This article was originally published on The WorkForce Blog.
Your sleep quality bleeds into your day, affecting your work.
It affects your mood. It affects your concentration and communication skills, not to mention your working memory. Rest propels every productive moment of your waking life.
But it’s not the only success factor.
How you transition into consciousness can also affect your daily output. In other words, your morning routine can establish your momentum, shaping the rest of your day’s potential.
How are your mornings?
Are they hurried and hectic, full of angst?
Are they stressful?
If so, do you feel that stress later on? Maybe not consciously, but research illustrates that a bad morning can spill into your afternoon, affecting everything (and everyone) you come in contact with.
How to Become a Morning Person
It’s easy to misuse your morning time, to treat it like a by-product of the day.
It’s easy to stagger through the motions, feeling sorry for yourself as you rub the sleep out of your eyes. It’s easy to fall into a rhythm, a negative routine that enables a lifetime of slow, hazy starts.
The perfect morning is hard to come by … until it’s not. Until your mind and body acclimate to your new routine, your new normal. A smooth transition ensues.
Desperate to strike a morning balance? Eager to produce energy that lasts all day?
Focus on these four elements:
Deep within your brain, surrounded by your hypothalamus, there’s a dense bundle of nerves called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN).
The SCN tracks your hormones, blood pressure, and temperature as well as your coordination and reaction time, even your bathroom breaks. It audits your data. All that data, then, informs your circadian rhythm, the internal clock that controls your alertness and wakefulness.
A routine yields consistent data, which creates predictable energy levels. Ever wake up a minute before your alarm? That’s the product of consistent data.
Consistent data works for you, helping you rise naturally and peacefully in the morning. Inconsistent data, on the other hand, works against you, keeping you dependent on an alarm clock that induces stress and anxiety every time it goes off.
HOW TO: Wake up in the morning
Take advantage of your body’s natural ability to regulate its energy by establishing a rest routine: Go to sleep and wake up at exactly the same time each day.
You can help yourself develop a consistent routine by adhering to precise time frames. For example, commit to turning off the lights at 9:52 PM, rather than 10:00. Set your alarm for 5:58 AM, rather than 6:00.
Remember: Consistency demands precision.
“Morning workouts result in better energy levels throughout the day and give you more mental alertness and sharpness,” says Dr. Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., Chief Science Officer of the American Council of Exercise.”
Working out releases endorphins, hormones that make us feel happy. It also boosts testosterone levels in men and women alike, enabling sustained muscle growth and weight loss.
HOW TO: Move in the morning
It’s easier to get into an exercise routine in the morning than at night because there are fewer distractions (e.g., work emergencies, happy hours) early in the day. If only habits weren’t so hard to form …
Help yourself by setting achievable goals from the onset. A low barrier to entry will make the thought of exercise less daunting, getting you out of bed. As your body conforms, you can incrementally increase your effort. For example:
- MON: 5 push-ups | 20 jumping jacks
- TUE: 8 push-ups | 25 jumping jacks
- WED: 10 push-ups | 15 jumping jacks | 5 sit-ups
Remember: Acclimate first, build the habit, then ramp up your exertion to realize the benefits.
Modern research supports what people have been advocating for hundreds of years: Eat breakfast.
It’ll help you stay focused and attentive. It’ll improve your memory.
Breakfast also kick starts your metabolism, which, like exercise, helps you burn more calories throughout the day. Therefore, people who eat in the morning generally have a healthier weight-to-height ratio, or body mass index.
HOW TO: Consume in the morning
Breakfast, like exercise, is about establishing a routine: Stay consistent by setting achievable goals.
Nutrition experts recommend:
- Drinking 16 ounces of water as soon as you wake up to rehydrate your body. To replenish your B6 and folic acid, reach for the OJ.
- Eating fruit, toast, almond butter, yogurt, milk. These items are high in fiber and low in fat, making them easier to digest. In other words, they’ll keep you full without dragging you down.
Remember: If you have a selection (and you do), be selective.
Physical wellness doesn’t ensure mental wellbeing. You can wake up on time, workout, enjoy a nutritious breakfast, and still feel overwhelmed, anxious.
The cause? It’s hard to say. But one thing is for certain: Doubt creates stress.
If you don’t have a plan for your day—a goal, a mission—the ambiguity could weigh on you.
HOW TO: Think in the morning
Think ahead. Plan.
According to a Dominican University study by psychology professor, Gail Matthews, writing down your goals makes you more likely to accomplish them. “My study provides empirical evidence for the effectiveness of three [productivity] tools,” says Matthews, “accountability, commitment, and writing down goals.”
Remember: Don’t walk out the door without a clear, specific objective on paper.
Make it happen.
Your perfect morning is in reach.
Will you stretch for it?