The Best and Healthiest Ways to Start Your Day
Have you ever noticed that hurried and hassled mornings lead to some of your worst days? If you’ve ever slept through your alarm clock, you understand what a rushed morning feels like. It sets you up for a long, difficult day, mainly because it makes you feel out of sorts. Maybe you forgot to pack your child a lunch, bring along your files or toss a book into your bag to read on the train. It can be hard to regain control, especially if your work day is fast paced and you go from one thing to the next. When you don’t get your day off to a great start, the effects linger.
In order to set yourself up for having a great day, you must get started with a great morning. But how do you keep these positive starts coming when your days are chaotic? The slightest thing can lead to a poor start, which means you need to stay on top of your morning routine. Below are helpful tips for making the most of your morning and enjoying what the rest of the day can bring.
Set the Alarm 15 Minutes Earlier
One of the main reasons why many of us fall victim to messy and muddled mornings is because we don’t leave ourselves enough time to get things done. It’s easy to say that you’re going to wake up early in the morning and finish a few tasks, but once the morning rolls around and the alarm is going off, we often find ourselves reaching for the snooze button. It can be difficult to change this habit, but think about how much quality sleep you’re actually getting when you hit the snooze. Ten minutes? Maybe fifteen? And you may be lying there awake wasting time, yet too tired to get out of bed.
In the mornings, ten or 15 minutes can make or break our morning routine. Make it a goal to wake up as soon as the alarm goes off, or allow yourself to hit the snooze button once. To help, set your alarm 15 minutes earlier from the time you need to be out of bed to give yourself a window to hit a few more minutes of shut eye or just lie in bed. There may be other things that happen in the morning that can set you behind schedule, but you shouldn’t be rushed from the time you turn off your alarm clock. If you still find yourself struggling, consider purchasing an alarm clock that gives off light to help your body adjust to waking up easier.
Make Time for Morning Exercise
Exercise is a great way to start the day. It may not be how you want to start the day, but once you get used to it, there’s no going back. Instead of thinking that you need to hit the gym in the morning, start with a quiet walk around your neighborhood to get you moving. Use this time to clear your head and connect with yourself. During the day, things get busy and we often fail to take time out for ourselves. If you can do this in the morning before your schedule starts, you’ll be better prepared to take on what the day has in store for you.
Incorporating even 15 minutes of exercise into your morning routine will do wonders for your stress levels and productivity. When you start your morning with exercise, you’ll be able to wake up easier because you’re not headed straight to the shower; instead, you’re spending time alone, with a loved one or immersed in nature, which are some of the best ways to start your day. Also consider new ways to get to work that can incorporate exercise and get your day off to a great start. Ditch the taxi and walk from the train station to work, ride your bike to work several times a week or walk around your work building 20 minutes before your shift starts.
Pour a Cold Shower
The shower is a great place to get clean, sing your favorite tunes and refresh your spirits. But how often do we lie in bed in the morning thinking, “If I stay in bed for five more minutes, I’ll just take five minutes off my shower.” Don’t leave yourself nano-seconds to shower. This is a great time to relax, take in the scents from your soaps and spend time collecting your thoughts. It’s amazing how a simple shower can reset your attitude from the time you get out of bed. The bottom line is that you should never cut minutes off your shower. Instead, enjoy every minute of your scrub time.
Furthermore, there are health benefits to taking a cold shower, so switch your water temperature to the chilly side. Studies show that cold showers boost immunity, improve blood circulation, regulate body temperature, enhance lymphatic movements and deepen breathing. A cold shower also has an effect on the mood by alleviating depression and increasing energy and wellbeing. You can also enjoy healthier looking skin and hair thanks to the detoxification that comes from the cold temperatures.
It can be hard to pour yourself a cold shower, especially if you enjoy taking hot showers. To avoid sending your body into shock, start by turning the water to a cold temperature for the last 30 seconds of your shower. You can then gradually increase this time until your body is able to take a cold shower each morning, at least for some of the time. With all the benefits that this simple change can offer, it’s worth giving it a try.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Of course, there is no way you can discuss getting your day off right without talking about the benefits of breakfast. Studies show that men and women who eat breakfast tend to weigh less, are healthier and have higher energy levels. Breakfast is a good thing, and you should never skip it, even if it means catching your morning bites in the car. The goal, however, is to choose the right breakfast foods. Things like slices of pie, donuts and sugary muffins and cereals should be eliminated from your morning diet. These foods may taste good, but they’ll only give you a short boost before making you feel tired and unmotivated.
Instead, aim for a breakfast that incorporates protein, as protein will fill you up so that you don’t feel hungry and start snacking before lunch. Eggs contain some of the most protein, so consider eating an egg-related breakfast several times a week. If you don’t have time to cook yourself an omelet or scrambled eggs, make an egg breakfast on the go. Place an egg in a cup and break the yolk. Cover the cup with plastic wrap and place it in the microwave for one to three minutes, depending on whether you want poached or fried eggs. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cheese and eat your egg on the move.
Other great foods to aim for include whole wheat toast or bagels with fruit preserves, high-fiber cereals, oatmeal or low-fat dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese. Greek yogurt is a popular pick and has a lot more protein than traditional yogurt while cottage cheese can be mixed with applesauce or fruit for added taste and flavor. If you find yourself rushing to have a good breakfast, plan ahead. Have the same breakfast each day of the week so that you know what ingredients you need or what to grab on the way out the door to start your day off right.
Finally, be sure to avoid too many carbs or sweet treats in the morning. White carbs are just like sugar, so don’t think that a slice of white toast is the same as 100 percent whole wheat toast with the seeds showing. Carbs and sweets cause our blood sugar levels to spike, which can make us feel satiated at first. Yet just as quickly as our blood sugar is raised, it drops down and makes us feel sluggish. To avoid this from happening, make smart choices that will keep you feeling fuller and energized for longer.
Experiment with New Schedules
If you find that something with your morning just isn’t working, experiment with a new schedule. Try your new lineup over the weekend and work out the issues you may be having. For example, if you can’t get out of bed in the mornings because you have trouble falling asleep at night, you may have to exercise later in the day, keep a journal to write in at night to clear your head or turn off all electronics one hour before you sleep. If a current schedule isn’t working, there’s no reason why you should stick with it and keep falling into the same rut time and time again. This only places more stress on us and makes us dread the mornings. The mornings can actually be quite enjoyable, so try out a new schedule if the one you currently have adopted isn’t working for you.
Night-Before Preparations for Smooth Mornings
Much of the reason why we have a good morning is because we have a good night. That’s not to say that you went to bed with a smile on your face, but instead it refers to having everything in check and organized when you go to bed. It only takes a few minutes to get everything ready for the following day, so do things that will set you ahead in the morning, such as by pulling out your kids’ schools clothes, packing lunches and having all work papers stacked on the counter.
Adopt a system where you have your kids empty out their bags each night so that you can sign permission slips and review homework. Do the same for yourself; empty out your bag or purse and come with a clean slate each morning. You’ll feel more prepared and better able to take on the day. And, if you’re running late, you know you can grab everything on the counter and it’s ready to go. Of course, going to bed at the same time every night and clearing your head so that you can sleep well are also critical in getting a good night’s sleep.
Avoid Stress Triggers
Finally and most importantly, avoid triggers of stress in the mornings. Some of your stressors can be avoided just by waking up on time, doing 15 minutes of stretching and having everything packed and ready to go the night before. But also be sure not to let the little things bother you in the morning and set the tone for the rest of the day. For example, don’t start a conversation about a sensitive topic with your spouse or child right before work or school. These discussions can wait.
Consider other sources of stress and determine ways you can avoid them. If it’s traffic that stresses you out, maybe you can take a different route to work or leave at a different time. Beating the traffic is a great way to get to work faster and have a few extra minutes to collect your thoughts. Or perhaps you can get to work early and take a morning walk around the building. By thinking ahead and weeding out sources of stress, you can create a morning that’s as seamless as possible.
A great morning is the golden ticket to a great day. Unfortunately, we often rush through our mornings and start our days off with too much stress. When stress builds up, it’s almost impossible to start the day with a positive attitude. Be sure to take time to collect your thoughts whether it’s while you walk, take a cold shower or have breakfast with the family. The goal is to approach each new day with a solid head on your shoulders, low stress and an optimistic attitude. This isn’t always easy to do, but it is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself.