For the most part, I am a morning person but right now life is a little stressed. I could go into all the details but there is no need. We all have stress in our lives at one point or another. The key to handling the stress is to figure out how to get through it.
One of the areas that are most affected by my stress currently is my morning routine. Part of the reason my morning routine is not as routine is because it's summer (though, the last week of summer) and the other part is stress. I typically wake up an hour later than I did during the school year and I still help get my husband ready. Yet even that routine has been thrown off and many days I lay in bed grumpy before I finally get up.
I have a little under one week before school starts back- students and all and I need to get out of this funk (no matter if I have stress or not) and get back to my morning person, happy-go-lucky self.
No matter if you are the type who is a morning person that's hit a bump in the road or the type who'd like five more minutes please, this article is for you. Having a good morning routine helps to set the tone for the day and I want the tone for us all to be “Let's Do This!”
Start Your Day Off Right
Here is a list of things to get our days started better. You can pick and choose what works best for you.
1. Don't Hit the Snooze Button
About two hours before the body is ready to get up, it starts giving signals- like increasing your body's temperature. If you get up at seven am one morning and eight am the next, the body doesn't know when to send the signals. Likewise, it does not know when to send the signals that you are sleepy.
A great example of this is when we do get into a routine during the week and our bodies wake us up at the same time on the weekends.
So, my recommendation here is to set one alarm and tell yourself that when the alarm goes off, it's time to get up. If you are like I am on some days, that alarm simply signals that it is time to wake up. I allow myself a few minutes to lay in bed because nine times out of ten my mind is already racing with what-to-do's and where-to-goes both for the day and the future.
2. Drink Some Water… or Coffee
Your body is made up of sixty percent water so when we go several hours without it during the day we feel the effects. Likewise, after going six to eight hours at night without it, our body is ready to be replenished when we wake up.
Typically after I do drag myself out of bed, I use the restroom, wash my hands and head for the (hopefully clean) kitchen. I make myself a pot of coffee and make my family's breakfast. That cup of coffee gets me going.
I am forever grateful for studies that have proven I can sip my beloved coffee all day and not get dehydrated, treating it as if it was water. I will note though that I drink my coffee with half and half, and typically no sugar and never any artificial sweetener, so calories are kept very low.
Essentially what I am saying here is no matter if you go for a cup of water or a cup of joe- get yourself something to drink. Your body and mind will thank you for it.
3. Eat Breakfast
You saw this one coming after the last one, didn't you?
Eating breakfast kick starts your metabolism and gets your body ready for the day. Get your body ready to burn more calories.
When I was younger, I had to eat breakfast almost as soon as I got out of bed or I would feel sick. As I have gotten into my coffee routine I can typically drink a cup on my way to work and eat breakfast after I am in the classroom.
The key is getting a few calories in after six or eight hours of not having any. We tend to associate calories as bad but they are what keep us alive!
4. Open the Window
One of the best things I have ever heard about a sleep/wake routine was unless it was a snow storm outside, open the window of your bedroom if only a crack. Many people miss the joys of being outside, shut in all day typing away on computers, or with all the other indoor activities. Even young kids stay inside to do school work.
Fresh air does us so much good as humans, it helps to clean our lungs and helps our cells to function properly. If the goal of sleeping is to replenish our bodies and minds, having the window open, even slightly, is one great way to do that.
Not to mention, when the sun starts shining around the same time your getting up, it is in a way its own magic. If your scenery is beautiful, it is something to look at and make you feel better instantly.
5. Visualize Your Dreams
Long ago my mother was a director in an un-named sales company. I was a bit younger and would ride around with her in her “free” car and we would listen to motivational tapes from people who were further up the line than she was.
One of my favorite ones talked about creating a book with pictures- no words- of what you wanted within the next five years. She shared statistics for if you did the picture book and looked at it for ten minutes in the morning and ten minutes at night how likely you were to accomplish these goals.
The key though was really feeling as if you were living this life you had created in your book.
Indeed, in a psychology today article, they noted that “It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence and self-efficacy, improve motor performance, prime your brain for success, and increase states of flow – all relevant to achieving your best life!”
I have done this on tests that I had to pass in order to become a teacher- passed both times and have looked back on previous goals I created only to realize I had them come true. So, for me, this is the area that I want to fix in my morning routine. I want to wake up and visualize the dreams I have for myself coming true instead of waking up in my current surroundings agitated.
6. To Do List
Now that you have visualized your dream, how are you going to make it happen? This is where the to-do list comes in. I have to be honest here, I haven't found one that is “perfect” for me yet.
When I was younger I read about a woman who wrote down everything she needed to do on a piece of paper. She didn't give it a deadline unless it needed one. She marked off as she went, feeling satisfaction at the end of the day if a certain number were done.
I have also read that we should write down the six most important things to do and then label them in order of importance. If I were doing this, I would label them with the thing I don't want to do at the top and the thing I am looking forward to at the bottom.
As of right now, I write down a list of things I want to get done during a particular day and scratch them off as they get done. If they don't get done on a particular day then I do them the next day and still scratch it off.
No matter how I do it though, writing it down as soon as I remember I need to do it is important because I tend to forget. Even though I do this throughout the day, I do look over it in the mornings before I get rolling.
7. Music to Your Ears
A lot of reading on morning routines will tell you not to pick up your phone. I am not going to be one of those people. Part of the reason is that I already know that it is your alarm clock, and if you are like me you probably cannot resist seeing what your friends and family did last night and posted on Facebook or Snapchat.
I do recommend that you take your phone and turn up the beat. Listening to positive music as you get ready for your day will keep that happy, “I got this” mindset going that hopefully, the last exercise started. I tend to listen to music as I am putting on makeup and doing my hair. Sometimes I will while making breakfast but normally that's my social media time.
I'm not just saying this either- research has shown that listening to music lowers the stress hormone cortisol and increases dopamine levels in order to bring the happy more in light than the sad.
I really wanted to leave this one out but then thought that it wouldn't be fair. If I can get a workout routine in during the wee hours of the morning, I do tend to feel more focused during the day and like I got one more thing crossed off that forever long to-do list we were just talking about.
Even on vacations to the beach, I try to get up earlier than everyone else and walk along the shore, making time for myself. Why should we do this on vacations and not in our everyday routine when life is typically a lot more stressful?
Yet, workouts rarely happen. Most days, I get myself up in just enough time to get what I need to get done and head out the door.
At the same time, though, my body is moving. Once I am in the kitchen, I am moving from cabinet to fridge, to stove, etc… only stopping to scramble the eggs or wait for the pancakes to be ready to flip (and this is my social media time I was talking about). So get your body moving, even if it means walking from one place to another.
9. The Night Before…
My youngest child is a pill to get up in the morning. Last year, she got dressed in my classroom because she didn't want to get up until she absolutely had to. It worked for a little while but finally, we decided on a nighttime routine that worked better.
Yes, she slept in her school clothes.
While this may upset some people it worked for us. Likewise, I try to have my outfit and everything else I will need for the next day all in the same place- typically clothes are in the bedroom, hung up on the doorway into the bathroom and everything else is on a dining room chair inside my business bag.
On the occasion that I picked up cold groceries in the afternoon on my way home I (I previously taught culinary in a rural school where access to a lot of food wasn't available) I would write a note to myself and stick it on top of the bag.
These things made our mornings go easier since, as I mentioned before, we are the type who tend to get up with just enough time to squeak by.
Good Morning to You
Fobes Magazine has a great article that highlights some of the reasons to try and become a morning person, including better GPA in college and being able to anticipate and prepare for problems more efficiently.
Thankfully we are not all wired the same way. So if you struggle with getting up, take some of these tips to heart and see which ones work best for you. Don't forget to tell us which ones work or add any extra that I forgot in the comments!