How you wake up in the morning says a lot about how the rest of your day will go. Not all of us are early risers, with some preferring to hit the snooze button until the last possible moment. If you’re finding that a rushed morning is holding you back, consider integrating a new routine into your lifestyle. With some simple changes and a bit of willpower, you can design a morning routine that works for you, and sets you up for success each and every day.

 

Why Build a Morning Routine?

The skeptics out there may be wondering if there is any backing to the benefits of a morning routine. Just look to Vogue editor Anna Wintour, President Barack Obama, and Steve Jobs, three ultra-successful individuals from different backgrounds who all prioritized the few AM hours given to them each day.

And it’s not just anecdotal evidence either; a 2012 study published in the journal Emotion concluded that “morningness” (a tendency to be alert in the morning) results in greater positive affect in both younger and older adults. Aside from these emotional benefits, biologist Christoph Randler claims that those whose performance peaks in the morning are more likely to be proactive and achieve career success as a result.

Maximize the Benefits of Your Morning Routine

Now that it’s clear how important the morning hours are for personal and professional development, it’s time to dive into some ideas and tips for creating your own special routine. Just as diverse as we are, morning routines will vary substantially depending on your lifestyle, preferences, and ability level.

Set Your Intentions Early and Often

No matter what your morning routine ends up looking like, it’s crucial to establish what you want to get out of it, and how you plan to go about doing so. This means keeping consistent with your goals, and not switching things up willy nilly. If it helps you, get yourself a notebook or planner to stay on track.

Get Up Early — Whatever That Means for You

Plenty of anecdotal accounts suggest that getting up around 5AM is beneficial for those with typical work weeks, but not everyone will be able to achieve this. Shoot to get up earlier than you normally would, but don’t overdo it only to keep hitting the snooze button ad nauseam. Instead, start by waking up 30 minutes to an hour earlier per week until you hit your desired time. You’ll be surprised just how much of a difference it makes!

Drink a Tall Glass of Water

Do it! This one has a range of health benefits and helps to flush out the system. If you experience morning nausea or don’t have the “taste” for water, try squeezing in some lemon juice. Despite being naturally acidic, lemon juice actually alkalizes the body, raising natural pH and easing stomach discomfort. Do this before you eat breakfast.

Be Good to Your Body

Depending on how early or late we rise, our body tends to get left behind in the dust as we race around to fulfill our responsibilities. Realistically, even a few spare minutes can be enough to get the body in line first-thing. Here are some tried and tested ideas:

• Stretch in bed (5 minutes): Instead of jumping right out of the sack like a mad person, roll your body to either side, then bring your knees into your chest. To make this easier on your spine, place a pillow under your lower back to offer some much needed support. Stay in this position as you take at least 5 deep breaths.

• Use a foam roller (5 minutes): You will be so happy if you purchase one of these. Sometimes, stretching doesn’t soothe sore muscles as much as we need. This is where the roller comes in, helping the limbs and back experience targeted relief before supporting the body for the rest of the day.

• Do some light exercise (30–60 minutes): Cardio, such as running outside in the fresh air, wakes up both the body and mind, and gets the endorphins going—setting you up for a more positive and confident state of mind. If you want to increase the release of these happy hormones, and boost your fitness level in the process, studies point to engaging in more intense exercise, such as HIIT (high-intensity interval training).

Be Good to Your Mind (and Spirit)

Most of us don’t get a lot of time to ourselves throughout the week, so it’s crucial to “check in” with yourself as part of your morning routine.

• Meditate (5–15 minutes): There are a flurry of meditation methods out there, and it’s likely there’s one for you. The goal of a brief meditation session is to clear the mind of ruminations and negativity. This can help boost your daily confidence and keep you more attuned to your emotions.

• Do some “free writing” (5–10 minutes): You don’t have to be a published author for this one. Up to 10 minutes of free writing per day—that is, writing without stopping and without self-editing—allows your thoughts and feelings to come out organically and in a creative manner.

 

The above suggestions are just the tip of the iceberg when compiling your morning routine! Try out these tips and adjust to suit your unique lifestyle and physiology. Who knows, in a couple of months, you may find that life has much more to offer after a few good hours in the morning!