If you take a moment to search for the “perfect morning routine” online, you’ll likely be met with different ideas and examples of how the world’s most successful people schedule their mornings. But the thing is, all of us are different.
Each person operates differently, and a process that may work well for others might not work as well for you. While one person could be halfway through their daily five-mile run, another may be sleeping in until 10:00 a.m. after an overnight double shift.
This doesn’t mean that your morning routine is wrong. It just means that the morning routine of others isn’t a fit with your process or lifestyle. Whenever you come across these articles, lists or ideas, think of their advice less as a “set menu” and more as an “a la carte” selection where you can pick and choose what works best for you.
With that in mind, here are 10 additional ideas for ways to fill your morning routine with activities that foster happiness, productivity and wellness throughout your day.
1. Wake up before sunrise
Getting out of bed before the crack of dawn may sound maddening to some, but for others, it’s a source of time they can spend free of distractions. This lets you focus on your daily or weekly plan first thing in the morning, spend time getting ready for important meetings or calls or even just grant you some much-needed alone time.
Though waking up before sunrise can quickly lead us to thinking how exhausted we’ll feel later in the day, many people who routinely wake up at an early hour report the opposite of this, finding that they have more energy throughout the day when they wake up before the rest of the world.
According to Harvard Medical School, stretching “keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy,” granting our bodies a wider range of motion while also fighting off feelings of uncomfortable tightness.
Like most physical activities, stretching once isn’t enough. To achieve proper flexibility and range of muscular motion, stretching should become a part of your everyday routine, regardless of when in the day you find time to do it. Don’t stretch your muscles to the point of pain, but hold stretches and poses for no less than 30 seconds to achieve the full physiological effect.
3. Make your bed
In his commencement speech to the 2014 class of the University of Texas at Austin, U.S. Naval Admiral William McRaven famously said, “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished your first task for the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and it will encourage you to do another task, and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter.”
True to its practice, making your bed each morning as part of your routine is not solely for the sake of having a tidied bed to fall into at bedtime; it serves as a proverbial launching pad for you to be productive by knocking out tasks from the time you wake up each morning until the time you’re ready to call it a day.
4. Avoid technology
In today’s ever-growing, ever-changing and ever-shrinking world, unplugging from technology can seem nearly impossible. Just as being bombarded with notifications, emails text messages or voicemails first thing in the morning can ruin our focus immediately upon waking up, taking a moment upon waking up to consciously avoid technology like smartphones, computers and the internet itself can help improve focus and productivity throughout the day.
By mindfully avoiding technology during your morning routine, you can more properly build up your focus for the day ahead, and subsequently obtain a better flow of productivity as soon as you wake up and start moving, leading to an overall more productive and happier day ahead.
Long gone are the days when meditation was considered a widely unadopted practice. Nowadays, it seems as if virtually every successful person or entrepreneur has their own story about the life-altering benefits of meditation. And the thing is — to an extent — each one is right.
Meditation has been scientifically proven to boost mindfulness, awareness and our overall physical and mental health and well-being, along with providing a way to mitigate stress and anxiety. You don’t need an entire studio or outdoor space to meditate, either. You can start simply by finding a quiet place to sit where you can be free of distractions for as little as 10-20 minutes. Then, simply allow your thoughts to come to you unfiltered, but remain focused on the pattern of your breathing and its effect on your body. Doing so can help you sort through the cacophony of thoughts in your head and provide insight to help you remain productive, happy and more mindful.
6. Practice gratitude
Just as meditation can help us improve our mindfulness and awareness, being more mindful or aware of the people and things around us allows us to feel more grounded and grateful for the things we have. When we are able to experience and exhibit gratitude, our mood, energy levels and even our sleep can improve dramatically.
According to research from the Mayo Clinic, practicing gratitude each morning “has been shown to significantly increase your happiness — and your physical health,” as it “improves sleep, boosts immunity and decreases the risk of disease.” To help practice gratitude as part of our daily routine, the clinic also suggests some tips such as keeping a jar or journal of one thing we are grateful for each day.
7. Journal and plan
Along with journaling for practicing gratitude each day, starting your morning routine by journaling other thoughts, like your tasks for the upcoming day or week, can help you stay organized and productive.
Journaling provides a unified place where you can jot down your top-line goal, as well as the handful of smaller milestones tied to achieving that goal. You can also use this as an opportunity to brainstorm ideas or keep track of your smaller daily “wins.” By writing down your assignments, thoughts or even reflections of the day prior, you can establish a habit that will help you gain clarity and be happier and more productive throughout the day.
8. Take a cold shower
There’s a reason why so many health experts recommend taking a cold shower first thing each morning. The cold water forces the body to improve its circulation, which brings more oxygen throughout the body. As a result, your body is better-equipped to fight off that “just woke up” fatigued feeling. Cold showers have also shown to help stimulate weight loss and improve the body’s immune system.
In taking cold showers as part of your morning routine, it’s important to remember not to start off by jumping in the shower when the water is still cold. Instead, start with a warm shower before gradually turning the temperature down to about 70 degrees Fahrenheit or lower depending on your preference.
One of the most common excuses we have for not exercising is a simple lack of time in the day to do so. But by working an exercise regiment into your morning routine — especially if you couple this with waking up before sunrise — this excuse goes out the window, as you grant yourself the time to exercise before the rest of the world starts moving.
Along with the obvious physical health benefits of exercising in the morning, exercise has also been proven to improve mental health, boost metabolism, improve the quality of our sleep each night and even helps us make better healthier decisions throughout the day.
10. Drink a nutrient-rich beverage
There’s a reason why breakfast is commonly referred to as “the most important meal of the day” by doctors and other health professionals. Eating and drinking healthy first thing in the morning provides our bodies with an essential source of energy, vitamins and nutrients that help us stay happier and more focused throughout the day.
While eating a healthy breakfast is paramount, it’s not always so easy for many people, especially first thing in the morning. If making and eating breakfast each morning is too time consuming or costly, look instead towards health-conscious beverages that include substances such as ginger, lemon, cayenne pepper and essential nutrients like Vitamins C and D. These substances help improve our immune systems and provide us with the much-needed nutrients required to stay focused and productive throughout the day.