If you don't start your day by joyously leaping out of bed for an early run followed by a long shower, leisurely breakfast, and hour-long meditation session, we feel you. But there are a few simple things you can add to your morning routine to make the a.m. feel less OMG how is it this late already?! These six tips will not only help your mornings feel less hectic—they'll also set a positive tone for your entire day.
1. Start the night before.
“Have some sort of practice before you fall asleep,” says Kristi Ling, author of Operation Happiness. Ling suggests writing in a gratitude journal—we know it sounds silly, but it works!—or simply going over something positive from your day. “The idea is to do something uplifting and happy before you go to sleep.”
It’s also best to ditch your electronics 45 to 60 minutes before bed and prep for the day ahead instead. That could mean packing your bag, getting lunch ready, or laying out an outfit.
“I keep my robe at the foot of my bed, so when I sit up in the morning, it’s right there,” Ling says. You could also put a glass of water on your bedside table or set out your slippers. The idea is to do something that guarantees you start your day with a little act of self-love, Ling says.
2. Sweat some.
A little movement goes a long way. A morning workout can up your energy for the rest of the day and help you feel better about your work-life balance. Research even suggests you get a better workout (i.e., burn more fat and build more muscle) before a morning meal. Neural responses to visual food stimuli after a normal vs. higher protein breakfast in breakfast-skipping teens: a pilot fMRI study. Leidy HJ, Lepping RJ, Savage CR. Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.), 2011, May.;19(10):1930-739X. Effects of exercise before or after meal ingestion on fat balance and postprandial metabolism in overweight men. Farah NM, Gill JM. The British journal of nutrition, 2012, Oct.;109(12):1475-2662.
You're also way more likely to actually work out if you do it first thing, says productivity coach Jeff Sanders on his podcast, "The 5 AM Miracle." Just be sure to pick a workout you really enjoy—whether that's a psych-you-up HIIT routine or gentle yoga.
3. Stop multitasking.
News flash: We’re all terrible at multitasking. What’s more, constantly dividing your attention between multiple projects generally makes you feel more frenzied than if you simply focused on one thing at a time.
“Ask yourself, what are you doing in the morning that’s wasting time?” Ling says. If you spend 5 minutes scrolling through Instagram while haphazardly brushing your teeth, then have to rush out the door like your house is on fire, consider eliminating social media.
Along those same lines, try to avoid email for at least the first 15 to 30 minutes after you wake up. “When you check email right away, you’re filling your mind with other’s people’s goals or agendas," Ling says. Instead, use that time to focus on yourself.
4. Drink water and eat a solid breakfast.
Your new morning priorities: hydration and nutrition.
“We all wake up dehydrated, so the No. 1 thing I do is drink a big glass of water,” Ling says.
Likewise, Sanders describes water as "incredibly energizing" on his podcast. "It clears your mind and your body for doing great work all day long." If you think this sounds bogus, it's not. Studies have found that even mild dehydration can leave you feeling fatigued and moody.
And make time to grab a quick breakfast. Just be sure it's packed with protein and is low in sugar. That way you’ll avoid a midmorning crash and stay full until lunch.
5. Do something positive right away.
If you have a side hustle or passion project, work on that first thing. Not only will you feel more energized upon waking—because hey, you get to do something you love right away!—but it will also help start your day on a positive note.
Or try this: Send a nice text or email to a friend, coworker, or family member every morning.
“I call it electronic fairy dust,” Ling says. “It can be something very simple like, ‘I’m thinking of you,’ or ‘You’re doing great on this project.’”
6. Set your intention for the day.
We know: Your morning is already hectic, and here we are giving you one more to-do. But hear us out. Take one to two minutes and set an intention for your day (you can even do this while you’re still in bed). It can be broad or specific—anything from “show more gratitude” to “wow my boss at that 1 p.m. meeting."
“It’s just a quick practice, and it starts your day on the right foot,” Ling says.
If you'd rather be on autopilot, Sanders suggests writing down your intention, along with a plan for the following day, before you go to sleep. "You're going to be more likely to make that happen when you've got it on paper," he says.