The first things we do each morning set the tone for the entire day ahead. If we awake tired and stressed, versus energized and ready to take on the day, most likely that feeling will stick with us throughout the rest of the day, affecting more than just our mood. That’s seven chances each week to create a new, productive, and life-changing routine. They say it takes two weeks to engrave an action as a habitual action. Change these 10 habits to reduce stress, change your health, and enhance your happiness, productivity, and intention for each day.
1) Checking Your Phone First Thing In The Morning
This one is one of the simplest tasks to change to restore our daily health and energy, yet it is also one of the hardest to adhere to. Most of us sleep with our phones on our bedside table, doubling as our midnight flashlight, clock, or alarm clock. (This alone is a wonderful habit to break! EMFs anyone?) It’s second nature to us, as we reach to silence the morning alarm, to continue to scan social media, check for missed messages, or respond to texts before we’ve even processed anything else. Instead, as you turn off your alarm, allow yourself to lay still for a couple minutes. Ease your eyes open, and take in the energy of the new day.
2) Hitting Snooze
Sound familiar? The alarm goes off and jolts us awake. We tell ourselves, “I’m so comfy…or I’m too tired. I can sleep for five more minutes.” So, we hit snooze to catch a few more z’s. Not only does the initial alarm sound pull us from our natural sleep cycle, but in trying to give our bodies a couple more minutes of rest we can actually end up doing the opposite. That few extra minutes can end up telling our bodies to change our internal clock as well as begin a new sleep cycle, leaving us ill-prepared for the next morning, wanting to sleep in even longer. Every time we hit snooze results in feeling more and more groggy as our bodies try to go deeper into a sleep cycle. Instead of a late night followed by a late morning, get those extra z’s in the night before. It’s actually more likely your body will feel rested and end up waking naturally before your alarm even goes off.
3) Skipping Breakfast
We’ve all heard it before – breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and there’s reason for this. I’m not saying we need a three course meal to start the day, but we certainly require some energizing brain food. Our bodies have been fasting all night since our last meal and require fuel. In our modern, fast-paced society, if we don’t eat something in the morning, many of us don’t eat a real meal until that afternoon when we feel starved and exhausted, and end up reaching for the nearest and often unhealthy options. This requires us to set the tone for the day ahead and begin the morning with a nutritious breakfast. Whether it’s an apple, banana, superfood smoothie, or a homemade omelette with sides and toast, take a conscious moment each morning to reflect on what your body needs to fuel itself. Even better, take the time to sit for at least ten minutes each morning to eat breakfast calmly and quietly before the hustle of the day begins.
4) Starting Off With Coffee
You slept through your alarm, missed breakfast, and are now late to work. There may not be time to stop for breakfast, but the day doesn’t start without caffeine, right? Sure, that jolt of coffee will stimulate the body first thing when we feel we don’t have any energy to spare, but in the long run it doesn’t do anything constructive for our health and will leave us with an energy crash mid-day, needing to refuel and start the cycle again. Not only does caffeine have a very acidic, dehydrating effect on the system first thing in the morning and on an empty stomach, it can also, over time, affect our adrenals and deplete our natural energy. Instead, first thing when we rise, consume at least one glass of room temperature or warm water with lemon. This will help to hydrate, energize, and detox the system naturally and caffeine-free.
5) Rushing Through Your Morning
Whether we awoke on the wrong side of the bed or are stressing to get to work fast to prepare for a meeting or start that overwhelming task we’ve been putting off, starting the day off rushed and stressed sets the tone for the whole day. Rushing through the morning may get us to the office a few minutes faster, but it certainly won’t start us off on the right foot energetically or do anything to help us motivate for the day ahead. Take the the time to set a routine that cultivates the energy and lifestyle we want to live. Whether that means taking a few minutes of calm to set an intention for the day, meditate and breathe, spend a few extra moments with family, or cook up a fulfilling breakfast, make the time for it and do it with purpose.
6) Checking Mail
Still in bed, one eye still closed, we reach for our phones and scroll through our work email to see if so and so wrote us back or if there are any developments that require immediate attention. Instantly, our bodies tense as we see an email from our boss, a task that requires additional time, etc, etc. We become rushed and stressed before we are even out of bed as we decide to skip yoga, forget about breakfast and hurry to get to the office asap. Whether we have the option to work from home, practice unconventional work hours, or go to an office daily, creating a clear separation between work and homelife hours can help to reduce stress and work more efficiently. An email to a colleague, perhaps already at work, sends a message that you are also “at your desk”, and ready to work and communicate. If you don’t have conventional work hours or know, for instance, that you don’t focus well first thing in the morning, try to make your work day work for you by saving the major tasks until mid-morning or noon when you have gotten into a work flow.
7) Poor Dietary Choices
This one is a big one for us, as we are firm believers that you are what you eat and fuel your day with. Can poor morning dietary habits be just as bad as skipping breakfast? A day begun with a large coffee and a half a fast-food breakfast sandwich may provide calories, but doesn’t provide much in the sense of proper nutrition. A green smoothie, on the other hand, packed with raw, vibrant, natural produce, provides lasting energy that helps to fuel our bodies throughout the morning and replenishes it with the essential vitamins and minerals the ingredients contain.
8) Going To Sleep Without A Plan
The intentions we set for the day ahead should begin the night before. When we go to sleep without a plan for the next day, we may go to sleep still thinking about work, how to resolve an issue, or planning the day to come. This doesn’t allow our minds or bodies to relax and reflect, but perpetuates that feeling into the next day, meaning we never stopped “working.” Before my workday is finished, I like to look over my agenda for the next day and plan out at least a loose schedule of the three largest tasks I have for the day. This helps me prioritize my time, have an understanding of my next day, and not have to worry or stress about what the next day will bring. Then I’m able to log off, shut my computer, and relax with family.
9) Waking In A Dark Room
It may feel good to take it slow and get ready in a dark, cozy room, but we may be delaying our body's natural ability to energize itself with the solar cycle. If we open the curtains, let the light in, and maybe even put some energizing music on, we, too, will become energized and motivated, ready to start the day.
10) Cold Start
When I wake up, the first thing I do is stretch, move and twist, to get my heart pumping and my energy flowing. Of course we’d all love to say we take the time to workout and move before we start our workday, but that may not be a realistic option for every schedule. We may have to squeeze our workouts in between lunch, after work, or every other day, making it that much more important to start your day off with some sort of movement, whether it be a good stretch or a couple sun salutations, before the daily grind to get the blood flowing, release endorphins, and energize the body and mind.