Mornings are hard, but with a few tweaks, they can become something to look forward to!
We all know that routines are important, Mental Health America states that those who have strong routines have less distress when faced with challenges or negative life events.
In the last few years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all seen our routines shift, change or disappear altogether. While routines can be seen as boring, without them we can find ourselves stressed, overwhelmed, or worse; we can feel disengaged with life. A good routine can encourage better sleep, improve our health, lower stress, and set a good example for others in our lives.
Since we know routines are good for us, we need to change how we think about them. A philosophy called ‘Win The Morning, Win The Day’ (WTMWTD) encourages people to take control of their mornings in order to be more productive & have a better day. ‘Win The Morning’ has been a motto of motivational speakers and podcasters for years but has become especially important in a time when our lives have been turned upside down. While the motto has been credited to many different people, studies have shown for years that morning routines are inherently good for us. Now it has spread to motivational talks, books, and WTMWTD meet-up groups, inspiring people all over the world to make changes in the way they approach their mornings.
There are many different versions of what a ‘win’ in the morning should look like, but experts agree that a good morning routine incorporates some of the following:
- Be Consistent
- Accomplish something
- Get Active
- Make it Fun!
Be Consistent- Try to remove the variables that lead to stress and anxiety in the mornings. That means getting up around the same time every day and resisting the urge to stay in bed longer. It may involve setting out your clothes the night before to take the guesswork out of what you’re going to wear. Maybe it means making coffee the night before and putting your items by the front door. A little preparation in the evenings will make your mornings run smoother and set the stage for a better day.
Accomplish Something- Accomplishing a task or chore first thing in the morning, might not be as attractive as hitting the snooze button but it leads to something called a “keystone” habit. Once a keystone habit is established, it allows other habits to be built on top of it. For example, if you make your bed in the morning right after waking up, it makes your space look cleaner and more organized and helps you start the day feeling accomplished. By establishing that initial habit, you might appreciate how clean your room looks and take a few minutes to tidy up other parts of your living space. The effect of that one little habit might lead to a feeling of less stress when you return home every day to a cleaner home.
Get Active- It’s well known that exercise has beneficial effects for our bodies, but did you know that it can also help with our mental health? The mind-body connection can help us manage stress, anxiety or feelings of sadness. Getting our bodies moving in the morning can release endorphins in our brains and give a feel-good boost at the start of the day. The great thing is that it doesn’t have to be incredibly long or vigorous in order for us to see benefits! Studies have shown that even moderate amounts of exercise: 30 minutes, 3-5 days a week can improve some symptoms of anxiety & depression. Even doing 10-15 minutes can help you see improvements in your mood! The point is to do what you can and notice how you feel when engaging in physical activity. Take some time in the morning to do yoga, light stretching, a full workout, or a walk around the neighborhood. Whichever you choose to do will start your day off on the right foot.
Make it Fun- Routines are good for us… but no one said they have to be boring! Find little things to sneak into your mornings to make them fun and exciting. That might mean having a dance party to your favorite song, listening to a funny or inspiring podcast on the way to work, or connecting with a friend or family member that you enjoy talking to. This is all about building a simple routine that you enjoy, so customize it to what works for you! The more you enjoy your morning routine, the more likely you are to stick with it.
Remember that small changes can eventually lead to big results, so don’t be afraid that you’re doing too little. Start being intentional about your mornings and start winning!
- Creating Healthy Routines | Mental Health America (mhanational.org)
- Health Benefits of Having a Routine | Northwestern Medicine
- Win The Morning, Win The Day (wtmwtd.org)
- Why Routines are Important for Mental Health (hackensackmeridianhealth.org)
- Why Routines Are Really Good for Your Health | Piedmont Healthcare
- Habit Stacking (dartmouth.edu)
- Depression and anxiety: Exercise eases symptoms – Mayo Clinic
- Afraid of Routine? Here’s What You Should Know | Science Times
- Develop a morning routine that’ll stick (popsci.com)
- The Importance of Creating Habits and Routine (nih.gov)