9 Ways To Improve Your Morning

reading time: 4 min

As you will know if you read my updated Morning Routine, the first hours of the day are the most important time of the day for me to spend on myself and to get ready for what lies ahead of me

What you don't know, however, is that I wasn't always such a morning person. In fact, I used to be quite the opposite, going to bed at 4 a.m. and rolling out of bed at around 12 a.m.! I was a true night owl. But then I realized that my sleep-wake rhythm wasn't doing me or the people around me any good, so step by step I transitioned into an early riser :)

Here are some tips and tricks that significantly brighten my mood, encourage my productivity and lift my energy levels in the early hours.

1. Write a To-Do list the night before.
Sometimes, our heads are filled with all the tasks we have to do, that will distract us and can even haunt our sleep. Also, if you don't have a set task, you are more inclined to lounge around in bed and waste time that could be spent being productive. To prevent that, "empty out" your head by writing everything down before going to bed. That way you will sleep more peacefully, and the next day everything will be planned out already and you just have to tick off your chores.

Also: prioritize! After writing down your to-do list, assign each task to a number, 1 being the most important. Try to get your chores done in that order.

2. Sleep 8 hours.
A good night's sleep is one of the most important aspects of improving your day. Not only will you have more energy after a deep sleep, but your overall mood and mindset will also be more enthusiastic and motivated to be productive and creative. Also, getting enough sleep will prevent dark circles and bags under your eyes, as well as overweight and inflammation linked to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, arthritis, and premature ageing.

3. Set the alarm 30 - 60 minutes earlier. 
Maybe it's just me, but I feel like when ever I get up earlier than I usually do, I am more likely to do things that I usually put off for as long as possible, such as tidying up, emptying the dish washer, writing unpleasant e-mails, working on my term paper... It's a bit of a psychological trick because you're sort of "one step ahead" of everyone around you, and that's somehow really motivating. Of course, you can't create more hours in the day (and you shouldn't as sleep is vital for your health, as mentioned), but I feel that the quiet time before everyone else gets up helps to get a lot of focused work done. Seeing the sun come up, while you enjoy sipping my morning tea or coffee with no interruptions...

4. Drink a glass of warm water as soon as you wake up.
Most of us start our mornings with a glass of fresh water or a hot cup of coffee or tea to warm our bodies after getting out of bed. When we drink water, we tend to prefer it cold because it's refreshing, but according to Ayurvedic medicine, regularly drinking very warm water, especially in the morning, can heal our bodies, providing digestive power and reducing metabolic waste that could have built up in our immune system. After eight hours of sleep, drinking a cup of warm water on an empty stomach can help cleanse your body by flushing out toxins, improves digestion, aids constipation, improves blood circulation, prevents premature ageing, and keeps your skin clean of acne and pimples. It's also a nice way to gently wake up and refresh your body.

5. Do some stretching in bed.
Be gentle to your awaking body. A simple, yummy 5-minute stretch in bed will wake up your muscles and prepare them for the day ahead. Think of this as an act of love towards you body: listen to what your body wants. Move around gently and modify your stretches according to what feels good at that moment. You will find that just a couple of minutes of stretching every morning will have a vitalizing effect on your body.

6. Drink another glass of water with fresh lemon juice.
Lemon water in the morning is an excellent way to wake up your body. Water itself serves to stimulate the gastrointestinal track and peristalsis, meaning the muscle in the intestinal wall contracts and pulses to keep things flowing. The lemon engages the digestive system, which increases metabolism and prepares your digestion for coming meals. Lemon, although acidic outside your system, becomes a high alkalising substance that's high in minerals and vitamins which loosens toxins and any other waste-products of digestion in your digestive system.

7. Start off your day with a brief exercise.
I will stress it again and again: Move your body! Daily exercise increases your energy levels, improves your mood and relieves stress. So jumpstart your system with a quick morning exercise: yoga, jogging, walking, dancing, aerobic, kickboxing, skipping... Anything to get your blood flowing will do.

8. Eat your breakfast mindfully.
I know there are people that skip out on breakfast, and a couple of years ago I wasn't a big breakfast eater either, but it is really the most important (and yummiest) meal of the day. A nutritious breakfast, consisting of wholesome carbs, proteins and healthy fats (e.g.: fruits, whole grain muesli, soy milk or yoghurt, and a handful of nuts) is one of the healthiest morning routines you can have! It will boost your metabolism and provides you with the appropriate energy you need to get on with a busy day. Don't skip breakfast! 

Also, don't eat at your desk in front of your computer, but rather at a separate place such as the kitchen table, your favourite armchair, or even your bed. Put away your smartphone and any other distractions such as magazines so you can really focus on your food. Enjoy every bite.

9. Set an intention for your day.
Lastly, take a minute (perhaps right after waking up and stretching, maybe like a  mini meditation in bed) to set an intention that will inspire and lead you through the day. This will be whatever resonates the most with you that day. You can even do this in the form of morning journalling. It can be a phrase of self-affirmation such as "my body is healthy; my mind is clear; my heart and soul are strong" or "I am at peace with all that has happened, is happening, and will happen" to boost your confidence and form new clusters of "positive thought" neurons (source). Or it can be a more precise intention such as "I will take care of myself today" or "I will write 5 pages for my master thesis today". 

I hope these suggestions will inspire and motivate at least one of you out there! Trust me, it's all about habits. Build healthy habits, and your life will be healthier long-term.

Please tell me if you have any other energizing morning rituals that help you get started :)  


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