We all know the saying "the early bird gets the worm." For many of us this quote leads to an eye roll because the thought of getting up early goes against our nature. Yet, there is building evidence that having a consistent morning routine is the answer to many of life's problems. Feeling unorganized and stressed in work and life? Think about adding some (or all!) of these great options to your morning.
Why you need a morning routine.
- It sets the tone for the day. Set goals, clear your mind and take care of yourself. Then, the rest of the day suddenly becomes more manageable.
- Enhance your productivity when your willpower is high and brain is less overwhelmed. It is theorized that we all have a reserve of willpower that slowly fades away as the day goes on. Plus, we all know that feeling of the brain going haywire by the end of the day that can make it hard to stay on task. Use your mornings to maximize your day.
- Help make your life a healthier one. All the suggested components of a morning routine (see below) have been show to enhance well-being and decrease chronic stress. One of the biggest factors in developing chronic disease!
- Get better sleep. Getting up early will naturally make you want to go to bed earlier. Did you know there are certain hours of the night that literally give you "more bang for your buck." These hours are related to our circadian rhythm. The Times reports that "every hour slept before midnight is worth two after midnight."
- Make efficient progress toward your goals. Having a good morning routine will help you stay on task and give you a better vision for achieving life and work goals.
What you can include in your morning routine.
- Reading. Find a book that you enjoy. Reading stimulates the brain and imagination. If there is something specific you want to learn about (like a getting up earlier!), find a book on it and start reading a little bit each morning. Even if it's just one page a day, you're stimulating the brain in a new healthy way. If you don't consider yourself a reader, consider listening to a podcast, e-book or reading an article of interest.
- Writing/Journaling. It has been proven that writing down your emotions, goals, etc. help your brain process and cope with them better. While emotion and dreams involve the right side of the brain, writing brings more of the logical left brain into the picture so that you can fully process and appreciate your ideas.
- Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the act of bringing self-awareness to the present moment. This can be more structured with meditation or yoga, or it can be very informally added to your day. Simply stopping to take a few deep breaths or fully focusing on a task (i.e. eating, walking, driving, conversation, etc.) can help calm the mind when it feels like it's racing. In a world full of distraction, finding time to be present is a powerful tool for both work and home life.
- Exercise. We all know exercise is good for us and should be done consistently. If you are low on time, it's not a good excuse. Something is always better than nothing at all. Doing it first thing in the morning has the added benefit of boosting your metabolism and endorphins to keep you on top of your health game all day long, even while at work! You can always add more exercise throughout your work day as needed too.
Apply one or all know and your work life will change.
No matter how much you might like your job, work is stressful. When you arrive at work feeling balanced and task-oriented, it will show throughout the day. You may be less annoyed, feel less stressed about deadlines (because you have a plan), less likely to snap at your fellow employees or boss, and simply able to focus better on the important aspects of your daily work tasks.
Say good-bye to chronic stress.
Stress can cause high blood pressure, weight gain, depression, and many other chronic health issues. Add that to other poor habits like sleep deprivation and little exercise and your mental and physical health are on a runaway train that could de-rail a any moment. The answer to all these concerns are in how you choose to spend your morning.
It doesn't have to be complicated.
By simply finding a routine that works for you, your health and life satisfaction will improve. It doesn't have to be drastic. Even an extra 10-30 minutes in the morning can make such a big difference. It may be hard at first to feel motivated, so having a partner (or whole team) can help to keep you accountable while you adjust to getting up earlier. As you find you feel better and establish your morning routine as a habit, you will find you don't mind waking up an hour early to get in some much needed "you" time.
What are you waiting for? Get started today!