5 Habits for a Productive Morning

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive”
– Marcus Aurelius

Whether you are a career-minded entrepreneur, a harried mom, or overwhelmed Ph.D. student, your morning routine can be engineered to boost your mood and energy level before the day begins.

While the specifics of a “happy” morning routine can vary, the important thing is that your routine a) is consistent through the week, b) feeds your body, heart, mind, and soul, and c) is not time-intensive.

Check out these 5 evidence-based habits to include in your morning routine. We recommend that you pick one habit to try this week and see how your mood improves. Next week, try another habit!

  • Wake up Between 5:30 am – 6:00 am

Do you hit snooze multiple times before groggily throwing off the sheets? Studies show that a consistent wake-up time helps individuals with mood disorders like depression and anxiety to reduce their stress level. While an early morning wake time may fluctuate for you, dependent on career and family demands, the principle is to pick a time and stick with it. 

Place your phone at a distance from the bed, where you have to walk across the room to get it. Once you are up, it’s easier to find the motivation to stay up and start the day.

  • Take a Cold Shower

It may seem odd, but water therapy has been reported to decrease an individual’s stress hormones, like cortisol, and balance the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin (Toda et al., 2006; Marzsziti et al., 2007). A cold shower will give you a surge of energy and sense of well-being.

“Start a shower at a comfortable warm temperature and switch to cool or cold water down to 68F, at which point you can sustain for 2-3 minutes,” recommends Peter Bongiorno, ND, Lac, co-director of Inner Source Health.

  • Make Your Bed

We all know how satisfying it feels to bring a bit of order into our lives. To make your bed is a simple task, but it provides a feeling of positive accomplishment and source of ‘happy’ endorphins. 

In his 2014 commencement speech at the University of Texas, US Admiral H. McCraven says that making your bed gives you a sense of motivation to jumpstart the day. “If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another,” he says. 

  • Have a Gratitude Ritual

Positive psychology research shows that gratitude is strongly and consistently linked with greater happiness. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” 

Before you get out of bed, write down three things that you are grateful for.  Pro tip: every morning, pick three different life spheres—person, place, thing; past, present, future; friend, family, stranger—to pull your gratitudes from. This practice will help these gratitudes to ‘lift’ your mood toward many parts of life. 

  • Visualize Your Success

It may feel a little “woo woo” at first, but individuals who visualize their goals being achieved may be more likely to put in the work to make those dreams come true.

Every morning, pick 3 goals that you want to make happen, either during the day or in the future. Sitting quietly, imagine that you have achieved those goals and feel the sense of completion and victory that comes with those wins.

When you visualize your success, you gain the motivation and perspective needed to make that vision a reality. You also project the attitude that is required of you to be successful.

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