By Ryan Pavone
Mornings are tough. As hard as it can be to leave the warmth and comfort of your bed, mastering your morning routine is crucial to boosting your mood, energy levels, and productivity. As someone who likes to stay up late at night, I used to regret rolling out of bed each morning. I’d hit the snooze button multiple times and was constantly feeling tired throughout my day. I realized that in order to take control of my life, I needed first to take control of my sleeping habits.
With these six steps, I transformed my morning mindset and found the focus and energy I needed to tackle each day to the fullest.
Prepare for the morning ahead
Each night, I write down what I hope to get done the next day on post-it notes and stick them on my bathroom mirror. When I brush my teeth each morning, I look at these “to-do” memos and develop a mental schedule, which helps switch my brain from rest to active mode. When I brush my teeth at the end of the day before bed, I revisit my goals. I review what I accomplished and make notes for the following day. This routine helps me stay accountable and on track for success.
Keep a consistent sleep schedule
Don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep. If you go to bed and wake up at different times every day, your internal clock won’t function properly. Irregular sleep cycles can lead to tiredness and low energy—no matter how much sleep you get.
Figure out how many hours of sleep you need per night to feel well-rested, then commit to going to bed and waking up at the same times each day—even on weekends. Your body can take up to two weeks to fully adapt to a new habit, but after a few weeks on a consistent schedule, you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel.
Put your phone down
If you want to start your day feeling like Superman, your phone is going to be your kryptonite. Your cortisol levels (the stress hormone) are typically highest right after waking, so one of the worst things you can do is jump on your phone and pump your brain with more cortisol by scrolling through social media or email. Instead, ease into your morning.
Limit all screen time for the first hour as you prepare yourself mentally and physically for the day. I avoid temptation by keeping my phone on the opposite side of my bedroom. This forces me to get out of bed to turn off my alarm, and allows me to avoid looking at my phone until I’ve completed my morning tasks.
Good hydration is the secret ingredient to mastering your mornings. Did you know that your body gets dehydrated while you sleep? Drinking one to two glasses of water first thing after waking up will give your system what it needs to function properly. There are also other benefits such as weight loss, improved mental and physical performance, and mood enhancement.
Although I love a nice morning cup of coffee, try replacing that first cup with a glass of water. Coffee not only dehydrates you, but caffeine can also lead to a spike in anxiety. Wait a few hours after waking to have your morning coffee. You’ll give your cortisol levels time to stabilize.
Take a cold shower
This may be one of the hardest practices to embrace, but if you can get over the mental hurdle of plunging your body into ice-cold water, it’s the best way to jump-start your day. Cold showers increase circulation throughout the body, sending more blood to your brain and leaving you feeling awake, alert, and energized.
By overcoming this mental barrier, you’re starting the morning with a win. Completing other routine tasks like making your bed or working out each morning can have a similar effect. These mental accomplishments release dopamine into your brain, improving your overall mood, memory, and focus.
Take time for personal wellbeing
We are constantly bombarded with external information and stimulation, and we can forget to take time for ourselves. Activities such as yoga, meditation, and regular exercise are incredibly important for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Try adding one or more of these practices into your morning to help maintain a good work/life balance and improve your overall health.
Mornings suck—but they don't have to. Practice these techniques, and you’ll turn your mornings from a roadblock into a slingshot. Put an end to the dreaded drowsiness, and wake up feeling rested and ready to give each day your best.
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