Lately, we’ve been thinking a lot about the potential of the early morning. There’s a spaciousness to the hour, or hours, when most heads are still resting.
Before the madness of the day starts banging on your door, there’s a little bit of time and so much value to be found in practicing a handful of simple and sustainable habits first thing in the morning.
It’s not about conquering the world before the roosters crow; it’s about the little actions, motions, and intentions that will ease you into a less chaotic day.
The hardest of days become more doable with an intentional morning to start them off.
If just the thought of going above and beyond before 8am already feels like wishful thinking, then don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Yet, as humans are naturally wired to wake up with the sunrise, studies say you’re most productive in the mornings.
Not only should you cash in on those early mornings, you should learn what your body needs to make the most of them.
Here are our favorite 8 morning must-dos that we passionately believe will give your day the productive “oomph” you’re looking for.
Make the bed
The morning ritual of fluffing your pillows, pulling back the bed spreads, and smoothing out the crinkles in your duvet can have a surprising impact on the rest of your day.
If the first thing you do in the morning is easy to accomplish and satisfying to do perfectly, then you’ve already done something good for the day ahead. How’s that for good momentum?
We’re not the only ones that see the potential in this simple morning chore. In the classic New York Times Bestseller, The Power of Habit, noted author Charles Duhigg lists making in the bed in the morning as a critical step in creating a pattern of other good behavior every day.
Your brain remembers how good it feels to finish a task, and asks you to keep doing it for the day ahead.
The best part? It’s a gentle and forgiving gesture that not only starts, but ends your day on a calming note. What better to come home to than a bed that’s made up, neat and crinkle-free?
After being out of the loop for an entire night’s sleep, it can feel tempting to take a quick peek at your phone first thing – it’ll just take a second, right?
However, whether it’s clicking reply on an email, sending off a quick text, or hopping on social media, your mornings become about giving in to the needs of other people.
On the other end of your phone, there’s someone that’s asking for your help, brainpower, hard-work, or at the very least, a smidget of your time.
Just remember, these early hours are sacred. And in fact, studies say you’re more likely to lose focus if you connect so early in the day.
We advise steering clear from the flurry of busyness (for just that first hour or two!) while giving your energy to the stuff that will bring you presence and productivity for the rest of the day.
Spike your water
It’s so important that you hydrate your body as soon as you wake up. Or at least as soon as you’re done making your bed and side-stepping your phone.
We advocate for drinking a lot of water, but not just water. There’s an array of nourishing plants, fruit, and vegetables that you can add to your water to make it that much more replenishing (and delicious!).
Lemon is a classic choice and you definitely can’t go wrong. By adding lemon to your water in the mornings, you’re boosting your immune system (a great buffer against stress) and fueling up with vitamins and minerals galore. Drinking lemon water spikes your energy levels physically and mentally, but not like the quick buzz (and crash later on) that coffee delivers. By increasing nutrient absorption in your stomach, lemon gives you sustained, steady energy that endures the length of the day.
For best results, it’s recommended to drink it first thing on a empty stomach, and then wait 20 minutes or so before having a wholesome breakfast.
If lemon sounds too acidic that early in the morning, other good options include cucumber, orange, a small handful of mint, blueberries or even rose petals – for those luxurious Sunday mornings!
Hint: in the morning, steer clear of ice water and opt for something warmer or room temperature. It will help your body fully absorb the nutrients and release any lingering toxins.
Huff and puff
We know what you’re thinking.. you’ve heard this before and it’s almost always easier said than done. Truly, we get it.
However, we’re not proposing something totally exhausting and intimidating.
If you’re one to jump out of bed and run 5 miles, great! Keep doing it. If that’s definitely not you, try committing to a less-daunting morning ritual that still involves movement.
Just 10 minutes of moving your body, in some way or another, releases a chemical known as GABA. GABA loosens up your brain, making you feel more relaxed and giving you more control over your emotions and impulses. It’s more likely you’ll have sustained energy, increased concentration, and a positive mindset for the rest of the day.
Go for a gentle walk around the block, stretch out your limbs with a simple yoga routine, or even grab a jump rope and find the child within. There are lots of ways you can huff and puff without crawling your way through to the end.
Free your mind & develop a strategy
Ah, here it comes. In these precious morning minutes, we encourage you get rid of what’s holding you back, bringing you down, or begging for your attention.
Most importantly, you should clear your mind of anything that’s disrupting the calm or putting stress on your early morning. Maybe that involves writing in your journal or scribbling down the urgent must-do’s you’re paranoid about getting done today.
Once it’s all out, phew, start to build out a structured plan for the day.
Make it realistic and strategic. What absolutely has to get done today and what can wait until tomorrow? What’s something you can do today that’s not necessarily urgent, but important?
To be most effective with the hours you have, it’s important to be honest about how you’re feeling today. If you’re low on energy, put aside your creative work and churn out the admin you’re behind on.
Feeling social? Book those important meetings.
You’re don’t have to be ready to conquer the world every single day, and that’s okay. Instead, focus on making today the most meaningful, impactful day it can possibly be – whatever that looks like today.
Find the good things
Positive thinking doesn’t happen from one day to the next. Just like a muscle, it needs to be built up through consistency and repetition.
For a simple exercise to kickstart a more positive mindset for the day, think about (and then write down!) 3 things you’re grateful for.
While this can sometimes feel forced and meaningless, the simple act of hunting for the good things rewires your brain to continue mimicking this thought pattern throughout the day.
Without actively trying, your brain will start to choose to see the positive things, and push through the harder stuff. The more you do it, the easier it becomes, which is why this is such a great habit to develop to start your day.
Laugh out loud
It could seem a little far-fetched to conjure up a good ol’ belly laugh first thing, but believe us, it’s worth it to try.
Do you have a podcast or early morning radio show that makes you grin? Can you make the effort to throw around a joke and have a giggle with loved ones?
Studies say that laughing helps reduce stress, improves short-term memory, and boosts your mood for the long term. Triple whammy.
Laughing also reduces endorphins. Interestingly, these endorphins are not released from the happiness that triggered you to laugh in the first place, but from the physical exertion involved in laughing. Imagine your rib cage is getting a workout that takes quite a bit of energy!
So if yoga, a gentle walk, or a quick skip all sound completely unappealing, try a good laugh for 10 minutes. You might feel just as good as if you’d gone for a run!
Set an intention
Our guess is that you already have a bunch of important goals for the next 12 hours, a list of urgent must-do’s, and a chain of emails you’re behind on. Not to mention the unexpected challenges and extra work you’re bound to encounter as the day unravels.
It might feel overwhelming, but remember– the early morning is about decluttering and focusing on what matters.
Try choosing one main focus or intention for the day. Just one; write it down. Try to make it relevant to how you’re feeling today, rather than how you wish you felt or how you felt yesterday. If you feel tired or rundown, maybe your intention is to be forgiving and patient (with both yourself and others). If you’re feeling emotional, maybe your intention is to be grounded and remain in the present moment.
Keep reminding yourself of your intention throughout the day; notice the affect it has on your moods and your actions.
If you forget your intention from time to time, that’s okay. Don’t get mad at yourself. Just come back to it when you remember. The more you practice coming back to your intention, the easier it will be to hold onto it all day long.