If you’re like a lot of people, your only morning ritual is to hit your alarm’s snooze button for a few extra minutes of sleep each morning. Then, once you do wake up, you spend who knows how long scrolling on your phone or tablet, soaking up news headlines or even reading a waiting list of emails that can make you feel bogged down before you step out of bed. If you’re ready to put a positive spin on each day, it might be time to adopt a different routine. Let’s explore why having a good morning ritual can have lasting benefits for your physical and mental health.
Whether you’re seeking to be more organized, more intentional in your actions, have better body flexibility or even improved digestion, all these improvements can be tied to a few simple rituals that become part of each morning. Having these are good for your brain, too. A routine allows you to go through the motions of several activities almost on autopilot, getting things done one step at a time without having to worry about multi-tasking.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, people who are consistent with a good morning routine find they have greater energy and productivity throughout the day. They also have a more positive outlook. These rituals pave the way for doing your best work during the late morning hours, which for most people are typically the brain’s prime time for complex functions.
Here are some ideas to incorporate as you build a morning routine that suits your lifestyle.
Start the night before. A few minutes of prep work each night before bed can make mornings much smoother.
Lay out your clothes for the next day. If you’re headed into the office, group together lunch items for the next day on the counter or in the refrigerator
Don’t hit snooze. A few more minutes of shut-eye might sound great, but it won’t really help you feel more rested. You’re subconsciously just waiting for the alarm to sound again. Stay awake when your alarm goes off and resist the urge to waste time scrolling on your phone.
Stretch before you get out of bed. If you have room in your bed, a few gentle leg, arm and neck stretches can help ease you into wakefulness and get your body ready for the day before you get out of bed. Harvard Medical School recommends removing your sheet and blankets and giving these stretches a try:
- Lay on your back, put both legs in the air. Bend your knees, raise and lower your feet.
- Flex your ankles, rolling them slowly.
- Sit up in bed and roll your shoulders up toward your ears a few times.
- Gently tip your ears down toward each shoulder, then stretch your neck gently by looking left, then right.
- Stretch your arms out, flex your wrists. Open and close your hands a few times.
Pause the coffee. If you love coffee or other caffeinated beverages, you can still drink them – just don’t start your day with them. Focus on hydration first by drinking a glass of water, or warm water flavored with a slice of lemon. Drinking water when you wake up can increase your metabolism by up to 30%.
Be single-minded. While you’re having your first glass of water, set aside time for one short task. This could be making a to-do list for your day, a 5-minute journaling session or meditation time.