Maybe you’ve read it too: what you do after waking may be the key to a healthy and successful life.
There’s lots of anecdotal evidence that many influential people, from world leaders to CEO’s and movie stars, utilize the early morning hours to set themselves up for success and reach their goals. They’ll eat a hearty breakfast, get their exercise in and meditate before the rest of the world rises.
That sounds fantastic, but a healthy morning routine isn’t always easy to realize when you’ve had a bad night’s sleep and got to get your (uncooperative) kids ready for school.
That’s why lots of life coaches tell you to get up one hour earlier so you have time to perform your morning routine. “You have to make sacrifices and put your priorities first if you want to be successful”, they claim. And if they can do it, you can do it too, no excuses.
Well, I disagree.
After a decade of delayed sleep syndrome and painsomnia, followed by years of kids waking up multiple times every single night, sleeping is sacred to me. Even more so, I think that getting enough undisturbed, restful sleep is one of the most important things you can do to feel happy, energetic, productive and ‘successful’ – whatever that means to you. Especially if you suffer from persisting health problems.
So getting up at the crack of dawn to do yoga and sip green juice while the rest of the house is still asleep, is not necessarily my idea of a healthy start of the day. Surely there must be healthy habits you can do that fit more seamlessly into your existing morning routine?
Here are 34 ideas for a healthy morning routine that can be done in 10 minutes or less.
34 Quick Ideas for a Healthy Morning Routine
What you do first thing in the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. How can you nourish your body, mind and soul in a way that doesn’t require much time and energy?
- Visualize your Ideal Day. In the perfect world, what would you do? How would you like to feel and who would you spend time with? Vividly picturing your ideal day (or morning!) brings clarity to what’s most important to you.
- Give yourself a quick body massage in the shower or while moisturizing. You can simply use long strokes on your legs and arms to boost your circulation or use a self massage tool to release tension in your neck and shoulders.
- ‘Work out’ for one song to get your blood pumping and kickstart your metabolism. Dance in your living room, jump on your treadmill for 3 minutes or do one strength training exercise. If you’re fit, you could try a 7-minute HIIT to get lots of fitness benefits in little time.
- Repeat a meaningful mantra. From “I am whole” to ‘Everything I need is within me”, the way you talk to yourself matters. Which powerful message boosts your motivation and determination?
- Pack a healthy lunch and snacks. That way you’ll be less tempted to hit the vending machine when the afternoon slump rolls around.
- Make time for your family or flat mates. Instead of rushing out the door, take 10 extra minutes to have breakfast together or cuddle in bed.
- Drink a glass of (lemon) water first thing in the morning. Over 60 percent of your body is made out of water, so hydrating yourself after a night’s sleep is vital. You can put a water bottle by your bedside as a reminder.
- Don’t check your email and/or social media before leaving the house. This is challenging for most people (myself included). But wouldn’t it be much nicer to pay attention to your partner, your food or a soothing activity instead of instantly being wrapped up in to-do lists?
- Listen to an inspiring podcast or audio recording during your commute. Your ideas, intentions and opinions are sparked by the input around you. So feed your mind positive and constructive information, especially in the early morning hours.
- Breathe in deeply. Oxygen is the most vital source of energy, but thanks to everyday stress, many of us have a shallow breathing pattern. Start your day with an energizing breathing exercise, like Alternate Nostril Breathing or a Breath of Fire.
- Eat veggies with your breakfast. Get your daily dose of disease-fighting nutrients before 8AM. Make a green smoothie bowl, add grated carrots to your overnight oats or prep hearty egg muffins you can eat on the go.
- Make your bed. According to happiness expert Gretchen Rubin, this simple ritual brings peace, order and a sense of accomplishment to your day.
- Sing in the shower. Belting out your favorite tunes has more benefits to your health and happiness than you might think. And singing on key isn’t even required.
- Write one Morning Page. Made popular by The Artist Way, Morning Pages are (normally) 3 pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing first thing in the morning, but this may take too much of your time. So grab a sheet of paper and jot down whatever comes to mind to clarify your thoughts and get into a flow. If writing a full page of sounds too daunting, use Listography’s engaging prompts to write one list a day or boost your happiness with The Five Minute Journal.
- Walk or cycle to work if possible. Human-powered transport is good for your body, your wallet and the environment.
- Enjoy the silence. The rest of your day will probably be filled with chatter, noise and input.
- Swap your morning cup of coffee for a matcha latte, herbal tea or other coffee alternatives. It’s better to take your shot of caffeine when your cortisol levels are low, around 10AM and 3PM.
- Perform a Power Pose. Adopting an expansive posture makes you feel more powerful, prepping you for a big meeting or a scary doctor’s visit. How you carry yourself impacts how you feel.
- Read positive news. Research shows that scanning the headlines for just 3 minutes in the morning negatively affects your mood for the rest of the day. So don’t watch the morning news and check out more uplifting news stories instead.
- Do one routine activity mindfully. Instead of thoughtlessly brushing your teeth, pay attention to how it feels, the way you’re standing, what it tastes like. Regularly practicing mindfulness can lower your stress levels, improve your mental health and increase your attention span.
- Let the light in. Natural daylight is one of the most powerful ways to fine-tune your internal clock and wake you up. So open the curtains first thing in the morning for a productive day.
- Identify your 3 Most Important Tasks (MIT’s) for the day. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by your to-do list or get off thrown track by other tasks. Writing down your priorities and tackling (one of ) them in the morning will make you feel on top of the world.
- Have an easy, nourishing breakfast. A combination of (plant-based) protein, healthy fats and slow carbs – like yoghurt with fruit and nuts – will keep you full until lunchtime.
- Stretch in bed. It doesn’t just feel good, but improves your mobility, pain levels and circulation too. So pretend your a cat and reach your arms over your head while stretching your legs downwards before crawling out from under the covers. You get bonus points for rotating your joints or doing a supine twist.
- Practice body brushing. This ancient wellness ritual stimulates your blood and lymph circulation and supports the natural detoxification of your body.
- Got a garden? Try planting your bare feet in the grass for a simple grounding exercise. Although the evidence around earthing is controversial, connecting with nature in any way is healthy and mindful.
- Learn something new. Build your vocabulary, learn a new foreign word or play a brain game to keep your brain sharp and creative.
- Take your supplements and/or set out your prescribed medication for the day. That may sound logical, but therapy compliance is a more common problem than you may realize.
- Do one sun salutation. Wake your body up with a series of yoga poses that align your entire body.
- End your morning shower with one minute of cold water. Ok, it doesn’t sound appealing, but cold water therapy has been known to speed up your metabolism and reduce inflammation.
- Light a candle and mindfully watch the flame for a minute to start your day intentionally and mindfully.
- Try foam rolling. Studies suggest that foam rolling loosens tight muscles and warms them up.
- Say a prayer, read one religious passage or study one of the ‘spiritual laws of success’ to start your day with meaning and purpose. Because like Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said, “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
- Have something to look forward to. What’s better than waking up knowing there’s a little extra time to read an exciting book, drink a chai latte in the sun or listen to uplifting songs?
For more ideas for a healthy morning routine, check out My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired.
How do you start your day on a healthy, positive note?
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