Have an early start
You don’t have to be a math genius to figure out that if you get up earlier in the mornings, you will have more time in your day. This doesn’t mean that you need to get up before the sun comes up necessarily. It merely means that you need to get up at a time when there is relative peace. People who get up early have the luxury of getting things done without any outside distractions or noises. It allows you to gather your thoughts and get a head-start in terms of getting focused.
When you wake up, your brain is like a clean canvas. Rested and clear, it will be filled with whatever it is exposed to. If the exposure is minimal, you will have a greater opportunity to fill it with your own thoughts and not have it smeared with involuntary noise. Rising early gives you the best opportunity to have some peace and quiet and organize your day and what you aim to accomplish.
People who wake up earlier have a tendency to do things faster as well. Studies have shown that when you wake up early, you tend to have more energy. Moreover, the fact that there are no distractions, means that you are more focused and generally make better decisions, especially in terms of time management.
Probably one of the biggest benefits of rising early is being less stressed. When you get going early you are less rushed. This immediately reduces your stress, seeing that you aren’t preoccupied with having to race against the clock to be on time for work. It creates a positive state of mind that can continue well into the day.
Let in the light and freshness
The next best thing to having a good night’s rest is fresh air. When you wake up in the morning, it might be a good idea to open the windows and let in the fresh air. Throughout the night you breathing out carbon dioxide and the oxygen levels in your room inevitably get lower. When you open your windows, you restore the oxygen and your brain gets an immediate boost to get it going.
Apart from the fresh air that rushes into the room, you also let in the sunlight. Our bodies have biological clocks and natural cycles that run throughout the day. One such cycle is the sleep-wake cycle. This cycle is triggered by light and the absence thereof. When you open your windows in the morning, you let in the light, which triggers the wake phase of the cycle.
Serotonin is the so-called feel-good drug that your body produces naturally. To produce serotonin, your body needs vitamin-D. The best source of vitamin-D is rays from the sun. Thus, when you open your windows in the morning, you give yourself a natural happiness-inducing injection.
Opening your windows play straight into the benefit of waking up early. Together with this healthy habit, you provide your body with fresh oxygen which improves brain activity and energy. This means better concentration and vitality when you have peace and quiet. The ultimate win-win situation in the morning. If you are in the fortunate position to have a view from your room, opening up those windows in the morning is an absolute must. It promotes tranquility and peace which can be carried into the day ahead.
Meditate and pray
If there is a pattern to be observed in the abovementioned habits, it would be that most of the habits are intended to give you clarity of mind and focus. As soon as you walk out the door to meet the day, things can easily become hectic and fast-paced. The better prepared you are and the better your state of mind before you walk out the door, the better the chances are that you will be able to make sound decisions.
When you meditate and pray, you actually make a conscious decision to block out any distracting thoughts that may affect your mood. Meditation is like a mental spring clean. We all know how easy it is for our desks to become cluttered and filled with chaos. We also know how liberating and soothing it feels when we get rid of the clutter. The same can be said for our minds. When we meditate, we tend to clear out the clutter and create a space where we can be productive.
This is not the easiest habit to get into seeing that we are so used to being rushed and on the go. We seldom give our minds a chance to organize itself and recuperate. That is why it would be wise to start off with 5 to 10 minutes of meditation at a time. The more you do it, the better you’ll become.
Meditation and prayer have proven to boost memory retention and the ability to learn. Seeing that you get rid of the clutter in your mind, it reduces your stress and anxiety and in the long run improves brain function and the ability to be more focused.
The secret is in the lemon
Having a healthy breakfast in the morning is all good and well, but your digestive system also needs to get going and lubed up. This is why having a glass of water to accompany your breakfast is like adding a natural energy drink to your daily routine. Combine the water with some fresh lemon juice and you supercharge the elixir with some potent vitamins and a detoxifying agent.
Vitamin C is extremely important if you want to feel revitalized and energetic. The main reason is that it helps the body absorb iron. Iron, on the other hand, is essential for transporting oxygen throughout the body and oxygen is important for releasing energy. Lemons are very high in vitamin C, thus you give your body a supercharge in the morning if you get into the habit of adding some to your water daily.
In today’s society, we have grown so accustomed to drinking anything but water. The taste of water is off-putting to many people because it has very little flavor. Therefore, they neglect one of the most important substances of their daily diets. Lemon juice adds flavor to water and makes it much less off-putting than having a straight glass.
Many of us lead very stressful lives, which has a direct effect on the health of our hearts. According to a study done in 2011, by including regular citrus intake into your diet, you also reduce the risk of heart disease. More than that, stress also affects the rate at which we age. The vitamin C in lemon juice also has the ability to rejuvenate skin and makes your skin look younger and healthier.
Although a late night soak in the tub is amazing to help destress and unwind after a long day’s work. Having an early morning shower has its own benefits. As soon as you step into that shower, it is as if you give your body a little jolt of electricity to wake up.
There are very few things that one can do in the morning to wake you up in the morning as having a refreshing shower, especially if you had a bit of a bad night’s rest. The water tends to soothe the skin and your muscles, almost instantly starting a relaxing process. Apart from the soothing massage that you get from the water jets, you also give your body a much needed clean. Depending on where you stay and the temperature in your room, you can lose anything from 200 ml to a liter of water each night through sweat and breathing.
The stimulation of the water on your skin accelerates blood circulation and gives you an almost instantaneous level of alertness and focus. This is a perfect time to start mulling over the course of your day and what you aim to achieve. People who are involved in creative industries can use this time to get the creative juices flowing, seeing that the mind is briefly at a heightened state of focus when you start your shower.
When you are feeling a bit under the weather and have a bit of phlegm or mucus, the steam of a hot shower tends to loosen it up. Inhaling the steam starts to clear the sinuses and the lungs and helps you breathe easier when you are sick.
For those of us who are bookworms, a morning read can either be inspiring or depressing. There is no need to pollute your mind with all the negativity of the daily newspaper. Instead, opt for an inspirational text to give your mind something positive to ponder on throughout the day.
The benefits of reading are far reaching. The brain is a very complex muscle that also needs constant exercise. Just as you jog to keep your muscles in tip-top shape, you also need to read regularly to keep your mind focused and to keep it from losing power. Adding inspirational text in the morning shifts your focus from thoughts that evoke anxiety, to thoughts that evoke inspiration and positivity.
Changing your morning read to an inspirational text can sometimes be difficult, but if you incorporate this habit into your daily routine, you will soon find yourself to be more creative, productive and much calmer.
When you read, your mind tends to block out any outside noise, be it physical or emotional, and focusses on the text. The result is that you tend to slip away from reality to the content of the text. If the text is inspirational, you will find yourself to be less stressed and be more capable to handle the curveballs that life throws your way.
A further benefit of reading daily is that it stimulates the mind to create new pathways or synapses that improve memory. In short, this basically means that you start to remember things easier and forge patterns that influence your mood. If you keep the text positive, it will enhance positive thinking and generally put you in a much better mood without a lot of effort.
Leave the phone alone
In the modern era in which we live, our mobile phones have become nigh irreplaceable and most of us struggle to focus or get by without them. For many of us, it is the first thing that we expose ourselves to in the morning and the last thing that we look at before we end the day. To be honest, though, a lot of time goes by being wasted on unproductive activities and our phones end up being major distractors.
Of course, the mobile phone isn’t all bad. It can be an invaluable tool to increase productivity, but that is seldom the case in the mornings. In most cases, your mobile phone robs you of precious minutes in the morning that you could use on other productive and stimulating activities. The best solution is to practice self-control and not look at your phone until you need to leave for work.
At first, you might actually struggle to quiet the bad habit of a morning social media browse, but as you practice this new habit, you will soon realize how much you can actually get done. You will actually have time to spend on yourself and collect your thoughts instead of filling your brain with the activities of others. Before you know it, this morning disconnect can become one of best times of your day.
Another great benefit of leaving your phone alone in the morning is the focus that you can achieve. If you are able to cut your phone out of your morning routine, you free your mind up to be occupied only with yourself. This allows you to concentrate and gather your thoughts without adding unnecessary distraction.
Remember to be grateful
By nature, we are selfish beings and we get offended easily. It’s also very easy for us to start and focus on all the negative things in life. When we do this, we tend to forget about all the good things. We lose perspective and dwell on the few things that aren’t great and completely forget about the things that make life totally worth it.
To rectify this destructive behavior, we actively need to reprogram our minds to focus more on the good things in life. There are a number of ways in which you can do this, from writing a physical gratitude list, to actually going to the people who you are grateful for and verbalizing it. Whatever your personality, the fact remains that you need to be mindful of the good things.
When you harbor ill feelings towards other people, your mind becomes consumed by the injustice that has been done to you. So much so that it becomes very difficult to focus on anything else. You end up wasting so much time and energy on something that you might not be able to change.
On the contrary, when you keep focused on the positive things, you allow your mind to let go of the resentment you feel towards someone else and you tend to be able to concentrate more. The best benefit by far, however, is the weight that you take off your shoulders. You feel less stressed and the world doesn’t seem to wear you down so easily. The faster you get into the habit of paying attention to the good things in your life, the faster you will realize that your life is actually not that bad.
For most people, regular exercise is probably one of the most difficult habits to get into. It’s quite understandable, seeing that most people already feel tired when they wake up. Now you want to add something to the routine that actually makes you more tired? There is a definite paradox for sure because how is something that is intended to make you tired, supposed to give you energy? The answer is in the way your body is designed.
When you aren’t exercising, your body is programmed to store energy and keep it just in case you need it at some point or another. It’s basically like an idling car. It uses just enough energy to keep running. When you exercise though, it is as if you press down on the accelerator and your body starts to burn more fuel. The result is that you become energized. What’s more is that exercise also releases endorphins which is a natural drug your body excretes to make you feel good.
As you exercise in the morning, you involuntarily take in more oxygen which boosts your brain activity and allows you to focus. Some research has shown that exercising in the morning does a better job of waking you up, than that morning coffee that you can’t seem to go without. It also enhances your metabolism which enables you to digest your breakfast faster and replenish the energy that you just used.
Lastly, when you exercise in the morning, your body craves good food and inhibits your craving for fatty and sugary foods. These types of food give you a quick boost because they release all their energy at once. Instead, your body now opts for food that releases its energy at a constant rate throughout the day.
Write in a Journal
You may have decided to start a journal but you are then faced with the reality that you don’t really know where to begin. Mornings are often the best time to write in a journal as it helps to set your day off on the right note. Here are a few tips on what you could write about:
You could begin by writing about how you slept the night before and about your dreams if you remember any. You could then write about how you are feeling and what mood you are in. What is currently on your mind is important to you as a person and it helps to write it down.
You may write down a simple list of what you intend to do for the day. You can write about what you are looking forward to doing and how this day will be different from the one before. You can also make a note of who you would like to see and talk to during the day.
Your journal may also be used to record things that have had an impact on you, whether this is a poem, a quote, an article or even an idea to which you can relate. Your journal is the ideal place to write these down so you can reflect on them. It is important to define what you want to put in your journal so that it has the most relevance for you.
Reduce your Morning Choices
Perhaps you enjoy spending time trying on different clothes before you decide what to wear. You like deciding what you want to eat on the spur of the moment from a variety of different possibilities. If you have lots of time on your hands, this isn’t a problem but if you don’t, it’s better to conserve your energy to spend on other more important choices you have to make during the day.
Take a leaf out of the book of Barack Obama, who wore only blue or grey suits while he was president because he felt he had too many other decisions he had to make. Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook founder, has a similar philosophy and believes that simplifying choices of what to wear etc. gives you more time to think about your next creative idea than about the color of your shirt.
This does not mean that you don’t care about what you wear or what you eat. No – it means planning ahead of time and making certain decisions that simplify choice. You can come up with a few simple daily breakfast meals that include the necessary protein, healthy fat, fiber and unrefined carbohydrates. You will know exactly what you’re going to eat every day for breakfast without having to spend time trying to decide.
An over-abundance of clothing and digging through it to try and mix and a match that can actually turn dressing in the morning into more of a time-consuming chore than a pleasure. Some of you may be organized enough to choose what to wear the night before. However, most of us do not do this and unless we wear uniforms, the best solution is to cut down our wardrobes, leaving some good basic essentials.
Set your Daily Goals
Goal setting is important as unless you know what you want to achieve, days will just drift by without any focus. A goal is rather like a camera lens that you have to focus properly to take a clear picture. The picture is blurry if it’s out of focus.
You probably have a few long-term goals relating to your work, your relationships, your health etc. You need to take these primary goals and divide them up into daily goals. This allows you to focus on what you need to achieve every day and make sure you make time to achieve them. For instance, if you plan on learning a new language, unless you set up a daily goal of spending half an hour a day, you won’t achieve your goal.
By looking at these goals first thing in the morning, you can see what you need to do to make them happen during the day and assess all possible roadblocks that could prevent this from happening. You have to develop a daily strategy on how you are going to accomplish the goals and you have to be flexible to cope with what life throws your way.
You may have as many as three or four goals you want to achieve during the day, such as spending time with a child, learning a new activity, exercising to improve your health and meditating. You will have to decide when is the best time of your day for you to achieve these goals. You will feel a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day when you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. You can always revise your daily goals if you are battling to accomplish them.
Do your Worst Task First
All of us have an item on our to-do list that we just don’t want to do. We procrastinate and think of every excuse not to do it. We dread it all day and anticipate its unpleasantness from the time we take that first sip of coffee in the morning. Before we know it, we have procrastinated sufficiently for that task to end up on the next day’s to-do-list.
It’s better to tackle that item you dread while you are fresh, well-rested and still have plenty of energy. You are much better equipped to handle difficult tasks in the morning than after lunch when you often go through a slump. The idea is that if you do that dreaded task first, the rest of the day will only get better from there.
If you tackle it first, your day will become progressively easier. The sense of accomplishment you feel when you have done that horrible task will give you fuel to accomplish even more. Perhaps you dread exercising. You may love the adrenaline rush and the feeling once you have begun but you can’t seem to get over the hump and actually get started. The more the day progresses, the less motivated and more guilty you feel but you just can’t get going. If you had just exercised early in the morning, you wouldn’t have to go through this.
If you do that hard thing first in the morning without even allowing yourself an option, by the time you are coming to the end of the day, you can start to wind down, feel proud of what you have accomplished and head into your evening feeling relaxed.
Make time for loved ones
It’s very easy to concentrate on your morning routine and forget all about those closest to you. Brushing your teeth and washing your face are part of your morning routine but making time for your loved ones every day is even more important. Making quality time in the morning before you get caught up in work is not only rewarding but essential.
Most of us do not have much time to spend together in the mornings but it’s more a question of quality rather than quantity. The mornings can have some very tender moments for parents of younger kids as they lie down with them for a few moments before they have to get up or wake them up by stroking their hair. For older kids, it may be a few positive words as you send them off with to school.
Simply sitting and having a healthy breakfast together as a family is one way to touch base. However, if you can’t manage to get everyone together at the table, don’t feel guilty. Even a brief, warm connection can create the tone for the rest of the day. If the first connections of the day are hostile or defensive, it can ruin the whole day. In just the same way, if they are nurturing and warm, they can improve the whole day.
The little connections in the morning are the ones you don’t want to skip. Physically connecting with your loved ones by giving them a goodbye kiss or hug will not only reduce your stress before you walk out of the door but remind you of what’s truly important in your life.