When your feet hit the floor in the morning, it’s go time. With an entire day stretched out before you and sleep still twinkling in your eyes, waking up usually takes the cake for “most dreaded part of the day” before it even arrives. The good news? It doesn’t have to be. Waking up in the morning is your chance to start fresh and take hold of your day from the very beginning.
Of course, everyone is different, and what may energize someone else in the morning may do absolutely nothing for you. Keep that in mind, but whether you try all of them or just one, these 10 morning activities can help give you the push you need to start your day on the right foot — free of charge.
1. Don’t hit snooze!
Never. Hit. Snooze. As much as you think your brain will thank you for it and no matter how many extra episodes of New Girl you accidentally watched last night (oops), your body will not be happy with you later on. With each time you hit snooze, your body and brain grow more confused. This results in the groggy, fuzzy-headed, “out of it” feeling called sleep inertia. This can last for up to two to four hours.
And it’s not just about feeling icky, people. When you set a certain time to wake up in the morning, you are making a promise to yourself. When you start your day breaking your own pact, you are setting a bad tone for the rest of the day. Do your best to hop up out of bed and go get ‘em.
2. Meditate for one minute.
The “M” word has people practically running for the hills these days, but it’s not as scary or as hard as most think. The great thing about meditating is that it you get to make the rules! To some, it means sitting in bed or on the floor for five minutes, focusing on your breathing pattern. To others, it means closing your eyes and focusing on one word (like a personal mantra or positive word of the day), or concentrating on a peaceful image (the beach sounds v good right now). For people like myself, it can even mean praying or journaling; writing freely about your thoughts, feelings, and emotions for a set amount of time. And you don’t have to do it for long.
There is a common misconception that you are supposed to avoid thought in meditation, and that’s just not true. The definition of meditation is “a practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness, either to realize some benefit or for the mind to simply acknowledge its content without becoming identified with that content, or as an end in itself.” You are allowed to think! In fact, welcome all your thoughts. The most freeing (and important) part of mindfulness and meditation is that you’ll learn how to acknowledge those thoughts as they pass by, then let them go. When you begin taking one or five or ten minutes out of your morning to do this, you’ll go into your day with a sense of peace. Always remember that your mental space is just as important as your physical one.
If you’re first-time meditator or prefer structure and guidance, search for a YouTube video or try the free app Insight Timer, where you can choose a guided meditation by length.
3. Get hydrated.
Reading this article changed my life. When you start your day with a glass of lemon water on an empty stomach, the nutrients absorbed by your tummy can give you a natural energy buzz that lasts all day long. Use half a lemon if you are under 150 lbs., and a whole one if you are over 150 lbs. Make sure you drink it as soon as you wake up and wait 15-30 minutes to eat afterward! While you wait to munch, maybe you can…
4. Get moving!
As the Great Elle Woods once said, “Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy.” Go for a 15-minute jog or a bike ride around the neighborhood. Hit the yoga mat or jump in the pool for a few laps. Not into working out every morning? Same. Make a “Rise and Grind” playlist on Spotify or YouTube and dance around to your favorite tunes while getting dressed (music is also proven to boost your mood). According to research, getting your body moving for as little as 10 minutes releases GABA, a neurotransmitter that makes your head feel soothed and in control. When you work out first thing in the morning, it ensures you actually get it done and improves your overall energy for the whole day.
5. Get inspired.
Now that you’ve pumped some iron, it’s time to get mentally pumped, too. The internet is basically the best thing since sliced bread. Watch an inspiring TED talk or read an article about self-love or self-care (download the free magazine-like app Flipboard, I swear by it!). It only takes 10 or 15 minutes, and you’ll go into your day feeling like you can conquer the world.
6. Actually eat (a satisfying) breakfast.
Food is the number one way to anyone’s heart. Plan out a yummy breakfast the night before and you will have something incredible to look forward to the next morning. Make it fun by starting a Pinterest board and trying a new breakfast recipe new every week. Studies have shown that people who eat breakfast tend to be less hungry throughout the day and have more stable blood-sugar levels. And if you have a healthy breakfast? Oh boy. You improve your short-term memory, can concentrate for longer periods of time more intensely — and once again — you’ll have more energy. See the pattern?
7. Make a list, check it twice.
Making lists is not just for the holidays. I swear by these things. Some people prefer to knock out the big to-do items first, but I’ve personally found that marking off the smaller tasks give me the “snowball effect” feeling of actually getting things done and warm me up for the bigger tasks.
It also helps to group “like” tasks together. Once you’re in the right mindset for something, it’s easier to stay in that mindset and get it done. Schedule phone calls back to back, meetings one after the other, errands all in the same hour and so on. Of you are one of those people who has the most energy in the mornings, take advantage of that!
8. Give thanks.
When I worked at E! News, host Erin Lim told me she wakes up every day and writes down one thing she was thankful for yesterday and one thing she is grateful for today. I sometimes like to text (or call) one family member or friend first thing in the morning and let them know they are loved, then thank them for something specific they’ve done or for simply being who they are. When you create positive energy by reflecting on the people and things that bring joy to your life, you instantly feel happy. You’ve heard it before — but you get back what you put out into this world. When you are grateful, not only do you feel that beauty on the inside, but you radiate beauty in your attitude and energy. Gratitude looks good on everybody.
9. Be there. All there.
I hate that the minute I open my eyes, the first thing I do is reach for my phone and open Instagram. Do you really want to start your day by looking at someone else’s life? When you jump right into emails, texts, and what your estranged college classmate is doing, you already lose sight of the day ahead and are more susceptible to live by the wants, needs, and approval of others. Technology can wait.
10. Challenge yourself.
None of us are perfect. But what it is the one thing you’ve been dying to work on? Maybe it’s “to be more patient” or “to be more confident”; “to stick to my word” or “to let loose.” Set a goal or intention not only for the year, but for the week or month. Your life will be so much better, rewarding, and exciting for it. And remember to not be so hard on yourself; you’re only human.
To wrap it up…
Try all of these things, try one of them, try them in different orders — whatever you want. Life is honestly about process of elimination and evolution of the self. Test out what works best for you, and don’t be afraid to change whatever isn’t working for you anymore. In order to truly see a difference, try them out consistently for a week straight to see what positive results these yield not only in your day — but in your life. It’s all yours for the taking.
Mia Brabham is a creative-writing, content-creating, life-lover who currently moved from Los Angeles to Washington DC. She has been creating a variety of YouTube videos on her channel YOURS TRULY, MIA since 2007, and created a 365-day-blog titled A YEAR OF LESSONS in which she wrote a lesson every day for a year. Mia hopes to one day publish her own book, write and produce for film and television, and host her own talk show. Her ultimate goal is to leave a positive impact on the world by sharing her many stories and sharing others’ stories as well. You can follow Mia’s work and life on Instagram and Twitter.
Image via Unsplash