We may be hesitant to admit it, but our morning habits help define part (and reveal part) of our personalities. Whether we’re waking up at 5am to catch up on emailings, applying face masks with the sun rise, or hitting snooze one too many times and rushing to the subway, what we do in the morning is, for better or worse, quite telling.
Think about it… the person who meditates every morning is probably the same person who drinks Kombucha instead of coffee, has nailed the art of the matcha almond-milk latte, and loves gramming about the benefits of yoga for the digestive tract. Meanwhile, the serial snoozer (the one who ignores her alarm until she’s got less than 15 minutes to shower, pick out an outfit for the day, and brew coffee in a to-go cup, and find her keys before heading out the door in a frenzy) is likely the same person who just never seems to have enough time or energy for her hefty to-do list.
Regardless of which you are, or if you fall somewhere in the middle, there’s no questions that time is precious (let’s face it, there’s only 24 hours in the day). Moreover, studies have shown that not only are we are most productive in the morning, but that being a morning person may actually be good for our health, too. When UK researchers questioned adults about their sleep habits, they found people who stay under the covers on the weekdays until 9 AM are more likely to be stressed, overweight, and depressed than those who get up at 7 AM. Unfortunately, just knowing the science doesn’t make it suddenly easy to jump outta bed for a shower and a cup of java before starting the day full of sunshine and knock-knock jokes.
I’m not a morning person per say – I have been known to sleep until noon on the weekends, and hit my alarm several times before getting up (even after a 7+ hour night of sleep)– but, I really do love waking (to write) before the sun. With a job that crams 40+ hours a week into a 1:00pm-10:00pm Monday-Friday schedule, I’ve had plenty of time to test-drive different morning routines and habits… with a late clock-in, if a morning routine trial-run fails I have a few hours to shake the bad morning and recover before perching at work.
From beginning my day with charcoal cleanser and a milk-less cup of joe, to a morning run in my jammies followed up a shower and omelette, and even eating overnight oats in bed after a 10 minute meditation session or trying YouTube yoga-vids caffeine-less, it’s safe to say I’ve run the gambit when it comes to effective morning routine for productive day. After three months of trial and error I’ve settled into a lounge-filled morning complete with breakfast in bed (cold brew and overnight oats), two hours of writing at my window-facing desk, a sweat-sess, and shower all before I have to get on the 11am subway for work (I know, my work schedule is untraditional). Finding the morning routine that suits me best, helped me realize just how much of an impact a good morning has on my happy-levels the rest of the day.
If you’re looking for ways to start your day with happiness so that you’ll be feeling A+ the rest of the day, check out the following 7 morning rituals happy people swear by.
1. Reclaim Your Morning With A Ritual
There’s no reason your morning has to be filled with ONLY activities that kick-start your workday: showering, feeding the dog, flossing your teeth (okay, more like brushing your teeth…), and putting together a work outfit. It’s possible to actually enjoy our mornings. And no, that doesn’t mean turning every weekday into a Sunday-brunch type shindig complete with mimosas and muffins… But it does mean adding a meaningful routine to your morning. My personal favorite is routine consists of waking up at 7:00am and drinking a cup of cold-brew sweetened with vanilla cashew milk in bed while responding to my emails and making a to-do list for the day, but I have the luxury of time that most don’t have in the am. So for you, that could mean finding a cute coffee shop around the corner and stopping there every morning (and yes, learning the names of the baristas who serve you), or it could mean starting the day with oil pulling from your teeth and a coffee scrub facial. It doesn’t matter what the routine is, or if it’s an hour or 10 minutes. What matters is that you’re taking charge of your day and starting it your way (*insert muscle emoji here*).
Exercising in the morning is a bit of a chicken or the egg situation… do people pre-dispositioned to mornings workout in the am? Or does one become a morning person by forcing themselves to workout in with (or before, eek) the sunrise? While no research has been done to figure out whether action or disposition comes first, research has shown that morning exercise gets the blood flowing and gives us more energy throughout the entire day. One study published in the Journal of Health Psychology discovered that working out in the morning also improves how people felt about their bodies. As part of a journalistic experiment, I switched my workouts to 6am for a month, and while it was true that I definitely felt glorious in my body after my month-long experiment, I was also getting way less sleep (a 9pm bedtime is hard for a workin’ girl!) and still craved that post-workday pump my body had become accustomed to. But for those of you who can make it to the gym to crank out a training program in the am, kickboxing class, or even yoga mat in your living room, I salute you.
3. Eat a Healthy Breakfast
Hopping outta bed is a lot easier when there’s some chia-seed pudding or coconut banana overnight oats waiting in the fridge. What about perfectly sweetened not-disgusting two-ingredient pancakes? I’m in. Or a nalgene sized kale and apple smoothie? Heck yes. If you love eating breakfast on the weekend, but don’t prioritize it during the week, try eating breakfast on the weekdays and see how and if it improves your mood. While it would be nice for breakfast to become in a buffet of superfoods, that’s not always possible, so keep it simple. If you don’t eat breakfast, start with something small like a rice cake with peanut butter or a slice of toast with cashew spread. If your go-to is a KIND bar in the car on the way to work, mix it up with some oatmeal with honey and walnuts or Greek yogurt with some granola. The goal should be to have a breakfast that is full of fiber to helps provide much-needed energy, jump-starts our metabolisms, and will keep us satisfied til lunchtime.
4. Get Pretty With It
I’d be lying if I said my beauty routine was labor intensive or even strategically put together, while I always have some waterproof mascara in my bag and love a good swipe of green eyeliner when I didn’t just #wakeuplikethis, I’ve never been one to splurge at Sephora or try out a new line of organic skin-cream or face wash. When it comes to my beauty supplies, most of them were found at CVS and the rest were stolen from my Mom’s cabinet at home. While there is no one size fits all for beauty of beauty routines, starting the day off with something that makes you feel beautiful can help gear the day off just right. Whether that means giving yourself an extra 10 minutes so you can shave and moisturize your legs for work, trying out that new coffee face-mask you’ve been reading about on the ‘gram, or even just clipping your nails every other Monday… making time for and prioritizing what makes you feel beautiful, will not only help your skin shine, but you will actually glow.
5. Read Up
For some, it’s The New York Times. For others, it’s the latest Gillian Flynn novel. For me, it’s reading a chunk of my latest self-help book or skimming my favorite magazine on Texture (if you love magazines but are going green and don’t know which magazines to invest in, Texture is a great monthly subscription app which gives you access to (almost) ALL magazine brands for 15 bucks a month. Quite the savings and great for screenshots). Knowledge is power, amiright? So whether it’s the gossip column, an article about Trump and Spicer, or this weeks weather, the more you know, the more you know.
6. Get Started Early
Swap showing up to the office RIGHT on time (aka 5-10 minutes late, “Sorry, traffic!”) for an early arrival. If you don’t HAVE to be at work until 8:30, or 9:00, try getting there by 7:30am (or 8:00am, if that’s simply not doable for you). This extra chunk of alone time will give you the opportunity to check your to-do list, respond to emails, and update your calendar before the day gets under way and meetings and event swallow up the time you’d typically use for smaller tasks (that become monster tasks, if not taken care of each day… Ever had more than 100 emails to get through, say, after a vacation? Yep, it’s that feeling of dread we want to avoid.)
If you don’t work in an office, and instead work from home or freelance, start by starting early on Monday. Every Monday morning, force yourself to begin working by 8:00am. Yep, that means that by 8:00am the cat is fed, the coffee is poured, and the teeth are brushed. By forcing yourself to start early, you’ll be making the most out of your 24 hour day. Plus, you’ll be surprised how much you’ve missed the work after a weekend away.
7. Avoid Social Media
While we all know the social media savvy boss-girl who has turned her beauty and health routines into profit and uses her #wokeuplikethis look as a symbol of authenticity, and some of us may even long to follow her path, looking into someone else’s life can distract us from our personal goals that early in the am. It’s a tall order, but if you start the day taking inventory of your own life (i.e. make a list of things you need to get done while enjoying a cup of joe or scan over your planner while packing your work and gym bag for the day), your focus will begin on YOUR personal goals, not some strangers curated (and totally enviable) life.