- Nearly 80% of people check their phones within 15 minutes of waking.
- 63% of people say their lives have been changed by the pandemic.
- 24% of people report having symptoms of depression.
- Waking up just one hour earlier can reduce the risk of depression by 23%.
By now, the term “morning routine” might be familiar from a motivational podcast or TikTok user. We may personally know people whose morning routines rival the most regimented programs, even while working from home. But, what’s the science behind them? Does having a good morning routine actually help us cope with life’s stressors?
The answer is “yes.” Studies in the National Library of Medicine have shown that waking up an hour earlier each morning results in a 23% risk reduction for depression. This is good news since 24% of U.S. adults recently reported having symptoms of depression.
Yet, if having healthy morning routines is so beneficial, why don’t more people have or maintain them? A lack of intrinsic motivation could hold the clue. In this article, learn how to create a morning routine that’s intrinsically motivating so you can have a more energetic, positive day.
10 Tips to Try for a Happy, Productive Morning
1. Sleep and Wake at the Same Time Every Day
It may sound overly simplistic, but going to bed and waking up at the same time each day can profoundly affect mental and physical health. This is because doing so maintains our circadian rhythm. As the Sleep Foundation explains, when our circadian rhythm—our body’s natural sleep-wake cycle—is aligned and consistent, our body is better able to provide energy throughout the day.
A balanced circadian rhythm can reduce depression, protect against disease, and regulate digestion. All of these contribute to how we feel during the day. One of the keys to keeping your circadian rhythm balanced is avoiding sleep procrastination at night.
Tips for conquering sleep procrastination, according to the Sleep Foundation:
- Avoid consuming caffeine or alcohol in the evening.
- Create a bedroom space that invites rest and relaxation.
- Avoid using electronic devices at least 30 minutes before bed—sooner is better.
- Use nightly relaxation techniques, like meditation or reading, as part of a wind-down routine.
2. Avoid Your Cellphone for at Least One Hour
Research shows avoiding our phones before we sleep presents benefits, like better sleep quality and cognitive function. However, avoiding our phones for at least an hour after we wake up is equally important. According to a 2019 study, nearly 80% of people check their phones within 15 minutes of waking.
As psychiatrist Dr. Nikole Benders explains in an interview, “Immediately turning to your phone when you wake up can start your day off in a way that is more likely to increase stress and leave you feeling overwhelmed.” This is because cell phones stimulate your mind and steer your thoughts, particularly if you’re “doomscrolling” on social media. Furthermore, they emit blue light, which resembles the light we otherwise only receive from the sun, which is meant to trigger wakefulness.
Tips for avoiding your cell phone:
- Put it in a drawer or separate room when sleeping.
- Use a traditional alarm clock (like a sunrise alarm clock) instead of your phone.
- Keep it turned off or in flight mode until an hour after waking.
- Integrate morning habits that don’t involve your phone, like cleaning or journaling.
3. Don’t Stay in Bed for More Than Five Minutes Upon Waking
According to the Sleep Foundation, the average healthy adult only needs between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night. Of course, most of us would like to stay in bed longer, even after waking. However, part of having a healthy morning routine is avoiding the temptation to hit the snooze button and embracing the new day with energy.
As Mel Robbins, author and creator of the Billion Dollar Morning Routine, shares: “Being productive, being happy, being in control of your life—it has nothing to with when you get up; it has everything to do with how you get up.” Getting up with energy and readiness for the new day, without hitting “snooze” several times first demonstrates control and productivity right away.
Tips for motivating yourself to get out of bed:
- Program your coffee maker to brew coffee at a certain time.
- Think of a small goal you’d like to accomplish right away.
- Practice mindfulness, focusing on thoughts of positivity and success.
- Take it one step at a time; focus on just getting a stretch in first or drinking water.
4. Make Your Bed and Clean Your Room
A person’s mental health can be deeply impacted by how clean—or not clean—their space is. We may not realize it, but seeing clutter and chaos raises our cortisol levels. Dr. Gregory Scott Brown, a board-certified psychiatrist, explains that having a lot of “visual noise” around you can make decision-making more difficult and cloud one’s ability to focus.
For this reason, keeping your space organized can have a profoundly positive effect on the rest of your day. It may take time to build these new habits, but achieving smaller tasks each morning, like making your bed, will provide a feeling of accomplishment right away, giving you the motivation to move on to bigger tasks.
As Dr. Dawn Potter says, “If you start out with everything neat and tidy, then you don’t have those distractions, and a lot of people find clutter distracting.”
Tips for creating a clutter-free space:
- Are there things in your bedroom or home you don’t need? Remove them.
- Are there items that lack an appropriate home? Research ways to organize them.
- Prevent buildup by putting things away right after using them or cleaning them regularly.
- Can something beautiful or relaxing, like plants or artwork, improve your space?
5. Create a Habitual Morning Practice for the First Hour
What’re some small habits you enjoy doing? Do you enjoy reading with your morning coffee? Think about habits that serve you and work them into the first hour of your morning routine. If you have children to care for, this may mean waking up earlier so you can be sure to have this time. However, stacking small positive habits onto existing ones will make getting out of bed easier and eventually create a solid morning routine that will feel automatic.
According to a psychology study by researcher Phillippa Lally, it takes at least two months for a new habit to become automatic. Just be careful not to create overly ambitious habits that you won’t enjoy long-term, as this can cause you to ditch your morning routine altogether.
Tips for creating a successful habitual morning practice:
- Practice stacking new small habits onto habits you already have (habit stacking).
- Get clear on the kind of days you want to have and on your identity.
- Honor habits by cultivating a space that promotes success.
- Connect habits with rewards.
For more information on building habits that stick, read Change Your Life With Atomic Habits.
6. Get in Some Movement
Harvard Medical School experts agree that moderately intense exercise can have profound cognitive benefits. From boosted memory and improved sleep to reduced stress and anxiety, those who exercise each day perform better at work and in life. Of course, not everyone is into exercising first thing in the morning. However, just going for a small walk or doing some yoga can give you an energizing boost of endorphins that will last all day.
As neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki shared in a TED Talk, “Simply moving your body has immediate, long-lasting and protective benefits for your brain. And that can last for the rest of your life.” You don’t need to become a triathlete to receive these benefits. Dr. Suzuki says, “The rule of thumb is you want to get three to four times a week of exercise, minimum 30 minutes an exercise session, and you want to get aerobic exercise in.”
Ideas for morning movement:
- Go for a walk or run.
- Do a regular or hot yoga flow.
- Go for a swim if you live near a beach or pool.
- Hit an Orange Theory workout (or SoulCycle, F45, LA Fitness—anything you like).
7. Hydrate and Eat a Healthy Breakfast
When we’ve been asleep for 7 to 9 hours, our bodies have also fasted and gone without water for that time. This means that your body is essentially dehydrated and in need of nutrients. For this reason, it’s important to jump-start your best morning routine by rehydrating your body and eating a healthy breakfast. According to Manipal Hospitals, drinking water before eating can have many benefits, from flushing toxins and speeding up metabolism to promoting hair and skin health.
Additionally, Hopkins Medicine shares several benefits of packing in a nutrient-rich breakfast. These benefits include boosted energy, replenishment of essential vitamins, and reduced risk for high cholesterol. Some breakfast foods, like oatmeal, even promote long-term heart health.
Dr. Rupy Aujla shares in his TEDx Talk, “The biggest impact on your health is not with a blockbuster drug, it’s not with a new pioneering surgical technique, it’s with the simplest solution. It’s how we feed ourselves.”
Tips for hydrating and eating healthy in the morning:
- Place a glass of water next to your bed at night so you remember to rehydrate first thing.
- Stock your pantry and fridge with healthy breakfast foods you’ll enjoy.
- Cut down on unhealthy habits, like eating sugary cereals or having coffee before water.
8. Practice Positive Thinking and Self-Talk
Practicing positive thought is part of any healthy morning routine and professional development plan. This is because doing so is the best way to get into a positive mindset, which is critical for having a productive day. Even just the smallest “posed” facial expressions—like smiling—have been shown to improve our mood and emotions. Improved mood and emotions, in turn, provide motivation, energy, and hopefulness, which leads to a better day.
The author of The Power of Positive Thinking Norman Vincent Peale shares, “The way to happiness: keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”
Tips for practicing positivity:
- Use visualization strategies for mind-body connection and goal success.
- Develop a sense of gratitude each morning by making gratitude lists.
- Harness daily affirmations, mindfulness quotes, and “I am” statements to breed positivity.
- Combat negative thoughts with the “blue dolphin rule” (having go-to positive thought replacements).
For more information on how positive thoughts can impact your life, read “A Positive Mindset Will Transform Your Business and Life.“
9. Cultivate Hope and Direction by Getting Organized
In Morning Motivation, clinical psychologist and best-selling author Jordan Peterson explains the importance of having a plan. He shares: “You need to have a map and you need to know where you’re located on the map and you need to know how you’re moving forward, and that gives you hope because you’re moving towards goals that you regard as worthwhile.”
For better time management and work-life balance, spend 15 minutes each morning mapping out your priorities. What are the primary things you want to accomplish today? Secondary things? What is most important?
Tips for structuring your day:
- Identify and address priorities first.
- Set clear start and stop times for tasks.
- Work in time for several breaks throughout the day.
- Use time-blocking strategies to accomplish tasks before moving on to others.
- Give yourself time and permission to relax at the end of the day.
10. Track Progress and Use Rewards for Motivation
It can often be difficult to see our progress with new habits unless we track them. Using a daily planner or calendar, mark off completed tasks as you go and how many days you successfully adhered to your morning routine. Additionally, if you struggle with keeping your routine, keep yourself intrinsically motivated with a reward system. Pursuing this reward will release dopamine in your brain, helping keep you motivated.
As neuroscientist Dr. Andrew Huberman explains in the Mindset Mentor, “As you reach a milestone or as you tell yourself I’m on the right track, this friction I’m feeling, this late night, this early morning . . . I’m gonna tell myself this is for a larger purpose . . . and when you start releasing dopamine to those kinds of things, there’s essentially no limit on the number of things you can do or the energy to do them.”
Tips for progressing successfully with a morning routine:
- Don’t try to do too much in your morning routine.
- Avoid being too general with your tasks and habits—be specific.
- Set specific goals and deadlines for those goals.
- Make sure that your morning routine is enjoyable. You won’t want to do it if it becomes something you dread.
Ideas for Getting Excited About Your Morning
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.”james clear
Stumped for ways to get motivated about a new morning routine? Here are some ideas for getting into the right mindset:
- Buy a new wellness journal you love to start your journaling practice.
- Subscribe to a new podcast that deeply interests you and commit to listening to an episode each morning.
- Commit to better health by integrating new healthy breakfasts, smoothie recipes, or morning walks.
- Engage in that one thing you love that you never otherwise seem to have time to do, like gardening, reading, painting, or meditating.
To continue improving your life and success, read “20 Life-Changing Personal Development Goals.”
Leaders Media has established sourcing guidelines and relies on relevant, and credible sources for the data, facts, and expert insights and analysis we reference. You can learn more about our mission, ethics, and how we cite sources in our editorial policy.
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