It’s no secret that a solid morning routine is something many inspiring individuals tell us we need to adopt, but how many of us actually do? Let’s face it, most of us aren’t feeling fired up to take on the world the second our feet hit the floor. Our goals and aspirations take refuge in the conscious mind.
The problem is, we’re not exactly operating from that fully-conscious state the moment we wake up. It can be all too easy to let our auto-pilot program take over and start directing our attention before we even realize it. That is where the power of habit comes into effect.
By implementing a few simple, yet structured ideas and setting up boundaries for ourselves, we can transform our early hours from stress and defeat to ready and motivated. Our morning hours set up the framework and momentum for the rest of the day, so it’s essential that we spend this time gearing up for success, not failure. With that in mind, let’s take a look at how some of our most common morning habits are detrimental to our well-being, and more importantly, what we can do to change them.
1: Early Screen Time
This one is first on the list for a reason. It seems that everyday new research comes out warning us against the dangers of our devices and our inclination to stay shackled to them despite the growing evidence. Most of us know this is true on some level, but it’s especially powerful in the worst of ways early in the day.
By opening up our social media accounts, scanning our emails, or simply browsing for news updates, we’re bombarding ourselves with information, almost none of which serves our best interests. We’re instantly creating a stress response in the body, along with all it’s associated neurochemistry, which will last long into the day. Updates from friends, outrage at information we disagree with, colleagues who need our attention, the possibilities are endless.
It’s an infinite loop of information and entertainment that is incessantly pulling us back to refresh and re-swipe almost as if we’re not in control at all. And some would argue that as long as we keep our devices within reach, we’re really not.
We have to set strict boundaries for ourselves to make our devices less accessible during these hours. Keep your phone out of the bedroom so it’s not staring at you when you wake up, turn off notifications and enable airplane mode overnight.
The same goes with tablets, laptops, smart watches and other devices. I would also recommend apps such as Offtime and Detoxify (non-affiliated) which allow you to blacklist apps or set times when selected apps cannot be accessed. There’s a time and a place to log on and catch up, but first thing in the morning certainly isn’t it.
2: Not Leaving Time to Yourself
How often do you set your alarm for the time you have to wake up? “I need to leave for work at this time, it will take me this long to get ready, it will take this long to get the kids around”, therefore, I need this much time. Stretching out that elusive slumber as long as humanly possible and maximizing every dreadful minute once awake. This is what society teaches us.
But what if we woke up relaxed because we knew we had more than enough time to do what we needed each morning? And what if we even had enough time to do something we enjoyed? Maybe making that breakfast smoothie we heard about six months ago, enjoying a peaceful meditation, or doing some light exercise? What if we could set up our mornings to work for us?
By leaving ourselves time to partake in activities we enjoy each and every morning, we develop a completely new relationship with those early hours. By the time the obligations of the outside world start demanding our attention, we’ve already begun filling our own cup. The only caveat here is that these activities must be for you, and only you. The whole idea is to allow time each morning that is exclusively yours, where you can check in with yourself before giving your attention to everything and everyone else.
This is a simple fix, but you’re not going to like it. Whatever time you’re waking up right now, wake up 1-2 hours earlier. This also means getting to sleep earlier the night before. If your body is conditioned for stress the moment your eyelids open, chances are you’re not getting much quality rest during those last precious minutes anyways.
By allowing ourselves the time to enjoy simple things each morning, we’re priming our nervous systems for relaxation and cooperation rather than stress and conflict. This will affect not only how we operate in the world first thing, but also how we carry ourselves throughout the day.
3: Not Getting Your Hydration On
The human heart and brain consist of about 73% water, and the lungs roughly 83%. Three to four days without it and the body is incapable of basic functions. We really are water, yet so many of us still don’t understand the importance of proper hydration.
Getting plenty of fresh, clean water is especially important first thing in the morning because we tend to dehydrate overnight.
Think about it, while your body was resting and repairing you just went six to eight hours without a drop of replenishment. It’s not so much that drinking water is difficult, in fact it’s insanely simple. It’s that most of us are addicted on some level to its alternatives.
While most would much prefer our favorite flavor-sweetened or caffeinated beverage of choice, it’s imperative that we down some straight H20 before anything else. It’s generally accepted that we should drink at least 24 ounces of water first thing in the morning to get ourselves back to baseline.
Getting our bodies in balance by properly hydrating has a ton of benefits including improved brain and nervous system function, hormonal regulation, skin health, oxygenation, joint lubrication and flushing of wastes, just to name a few. Simply put, we absolutely require water each morning and most of us fail at this. We leave our bodies at a severe deficit right out of the gate and then expect to perform at full function.
Ideally, we want water that’s as clean and decontaminated as possible, but that’s another topic entirely. For now, just know that water and water only is absolutely essential upon waking. Sorry, your cup of joe doesn’t count, but you can brew it up after if you feel so inclined.
Leave an empty glass on your nightstand or countertop as a reminder until it becomes routine. Fruit juices, milk and other “breakfast beverages” don’t count. In fact, the added sugars that are in most of these will have the exact opposite effects that we’re trying to achieve by getting hydrated.
Continued Education: 7 Reasons Drinking Water After Waking up is a Good Idea
Putting it All Together
So, wake up an hour earlier, grab a glass of water and avoid anything electronic like it’s the plague. Sounds simple enough, right? Just remember that forming new habits takes time, and it’s consistency that yields results.
I chose these three points specifically because I feel they give us the most return on our investment each morning. They’re simple to implement, yet powerful in practice. Give these tips a solid try, and see how much better you feel.
But one of the interesting things about implementing new habits is seeing first-hand our inner resistance to change. Don’t be surprised if keeping the phone out of reach or waking up at that first alarm is a little more challenging than you first expected. Embrace it and keep pushing through. That is where the real change happens.