The idea of a morning routine is one that has been around for ages. And to many people focused on success, it’s an absolute must.
Even Benjamin Franklin started his day at 5 a.m., and asked himself, “What good shall I do this day?”
Putting together a morning routine is about more than just making yourself productive. In fact, the way you start your day sets the tone not just for your mind, but also for your body.
Now, there are tons of great recommendations out there, but morning routines are personal. What makes you feel like you can get the most done? Taking the time to set up a morning ritual may have tangible benefits that affect your day for the better.
1. First Things First — Make A Plan
So what is a morning routine, exactly? Simply put, it’s just a series of small activities, performed regularly, in the same order. However, to make your routine efficient, you’ll want a set plan.
One of the best things you can do is put pen to paper and make a proper to-do list. This will allow you to map out exactly how much time you have during your morning. Try not to only focus on the things you have to do — but also on the things you want to do.
If you find that you’d like a little more time to exercise or read the newspaper, you may want to consider getting up a little earlier. This is easier said than done for most people — but it may be worth it to shift your sleep schedule.
Though everyone’s morning to-do list will be different, there are a few common threads you can apply. When making your list, break it down into 3 parts:
1. “Big picture” goals
2. Plans for today
3. A moment of gratitude
For example, here’s a sample list:
- Drink a glass of water
- Read something pleasant
- Check calendar
- Eat a healthy snack
- Briefly exercise
- Prep for work
That’s just a basic skeleton for your morning routine. Feel free to add and subtract items that suit your needs and desires.
2. Eat Right
So, they say breakfast is the most important meal of the day.1 And it turns out there’s evidence behind this — especially for children, who have shown cognitive performance growth when they eat breakfast.2
But what’s less clear is what you should be eating to start your day off right.
Ideally, you’ll want to consume fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins as part of your morning routine.
And that’s why planning is so important.
Of course, you want to give yourself time to prepare a full meal when you can. However, sometimes, work or familial duty calls. So, here are some portable, quick, and healthy options for your morning routine if time is short.
- High-fiber cereal
- Fresh fruit
- Low-fat milk, soy or rice milk, or almond milk
- Low-fat protein shake with fresh or frozen fruit
- High-fiber toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter or some sliced avocado
In some cases, conventional morning foods may backfire. For example, coffee is a morning staple — but one study shows caffeine may actually affect how the body perceives sugar. How?
Well, when caffeine gives your body that jolt, it affects your ability to taste sweet flavors. Therefore, you’re more likely to crave it at a later time. Also, sugar has little nutritional value, and too much added sugar is linked to various health issues.3,4 Instead, consider tea or a probiotic drink as an alternative beverage for the morning.
3. Be Active
Of course, exercise is beneficial. And getting active can support your heart health, mental health, and even weight loss.
What you may not know is that timing is also essential. Researchers found that people who chose to exercise in the workplace had significant improvements in mood — and those workers showed better all-around performance. This included mental performance, intrapersonal relationships, and time management.6 When you feel crunched for time, exercising at work is a great addition to your morning routine.
4. Focus on Self-Care
Finally, turning your attention to mindfulness can really have a positive impact on your day. For many people, this works best during the earlier part of the day. Mindfulness is one type of meditation that has garnered quite a bit of recent popularity.
So how does it work? Well, first, you allow yourself to sit comfortably and focus on your breathing. Then, try to pay attention to the present moment, particularly the sounds you hear, or how your body feels. And these practices are more than just a bunch of holistic ideas — they’re scientifically proven.
Many people use meditation and yoga in the morning to relax. Mindfulness is great because it is very accessible, meaning that anyone can add it to their morning routine. All you need is a comfortable place to sit and a bit of quiet.
Start Your Morning Off Right
You know that eating a good meal is good for your health. You know that getting active is good for you, too. At the same time, a to-do list can really help you manage your morning. And meditation is proven to support mental health. So, why not add these practices to your daily routine?