Answer: A healthy and consistent morning routine.
Okay, so maybe something as small as a morning routine can’t change everything. And frankly, they take time to develop and implement -- which for busy people is a major deal breaker. But there is value in having a consistent way to start your day. A good morning routine can mean the difference between feeling like you’re playing catch-up and feeling like you’re getting ahead. They also give you the much-needed spare time to do things that are very specifically for you.
Some of the tips you’ll read online are a little idealistic -- journal for 20 minutes every day, then read for 45 minutes, then reflect on your life for an hour...sometimes, you just won’t have the time. So, if you’re looking to develop a morning routine (even if it’s just to find time to get your sweat on), we’ve pulled together a few more practical tips to get you started.
How to Start a Morning Routine
Before you even start to create your morning routine ritual, define why you want the routine in the first place. Is it to be more productive? Is it to have more time in the day? Is it to reflect and relax? That definition will help you create a direction that your routine should go in. The following are general tips that will help you create a structure -- but you’ll fill out the bones with your own touches.
Wake Up Early
Sorry nightowls, but to have a morning routine you have to have, well, a morning. That might mean getting up a little earlier than your usual alarm. You don't have to be The Rock -- waking up early doesn’t mean getting out of bed before 4 a.m. Instead, depending on what you want to get done in the mornings (Fitting in an hour workout? Cooking a well-balanced breakfast? Just having some quiet time?), set the alarm for about an hour to an hour-and-a-half earlier and start there. (More power to you if you actually want to be The Rock and get up before the sun.)
Don’t Journal. Instead, Write Goals
Reflection is good (and necessary) but if you only have a small window of alone time in the morning, try an abridged version of journaling: listing. This isn’t the time to create a long to-do list to stress over for the rest of your morning. Instead, you'll be writing a list of goals to accomplish throughout the day. Keep it short: “The Top 3 Things I Want to Accomplish Today” is perfect. Those goals don’t have to be monumental -- even just “cook this recipe” will do.
We could go on all day about the magic of exercise, but making it a part of your morning routine is hugely beneficial. Exercising in the morning is said to burn more fat than working out later in the day, and working out first thing gives you less of a chance to convince yourself not to do it later. Plus, the hormones you generate will wake you up and increase your cognition more than coffee can. So if you're up early, you may as well fit your workout in.
You’ve heard it before: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating (or prepping your breakfast for the road) should be a primary part of your morning routine. Why? People who skip breakfast tend to have a higher BMI, despite eating less calories on average. That’s because without calories immediately following your nighttime fast from food, you body, unsure of when its next meal will come, will conserve fat throughout the day. Don’t be afraid to go big: studies show that tapering your calories throughout the day yield better weight loss results.
Avoid Screen Time
You’ll get plenty of screen time during the workday -- try to avoid your phone or laptop during your morning if you can. Phones can hijack productivity and scrolling first thing in the morning can actually raise your stress levels. So, when you’re rolling over to check your email and social medias in the morning, you’re actually derailing your morning routine from the very beginning. Skip the screen.
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