By Sira Mas for The Lifestyle Times.
There are also people who believe that what you do in the morning, every single day, can actually change your life.
I don’t know about you, but I belong to the third group.
The Best Morning Routines, According to Experts
The best morning routine ideas are usually the most sustainable habits that can also have a highly positive impact on your day.
What follows are the best morning rituals you can adopt now to massively improve the quality of your life, according to experts.
1. Stop hitting that snooze button and get out of bed
This may sound obvious, yet, it’s one of the most difficult morning habits.
Because it’s so easy to get comfy in your bed and sleep five more minutes. Then ten more minutes. Then again, ten more minutes. You get the gist.
However, as personal trainer and wrestling coach Kevin Harris mentions, hitting the snooze button is one of the worst ways that you can possibly start your day.
Not only does it eat into the time available that you have to perform your morning routine, and stress you out, but can also completely alter your circadian rhythms/sleep patterns.
Whilst you are snoozing, you aren’t actually gaining any of the benefits of normal sleep.
You aren’t getting any high quality or restorative sleep – instead, you will slip into REM sleep, only to be pulled out again nine minutes later, making you feel uncomfortable and even more tired.
These feelings can linger for the rest of the day, affecting your cognition and general performance.
According to certified sports nutritionist (CISSN) and nutrition coach Esther Avant, the best thing you can do is to charge your phone somewhere out of reach so that in order to shut off your alarm, you have to get out of bed.
Ideally, it would be even better to buy an alarm clock that you put across the room so that you don’t even bring your phone into the bedroom.
2. Choose a consistent wake time
As Meghan Stoops, dietitian at Naked Nutrition, mentions, if you don’t have a regular sleep schedule, it can be tough to be productive.
Choosing a consistent time to go to sleep and wake up every morning can make a big difference in your energy levels throughout the day.
Not only does this help to ensure you get adequate and restful sleep, but it helps you to maintain focus and better balance your mood throughout the day.
3. Drink a glass of water
As Shannon Dolan, functional nutritional therapy practitioner and certified health coach, mentions, when you first wake up, the best thing you can do is drink a large glass of water to help rehydrate your body.
And you should do it before consuming any caffeine.
Even better, try to consume water with electrolytes to further hydrate your body so you can have more natural energy.
As board-certified physician, eye surgeon and chief medical officer of Fresh N Lean Dr. Paul Goodman mentions, we can’t survive more than a few days without water, and yet people often forego water for other beverages or no drinks at all.
“Before reaching for coffee and your phone, consider drinking a glass of water,” recommends dr. Goodman.
A study from The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism looked at the metabolism of people following water consumption.
They measured energy expenditure rates of 14 healthy subjects who were given 500 ml of water and then observed using a technique called “whole-room indirect calorimetry.”
This places a person in a sealed room and measures their oxygen consumption/carbon-dioxide production.
Researchers found that, following water consumption, subjects’ metabolisms increased by 30%.
Higher metabolism means more calories burned by your body, regardless of what else you are doing.
4. Practice mindfulness
As Aimee White, co-owner of Keyboard Kings, mentions, one habit we don’t practice enough is mindfulness.
See, starting your day by scrolling through your phone for almost an hour only to then realize you’re late for work and haven’t even had a good breakfast is not good for anyone.
The best morning habits are the ones that help you feel energized before starting your day.
Practicing mindfulness as soon as you wake up can really make a difference.
And there’s no need to take a fancy course online to learn how to do it.
Simply sit and drink your glass of water and focus on what’s in front of you. Focus on how you feel, on the glass you’re holding in your hand.
Don’t think about anything, just take a deep breath and let your mind wander.
Then think about what you want to achieve that day, how you want to feel at the end of the day, what you want to improve during the week, etc.
Whenever an intrusive thought enters your mind, deal with it by thinking about it a little, or even go through it by writing a small journal entry.
This is such a great routine as it helps you remain calm, prevent anxiety, and get motivated for a productive day.
Forget 5 am alarms, just break your bad habits by identifying them and replace them with good, healthy habits.
5. Try fear journaling
According to coach Joel Evan, one of the best morning routine ideas is fear journaling.
Sure, we’ve all heard of gratitude journaling, as we know gratitude is the antidote to fear and anger.
But the problem with gratitude is that it’s challenging to be grateful for something when you’re overwhelmed by fear.
Sometimes, it’s tough to consciously be grateful when you’re terrified in the back of your mind.
The idea behind fear journaling is to spend five minutes writing out or voice recording for five minutes your biggest fears.
Then, take them to the darkest places you can (feel something tangible). Make sure to complete this exercise before any gratitude work.
As Evan explains, getting your fears out of your head is essential to allow you to move forward stably. It’s kind of like an emotional colonic.
If you let a bunch of angst and worry hang out in your subconscious, no amount of “positive thinking” will help because the fear and anxiety will continue to bloat up.
Getting your fears – the big and dark ones – out will allow space for positivity, innovation, and faith to flow through you.
Get out the old, bad fears to make room in your subconscious for better.
As Barbara Bergin, M.D. mentions, you should stretch before getting out of bed. This is actually one of the best morning routines you can try.
At night we tend to sleep in a flexed position.
The flexor muscles are generally stronger than the extensors, and so we tend to pull up into something close to the fetal position at varying stages during the night.
We can stay in that position for many hours at a time.
We should give our muscles, tendons and joints a little time to prepare for the standing-up, stretched-out position first thing in the morning.
Do a few stretches in bed, especially of the weight-bearing joints, like the knees, feet and ankles.
This will diminish the potential to experience pain and stiffness in the morning, especially as we age.
A nice stretch of the arch of the foot and the Achilles tendon will practically eliminate the potential to develop plantar fasciitis, which is almost an epidemic in women over forty.
7. Have breakfast
As personal trainer Thomas Dean mentions, one of the best morning routines that you can adopt for your body and mind is to have breakfast every day.
It will give you energy and fuel for the rest of the day, as well as help you avoid overeating later on in the evening.
Not to mention, having breakfast within the first hour of your day is essential to boost your metabolism.
There are many different ways to prepare a healthy breakfast, so it’s important that you choose one that works best for your lifestyle and dietary preferences.
Here are some ideas:
- Smoothies: A smoothie is an easy way to get all the nutrients that you need in one drink without having to eat a ton of food at once. You can also make them ahead of time so you have them ready to go in the morning.
- One Protein: Many people find that it’s easier to eat one protein for breakfast, then add more food for lunch and dinner. Breakfast is the time when your body has had the most energy and is able to digest a lot of food, so protein will be best suited for this meal.
- Raw Fruit: A lot of people avoid fruit in the morning because it’s sour and there’s sugar. The natural sugars in fruit can set your blood sugar levels up quickly, so eating it can be a very effective way to start the day. For this reason, I would recommend adhering to a strict low-sugar diet for the first few days so that you can adjust before putting fruit in your morning meal.
- Hard Boiled Eggs: This is a very popular breakfast because it’s easy to make, inexpensive, and gives you the energy you need.
One of the healthiest morning routines you can try is exposing yourself to sunlight first thing after waking up.
As Dave Shelton, Founder & Trainer at My Fitness System mentioned:
“For me, this means getting up and going for a nice 10-15 minute walk. Not only is this a great exercise; sunlight also has a positive impact on your circadian rhythm and sleep quality.”
As health coach Erika Lee Sperl explains, morning light helps boost early morning cortisol. Cortisol has a bad reputation and people automatically assume low cortisol is optimal.
However, its levels are not flatlined throughout the day; levels should be higher in the morning, and gradually recede throughout the day and evening.
Several studies have also linked early morning light to increased cognitive functioning and decision making, improved regulation of leptin and ghrelin (the “hunger hormones”), and were associated with lower reported levels of anxiety and seasonal affective disorder.
9. The “Morning Ask”
As Dr. Jay Cavanaugh, high-performance mindset coach, explains, one of the best morning habits you can adopt is what he calls “The Morning Ask.”
This is a powerful habit to adopt because you pair the powers of intention, focus, and manifestation to create your day.
Here’s how to add this habit to your daily routine in three simple steps:
- Start by becoming aware of the very moment you begin to awaken and keep your eyes closed.
- Place a gentle focus on asking yourself what feeling you’d like to experience on that day.
- Finally, consider which version of yourself needs to show up to experience this feeling.
Let your imagination run wild, visualize what you truly want.
You’ll feel like you moved into the driver’s seat, completely in charge of your life.
10. Spend some time in silence
As Isla Zyair, nutritionist and blogger at Obesity Controller Association suggests, one of the best morning routines is spending some time in silence.
There is something magical about the morning hours.
The world is fresh and new, and the day lies stretched out before us, full of possibilities. It’s no wonder that so many people find that spending some time in silence is the best way to start their day.
When we take the time to sit in silence, we are opening ourselves up to connect with something larger than ourselves.
We are creating space for stillness and peace. Amid our busy lives, this can be enormously beneficial. It allows us to re-center ourselves and to find a sense of calm.
We are more likely to approach our day with productivity and joy from this place of peace. We can better meet the challenges our way because we come from a place of inner strength.
In addition, taking some time for silence each morning can help us to connect with our higher purpose and to live more authentically.
So if you’re looking for a way to improve your life, spending some time in silence each morning is a great place to start.
By creating space for stillness and peace, it will be easier to meet the demands of your day with joy and productivity.
11. Embrace your humanity
As Dr. Barbara Ford Shabazz suggests, too often, we start our days with guilt because we’re not adhering to the advice of the ‘experts’, that can inadvertently condition us to see ourselves as good or bad.
We ask how we’re doing upon arrival at work. But no one really talks about the little things that made us happy upon rising.
Be compassionate with yourself and let go of perfection. Of of the best routines you can adopt in the morning is taking a few minutes to do something you don’t have to do but that makes you truly happy.
It’s important to tap into our joy, because the invitation to get in line for the grind will always be there waiting for us.
Sometimes not being ‘productive’ is the most ‘productive thing’ we can do for our mental health.
12. Substitute tea for coffee
One of the healthiest morning routines is drinking tea.
As Dr. Paul Goodman suggests, coffee is not a bad choice for your health but you should consider choosing tea instead.
The health benefits are overwhelming, and it may be one of the single best foods that you can put into your body.
Different types of tea have different nutrients but they are uniformly packed with antioxidants called polyphenols.
These molecules have a wide array of potential health benefits.
Studies on the effects of tea polyphenols have shown they may help prevent cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and glaucoma.
Also, as research into “food as medicine” expands, we are finding more and more benefits from increasing the antioxidant levels in your diet.
So, it’s likely that there are even more benefits that we do not know about yet.
13. Bhramari breathing
This practice involves inhaling through the nose – or mouth if needed – and then humming on the exhale with the mouth closed if possible.
Repeat for 3-5 minutes for best effects.
Cruikshank recommends to add a simple meditation along with it to enhance the effects.
For the first minute or two of your humming just listen to the sound and sensations inside the body to anchor your attention & focus.
Then for the second half visualize the quality of your movements and interactions throughout the rest of your day.
For instance, if you want to be more patient or more focused, picture what that looks like in the details of your meetings or activities of the day to come.
Be as vivid as you can, feeling and sensing what that will feel and look like in your daily activities (think meetings, brushing your teeth, going to bed at night, etc).
As a welcome side effect, there is also some research suggesting that Bhramari breathing can support the immune system and healthy responses to COVID 19.
If you’re a restless sitter, you can do this on a morning walk around your neighborhood as well.