As the days get shorter and the mornings darker, it can be more difficult to get out of bed and be motivated for the day ahead. While many may opt for a relaxing spa break to feel refreshed, there are small changes you can make to your routine to maximise your mornings. With the clocks going back at the end of October, it is the perfect time to get yourself into good habits to set you up for the day ahead.
Taking time out of each day to focus on yourself is important for your emotional wellbeing, but incorporating it into your morning routine can help you be even more productive.
Without the day’s worries to distract you, not only are you more focused on your meditation, but it is likely to improve your concentration for the rest of the day. A small portion of the extra hour from daylight savings in 2017 could go towards inner thoughts and meditation.
Sam from the blog Smart Twenties knows that morning meditation helps to balance and ground her in the day:
“Daily meditation helps me to pull myself out of negative thought loops more quickly than I otherwise would, feel less reactive to those around me, less impulsive and also less stressed. I personally use the meditation app Headspace and have found that a simple 10-minute meditation each morning helps me set myself up for a productive and (relatively) stress-free day, even if I spend 9 of those minutes thinking about my to-do list!”
The Headspace app is well respected as a guided meditation tool, and while you wake up, sometimes a soothing voice is what you need to keep you on track. The Headspace blog suggests that taking a few moments to yourself in the morning will set you up for the day:
“While you may not be able to feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as soon as you open your eyes in the morning, getting enough rest and giving yourself a few minutes to let your brain warm up after waking can make a world of difference in how you approach your day,”
Meditation Oasis is another app that helps with guided meditation and they are strong advocates of morning meditation:
" Meditating in the morning helps us to start the day calm and relaxed with a positive outlook.The easiest way to experience meditation is to be guided. Meditation is about letting go of effort. Simply following voice guidance allows you to be effortless. "
Being active as soon as you get up is sure to set you up for a successful day.
While morning exercise most definitely has physical positives, the impact it will have on your mental outlook for the day is incredible.
Henry Copeland from the virtual running community Racery, spoke to us about how his morning run improves his day:
“I think of my morning runs as a reboot. I get energy that lasts through the day. And I get a sense of optimism and agency. Since every step I take is a conscious decision to move forward, the run creates a model for how I'm going to address challenges throughout the day.
“I've come to see even 10 minutes of running as like meditation... creating some calmness and reflection that helps me better process information and be creative.
“I'm pretty committed to running EVERY day at least ten minutes. Getting out the front door is the hardest part and often I end up running 2 or 3 miles. And on weekends I get 6-10 miles, which has its own wonderful buzz that carries over into the rest of the week.”
While many people are not as committed as Henry, it can take a while to get into good habits. Sam agrees that sometimes she needs a little more structure.
“Exercise is the most vital part of my morning routine as health and fitness is one of my biggest priorities (because it helps me stay sane) and if I don't exercise first thing in the morning it's much less likely to happen! I have found the easiest way to be consistent with exercise is to go to group fitness classes, all I need to do is get myself there and my trainer does the rest.”
Putting a little more time and thought into your breakfast means you end up with something more exciting than the expected cereal or a pre requisite slightly cold toast.
Incorporating fruit with slow energy release foods like grains will ensure that you are getting enough nutrients, but also staying full until lunch.
While chopping up a plethora of fresh fruit everyday may feel like a chore, a little bit of preparation can seriously reduce the workload. If you buy and prepare fruit in bulk, you can easily freeze it in individual smoothie portions. Just add milk or a milk substitute with protein powder or oats and you are all set. Sam feels having a healthy breakfast sets the tone for her eating for the rest of the day:
“Breakfast has always been my favourite meal of the day, so making sure my healthy breakfast was something I loved eating was incredibly important to me. I'll usually have porridge with a little peanut butter stirred through and a banana on top after I've finished working out or if I'm in a rush, I'll quickly make a healthy smoothie with protein powder. I've found having a filling, healthy breakfast is the easiest way to make sure I eat healthy food through the rest of the day - I'm much less tempted to snack and don't want to undo my hard work!”
Waking up to a shrill alarm is the quickest way to put you in a bad mood and if your alarm is on your phone, it is a natural progression to start checking social media and lose fifteen minutes of your morning.
Setting your alarm on a physical alarm clock and placing it over the other side of the room will remove the temptation of the snooze button and make sure you get out of bed.
The right alarm clock can make all the difference and while waking up to soothing music is better than a shrill tune, the Lumie Bodyclock IRIS 500 makes waking up a joy. This clock combines wake up lights with aromatherapy. This gives the impression of a natural sunrise while the aromatherapy element ensures it is a full sensory experience.
A bad habit that we often don’t even realise, is looking at our phones, first thing in the morning.
It is too easy to turn off your alarm and start checking social media. An alternative is a good way to stop this behaviour. Making sure you have a clock visible in the principle rooms will also stop you checking the screen, even if it is just for the time. There have been studies linking notifications to increased stress, which is a poor way to start the day.