Renowned American clergyman and social reformer Henry Ward Beech said, “The first hour of the morning is the rudder of the day.”
Just as the rudder of a ship controls its course through the sea, your morning routine sets the tone for how the rest of your day will turn out.
A slow, dull start in the morning usually culminates into an unproductive and lousy day. Some people may even start to feel physically sluggish, moody and dejected.
On the contrary, people who follow a healthy morning routine are not only more organized but also a lot more energized and get a whole lot done in just a single day.
While there is no single, ideal morning routine for everyone, you can adopt a few simple habits as part of your morning ritual that can alter the trajectory of your entire day.
Here are some morning habits that will change your life.
1. Start Your Day Early
No, this does not mean you begin your day at the crack of dawn, but it doesn’t mean start your day at 8 a.m. either.
Early-risers have one incredible advantage over their still-asleep counterparts – the luxury of quiet surroundings in which to kick start their day.
Early morning is the time you are most at peace and your mind is at its clearest. Having just awoken, you are a clean slate in the wee hours.
People who wake up early to perform important tasks are more proactive than those who utilize evening time to engage in activities, according to a 2009 study published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
This is the best time to set a schedule for the rest of the day, write a journal entry, meditate or simply take a barefoot stroll through your garden and connect with nature.
2. Open Your Windows
Opening the windows, not just your blinds, and promoting ventilation is crucial to staying healthy, according to the World Health Organization.
Furthermore, allowing sunlight into your room is the first step toward wakefulness. In fact, it helps regulate the sleep-wake cycle by stimulating the body’s 24-hour biological system.
Sunrays are also your best natural source of vitamin D and help put you in a good mood. The sun’s rays boost the body’s production of serotonin, the happiness-inducing neurotransmitter, according to a 2008 study published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
Hence, opening the windows should be part of your morning routine as it will wake you right up, enhance your mood and prepare you for an active day.
As you open your eyes and climb out of bed, grab a pillow, sit on it cross-legged and meditate for 15 minutes.
Meditation is essentially clearing your mind and achieving a state of peace, free of any troubling thoughts nagging at you.
This can take a while to master, but once you do, you will notice how you become less stressed, more focused and more decisive with each passing day.
Furthermore, regular mindful meditation techniques can play a role in boosting the part of the brain responsible for memory retention, learning and self-reflection, and help control the part of the brain that regulates anxiety and stress, according to a 2011 study published in Psychiatry Research.
Thus, regular meditation will improve everyday mental stress and consequent performance, and may aid brain development in the long run.
4. Drink Lemon Water
Drinking water early in the morning aids digestion and regulates morning bowels, a key to a healthy digestive system.
Combined with the excellent detoxification properties of lemons, lemon water effectively flushes your body of harmful toxins.
The pulp of citrus fruits like lemons is rich in vitamin C and exhibits potent antioxidant activity, according to a 2011 study published in Food Research International.
Vitamin C helps maintain healthy skin and blood vessels, heals wounds by forming scar tissue and aids the body’s absorption of iron.
This antioxidant vitamin also combats the cell-damaging activity of free radicals in the body. Long-term accumulation of free radicals can accelerate aging and may contribute to the progression of arthritis and heart disease.
Regular intake of citrus fruits like lemons reduces the risk of heart disease, according to a 2011 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology.
Furthermore, citrus fruit flavonoids inhibit excess blood sugar from progressing further. Therefore, drinking a warm glass of lemon water each morning might be beneficial for diabetes patients.
Many of you might save the trouble of having to shower early in the morning by soaking in the tub each night before you go to bed.
While that is a convenient alternative, especially if you tend to run late in the a.m., a morning shower has its own benefits.
Stepping into the shower instantly refreshes your body and mind, along with cleansing you. It triggers circulation, soothes you and instantly wakes you up. It is also the perfect time to relax and mull over ideas, especially if you work a creative job.
A hot shower also helps loosen up any phlegm, as often happens during winter nights.
6. Read Something Inspirational
Let the first thing you read in the morning be an inspirational text that uplifts your spirits and motivates you to make the most of your day.
Just as running and exercising each morning makes you physically fit, motivational reading is a mental workout that will keep you mentally strong throughout the day.
If you start your morning by reading a positive book or text, you will have mentally prepared yourself for any setbacks you might face.
On the contrary, reading the newspaper as you start your day is likely to fill your head with thoughts of distressing events around the world that are bound to disturb your mental peace and leave you low-spirited.
When you incorporate an inspirational reading into your daily morning routine, you will notice you eventually become more creative, productive, resilient and calmer, as well as better equipped to face challenges.
7. Stay Off the Phone
Mobile phones have become almost as important as oxygen to most of us. It is often the last thing we use before we go to sleep and the first thing we use when we wake up.
Well, no more. Wake up early and begin your day by not looking at your phone for 2 hours, or right before you leave for work. Indulge in other productive activities instead.
Read. Write. Water your plants. Sit on the patio with a warm cup of green tea, listen to the birds chirp and collect your thoughts.
As you do this every day, you will notice how much time you save and how much you actually get done in those 2 hours you usually waste away answering messages or browsing Facebook.
This social disconnect will give you some “me-time” during which you can self-reflect and think about your life and goals.
8. Keep a “Gratitude” List
In the strife of everyday life, it is easy to forget the good things that happen to us.
If we sit back and reflect, we will be able to count various things, big and small, that have made a world of difference to us.
If you can, thank one person each day who you are grateful to have in your life.
If that’s not really your style, or you are too much of an introvert for such a vocal expression of gratitude, maintain a list or journal and write down one thing every morning that you are grateful for in your life.
Renowned self-help gurus swear by this mantra. Being thankful for what you have each day can make you an optimist over time and inspire you to achieve your goals.
9. Eat a Nutritious Breakfast
The energy you get from foods like bacon, bagels, white bread and doughnuts depletes rapidly, and you become drowsy as all the blood from your brain travels to your stomach to break down these overcooked, high-fat foods.
The high amount of salt, as well as the excess oil that bacon absorbs when fried, increase the risk of artery blockage, heart attacks and strokes.
On the contrary, eating a nutritious breakfast of slow energy-yielding foods, such as whole-grain cereals, fruits and lean protein, keeps you energized and alert the whole day.
Furthermore, a healthy breakfast helps you stay fit. People who consumed one serving of breakfast cereal daily reported a significantly lesser risk of becoming overweight over the next decade than those who did not, according to a 2005 study published in Obesity Research.
Exercise can take many forms. Some of you might hit the gym each morning, some of you may prefer cycling, while some of you might go for a rigorous run around the neighborhood.
All of them are terrific ways to get the blood flowing throughout your body and energize you.
Morning exercise significantly boosts the production of energy through dietary fats in subsequent meals, according to a 2004 study published in the International Journal of Obesity.
Moreover, exercising releases abundant endorphins in your body. Endorphins are your “happy hormones”. They uplift your mood and motivate you.
Exercising also staves off your cravings for fatty, sugary foods, according to a 2012 study published in Medicine and Science for Sports and Exercise.
Such foods release their energy all at once, ultimately slowing you down and affecting your mood and performance for the entire day.