Make your morning worth waking up for! If you are looking to change up your morning routine or simply add something fresh, you’ve come to the right place!

Your morning routine sets the tone for the day and it’s always a satisfying feeling at night when you’ve had a great day, so start your day off right – not just to get by, but to conquer it! If we don’t make the effort to enforce good morning habits, we can fall into bad habits. Hitting the snooze, not knowing what to eat, not feeling ready, and rushing out the door can all have negative effects on our mood, actions, and outlook for the rest of the day. 

Check out the tips below to give your morning routine the perfect makeover!

1. Plan Your Morning the Night Before & Meal Plan!

You have two choices: start your morning calm and pre-planned or start your morning chaotic and typically late!

We have all had those crazy mornings where we woke up late, hair is a mess with no time to fix it, can’t find the clothes we want, are juggling several things in our hands trying to pack essentials for the day.  We end up running out the door in a scurry without anything in hand to even eat throughout the day. Those mornings are stressful and impact the rest of our day!

For a stress-free and planned morning, set out your clothes and shoes, have your essentials already packed, and have your meals planned, if not already made, the night before. 

MEAL PLAN FOR THE DAY – not just breakfast… and breakfast may not speak to all of you, anyways! 

“ALWAYS EAT BREAKFAST” has gained a lot of hype over the years, especially with intermittent fasting (IF) becoming more popular. Although you may skip the usual breakfast time depending on your regimen, IF can be beneficial to your health to reduce inflammation, lower baseline blood sugar to prevent Diabetes, promote weight loss, and may ramp up autophagy to help your body get rid of harmful and damaged cells that could wreak havoc if they’re not destroyed. 

BUT, eating breakfast earlier in the morning can also be beneficial to your health! It can jump start your metabolism, help with focus and memory right off the bat, promote cardiovascular health, reduce unhealthy snacking before lunch, help regulate hormones, and aid in chronic disease management.

What it comes down to: there is no single recommendation for all as to when you should break your overnight fast and eat your first meal of the day (nor your following meals and snacks) because each of us have an optimal eating pattern. It just depends on YOU – your body, your schedule, your health status, and your goals as to when and how often eating works best for you.

When it comes to meal planning, everything you put in your body is important and makes a difference, but your first meal in particular is crucial as it contains the first round of nutrients and fuel for the day – and getting in a solid breakfast/first meal can be tricky during the week for so many reasons! I don’t know about you, but breakfast foods sound the best as a first meal, whatever time it may be! If you need some ideas, these are relatively quick and easy:

  • Overnight Oatmeal
  • Prep ingredients like chopped onion, minced bell pepper, mushrooms, spinach, and/or chopped broccoli the night before to whip up a tasty omelet in minutes in the AM
  • Cheese/egg/spinach sandwich on whole wheat toast, 2 whole grain waffle quarters, or an English Muffin
  • Quick off-topic point: if you are an English Muffin lover, have you checked your labels? Unfortunately, we can’t trust advertising to easily highlight our best option! 

*For example, a Thomas brand light multi-grain English muffin offers more fiber, less sodium, and is only 2 grams higher in carbohydrates compared to the 100% whole wheat kind – but you’d think grabbing whole wheat is your best option, right? And have you compared Thomas to the Whole Foods or Nature’s Own brands which are much lower in sodium? Or how about gluten-free brands like Glutino. If you compare original to multigrain, multigrain is a bit better as you would expect, which offers 2 more grams of fiber and is 2 grams less in carbohydrates. THIS IS WHY LABEL READING IS WORTH YOUR TIME!

Whatever your desired brand is for anything packaged, compare labels of different kinds/flavors and take a peek at other brands – you may be surprised by what you find! 

  • Powered-up veggie protein smoothie – the great thing about smoothies is that ingredients are easy to switch up! TIP: fresh spinach or lettuce store great in the freezer to make for an easy green go-to for smoothies without the worry of it going bad quickly! 

If you’re looking for something a bit smaller in quantity, try:

  • Greek yogurt or chia pudding topped with Homemade granola, fruit, almonds, ground flaxseed, or even bits of your favorite dark chocolate which contains some caffeine as an added bonus!
  • An apple with an organic milk cheese stick 
  • Prepping energy bites or frozen yogurt bark in advance as a quick grab n’ go on your way out the door
  • Whole wheat toast with your favorite nut butter

2. Get Up to Your First Alarm.

You snooze, you lose! Always get up the instant you hear your alarm go off. That 5-10 minutes of extra sleep is not restorative and can actually make you feel more groggy than if you would have woken up to your first alarm. Even more, you could unintentionally sleep in much later than anticipated and have a very rough go of a morning!

If you’re hitting the snooze daily, it’s time to evaluate your sleep habits like bed times, screen time before or during sleep, length of time asleep, quality of sleep, sleep environment, etc. Getting 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep each night will help you wake up to your alarm feeling energized, focused, and optimistic for the day ahead.

If you have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep, check out these pro-sleep habits and foods/beverages you can incorporate daily to get the sleep you need and feel great in the morning!

3. Wake Up a Little Earlier…

If you find it hard to plan your morning the night before, try waking up 30-45 minutes earlier than the time you actually need to be up by, but don’t forget to adjust your bedtime to still get enough sleep! Getting up with plenty of time before needing to be out the door allows time for your brain to wake up and avoid mistakes so you can still get dressed, pack your essentials, get breakfast in, and get out the door with ease.  

If you’re already an early riser – good news for you! Research suggests early risers may be happier and more productive compared to night owls. However, even if you’re not a natural early riser, you will reap some benefit even if you wake up 10-15 minutes earlier to give you that much more time to help you plan and get ready for your day ahead!

 

4. Make Your Bed!

To make sure you don’t jump right back in, make your bed the moment you get out of it. This will make you feel productive and motivated to get on with your morning as you will have already checked one thing off of your morning’s routine checklist!

5.  Let the Natural Light In & Get Outside If You Can! 

Letting natural light into your home and getting outside does a lot for you starting right away in the morning! Open up your blinds and push back your curtains to let natural light in as you get out of bed to improve your mood and productivity. Get outside for at least 10 minutes if you can as well – even if it’s cloudy, to reduce stress and encourage a good sleep-wake cycle! You will still get plenty of light energy by simply being outside (even without direct sunlight) to promote your sleep-wake cycle vs staying inside, as some UV rays that help anchor your cycle get filtered out by windows. 

You may feel more sluggish in the morning if you skip this step! These night to morning transition actions will go a long way toward reducing stress, sleeping better, and powering you through the rest of your morning routine!

Andrew Huberman, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology and of ophthalmology, provides some great additional information about the science and benefits of natural light to our health as well as things you can do at night to support good sleep! 

 

 6. Smile!

So simple, yet actually impactful! Smiling releases endorphins that will make you feel more positive and findings in this study suggest smiling has psychological and physiological benefits even during stressful times. If you don’t try to shake that groggy and grumpy feeling first thing in the morning, chances are you may be more passive aggressive throughout the rest of your day. 

 7. Brush your teeth. 

Some people believe in brushing their teeth after they are completely done with their morning routine, but it may be helpful to also brush your teeth first thing when you get into the bathroom! It will wake you up by getting rid of your morning breath and increase alertness by activating your senses. If you typically brush your teeth following a meal, here are some tips to keep your enamel in tip top shape. 

  • Brush right after consuming foods and beverages high in refined carbohydrates and sugar to get rid of bacteria that immediately start attacking your enamel.
  • Wait 20-30 minutes to brush after consuming acidic foods and beverages as brushing too soon can actually damage your enamel.
  • If you don’t brush beforehand and don’t have the time to wait around after eating, rinse your mouth out with water and drink a glass to wash away as much harmful bacteria and acid as possible!

 

8.  Practice Mindfulness Through Breathing Exercises.

If you’re looking to take some time to start your day with a peaceful mind, close your eyes and try practicing the 4-7-8 breath Relaxation Exercise! The wonderful thing about this technique is that it also serves as a quick and easy go-to throughout the day to calm anxiety, reduce over-reactions, or even quiet your mind to help you fall asleep within minutes – and you can’t over-do it! You will end each session feeling refreshed and ready to tackle your next task!

9. Make a To-Do List!

As you are waking up in the morning and bopping around in the kitchen, grab your daily planner or a scratch sheet of paper and your favorite morning beverage. Think about the things you want to accomplish and make a short list of realistic items you can check off throughout the day to keep you organized and feeling productive from morning to night! If you are more of a nighttime thinker, add this step to your nighttime routine instead. 

Stay tuned, I will have my very own monthly wellness planners launching in 2021 that offer more than just a calendar for you! You will love it!

 10. Bust Out a Mini Workout OR Minimally Get a Stretch In.

We tend to naturally want to stretch upon waking when we’re not in a rush. Stretching wakes up your body by increasing blood flow and it helps your joints reach their full range of motion so your muscles can work effectively. You can also get fancy by loosening and massaging your muscles with a foam roller! 

If you’re willing and able to go a step further, get a mini workout in! Hit the floor and do some push-ups, get some jumping jacks in, lift weights, or grab your exercise ball to get moving! Exercise gets your blood flowing and oxygen circulating much more than stretching and will give you a boost of energy, focus, and optimism to start your day!

Building and maintaining a repetitive and refreshing morning routine will help you set your days up for success and reduce stress and anxiety! Take time to think about what actions will benefit you most during the time you have at night and in the morning for you to feel at your best! 

If you’re looking for a few additional tips to perfect your day, click here and download the 1 page “Guide to Reset My Day!” 

Yours in health and wellness,

Lindsay Pennington

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