Do you ever wake up tired and sluggish, as if you haven’t even slept at all? This is where I have found myself many times. I’d start my day the same old way – hit the snooze button on my alarm clock over and over until I would finally drag myself out of bed before rushing to get my things ready for work like a madman. My morning habits were terrible, in fact, I probably didn’t used to have one healthy morning habit at all. Needless to say, starting my days like this would make me grumpy, stressed and even more tired by the time I got home.
In my effort to live a more energised, healthy-habit-fuelled lifestyle, I’ve created some healthy morning habits that work for me but I believe they could work for you too whether you’re looking to be more energised, start your day with a clearer head or you just want to look after your waistline from the time the sun comes up.
These healthy habits weren’t always easy to stick to, especially at first. They take commitment over time until they finally begin to feel natural.
Why are healthy morning habits important anyway?
It goes without saying that if you start your day with healthy habits, you’ve got more chance of having a successful day, whatever that looks like to you as an individual. Starting your day off on a good foot is important because it sets the tone for the rest of your day.
The morning is when your body is just waking up. If you’re like me, it takes you a while to feel fully awake so it’s important you set up your environment the right way so your morning habits are easy to do. You don’t want to have to make your healthy morning habits feel like a chore or you’ll never stick to them!
My own morning habits have benefited me in many different ways. They make me feel less stressed, rushed and ultimately, they make me feel healthier.
Stay consistent with your daily morning habits by getting anything you may need ready the night before. This means setting alarms or making sure that exercise equipment is ready and in the right place. You may even find that you need to wake up a little bit earlier to complete your healthy morning habits.
1. Get sunlight on your skin
Sunlight on your skin has many benefits. Most importantly, getting natural light on your skin in the morning helps your brain realise it’s time to wake up. Our bodies work on internal circadian rhythms, therefore your body knows when it’s daytime and knows when it’s time for you to go to bed. Of course, the key indicators for this are sunlight and darkness.
So getting direct sunlight in your eyes is important in the morning for your natural energy levels. That means opening the curtains when you wake up. Of course, this can be difficult in the winter as so you could consider purchasing a daylight lamp to imitate natural daylight. Whilst it won’t be the same as real daylight, it’s a fairly good replacement.
Due to our circadian rhythm, getting direct daylight in our eyes early in the morning can also help us sleep better in the evening.
2. Check your most important apps
It’s easy to say don’t look at your phone in the morning because it distracts you from what you might need to get done. However, in the world we live in, most of us need to check our phones in the morning in case we have missed calls about work, family, etc.
However, one healthy morning habit is to stay off social media in particular before going out. Not only does it take up a lot of your time that you could be used to hone healthy habits, but it can also make you start your day more anxious, stressed and even depressed.
Whilst it’s not a morning habit, staying off social media an hour before you get your head down to sleep can also help you to wake up more refreshed in the morning not only because of the negatives effects of starring at a blue light in the dark but also because of the other negative effects social media can have.
3. Stretch in the morning
Another healthy habit for the morning is stretching. It’s not until you get a little older that you realise how tight your muscles can get. Whilst you’re asleep, you’re not using your muscles like you do in the day so they can get a little stiff.
Many common injuries to do with the back for example are caused by tight or cold muscles so starting your day off by stretching your body out could not only help you to wake up but it can get your muscles warmed up properly and get your blood pumping.
There are many effective morning stretches you can do to help you kick-start your day the right way. These are especially important if you do exercise in the morning.
If you’re not a ‘morning person’, exercise in the morning may seem like the last thing you want to think about. However, there are some benefits of exercising in the morning. For one, it can increase your energy levels by getting your blood pumping and waking up all the functions in your body.
An obvious benefit is that it can help to aid weight loss but one of the biggest benefits of exercising in the morning is the sense of focus and control it can give you. Once you’ve completed a sometimes uncomfortable and energy-intensive workout in the morning, you feel as if you’ve overcome something challenging which aids your mindset for the rest of the day.
Having completed a worthwhile healthy habit before you’ve even left the house sets a strong tone for the rest of the day.
You don’t even have to make it a long exercise session either. Just performing 50-100 press-ups is enough to aid your health, improve your mood and leave you feeling awake and ready to take on the day.
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5. Do something mindful
Another healthy morning habit that can improve your mood is mindfulness. There are many different mindfulness exercises you can do but here’s one that only takes 3 minutes to complete before you head out the door.
- Sit or lay down somewhere comfortable where you won’t be disturbed. Now close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Ask yourself; “how am I feeling right now?” Explore how you’re feeling with self-compassion and without judgement. Think about why you may be feeling that way.
- Spend the next 60 seconds simply focusing on your breathing as you inhale and exhale. If your mind wanders, try not to push your thoughts away, be patient and observe them as if they are clouds coming and gently going on their own.
- Finally, spend the final 60 seconds observing how your breathing affects the rest of your body. Do you feel calmer? has your heart rate decreased?
If you’d like to explore more mindfulness exercises that won’t eat up your time you can do so here.
6. Set your intentions
These days there are a million and one things we need to do or at least feel like we need to do. It’s easy to become distracted and end up trying to do a bunch of things at once leaving them all half-done and your mind more scrambled than it was before.
Make sure you wake up and focus on one or two things you want to get done that day. Do not bog yourself down with wanting to please others by having to do things or say things. After all, you only have so many hours in the day and therefore cannot do everything.
You can make a mental note of your goals for the day or better still, write them down on a piece of paper or a on a note on your phone.
Spend your time focused on your completing your goals and nothing else. If something else comes up, don’t feel bad for saying no. Your time is precious and is not limitless.
7. Cultivate gratitude
“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
Mondays can seem boring, Fridays can seem exciting and the weekends can feel like a relief from the stresses of work. However, how much better could you feel if you were able to find a sense of gratitude for each and every day, even if many of your days are sat behind a desk at a job you’re not particularly passionate about?
It’s easier said than done sometimes but practising gratitude can fill your life with a new-found sense of appreciation and joy if you give it a chance. One of the best times of the day is to practise this in the morning so it makes for one of the best healthy morning habits you can have. It also sets a healthy tone for the rest of your day.
Practising gratitude doesn’t need to be complicated or take up too much of your time either. You can do it by writing down several things you’re grateful for, or better still you could meditate on those things for several minutes before you leave in the morning.
8. Get your self-care in
Get your self-care in, whatever that looks like for you. For example, make sure you keep your hygiene up by taking a shower whether hot or cold to keep yourself clean and fresh. This is another brilliant way to wake yourself up, especially by taking a cool or cold shower.
Scrub your face with a good facewash to open up your pours and refresh yourself. If you use makeup, give yourself enough time to apply it before you head out. If your self-care routine takes a little while to complete, consider getting up that bit earlier so you don’t have to rush it and cause yourself to feel stressed.
10. Prepare your lunch
This can be done the evening beforehand or it can be done early in the morning. I am a big believer in preparing and taking your own lunch out with you. In my case, that means I cook whole, fresh foods that keep my blood sugar stable throughout the day so I don’t experience large energy crashes that leave me even hungrier.
Try to avoid processed foods like cereals and bread in the mornings if you can so you don’t have energy dips when you get to work.
Here are some great Paleo recipes that will help you to keep your energy levels stable from the morning onwards.
Realistic morning habits
These are the most realistic morning habits that have helped me personally. Of course, there are many more healthy morning habits that you could benefit from but let’s be honest, when there are too many of them to think about they become chores.
The idea of creating better and healthier habits is you want to make them stick and therefore they have to be realistic and achievable.
If you want to make your healthy morning habits stick for you, try this morning routine for yourself and remove anything that doesn’t work for you as an individual. Above all, be patient and compassionate towards yourself as you get used to your new habits.