You wake up an hour before work and rush to get ready. You shower at lightning speed and grab an energy bar and coffee before running out the door. Still, work leaves you feeling discombobulated and overwhelmed. Long before the week is over, you are burned out and know you won’t hit this week’s goals.
How do you get out of this miserable rut? One word: Routines.
Morning and evening routines prime you for success. They help you achieve more, think clearly, and do work that actually matters. They keep you from stumbling through your day and make sure you get the most important things done.
All it takes is a bit of discipline, along with routines that will set you up for success. Here are SOME morning and evening routines you can implement to start off your day with and create more perfect days.
Stay Unplugged from Tech
If the first thing you do when you wake up is check your smartphone for messages or work email, you are doing yourself a disservice. You are immediately cultivating a reactive mindset, instead of a proactive one, which will cause you to start your day in a defensive state, rather than a place of inner peace and control.
Instead, try remaining detached from technology for the first hour of your day so you can begin your day with present-moment awareness and a positive focus.
Drinking a glass of water in the morning after going hours without a sip is a good way to hydrate your body. Adding lemon to a warm glass of water helps remove toxins from your digestive tract that may have built up overnight, provides a good source of vitamin C, freshens your breath, supports weight loss, and stimulates metabolism and digestion. Bottoms up first thing in the a.m. for a healthy—and refreshing—start to your day.
Practice Optimism and Gratitude
Before you even get out of bed, give yourself a few minutes to smile and practice gratitude. When you smile, it signals your brain to release the feel-good neurotransmitters (dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin), which lift your mood, relax your body, and lower your heart rate. Who wouldn’t want to start their day on this positive note?
As you smile, start to reflect upon what you are grateful for. Studies have shown practicing gratitude reduces stress hormones and improves mood, among other benefits. So, adding a simple daily gratitude practice is a great way to kick-start your morning.
Begin by taking one minute in bed before you rise to reflect on one person and one opportunity you are grateful for in your life.
Make Your Bed
It may seem like a waste of time, unimportant, or unnecessary (you’re just going to use it again at night), but making your bed is a simple action you can take in the morning that makes you start your day feeling accomplished—and what better tone to set than a sense of pride and accomplishment? Taking charge and completing simple tasks will give you the foundation to take on more and more throughout the day.
Incorporating some type of mindfulness practice like meditation into your daily morning routine can help ground you and train your mind and emotions, which then influences how you react to challenges throughout your day.
During your meditation is also a great time to set your intention for the day. When you get clear on how you want your day to go or what you want to feel or accomplish, you can make clear decisions that create the life you truly want to live.
Note sure where to get started? Here is a simple meditation you can do in the morning:
- Get into a comfortable seated position and set a timer for five minutes.
- Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
- Inhale through your nose for four counts, retain for four counts, and exhale through your nose for eight counts.
- Every time you notice your mind wandering, gently guide it back to focus on your breath.
- When the timer goes off, release your counting, but stay seated with your eyes closed for a moment.
- Set an intention for your day and visualize yourself meeting this intention.
- Open your eyes, draw your arms up to the sky for a stretch, and then move on with your day, carrying the calm energy and intention with you.
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
You have most likely heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When you make time to eat a healthy breakfast (lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains), you will have more energy throughout the day and a stronger ability to focus and concentrate.
Whether it’s a simple yoga routine, a brisk walk with your pet, a quick set of sit-ups and push-ups, or hitting the gym to work off last night’s meal, starting off your day with movement energizes the body and the mind. Determine what kind of exercise is right for you and schedule it. It doesn’t have to be complicated, long, or intense, but having some sort of physical activity in the morning will get your blood flowing and help quiet any mental chatter. You can even switch up what kind of exercise you do every day to keep your routine interesting.
Get Enough Restful Sleep
This last one is not a habit for your morning exactly … however, before you can hope to implement new, healthy morning habits, you should have the foundation of a well-rested body and mind. The way you feel while you’re awake is dependent in part on your sleep habits. If you’ve been feeling groggy, irritable, or exhausted, you may not be getting enough quality sleep.
During sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health.
In fact, sleep plays such a vital role in your physical well-being, mental clarity, and quality of life that ongoing sleep deficiency (the amount varies by individual, but typically this means less than 6 to 8 hours of restful sleep each night) can have adverse effects on your health—and how well you think, react, work, learn, and get along with others.