14 ways to start your day

“Be pleasant until ten o’clock in the morning and the rest of the day will take care of itself.”
- Elbert Hubbard
Enjoy Your MorningsMornings… ugh… is there actually anyone who enjoys them? You may have heard that your mum’s friend’s neighbor’s sister is said to be a morning person, but do you actually know any of these mythical beasts in the flesh?
Some days it’s just really hard to get out of bed. There are the times when your head feels like lead and you just want to pull the covers over it and hide away.
But the way you spend your morning can add a certain flavor to the rest of your day. So, if the sound of the alarm clock is akin to fingernails on the blackboard then follow these steps. You’ll find your day gets off to a much better start so you don’t spend most of the morning battling through a fog.
1. Wake up at the same time
You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to face the morning if your body automatically wakes itself up. If you’re alarm clock dependent then you need to make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Get into a routine of going to bed and waking up at the same time — your body will thank you for it! Also try setting your stereo as an alarm you can lull yourself awake with your favorite tunes.
2. Take a shower
Most of you probably already do this, but if you normally shower at night consider a switch to the am. That blast of water is sure to wake you up, but don’t up the temperature too high or it’ll put you back to sleep!
3. Put on some music
Music therapy has been shown to reduce stress and have a positive effect on health. But you don’t need a therapist to enjoy some of the benefits music has to offer. Listening to music as you get ready and start your day will create positive energy and a soothing sense of peace (or a sense of fun, if you play party music).
Music can compliment other healthy lifestyle habits, adding a sense of peace to a yoga workout, putting a spring in your step on a morning walk, or stimulating your mind as you write in your journal.
4. Exercise
I know that when you’re trying to open your eyes exercise is probably the furthest thing from your mind, but if you get into the habit of exercising first thing you’ll be amazed at how alert you will feel, not just for the morning but the whole day. You don’t need to become a gym junkie either, drag your boy or flatmate out of bed and head out for a quick jog.
5. Stretch
A simple five minute, full-body stretch will give you a natural jumpstart, gently raising your heart rate so that your body feels awake and ready to handle the day’s challenges. In addition, unlike coffee, stretching improves the strength and flexibility of your muscles so that you’ll be more energetic hours, days, and even months down the road.
Start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your feet, then gently rotate each ankle, circling three or four times clockwise and then counter-clockwise to explore your full range of motion. Slowly work your way all the up from your feet to the top of your head, tensing each muscle group for a count of five and then releasing it, and giving every joint a few soft rotations. This should take you about five to seven minutes.
When you’re done your whole body will be humming with endorphins, the naturally mood-elevating hormones that your system uses to reward itself for exercising, so you’ll feel great as you head into the next part of your morning routine!
6. Journaling
Now that you’re body is ready to face any challenges your day throws at you, it’s time to rev up your brain. Recent scientific research has shown that writing on a regular increases happiness, relaxation and feelings of positivity, so try making this fun and easy practice a part of your morning routine.
Here are a few examples of the kinds of journaling topics that might make a great addition to your morning routine. Try writing about one of your favorite moments of achievement, recalling as many details as possible. Be vivid not only about how good it felt to reach a goal, but note the sounds, sights, even the smells of that moment! This kind of intense recall of a triumph will help you remember that success is in your grasp.
You can also write about things that don’t make you feel successful at all. If there’s an issue in your life that you’re upset about or is bothering you, try writing about it. Get yourself to write down any positive aspects about it: if you can discover something you’ve learned in the struggle, you’ll feel more upbeat and hopeful about finding a solution to your problem.
Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg for journaling topics: when it comes to what to write about, the sky’s the limit. Taking just ten or fifteen minutes to write about anything in the morning will help you wake up your brain by pumping it full of upbeat energy, so just have fun with it!
7. Eat a balanced breakfast
I can’t say this enough, having a nice light breakfast in the morning is the best way to increase energy levels and hasten the body and it’s burning of fat cells. Instead of focusing on toast and jam, why not try the healthier option of grapes and plain acidophilus yogurt. Grapes have amazing antioxidant properties and the live bacteria (don’t freak out — it’s a good thing) in the yogurt supports the digestive system.
8. Drink green tea or some coffee
Sipping a warm cup of tea is a soothing activity that will help you prepare for the day ahead and feel nurtured. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants, so it’s a delicious and healthy lifestyle choice. Now about coffee, ok, so you’re not supposed to be dependent on caffeine to get you through the morning, but never have I read that a cup a day is bad for you! If you’re having a bad morning, then that magic mug of java may just give your brain that extra kick it needs.
9. Try to drink 2 glasses of water before you leave
During the day, if you can, try to drink a few bottles of water, and at the end of the day drink another 2-4 glasses with dinner, etc. This may seem like a lot at first, but your body actually does need 8-10 glasses of water to stay correctly hydrated. You may have to use the restroom more than usual when you first start. This is only temporary! As your body gets used to having all the water it needs, it will absorb into your system and your restroom visits will return to normal.
10. Think of it as extra social time
Embrace the period before you start work as extra time you have to yourself so don’t waste it staying in bed to the last possible minute! Meet up with your best friend for breakfast at a local cafe, sit at the dining room table and enjoy breakfast with your partner or read a chapter or two of your book.
11. Take a different route to work/uni/school
A change is as good as a holiday and even a small change like taking a different route can make you feel refreshed. By going an alternative way than your normal route you take away some of the monotony you associate with the journey. Even better, try a different mode of transport whether it be bus, walking, cycling or catching a ride with someone else.
Everyone has a morning routine, and whether it’s a leisurely soak in the tub or a frenzied dash for the bus, the way you spend your first half hour sets the tone for the rest of the day. With that in mind, get things started right with this simple morning routine. Try one or several steps, and experiment until you find what suits you.
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