Paige A. Mitchell
Not a morning person? Neither am I. I have been known to get up out of bed, walk across the room to hit the snooze button on the alarm, and then get back into bed – multiple times. Getting a good night of sleep is vital for your health, but how you start your morning is important to set the mood and tone of the rest of your day.
Starting my day like this was frustrating because I often felt rushed, irritable. Despite grabbing an extra nine minutes of snooze time, I find myself even more tired than if I had just adopted a few, easy to implement routines to help me kickstart my day. Incorporate a few of these two-minute habits to help you feel more refreshed and ready to start the day.
1. Stretch and exercise
You don’t have to wake up extra early and hit the gym to feel the benefits of getting a burst of energy from stretching and exercising first thing in the morning. Upon waking, try some basic stretches.
One of the easiest to start with is a gentle neck stretch. Slowly roll your head from shoulder to shoulder, five times clockwise and then five times counter clockwise. This stretch will help loosen up your neck and shoulder muscles, especially if have tension from sleeping in an awkward position that will only worsen by sitting at a desk all day. You can do this exercise in bed as soon as you turn your alarm clock off.
Do you hold tension in your back? A full body, spinal mobility roll is a great way to wake up your back. Start by reaching towards the ceiling, stretching your full body out. Slowly roll down and reach for your toes vertebrae by vertebrae. Then, hang in the downward pointing position for a few seconds before slowly rolling back up. You can do this while you make a cup of coffee.
Once you have stretched to limber up your body, incorporate a few quick exercises to get your blood pumping. Just a handful of pushups or sit-ups are a great, short morning routine to get your blood pumping. Here are some two-minute workouts to get you started and your mind clear for the day.
2. Meditate and practice appreciation
Meditation and mindfulness can help you become more focused and happier overall, which is a great way to start your morning. There are some very simple ways to get started with meditation even if you haven’t tried it before.
One way is the 4-7-8 breathing method taken from the Indian yoga practice called Pranayama. Take a big exhale like you’re blowing out a birthday candle. Inhale through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for seven seconds. Exhale for eight seconds. Repeat three times.
Once you have calmed and focused your mind, write down three things you are grateful for. It’s important to write them down, it can improve your happiness and well-being, and put the stressors you are about to face in the day into perspective.
3. Identify roadblocks
This final tip needs a bit of evening prep or weekend work, but it will help kickstart your day and reduce the morning stress you may feel everyday. The idea is to identify problem areas in your morning routine and then remediate them—today! Here are some examples.
If you’re always running late, try picking out your outfit the night before and laying it out, setting the coffeemaker to start automatically, and prepping your lunch to take to work.
If you find yourself feeling frustrated first thing in the morning, take this weekend to tackle your honey-do list. Put that mile-high pile of clean clothes away so you can stop stepping around it. Replace that burnt out lightbulb above your vanity for a better get-ready station. And what’s worse than taking a lukewarm shower first thing in the morning? Get your water heater repaired once and for all.
If you find yourself lacking energy, you could start the day by listening to an inspirational podcast or audiobook. And, most importantly, don’t forget to eat breakfast!
Hopefully, starting your day with a few of these new routines will help you feel less stressed, more focused and refreshed, and ready to tackle whatever comes your way.