Want to be Happier? More Productive? Start With these 7 AM Habits Tomorrow Morning
About a month ago, I went through a program designed to help tackle Limiting Beliefs – those little lies in our subconscious mind tells us about who we aren’t, what we aren’t good at, and all the negative things we are sure people think about us. (Spoiler alert: they aren’t). It was completely life changing not only in my business but in my personal day to day. One of the biggest limiting beliefs I held about myself is that I am not a morning person. I’d spent so many years identifying as “not a morning person” and it was time to let it go.
Our morning sets the tone for the rest of the day, and so I began starting my days off well not just to get by, but to conquer. It turned out that a part of my belief that I was just not a morning person had a lot to do with the fact that there was nothing enjoyable about my mornings. I’d wake up, hit snooze (several times) only to finally jump out of bed to scramble with the little time I had left to shower, get ready for the day, and if I was lucky – eat something before I had somewhere to be. COVID and quarantine weren’t much of a help either. Though I had nowhere to go, there was no urgency and days were beginning to get away from me. Sound at all familiar?
Once we began to move about a little and my coaching work started to take off, I really needed a better routine. Determined to make better use of my AM hours, I did a little research on morning routines and have found a few things that help.
Side note: This is still a work in progress for me and I nail it about 4 days out of the week. Perfection is not the goal.
Here’s what I began to implement:
1. Plan things the night before.
We have two choices: we can start our mornings calm and pre-planned, or we can rush around, not sure what we put in our bag and what we are forgetting. Some mornings, I’d rush with a ton of things in hand (including breakfast), hair in a ponytail again because I didn’t leave enough time to fix it, and everything in chaos. The domino effect caused by not planning for my mornings, left me feeling behind the rest of the day. This continued day after day. I’m sure you can relate.
I’d read in several productivity books about the concept that the day begins the night before. It’s not a new idea. Many religions begin their holidays and even their every days at sundown. So, to ensure a pleasant morning, I set out to plan a few things ahead of time.
Having an evening routine, that includes getting clothes for the next day and workout attire laid out has helped a lot. Prepping as many meals for a few days has also made a huge difference. While, I can’t exactly make everything ahead, I can chop and freeze veggies and fruits and pre portion these for my morning smoothies. My evening routine also includes a decision on when it’s time to quit working, making time to wind down so, and reading my vision and goals the last thing before I sleep. Ending and beginning my day with this practice is a constant reminder of what’s important to me and a lot less time get wasted.
2. Wake up a little earlier.
This one is a toughy for a lot of us but I promise, if I can do it, anyone can. The mindset that finally caused a shift for me was that I’d spent years getting up and going to work for someone else; I could certainly get up and go to work for myself. I’d much rather punch a clock of my own making but if I’m not willing to make the sacrifice and dedicate the time to my goals, I’ll wind up putting my time into fulfilling someone else’s goals. That realization when it hit me, was enough. Being self-employed and having the freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere is far more valuable to me than a huge paycheck. Find your why and see if applying that mindset helps.
Even waking just ten minutes earlier will contribute to a calmer and more enjoyable morning. These few extra minutes allows for time to wake your brain up so you can inspect your essentials with more alertness and avoid mistakes. Start by waking up 10 minutes earlier each day, gradually working toward 30 minutes by the end of the month. I’ll admit it was rough at first and I’ll go into my exact morning routine in another post with some thoughts and tips on how I make it happen (usually).
3. Wake up immediately.
I AM A FAN OF THE SNOOZE BUTTON. Five more minutes is always so tempting. But those extra stops and starts can confuse our brains making us more tired and groggy for the rest of the day. My own sheer will wasn’t enough to make this habit work for me so I’ve resorted to putting my phone (which is what I use for my alarm) across the room on a table. My alarm tone is pleasant but still unwelcome in the morning so I’m on my feet shutting it off in an instant. I also have an alarm clock with a sunlight function that begins about 20 minutes before I plan to put my feet on the floor. By the time the alarm goes off, my room is filled with a soft, warm light making my waking process feel a lot more natural. My first tasks of the day are quiet and restful – usually meditation, reading, or stretching. I save my workouts for after a meal and hydration.
I’m finding now, that the more I allow myself a slower morning, the rest of my day feels less hurried and less stressful and I’ve begun to actually enjoy getting up early. Try it gradually and see how it works for you.
4. Make your bed.
If my mom is reading this she's shaking her head. How many fights did we have about this when I was growing up? (Sorry) I love this practice now
because it’s quick, easy and makes me feel like I‘ve already done something productive. Having a made bed, reinforces for us subconsciously, that the little things matter and that productivity and happiness are in the details. If we can put pride into the little things, the big tasks of the day will fall in line. Also, since I work from home many days, it makes sure that I don’t jump right back in.
5. Stretch and smile.
Wake up with a stretch and a smile. Just a 5-10 minute stretching or yoga sesh makes a world of difference. It gets oxygen to the areas of our bodies that were still for 8 or more hours. Smiling and standing tall are an added bonus that release endorphins and start the day on a positive note.
6. Drink 16 ounces of water.
We are slightly dehydrated when we wake in the morning. Much of our AM sluggishness can be cut off at the source just by replacing fluids lost by sweating, breathing, and the repair and recovery that happens in our bodies while we sleep. I keep a stainless-steel water bottle, that I filled the night before with ice and cold water, at my bedside. It’s insulated enough that the water is still cold in the morning. I sip it while I make my morning coffee I’ve set a rule of at least 16 oz of H2O before allowing myself my first cup of coffee.
7. Get some sunlight.
This is particularly important if you suffer from depression, anxiety, or any other imbalance of brain chemicals. Open up the blinds, push back the curtains, or better yet step outside. Having grown up in Florida, I’m the first person to lecture on the importance of sunscreen but a few minutes of sunlight without sun protection is so important for the production of Vitamin D3, the Sunshine Vitamin. D3 boosts immunity, fights depression and anxiety, and boosts weight loss. This is an obviously simplified explanation and how it works in the body is a but more complex but for now, trust that it works and get outside.
Let all that natural light in. This little night to morning transition will go a long way toward powering you through your morning routine.
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