Any self-help guru will tell you — it takes about 30 days to turn a behavior into a habit.
And it’s been said that habits make up 40% of our daily lives. So how do we get through those 30 days? And what activities should we bother making habits of?
The truth is that a one-size-fits-all perfect morning routine does not exist, since we all have our own biological clocks and neurology and all that. Establishing the routine, staying consistent and incorporating steps that are personally meaningful is what will make an impact.
Routines give us something to root ourselves to when things are crazy, and they keep us in strong mindsets when we’re already feeling great. Making healthy choices one day is wonderful, but making healthy choices every day can change your life.
So, we scoured the web, scientific journals and the minds of our fittest friends to bring you these five simple core habits that boost physical and mental well being and can fit into anyone’s ideal morning.
1. Rise and Shine (earlier)
If you’re like me, one of the most stressful parts of your morning is perpetually feeling like you’re going to be late for work. Not surprisingly, rushing is a breeding ground for making mistakes, forgetting your keys and spilling coffee.
Combat the craziness by going to bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier. Do this a few times until you’re gradually waking up with an extra 30-45 minutes to really start your day off right.
2. Stretch It Out
Stretch your legs. Reach toward the sun. Roll your neck. If you’re feeling ambitious throw a child’s pose into the mix.
Why? Turns out, as Science writer Luis Villazon explained in Science Focus, the online home of BBC Focus magazine, muscles lose tone and fluid and can pool along your back during sleep. Stretching helps to massage the fluid back into its normal position. It also increases blood flow to muscles, improves your posture, releases tension and just feels soooo darn good.
3. Embrace Your Inner Influencer (And Sip on Some Hot Lemon Water)
Now that you’re up earlier and you’ve shaken out some stress, begin your day with some lemon-infused water. Buy lemon juice in a bottle for ease. It might sound like the most generic advice out there, but Instagrammers and nutritionists alike love it for oh so many reasons.
Hot lemon water:
- Promotes digestion and increases metabolic rate.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties that can fight off infections you might not even know you’re coming down with.
- Is rich in vitamin C which is great for your immune system, and helps to maintain the pH balance of your body.
- Acts as a detoxifying agent, cleansing the liver.
Some swear it even relieves joint and muscle pain. There are so many proven benefits to drinking hot lemon water on an empty stomach that if even one of them is true for me, you better believe I will be gulping it down every morning.
We all know water is great for you. The body becomes dehydrated while asleep. So just heat it up, squeeze in some lemon juice, and sip on it while feeling like a champ. Next.
4. Journal or Meditate
While sipping on your magic lemon juice, find a corner you can sit in alone and undisturbed. This next 10 or 15 minutes is meant to calm your mind. Tailor it to your needs/life philosophy/beliefs. Here are some widely respected practices for getting in the right morning mindset.
- Write down two or three most important tasks or goals to accomplish today. This isn’t a to-do list. It’s a mission-critical-if-you-only-do-two-or- three-things-today-what-must-they-be list. It serves the purpose of keeping essential tasks top of mind so you actually do them. This technique can be uber helpful to multi-taskers who feel the need to accomplish everything, and often end up leaving crucial tasks for the next day.
- Brainstorm 10 things you are most grateful for today. They can be little (coffee creamer) or big (baby bump). Cultivating gratitude daily has been linked to lasting happiness and lowered rates of depression. Consider using a gratitude journal for this one.
- Ever heard of “brain dumping” or “morning pages”? Julia Cameron made these famous in her book, “The Artist’s Way.” A lot of writers swear by them. This is what you do: write about whatever comes into your head for 10 minutes each morning. Don’t overthink or analyze – these pages are for your eyes only. Write down whatever pops into your brain without stopping. When you are done, rip up the paper or delete the doc. Why? To de-clutter your thoughts and make way for a clear mind. To begin without overthinking.
- Sit. Sit in silence for 10 minutes. Breathe deeply. Listen to a meditation app if it helps. Do this for five minutes the first day and work your way up to 10 or 15 minutes over time if sitting still is a challenge for you. Morning meditation is known to decrease anxiety and counteract stress.
5. Sweat Everyday
There are scientific reasons that back up pre-work workouts: testosterone levels are at their daily high, making for ideal strength training timing, and working out on an empty stomach has been proven to protect against glucose intolerance and insulin resistance (I see you, diabetes).
Yet perhaps the most important reason to sweat it out in the a.m. is because morning workouts are most likely to create consistency and keep you exercising regularly. It’s easy to get side tracked or tired after work or a long commute. Getting into the habit of a short morning workout leads to stronger immune systems, better moods and higher energy levels.
Figure out the most convenient way to get moving. It could be a workout app that walks you through a 10-minute routine. It could be a jog around the block, or heading to a nearby gym for some quick cardio.
Whatever it is, the goal is to get your heart rate up and sweat. That’s what triggers endorphins and the benefits of exercise to really kick in.
As Elbert Hubbard once said, “Be pleasant until ten o’clock in the morning and the rest of the day will take care of itself.” Here’s what you do to make this routine a reality:
- Get a big calendar with pictures of something that will make you smile on it.
- Each day you keep up the routine, make a huge X, so you don’t want to break the streak.
- Repeat 30 times
- Jump for joy!
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