Whether you’re a morning person or more of a morning zombie, research clearly shows that getting into a good morning routine has a significant impact on your life, both professionally and personally. For many of us, our morning routine may involve repeatedly hitting the snooze button, hurriedly devouring cereal bars and running around manically looking for those elusive keys. It’s not hard to see this isn’t an ideal start to the day. Research around the subject highlights common morning habits that help highly successful people set their day off on the right foot.
Some people may be lucky enough to wake up naturally with a stretch and smile, welcoming the bright new day as they spring up out of bed. For the rest of us, we groan in pain as that dreaded alarm invades our fantastic lottery win dream. This is where the snooze button temptation takes hold, but if there’s one key piece of advice for you to take away it’s this – do not press it!
You may think that getting in these little chunks of additional sleep will provide some valuable extra energy, but that’s not the case. Not only will this delay the rest of your morning routine, studies suggest that hitting that snooze button will, if anything, make you more tired. Due to the fact that these snooze sessions are so short, you will not complete a full sleep cycle which will actually make you feel very groggy for the first few hours of the day.
The ideal scenario would be to wake up naturally without an alarm, but for the majority of us this just isn’t a viable option. Here’s just a few points to help your awakening seem a bit less zombie-like:
– Set your alarm for the time you intend to actually get up and out of bed.
– Have a nice big stretch as this will help encourage blood circulation and get your whole body up and running.
– Let there be light – Ideally some natural light from a window, otherwise switch a light on. By supressing melatonin secretion, light acts as an important trigger to the brain to wake up.
– At the very least sit up in bed. Your brain associates lying down with sleep and acts accordingly (releases melatonin). Sitting up helps break out of this brain-state and get going.
– Wake up really early! This may fill you with dread but having a couple of extra hours in the morning can make all the difference. Start by shaving quarter of an hour off your wake up time each week and see how far you can go (go to bed earlier to compensate though obviously).
We’ll try our best not to sound like a nagging parent here, but make sure you make your bed when you get up. Even just this relatively minor task will help get you into the right mindset. It’s a quick win – you’ve had the motivation to do something and the you can quickly appreciate the outcome of your efforts (i.e. a tidy, uncluttered space). It may not seem like the most important task, but it’s another subtle psychological “trick” you can use to put yourself in work mode.
Some swear by it, others think it’s insanity, but regardless of your personal opinion, scientific evidence shows that early morning activity (even if it’s just a short walk) helps you start the day with more energy and focus. In addition, after morning exercise people are much more likely to continue this healthy behaviour during the day, particularly with eating habits. Exercise has also been shown to help people deal with stress, and when there’s a busy day of work ahead of you, a little exercise to combat the stress will help you succeed in whatever you have to do.
At the risk of repeating something you’ve heard countless times trhoughout your life, make sure you eat a good breakfast. The temptation when we first wake up is to go straight for the cup of coffee – don’t. Research suggests that water is a much more suitable morning drink. This standard natural fuel helps to replenish hydration lost throughout your night’s sleep, as well as kick start your metabolism and digestive system.
When the digestive system is up and running, try and steer clear of sugary cereals and other nutritionally poor breakfast food. Get some good stuff in your belly – fruit, eggs, greek yoghurt, oatmeal, nuts and seeds etc.
It doesn’t have to be War and Peace, but each night write down 3-5 key tasks or objectives for the next day that you aim to get done. Use a bit of your newly found free time in the morning to quickly review this to-do list and start to plan how you will go about completing it. If you can, attempt to get started on these tasks as soon as you can in the morning as this is when you are at your most productive (or will be if you follow these suggestions).
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