of religion, this is an ideal time to read something spiritual that will help you devote yourself more fully to your faith or absorb certain teachings.
Stretching in the morning is another excellent way to begin the day. Researchers have found that a morning stretch helps increase your energy, improves posture and increases the blood flow throughout the body. Stretching also relieves stiffness and pain that many of us experience in the morning. After laying horizontally overnight, fluids accumulate in our joints, which causes discomfort.
For a couple of years, I was experiencing regular neck pain. It got so bad that I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow in the morning without significant discomfort. I had to support my neck and head with my hands to sit up. I consulted with Kae Etchegoin, president of DK Body International in Las Vegas, about chiropractic care. She instead recommended some simple daily physical therapy exercises. Performing these specific stretches every morning has completely changed my life and eliminated nearly all of my neck pain.
If you have particular problem areas like the neck, shoulders or hips, search the Exercises for Injuries website for a list of stretches that will help. Practice them each morning before you leave the bed. If you are free from pain, take a few minutes to do basic range-of-motion stretches to begin your day.
Meditate, Pray & Get Centered
While I complete my stretching exercises, I often begin a silent prayer. It’s a time for me to get centered and spiritually renewed for the day ahead. I find it imperative to nourish my soul before my feet hit the ground each day. A few moments of silence, 20 minutes of meditation or a simple morning prayer can be a beneficial part of your morning routine.
Just After You Get Out of Bed
A few things should be done right after you get out of bed. By getting a handful of actions completed before breakfast, you’re setting priorities and defining what’s important to you. You’re intentionally starting the day the way you know you should.
Tidy the Bed
As you exit the bed, take a moment to tidy it up. If you like firmly tucked sheets and military-style corners, that works. Maybe you want to put the pillows where they belong and drape the sheets and comforter over the bed. Whatever way you prefer, tidy it up a bit before starting your day.
Many success gurus recommend making the bed each morning. It sets the tone for making good decisions all day long. It can lower your stress by making you feel more organized, and it may make you feel proud. I don’t know if there’s real scientific, peer-reviewed research that proves any of this. However, it is a nice feeling to have the bed refreshed and prepared for another night of sleep.
One of the most effective ways to reset your body’s circadian rhythm is to get out in the sun early in the morning. In doing so, you’re telling your body that it’s morning and time to wake up. You’ll also set yourself up for falling asleep easier the next night. Early morning sunlight effectively resets your internal clock and your sleep-wake cycle.
Even opening the front door and stepping out on the porch for a few minutes will do the trick. If you prefer, you could do your morning stretches on the balcony with the sun or enjoy your 20 ounces of water on the front porch. However it works for you, be sure to get a bit of sunshine on your face.
Exercise for 30 Minutes
The morning time is perfect for getting your daily 30 minutes of exercise out of the way. Enjoy a morning bike ride around your neighborhood, take your dog on a long walk or hop on the treadmill.
Dave Smith, personal trainer and author of the book, “Can’t Lose,” says, “Morning exercise has been shown to improve focus and mental abilities all day long. Not only will you feel awake and have more energy after your workout, but your mind will be ready to take on whatever tasks you have lined up that day.”
Smith also mentioned the concept of excess post-exercise oxygen consumptions (EPOC). EPOC is a term used to explain how the body continues to burn extra calories after you complete your workout ― even while you’re sedentary. EPOC is another solid benefit of getting your exercise completed early in the day rather than after work.
Depending on your particular body type, you may or may not need to grab a quick snack before your workout. I’m not talking about breakfast ― just a quick bite to eat if your blood sugar is low in the morning. A piece of fruit normally gets the job done for me.
After Your Workout
You’ve completed some of the most important items on your list already. Congratulations. Now, it’s time to refuel and conquer the rest of your day.
Immediately after your workout, grab that reusable water bottle and refill it. Take in at least 20 more ounces of water. Continue drinking until you feel hydrated, then continue drinking as needed throughout the rest of the day.
Clean Up and Get Dressed
Take care of yourself by tending to your hygiene and taking the time to look your best in the morning. You’ll feel better all day long if you are fresh, clean and dressed in clothing that looks great on you. Even if you’ve got nowhere to go after your workout, put on presentable clothes that you like wearing.
Eat a Balanced Breakfast
Take the time to make or buy yourself a nutritious and balanced breakfast. It can be as simple as a couple of boiled eggs, a baked sweet potato and fruit. If you don’t like to eat breakfast, make a healthy green smoothie with celery, green apples, spinach, pea protein, ice and coconut milk.
The key here is to refuel yourself properly. Make sure your healthy breakfast includes all three of your macronutrients ― protein, fat and carbohydrates ― for optimal nutrition.
Rock Your Morning Routine
It may take some fine tuning, but once you’ve got a solid morning routine established, you’ll find that your days are far more productive than ever before. Intentionally and thoughtfully using your time in the morning will help you approach the rest of your day with confidence and strength.
If you are looking for ways to relieve joint stiffness, soreness, tightness and extreme pain each morning, then check out The Top 10 Morning Movements To Loosen Up Your Joints program.