In the past, I would have never described myself as a "morning person." In fact, I used to hate mornings. I would often begin the day by hitting the snooze button on my cell phone alarm. When I would finally wake up, it was usually a race to get out the door. I would rush to shower, do my hair and makeup, and quickly gather my things for the day. I never made the time to eat breakfast and frequently left the house feeling irritable.
About a year ago, I decided to make some lifestyle changes. Now I have a morning routine that fills me with happiness. In fact, the early morning is one of my favorite parts of the day. The morning is when you set your intention and mindset for the day ahead. Therefore, it is important to look at how you can optimize this time. The following are five scientifically proven ways that you can bring more joy into your morning routine.
1. Wake up earlier.
Making the decision to wake up earlier has significantly improved my morning routine. When I wake up early I have more time, and subsequently feel less rushed. In addition, there is something peaceful about being awake before most people are up. Further, research shows that there may be a correlation between waking up earlier and increased happiness. One study conducted by The University of Toronto, found that "people who wake up early in the morning are generally happier and have higher satisfaction overall in their lives."
Like any habit, this one may take some time to stick. To start, try setting your alarm for 30 minutes earlier than you would usually wake up. It is also important that you go to bed earlier, as sleep deprivation will only serve to decrease your productivity and overall happiness.
2. Eat a nourishing breakfast.
We've all heard the popular saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. So why is it that so many people choose to skip it each morning? By the time that you wake up, your muscles are in desperate need of more glycogen, for energy. In addition, "the longer that you go without eating, the more glycogen your muscles use, and the less energy you have. Eating breakfast is also important in regards to boosting your mood.
Joan Sage Blake, a registered dietitian, exemplified this point when she stated,
Research suggests that eating breakfast, specifically carbohydrate-rich cereals, can improve your mood. Eating in the morning after a night's slumber will provide glucose to your starved brain. Most people are also likely to be happier and less grouchy when they aren't distracted by hunger pangs.
When you are choosing what to eat for breakfast, try to pick something that is nourishing to both your mind and body. Rather than eating in a hurried manner, make an effort to savor and enjoy your food. This could help to improve your experience of eating and may add more happiness to your day.
3. Find joyful movement.
It's common knowledge that exercise can have mood-boosting effects. According to Michael Otto, a psychology professor, "The link between exercise and mood is pretty strong. Usually within five minutes after moderate exercise you get a mood-enhancement effect." The problem is that many people view exercise as a "chore" or as a form of punishment. Instead, try to find a way to move your body that you truly enjoy.
Personally, I love taking walks while listening to inspirational podcasts, and watching the sunrise. Exercise should be fun and if you don't like what you are currently doing, find another form of movement. Ideas for joyful movement could include taking a walk outside, doing gentle yoga, or going for a jog. You should aim to do whatever truly nourishes your body and mind, and if it incorporates nature and mindfulness-that is an added bonus.
4. Do one activity mindfully.
A study conducted by Harvard researcher, Matt Killingsworth, found that "people who focused on their present moment experience, were significantly happier than people whose minds wandered away from the moment." However, incorporating mindfulness into your morning routine does not mean that you must begin an intensive meditation practice. Something that I have found to be personally helpful is to do one activity mindfully.
Whether it's being mindful when you are taking a shower, eating breakfast, or drinking coffee, there are so many opportunities to practice this skill. Gillian Galen, a psychologist, provided an example of this when she stated,
When you have breakfast tomorrow, simply sit and eat your breakfast. Don't read the paper, scan at your e-mail, or read the cereal box. Notice your experience. Notice when you become distracted by urges to do other things, and bring yourself back to the full experience of eating breakfast (experiencing the tasks, smells, temperature, and so on).
Our culture emphasizes multi-tasking, and for many of us it may be rare to fully be in the present moment. Doing one activity mindfully could boost your happiness and improve your mindset for the day ahead.
By adopting these habits you can bring more joy into your morning routine and may subsequently have a happier day. We have been given this one life and each day that we wake up, is another gift. It's up to us to make the best of it. Steve Jobs, the former CEO of Apple Inc, summed it up best when he said,"
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: 'If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."