Here are five simple, effortless and quick morning routine suggestions you can start today, all of which will give you the boost in energy, creativity and mental toughness to get you through the rest of this year.
The other morning, I watched my 3-year-old daughter wake up. She yawned and stretched, but by "stretch," I mean that she entered a remarkable state of contortion for almost a full minute before she exhaled and opened her eyes.
It got me thinking about how most busy adults wake up. We wake to our alarm (or after a few snoozes), roll out of bed, grab our phone or head straight for a cup of coffee or the shower (or all concurrently). Instead, take just one minute and allow yourself (or force yourself) to indulge in the pleasure of a long, drawn out and refreshing stretch like a young child.
If you are more adventurous, 10 to 15 minutes of yoga just three times a week will help you build physical and mental endurance.
2. Resist the phone
I am guilty of turning off the alarm on my phone and getting drawn into the notifications on my lock screen. All this does is immediately raise my stress level. Instead of grabbing your phone to check your email, calendar or updates first thing in the morning, opt to spend the first five minutes to wake up with your own thoughts.
Nothing that happened in the past few hours while you slept cannot wait just a few more minutes until you are mentally awake and prepared to deal with it. Now, I understand that most of us use our phones for our alarms. If you are unable to resist the urge to check your phone after you have turned off the alarm, do the smart thing and invest in a cheap alarm clock and move your phone to another room.
3. Drink water
I love coffee in the morning, but the first thing our bodies need after being deprived of hydration all night while sleeping (unless you sleepwalk) is water. Drink an eight- to 12-ounce glass of cool water (not ice cold) before your coffee, and you will see an amazing effect mentally and physically. Avoid the orange juice or other sugary alternatives that will do nothing but give you a sugar crash an hour later. A simple glass of water will do.
4. Have a high protein snack
Breakfast is truly the most important meal of the day, because like water, your body has been deprived of food all night. By eating something small in the morning, you will boost your metabolism and set its pace for the rest of the day. Avoid high carb or sugary foods, such as muffins and bagels, since they burn fast and will leave you hungry sooner.
If you are like me and do not have the time (or willingness) to cook a good breakfast in the morning, find a favorite protein shake mix and a buy a handy blender bottle. A couple of scoops with milk (or soy milk for the lactose intolerant) gives the perfect boost in the morning and will keep you satisfied until lunch.
5. Take a 15-minute walk
I love to hit the "snooze" in the morning. A number of years ago, however, I realized that snoozing did very little for actually increasing the amount of sleep I get, since the initial alarm draws you out of your REM stage anyway. Instead of snoozing for 15 minutes, try getting up and taking a brisk walk. It requires very little effort (except for getting dressed) and will wake you up quickly and fully by getting your blood pumping. More important, a brisk walk also gets your metabolism revving.
One thing you can do to make these morning routines successful is to prepare for your day the night before. Before you go to bed, review your calendar and prep your wardrobe for the next day. Check for priority emails or to-do-list items from the day and either complete them or move them to your to-do list for the next day. Preparing the night before only takes a few minutes, but it will eliminate the stress and anxiety of doing so the next morning in a groggy state of mind.
The great thing about all of these morning routines is that they require very little time and effort each morning, and for the most part, they just substitute something for something unproductive you are doing anyway.