(CNN) – How you start each morning has a great impact, positive or negative, on the rest of the day. By practicing a healthy morning routine, you can increase your productivity, decrease stress, increase happiness, and much more.
Too many people wake up each day with a barrage of responsibilities that end up dictating the flow of their mornings. If you have children or pets, you have to take care of them. Most people have morning chores, need to make breakfast, get ready for work, etc. I am not suggesting that you shy away from your responsibilities. But the truth is, you’ll be better prepared to handle everything on your plate each morning if you start a healthy self-care routine.
Here are some of my own healthy morning habits, as well as tips and tricks for creating a routine that lasts, and what to do when you fail. Some of the habits in my routine will be familiar to you, while others will not. As you read, keep your own lifestyle and health goals in mind so that you can create a morning routine that works best for you.
1. Set your alarm to work for you, not against you
The first step in getting your day off to a good start is adjusting your sleep schedule to make sure you have enough time in the morning for yourself and your responsibilities. If your children get up at 6:30 in the morning, it means that you should get up before them. Or, even if you don’t have kids or pets to take care of, if you usually get up at 7 a.m. to rush out the door at 7:30, it’s time you started your days earlier.
That said, sleep is important. If you set your alarm to wake up earlier, you should also set your bedtime to go to bed earlier. There is nothing healthy about a lack of sleep, so try to sleep at least seven hours.
2. Breathe in the new day
What is the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?
Unfortunately, for many people, the answer is “pick up the phone.”
If that’s the case, how many minutes do you spend every morning browsing and letting stress build up due to what you find in the news, on social media, or in the messages you received at night?
What if you made a rule that, before picking up the phone, you did six long deep breaths to focus your attention on the power and blessing of your own life force?
Since the diaphragm acts as the central respiratory and postural muscle, diaphragmatic breathing not only helps you to positively focus your mind, but also prepare your body to support movement and good posture.
3. Drink water before coffee
Because we lose water through breathing and sweat while we sleep, we often wake up thirsty. Taking into account that the adult human body is made up of up to 60% water, hydration is essential for good health.
Drinking water first thing in the morning will not only help you rehydrate, but it can also jump-start your metabolism, boosting it by up to 30%, according to research.
4. Move your body in all directions
There’s a reason we instinctively stretch when we wake up. Our body craves movement after being sedentary. Why not direct that instinct to be as productive as possible?
Instead of just doing a quick stretch in bed and then going about your day, flattering your dominant side, adjust your body and prepare it for daily activity by taking it through all planes of motion, using both sides of the body evenly.
You can achieve this with a quick yoga practice or with a 10-minute workout using body weight.
5. Schedule a space to exercise
You may not be able to do a full workout in the morning. No problem. You can sneakily exercise by adding it to some of your morning habits. For years, I have been doing push-ups before getting in the shower and squats while brushing my teeth.
It’s called “habit stacking,” a concept that James Clear refers to in his book “Atomic Habits”. By stacking a new exercise habit on top of an already ingrained morning habit, you make it easier to maintain.
6. Prepare your mind
There are numerous apps that offer free guided meditations of less than 10 minutes.
You can also set a timer on your phone for the duration you want and sit quietly concentrating on the sensations of your breathing or silently repeating a positive affirmation, mantra, or intention that you want to set for your day.
7. Adopt an attitude of gratitude
The research demonstrate that practicing gratitude can decrease pain, improve empathy, and reduce aggressiveness, which is a great way to start your day, especially if you have to get around in the morning with traffic. You can practice gratitude in the morning by getting up each day to watch the sunrise, writing in a journal the things you are grateful for, or incorporating a gratitude approach into your meditation.
Personally, I share a gratitude board with my husband and they each write three things on it at night. It’s technically a nighttime habit, but due to its location in our master bathroom, it’s one of the first things we see every morning. We’ve done it for many years, and I still love waking up to what he wrote and remembering what I was thankful for the day before.
8. Make the bed
By making your bed each morning, you show yourself that you take personal responsibility for your tasks and are committed to keeping your personal space comfortable and orderly. Set a precedent that reinforces the foundation of your ability to follow through.
To learn more about this, check out Admiral William H. McRaven’s book “Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life … and Maybe the World“.
9. Repeat your routine
This is the hardest part. Establishing a routine is not easy. It’s understandable, if you start out strong but then falter. If one morning you fall asleep or forget some new habits, don’t be too hard on yourself … but don’t give up either. Start over the next morning and try some of the suggestions below to stay on track.
10. Prepare for success
To make it easier for you to carry out your healthy self-care routine in the morning, take steps the night before to reduce your load and make the things you need to do more convenient. For example, get your clothes ready for the next morning. If you have children, also take out their clothes (or ask them to do so). Another option is to prepare breakfast in advance. I make a big pot of oatmeal that I can heat up in the morning. If you take lunch to work or have to prepare food for the children, do so in advance as well.
Getting up earlier can be one of the biggest challenges to overcome. Take advantage of technology to achieve it. You may need a more gradual alarm tone to wake you up. Or you may need a louder sound. Try the different options on your phone.
Because it was hard for me not to snooze my alarm, I invested $ 30 in a clock with a warm light that gradually brightens the room before the alarm goes off, and it worked for me. Find out what works for you.
Ready to start a new, healthier morning routine?
Tomorrow morning is your chance!
Life is busy for all of us, but we can always make time for the things we think are worth it. Trust me – your overall health and daily outlook are worth it.