This post originally appeared on The Zoe Report
Many of us stay up later than we should surfing the internet, watching Netflix, or drinking an extra cocktail we don’t really need. This causes us to miss out on morning hours that can be used for a variety of behaviors that promote health, happiness, and success.
Here, nine things all morning people do, as well as some suggestions for stealing them even if you like to hit the snooze button.
Stick to a sleep schedule
While it might not sound very exciting, going to bed at the same time every night is best for your body. If you do this consistently, and plan for a reasonable amount of sleep, you should be able to wake up without an alarm or, at the very least, stop hitting snooze when yours goes off.
If you’re currently struggling to get out of bed, we suggest noting how long you sleep naturally on a day in which you have nowhere to be. Then, work backwards from the time you have to be up most days, and set your new bedtime accordingly. If you need eight hours of sleep for optimum performance, for example, and your work schedule requires you to be out of bed by 7 a.m., you need to hit the hay at 11 p.m. the night before, no matter how unnatural that might feel at first.
Drink water before coffee
Once you’ve become dehydrated, it can take a full day for your body to recover, so it’s important to prioritize water consumption first thing in the morning. Drinking water also helps flush out toxins, boosts your metabolism, and helps control your appetite. Meanwhile, first thing in the morning is, according to science, not the best time to drink coffee, as it interferes with your natural cortisol production, which spikes in the a.m. Chug water in the morning, and save your coffee consumption for the hours of 10 a.m. and 12 p.m.
Nothing feels better than getting your daily exercise out of the way before work so you don’t have to face it down at the end of a long day. We now know that short exercise bursts can be just as effective as longer workouts, so you don’t need to rise at 5 a.m. to fit a little activity in. If you’re not a morning person, try waking up just 15 minutes earlier and engaging in a short, Cameron Diaz-approved interval workout or simply doing a few minutes of plank along with some stretching.
Meditate for a moment
If ever there was a way to start your day off on the right foot, it’s via meditation. Studies have shown that meditation reduces anxiety, improves focus, facilitates creativity and outside-of-the-box thinking, and has a host of other benefits. Some people think of meditation as a part of their daily hygiene routine, like flossing for the mind. If you’re not a morning person and therefore don’t think you have time, start small. Remember those 15 minutes you were dedicating to exercise? Allocate a few of them to meditation, with the eventual goal of increasing the daily time allotted for both.
Take time for yourself
Every morning person knows there is nothing quite like the quiet time they get to themselves each morning, before their inbox starts to fill up and the energy of others starts to crowd their mental space. Most morning people use this time to engage in beneficial activities such as journaling (read more about the benefits of this here), reading, or creative practice (e.g. playing the guitar or writing). If you’re constantly rushing out the door, chances are you don’t have time to indulge in such an activity in the pre-work hours. Instead, set aside time before bed, even if it’s just 15 minutes, to engage your creativity.
Eat breakfast mindfully
If you are not a morning person, you likely know how difficult it is to do anything other than grab a pastry on your way to work, if you eat anything at all. People who rise early make and consume breakfast from a more mindful place, simply because they have the time. If waking up early enough to cook a balanced meal for yourself isn’t yet an option, try this simple and healthy breakfast recipe that can be thrown together the night before.
Make a detailed to-do list
If you start your day without a to-do list, chances are that your productivity will be significantly diminished. Some people plan their day in hour-by-hour increments, which can help you stay on track no matter what distractions are thrown your way. We suggest prioritizing your list so that the most challenging tasks are accomplished first, and scheduling in short, strategically-placed breaks (e.g. after a stressful meeting) during which you can take a walk to recharge. If you don’t have time to do this before you run out the door, dedicate your first five minutes in the office to creating this list—we guarantee this practice will change your life. Or, make your list the night before and sleep soundly, knowing you’re prepared for the day ahead.
Visualize a successful day
Most of us immediately default to worry upon waking, fretting over the anticipated challenges and disappointments of the day. Instead, start your day by visualizing the most successful version of it that you can imagine, whatever that might mean for you. For example, picture yourself accomplishing all of your outstanding tasks, nailing a feared presentation, actually making it to your barre class, and having a conflict-free couch cuddle session with your significant other instead of immediately indulging in fears that none of those things will happen. You don’t need a ton of time to do this—make it your mental activity each morning while brushing your teeth.
Subscribe to Shine Texts
The concept behind Shine Text might sound a bit silly—subscribe to have motivational and inspirational texts sent to you each morning—but we have found that receipt of these texts dramatically improves our morning mindset. In additional to positive affirmations and the occasional GIF, Shine sends out actionable items we find to be actually useful, e.g. “Take a body inventory during the afternoon slump. are your shoulders hunched? Brows furrowed? Take a minute to stretch it out, stand up, and readjust.” The texts are sent early, but there’s no harm in waiting to read them for a recharge in the oft-brutal afternoon office hours.
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