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Are you a slave to a toxic morning routine?

Whether you’re a personal development junkie, entrepreneur, stay-at-home parent, or college student, you already have a morning routine. Anyone who wakes up in the morning does. The question is: Is your current morning routine serving you?

10 Morning Routine Changes That Will Transform Your Life

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

 - Aristotle

Whether you’re a personal development junkie, entrepreneur, stay-at-home parent, or college student, you already have a morning routine. Anyone who wakes up in the morning does. The question is: Is your current morning routine serving you?

A healthy morning routine is one that gets your grounded, focused, and ready to proactively create your day, rather than react to whatever happens to you. Developing strong habits in the morning also eliminates “analysis paralysis” of what to focus on first thing and ensures you attend to your core emotional, physical, and creative needs before you enter the fray of the workplace and society at large.

If you typically hit snooze five times, immediately down a cup of coffee, get on your phone, and start haphazardly replying to emails while scrambling to get to work - and you know it’s time for a change- this article is for you. Keep reading for our top 10 morning routines, plus tips on how to successfully create new habits at the bottom.

Table of Contents

  1. Wake up early.
  2. Get hydrated ASAP.
  3. Don't check the tech.
  4. Sunbathe, even if only through your kitchen window.
  5. Harness the power of scent.
  6. Meditation is not just for monks.
  7. Breakfast: do you really need it?
  8. Get your heart rate up.
  9. Eat that frog.
  10. Take a nature break.

10 things to do every morning:

  1. Wake up early.

Humans are diurnal creatures. Our bodies are designed to wake up early, with the production of our sleep hormone melatonin tapering off by around 7 am.

Working with our circadian rhythms by waking up early promotes more energy throughout the day, as well as more restful sleep at night – which in turn makes it easier to wake up early the next day.

To make waking up easier, put  your alarm far away from your bed, so you have to get out of bed to turn it off. And don’t even entertain the snooze button. Aim to enjoy uninterrupted sleep until the moment you get out of bed, and set your alarm for the time you actually plan to wake up.

If waking up once is hard, why would you want to force yourself to wake up more than once anyways?

  1. Get hydrated ASAP.

Drinking water first thing in the morning jumpstarts your metabolism and clears the mind. However, you might need more than just one glass, especially first thing in the morning.

Dr. Batmanghelidj is a pioneering researcher on the subject of chronic unintentional dehydration, which he sites as the leading cause of most degenerative and chronic diseases.

He has published extensive studieson the healing powers of water on conditions usually treated by medication.He cites thirst as being “the last outward sign of dehydration.” In other words, if your mouth feels dry, it means that your organs and glands are dehydrated as well.

So if you wake up in the morning and your mouth is parched, drink until you feel fully rehydrated to give yourself a great head start on the day – and improve your health long-term.

  1. Don't check the tech.

As tempting as it may be, stay off your phone until later in the day. Research showsthat “a few minutes at glancing at negative headlines has a pretty good chance of ruining your mood all day.”

Set yourself up for success by focusing on your own mindset, mood, and goals before you get online and scatter your focus on news and social media.

  1. Sunbathe, if only through your kitchen window.

Morning light has a powerful effect on your physiology. Studies showthat exposure to morning light specifically increases b-endorphins in the brain, creating a “feel good” response and alleviating depression, mood disorders, and Seasonal Affective Disorder.

It also “pretreats” the skin for exposure to UVB rays later in the day, minimizing the risk of getting sunburned. So try to get some sunlight early in the day for a mood booster with a range of anti-inflammatory health benefits.

  1. Harness the power of scent.

There’s a reason humans have used incense, candles, essential oils, and resins during rituals and ceremonies for millennia. Olfactory stimulus triggers powerful responses in the limbic brain, also known as the reptilian mind which is responsible for memory, mood, and reactions.

Specific scents can stimulate a range of physiological responses including increasing serotonin, inducing calm, and improving memory. Some great essential oils and scents to start your day include lemongrass, neroli, mint, rosemary, ginger, and frankincense.

  1. Meditation is not just for monks.

According to author and entrepreneur Tim Ferriss, 80% of the top performers he interviews in his book Tools for Titanspractice some form of mindfulness meditation in the morning. Meditation is proven to improve concentration and memory recall, lower blood pressure, and reduce emotional reactivity, anxiety, improve creativityand tension.

There are many different types of meditation. Two popular forms are Vipassanaand Transcendental Meditation.

Vipassana is an ancient form of meditation that focuses on observing the bodily sensations and thoughts without judgment or reactivity. There are free training centers all over the world. Transcendental Meditation is a modern practice that uses mantras to center and still the mind.

You can also practice a variety of forms of meditation, including guided meditations, with a number of free online apps.

  1. Breakfast - do you really need it?

Many traditions dictate that you start the day with a healthy breakfast - popular “healthy” suggestions include oatmeal (to lower cholesterol), egg whites (for protein), and green smoothies (for antioxidants and fiber).

But is breakfast really the best way to start your day? There is plenty of evidence to the contrary.

Intermittent fasting (IF), or time-restricted eating, is the practice of only eating within a short window of time. So for example, you might stop eating at 8 PM, break your fast at noon the next day, and only eat within an 8-hour window. Dr. Rhonda Patrick, a specialist on aging and nutrition, recommends IFfor the whole slew of health benefits it provides, including:

  • Improving metabolism
  • Reducing cancer risk
  • Improving athletic performance

One noteworthy aspect of Dr. Patrick’s research is her observation that consuming anything besides water will stimulate metabolic processes and thus break the fast. This is in contrast to other IF practitioners who claim that black coffee is acceptable to consume during the fasting period.

Speaking of coffee, Bulletproof coffeeis another breakfast choice with plenty of research to back its benefits. Bulletproof coffee is coffee blended with medium chain triglyceride oil derived from coconuts, and grass-fed butter or ghee. The combination of caffeine and fats creates a long-lasting energy, making it a popular drink with everyone from CEOs to moms to athletes.

  1. Get your heart rate up.

While it may be tempting to postpone your workout till after work, evidence shows that the morning is the best time to exercise.

Thanks to our circadian rhythms, certain hormones like testosterone peak in the morning. Exercise also improves metabolism, helping you burn more calories throughout the day, and releases endorphins to improve your mood.

  1. Eat that frog.

“If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.”- Mark Twain

Mark Twain’s infamous advice has spawned one of the personal development world’s most popular mantras: Eat that frog. In other words, tackle the hardest, hairiest task on your to-do list first. Your day will only get easier from there.

  1. Take a nature break.

Once you’ve primed yourself for a successful day with a healthy morning routine and tackled your highest-priority task, reward yourself with a nature break - ideally in a green space, but even a simple walk around the block will help. Spending time in nature is associated with reduced anxiety, depression, diabetes, and fatigue.

Creating healthy habits

So now you know why you need a morning routine, and you have ten great routines to try out. How do you actually incorporate them into your life and ensure that they become healthy habits? Here are some strategies to help you stick to your morning routine until it become second nature:

  1. Decide which routines you want to incorporate and write them down somewhere you’ll see it before bedtime, such as your night stand.
  2. Set reminders in your phone or scheduling app for each routine.
  3. Practice positive reinforcement, or the principle of reinforcing certain behaviors with a reward. Rewards can be verbal, like words of praise and encouragement. They can be material - a piece of dark chocolate, a chair massage, even blasting your favorite music. Rewarding yourself for meeting your goals - rather than punishing yourself if you fail - ensures that you associate the habits you’re creating with immediate positive outcomes.

There are many benefits to maintaining a solid morning routine: it gets you in the flow and sets you up for a successful, happy day, and making healthy choices in the morning has a compounding effect on the rest of your day.  Set yourself up to win by setting realistic goals based on self-awareness. Use this list as a jumping-off point for you to explore what works for you.

What is your morning routine, and which of the above suggestions do you want to try? Leave a note in the comments!

About the writer                   

Sally Kirchell lives in Rosalie, Brisbane, she co-runs a local online art business called Blue Horizon Prints, she is a mother of 2 lively children, a parent to 3 dogs, a keen writer, fitness fanatic, yogi, traveller and photographer and women that needs a holiday with lots of margaritas after juggling all these things.

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