How to Win at Mornings
The decisions you make first thing in the morning set the tone for how the rest of the day unfolds. Cultivating a healthy morning routine will impact everything—your food choices, stress level, productivity, mood, and overall physical and mental performance.
Routines are simply habits executed in a consistent fashion and, like a well-oiled machine, they’re designed to optimize energy, productivity, and efficiency. Once routines become automatic, little effort is required to maintain your healthy habits. It’s like flying on autopilot to your best self. So, if your mornings are a chaotic scramble without a consistent rhythm, Sun Basket’s registered dietitian Lindsey Kane recommends finding a steady beat, and choreographing a routine that fits your personality, passions, and values, to carry you throughout the day.
Give yourself a reason to rise—It’s hard to convince your body to make its way out of bed if the first thing you have to do is unexciting or overwhelming. Lure yourself out of bed by starting your day off with something you enjoy, like an early morning hike with a friend. Not only will this help you break your snooze button habit but it will also start your day on a positive note.
Breathe in, breathe out—So many of us wake up and immediately begin stressing over the to-do's of the day. Let the sound of your alarm be a cue to open your eyes, take three deep breaths, and set positive intentions for the day. It’s a subtle change, but will yield big results and have you feeling prepared to tackle the day.
Steal some sunshine—Get outside first thing in the morning, even if it’s for only five minutes. Drink your coffee on the porch, take your dog for a walk, or water your vegetable garden. The exposure to daylight helps recalibrate your circadian rhythm and decrease the sleep hormone melatonin, allowing your body to wake up faster. Not to mention a little Vitamin D, which works wonders on your overall mood. You’ll radiate all day long.
Move your body—Nothing boosts energy, mood, and productivity like the wave of feel-good endorphins that follow an awesome workout. Any movement is beneficial to your physical and mental well-being and research shows that the smaller the task at hand, the more likely you’ll do it, and stick with it. So start off easy and each day you’ll find yourself gaining strength, speed, and endurance.
Hydrate—Prime your body with a glass or two of water. Pro tip: Pair something you already do every morning, like brushing your teeth or making coffee, with drinking a glass of water. Delegating the trigger to something built into your morning routine will make your new habit stick.
Fuel up—Simply put, input impacts output. What you eat for breakfast directly influences your energy level, mood, metabolism, and performance. Give your breakfast a healthy upgrade and reap the benefits all day long.
Challenge yourself—Success promotes a sense of self-efficacy and empowerment. Tiny victories help build confidence and momentum to carry you through the day with unstoppable tenacity. Competitive individuals really thrive on this strategy. Schedule mini challenges, such as beating a deadline or taking a walk at lunchtime, that, with little effort, are guaranteed wins.
Tidy up—The old saying “The state of your bed is the state of your head” has some truth behind it. Research suggests that decluttering your physical environment can translate into a clean head space and a sense of control and organization. Whether it’s making your bed or unloading the dishwasher, a little external order can translate to internal order.
Pat yourself on the back—Take note of the shift in energy and how you feel at the end of the day. Take time to acknowledge the rewards of your new morning routine and let those rewards reinforce your behavior. Celebrating progress is a key step in transforming habits into a consistent routine.
illustration by @boccaccinimeadows