Let’s be honest — even on a good day it can be a real struggle to get out of bed in the morning. Who actually wants to leave the warm sanctuary of a comfy blanket to face the cold, harsh realities of life every single day?
In my work as a psychology professor and hypnotherapist, I have consistently been asked for tips on how to become a "morning person." Usually, these conversations involve confusing questions about altering circadian rhythms, the strict bedtime routines implemented in childhood, and whether offering up the blood of a virgin to the sun gods could possibly make Mondays any more bearable.
I always smile and offer a suggestion that is so simple and effective that it’s often met with a healthy mixture of skepticism and amused laughter — create a morning routine and stick with it. It really can be that easy. After three weeks, you will be amazed by how much it has transformed your life. Like anything, it till take some getting used to but, in the end, you won’t be able to argue with the benefits.
You won’t feel frazzled
One of the biggest complaints people have about that first hour of their day is that it goes by so quickly. It’s funny, though, because waiting just a few moments for someone to respond to a text seems to take forever! The truth of the matter is that it’s not about how much time you have, it’s about what you do with it.
Without a predictable plan in place, we often run around in the morning trying to figure out what we are going to eat, what we are going to wear, and what we need to take with us as we walk through the door. A solid routine can take the guesswork out of these frantic moments, allowing us to move through our daily preparations in a calmer, relaxed way.
You will have a sense of purpose
How many times have you woken up and immediately started that mental frenzy of wondering what needs to get done before you walk out the door? By developing a strategy, you create a solid foundation to which you can refer each and every day. How cool is that?
When you wake up in the morning knowing exactly what you need to do and you’ve taken the steps to be prepared ahead of time, you will begin to feel an incredible sense of purpose. There’s something so empowering about starting your day in control of your actions and emotions. This feeling can then be carried on through the morning and, eventually, throughout your whole day.
Your emotional health and ability to cope will improve
Most of us put everyone else’s needs and happiness ahead of our own. While it’s great to be kind and loving to the people in our lives, we can’t forget to extend that kindness to ourselves. We put so much emphasis on being efficient and productive, multitasking as we go through our day, but we also need to set aside time to recharge our batteries. What better way to greet the morning than with a little "me" time? What are some things you can do?
Commit to waking up early enough to get through a chapter (or two!) of the book you’ve been wanting to read. Download a meditation or yoga app and dedicate 10 minutes to cultivating your inner zen. Have a hot drink while you watch the sunrise. Sit and actually eat your breakfast.
After a couple weeks of nurturing your soul each morning, you might find yourself better able to handle the chaos that comes your way. Starting the day in a calm, gentle way will guide your emotions and improve your interactions with coworkers and other people you encounter throughout the day.
Morning exercise has physical and mental benefits
Getting up and exercising won’t be included in every person’s morning routine but, if you can, it is a really great way to get things started. Often, we want to be active at some point in our day but then life happens and, suddenly, it’s already bedtime. It’s much easier to knock it out first thing in the morning so you don’t end up making excuses later.
While you can definitely hit the gym (if you’ve got a membership), there are other ways to gently ease your body into the day. Take a brisk walk around the block. The cool morning air will feel invigorating! You can also do some yoga, lift weights, or squeeze in a workout video without even leaving your house.
This will take away that nagging feeling we all have throughout the day when we haven’t found a way to fit exercise into our hectic schedule. Instead of being disappointed in yourself, you will feel so proud for making yourself a priority. Plus, you will feel more confident to handle anything that comes your way since research shows that exercise changes our brain to improve memory and thinking skills. How great is that?
When we feel good about ourselves and our choices, it brightens our entire day. Bonus – your work clothes might even start to fit a little better!
Your brain and body will be fueled and ready
What’s worse than running around trying to grab everything you need as you leave the house while you have a Pop-Tart dangling precariously out of your mouth? Well, believe it or not, there is something worse — eating nothing at all. So many of us wake up and start charging full steam ahead without any fuel in our tank. While it’s understandable once in a while, you can’t keep running on empty forever.
Our lives are busier than ever so, in order to keep up with the never-ending hustle and bustle, one of the most important things we can do is eat to boost our energy. The right nutrition can help stave off fatigue and reduce our urge to reach for caffeine or sugar when we start to feel run down.
To give yourself the stamina you need to make it through the day, look up some quick and easy breakfast ideas. While you’re at it, aim for something nutritious like a smoothie packed with fruits such as bananas and oranges as well as protein-rich options like almond milk. Simplicity is key (this isn’t the time to try a huge French toast platter) but you also want it to taste good enough to be excited when you get out of bed!
You’ll handle surprises with greater ease
It goes without fail — on the morning when you are experiencing the most drama, the unexpected will send you into a tailspin. If you are already feeling out of control, realizing that your child missed the bus or you forgot to order your husband’s birthday cake will feel like the end of the world. Fortunately, a little planning can help head off a disaster.
By getting up early and having a solid routine, you give yourself a little wiggle room. If you’ve already eaten, are wearing clean clothes, and your work bag is waiting by the door, you’re already off to a great start. Adding a few detours throughout the day to drop a kid off at school or make a pit stop at the bakery won’t feel like as big a deal. When you’ve got everything else relatively under control, you will be better able to handle life’s surprises.
You won’t be worrying about family drama
If you live with other people, you already know that chaos feeds off of chaos. As soon as one person’s morning gets derailed, they risk bringing everyone else down with them. Fortunately, the opposite is also true. If you feel level-headed and prepared, you will be better able to lead your family triumphantly through the perils that can come with having too many people sharing the same small space.
Anyone who has experienced a huge family blowup in the morning will know that it lingers, emotionally, for the rest of the day. Someone may have said something they didn’t mean or you might feel guilty about not being better organized. Depending on how things leave off, you might actually dread the moment when you all come face-to-face in the evening.
Fortunately, a better plan can have the exact opposite effect. When there’s no conflict resolution waiting for you after work, it takes a weight off your shoulders and allows you to focus on what you need to do instead of dwelling on unnecessary family drama.
Set a good example by having a routine in place for yourself and then, once you have mastered that, create one for the rest of the household (trying it all at once can be overwhelming which, sadly, could set you up for failure — one step at a time!). Have everyone come up with a set of tasks they must complete by a certain time each day and don’t give up. You will have moments of frustration and some tears may be shed but, one day, you will wake up and move around each other like a well-oiled machine and the learning curve will suddenly be so worth it.
You will be better rested
It might seem strange that your new routine could affect your bedtime rituals, but you may find yourself eager for sleep now that you’ve been getting up earlier and have been more productive each morning. This might be especially true for those who often lay awake worrying all night instead of getting the rest that they need (and deserve!).
Anyone who has tried to make it through the day on very little sleep will know that it dramatically affects your ability to think, work, and be happy. Studies show that sleep deprivation can also make you more prone to accidents, serious health problems, and memory loss. Being better rested prepares you for the daily battles that lie ahead.
Knowing that you’ve got things covered and that you will start your day in a more loving, peaceful way can have such a calming effect as things wind down at night. Why not consider adding a nighttime routine, such as a regular bedtime, stretching, or journaling so that you can begin and end your day with that same sense of purpose? It’s worth a try!
It might seem too simple to be true but coming up with a routine can definitely help you conquer the morning madness. Make yourself a priority by setting aside time to fuel your mind and body as you begin each day. You will feel less frazzled, better able to cope with the unexpected, and you could experience a renewed sense of purpose.
Remember, make changes that are personally relevant and realistic. Attempting too much too soon can lead to discouragement and failure. Instead, take baby steps toward your goal and celebrate all the small ways you’ve chosen to bring positivity into your life. You’ve earned it!