When it comes to health and nutrition, you guys all know I'm all about small, sustainable changes! It really is the best way to make long-lasting changes. You could easily set a New Year's resolution to "eat clean" and exercise everyday, but how long would it last? A week or two? Maybe a month? One of the best ways to set yourself up for success is focusing on the first and last hour of your day. Introducing a few habits in the morning can get your day on a positive note, so you're not "waking up on the wrong side of the bed."
The morning is a sacred time. Weekend mornings are some of my favorite times to cuddle up with my puppy, read, drink a cup of tea, or spend time with family or friends. Even on the weekdays, I treasure a few quiet moments in the morning and take time to meditate, do some yoga, and drink lemon water or hot tea.
In the evening, I like to wind down with a relaxing tea like chamomile, read, do gentle yoga, or journal. Creating these mindful moments will help you go through the rest of your day (or the next day) with a less-cluttered mind and clear intentions.
Here are my top 8 tips for a fantastic morning routine. Find the ones that work best for you.
1. Get Enough Sleep
If you want to wake up happy, you first gotta get to sleep early enough to get at least 7 or 8 hours of good quality sleep. Ideally, you wake up around the same time each day and don't have to use an alarm. For good sleep, keep your room at a slightly cool temperature (not too cold, not too hot), and keep the room completely dark. Turn off all lights, especially phone screens or those blinking blue wi-fi lights.
2. Avoid Checking Your Phone
Our minds are cluttered all day with social media updates, text messages, emails, and more. When we wake up, our minds are probably the clearest they will be all day. Don't ruin that special moment by checking your email 10 seconds after waking up and reminding yourself of the hundreds of things you need to get done. Allow yourself to stay stress-free by stretching out in bed, thinking a positive thought like how grateful you are for another day, or just getting out of bed right away.
3. Make your Routine Mindful
The first few things most of us do in the morning is our bathroom routine - wash our face, brush our teeth, and get ready for the day. You can make this time a mindful ritual by thinking of your mantra for the day or focusing on the one task in front of you. Don't rush through it.
Spending just 5 minutes every morning to meditate can create miracles in your life. I'm not exaggerating. Instead of a New Year's resolution, just focus your energy to spending 5 minutes in a seated meditation every morning. You can find a guided meditation, or set your phone alarm for 5 minutes. Sit, and focus on a mantra of your choice or simply your breath. It works wonders on our crazy monkey brains. I know it helps me focus on the activities that are most important for my health and happiness.
If you want to follow along for a guided meditation, I recorded a great 10-minute grounding meditation that you can get here. It's great to do first thing in the morning, or anytime, you find yourself getting overwhelmed or anxious.
Morning exercise works wonders for some people. When I was training for my marathon, I ran in the morning before my brain came up with a million excuses of why I should postpone or skip my planned run. I'm not suggesting that everyone has to work out in the morning - find the time that works best for your schedule and body, but it's worth to try working out in the morning.
More importantly, find a way to move in the morning. It could be 5 rounds of sun salutations, a short walk outside (take your dog for a short 10 minute walk in the brisk morning), or stretching. Movement stimulates your body and will help wake you up, so you're not falling asleep by 10 am.
6. Make a Morning Tonic
This is my favorite morning ritual! I love starting my day with a glass of warm water with lemon juice squeezed in and sliced ginger. I usually also sip on ginger tea before breakfast or mid-morning. Coffee is a typical morning beverage, but I encourage you to try others. Warm liquids stimulate your body to get moving, stay regular, and is just a nice way to start the day.
7. Eat Breakfast
Of course, this is on my list. Your body just spent all night resting and recovering. While you sleep, your body is actually quite busy re-building itself, and it uses your energy stores. Break the fast with a balanced, nutrient-rich breakfast.
Research shows a good breakfast helps people make nutritious choices the rest of the day. Include a source of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrate. Try to include veggies during some breakfasts during the week, such as mixed veggies with eggs, or a green smoothie.
8. Prioritize your Day
I am a big fan of to-do lists, but it's easy to go crazy on all my to-dos. Instead, take time to write out the top 1-3 things you need to get done that day. Do those things first before checking email or doing other smaller tasks. You may find doing this the day before at the end of the day is most helpful. Make time in your schedule for the things that make you happy, and give yourself self-care time. Take a bath, do yoga, read, watch a movie... Make a list of these self-care activities, and MAKE TIME for them.