When the alarm rings each morning, do you arise quickly, eager to take on whatever the day brings? Or do you drowsily reach for the snooze button?
Your answer could be crucial because the mindset you start the day with can play a significant role in whether the rest of your day is filled with successes or setbacks.
“Every time the sun rises, so do new opportunities to grow, develop and improve,” said Dr. Rob Carter III, co-author with his wife, Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter, of The Morning Mind: Use Your Brain to Master Your Day and Supercharge Your Life.
But to make the most of those opportunities, you may need to adjust your morning routine to better prepare your mind and body for what’s to come.
“Your morning routine can be as little as 15 to 20 minutes if you like,” Carter said, “but the idea is to have time dedicated to you and habits that support you.”
Carter offers these suggestions for starting the day right:
Plan your day the night before. A peaceful morning can quickly turn chaotic if you don’t have things carefully planned out. “It’s not unusual for people to be heading out the door and discover they can’t find their car keys,” Carter said. A lot of morning stress can be relieved by planning your day the night before, he says, such as deciding what clothes to wear, making sure your phone is charged, and writing the next day’s to-do list.
Make time for yourself. If you’re married with kids, this can be a challenge. But Carter says everyone needs time for reflection, which is unlikely to happen unless you make it a priority. Set aside time to meditate, pray, do yoga or even do nothing for 10 minutes. “Spending time by yourself,” he said, “allows you to reflect on life’s happenings and can increase productivity and focus, and make you appreciate time with others more.”
Minimize noise and distractions. Many people start the day by turning on the TV, the radio or other devices. Avoid that urge, Carter said. Instead, devote your energy to getting yourself mentally focused for the day. “You definitely want to avoid watching the news if at all possible,” he said, “because the often-stressful images you’ll see aren’t conducive to a peaceful morning.”
Create a morning-exercise routine. Exercising gives you a sense of achievement to start the day with, provides you with more energy for the rest of the day, improves your mood, and makes you feel in control of your life. “Research shows that people who exercise in the morning are more consistent with their routine than those who try to fit exercise into their schedule later in the day,” Carter said.