Three snoozes, spilt coffee, the eternal problem of what to wear- sound familiar? Mornings never seem to be long enough, relaxing enough, or productive enough. We've covered the topic at length before, and you could spend a lifetime of mornings reading up on how to do mornings better, but here are five simple things to try incorporating into your morning routine for improved mental well-being, physical health, and productivity.
You've likely heard it before, but morning is the perfect time to take ten minutes for a bit of mindfulness. Meditating first thing in the morning helps you face the day in a calmer, more focused, and more positive state of mind. You can even do it without leaving your bed- just get yourself to an upright position, clear your head (this is actually easier in the morning, before the noise of the day kicks off), and focus on your breath and body. There are scores of apps and websites out there to help you get started; I like Headspace best.
2. Light a Candle
Maybe meditating doesn't do it for you or you don't have the time (or you're simply worried you'll fall back asleep as soon as you start). There are other ways to get that chilled-out, focused feeling in the morning. One of my favorites is to light a candle in my bedroom for the 10-20 minutes that I'm getting ready for the day. The candle doesn't need to be fancy and it doesn't need to be scented if that's not your jam- the simple presence of a flame has a wonderfully grounding effect. This trick works especially well in the winter, when the darkness outside is counteracted by a cozy sense of well-being inside. Just be sure to also make it part of the ritual to remember to extinguish it as you head out of your bedroom and on with your day.
Or at the very least, move. Getting the blood pumping and muscles working in the morning can do wonders for your mood all day, not to mention your health. Fitting in a full workout before the office can be a tough pill to swallow, especially if you're not an early riser, but you'll gain back precious time in the evenings. But this by no means needs to take that long; some people swear by a few minutes of light stretching, some do yoga, and some take their dog for a walk around the block and call it a day.
4. Have a Breakfast Plan
We all know breakfast is the most important meal of the day, or at least that's what's been drilled into us since childhood. Whether you need to eat immediately upon waking (me) or have something at work (nearly everyone else, seemingly), having a solid plan helps avoid energy crashes and expensive, unhealthy choices at the local deli.
Take time on Sunday to plan and portion out breakfasts for the week, whether that's making a big frittata or portioning out frozen smoothie ingredients for the week ahead. Prepping your beverage of choice, whether that's an Aeropress waiting on the counter or a mug with teabag already inside, saves precious seconds as well. If you eat at work, take note of what you have and what you need so you can avoid being the person who is out of muesli and helps themselves to a co-worker's.
5. Make/Review your List for the Day
In the morning, your mind is clear, and you're able to focus on planning and productivity. Before emails, requests from colleagues, and texts from friends begin to filter in and cloud your mind, get set on what really needs to be done that day. I make a list on my phone as soon as I've sat down on the bus, but work any way that makes sense to you. Best to limit yourself to a reasonable number of tasks/items to focus on- I always go with five, and anything beyond that is icing on the cake.
Do you have any life hacks for a smooth, speedy, and productive morning to share? Chime in!