If you wake up on the wrong side of the bed every morning, it might just be more than bad luck: You are just not a morning person.
There’s nothing wrong with being a bit down when you hear your alarm go off – but you can’t let that mood stick around as you get ready for your day. Chances are if it lasts that long, it just might carry into your work and beyond.
That’s why we’ve gathered the following 11 ways to make your mornings a bit brighter. Add one or a handful to improve your morning routine and you just might find that early-bird frown turn upside-down just in the nick of time.
1. Prepare for Mornings Before They Happen
You probably remember your mother telling you, at some point during your youth, that you should lay your clothes out and otherwise prepare for school the next morning. She was onto something.
If you take time the night before to prepare your meals for the next day, get your agenda in order and even choose what you’re going to wear, you’ll find your mornings will go much smoother.
2. Stretch It Out
When you wake up, your body has been out of commission for some time. That means you haven’t been moving much and your muscles could do with a bit of waking up, too.
Stretching in the morning safeguards you against feeling exhausted or lethargic all day long. You’ll get the blood flowing and energy coursing through your veins, which puts you in a better mindset for tackling your day and improve your morning routine.
3. Find Your Light
When your alarm goes off, you probably want to close your eyes and pretend the sun isn’t creeping through your curtains. Fight that instinct and, instead, let the light in.
Numerous studies outline the benefits of sunlight on your health, both physical and mental. Just letting the sunlight flood in – and perhaps having your skin soak up a bit of it – gives you a boost in your serotonin levels. Serotonin simply makes you feel good, calm, and honed in on what you need to do during the day. In the morning, a dose of it is just what you need to get going.
4. Say No to Snoozing
There’s no temptation quite like the snooze button on your cellphone or alarm clock, but those extra five or 10 minutes can be seriously damaging.
It turns out that, by pressing snooze over and over, you’re allowing your body to fall back into sleep and thus mess up its natural sleep-cycle rhythm. That’ll probably make it harder to sleep later on and make it harder to jump into your day. In order to avoid the temptation, set your alarm for the time you actually need to get out of bed and enjoy a nice, deep sleep up until that very moment.
5. Sip Some Water
You might crave coffee as soon as you’re on your feet, but try drinking some of the clear stuff first. Water hydrates your body and, in doing so, wakes up your muscles and organs after they’ve been deprived of water all night long. Bonus points are awarded for adding lemon into your morning cup of H2O, as the citrus fruit’s juices have been shown to boost metabolism and energy levels.
6. Eat a Bulked-Up Breakfast
First of all, you should always be eating breakfast: It gives you the energy you need to kick-start your morning. Once you’ve gotten into the habit of chowing down first thing in the morning, make a point to eat smart. Proteins take longer to break down and therefore provide more stable, long-lasting energy throughout your day. A plate of eggs will make you feel more satisfied and alert than a pastry.
7. Make Your Commute a Bit More Fun
You might not be cranky about work, but about facing an extra-long commute. Whether you go by public transportation or drive yourself, you can find ways to make it more exciting and engaging. In other words, it’s another means of waking you up if you know what to do.
If you’re driving, crank up your favorite tunes and sing them out: when you sing, you release endorphins that make you feel good, all while zapping any lingering stress or anxiety. This is perfect if your drive is long or the highways are congested: Just sing away your stress.
As for public transit commuters, it might be less possible to belt out tunes from the seat of a packed bus or train. Instead, find a podcast series that you like listening to and catch up on the latest episode on your morning ride, bring a book along with you or use the time to send how-are-you emails to old friends who you haven’t seen in a while. There are countless ways to make your commute more of an enjoyable time than a burden, so get creative!
8. Sit, Then Stand
If you’re still stuck in bed, here’s another tip to make your wakeup easier: Carefully ease up and out of bed. You might make the mistake of rolling right onto the floor feet-first, but you deserve a few seconds to gather yourself. This will improve your morning energy level.
Tomorrow, roll onto your side and push yourself up into a seated position, taking the pressure off your body and giving yourself a few seconds to breathe. Then, firmly plant both feet on the floor, stand up and go.
You might think your morning routine is too jam-packed to stray from your shower-clothes-breakfast-commute routine, but a simple activity to jog your brain post-sleep will reap myriad rewards by the time you’re really engaging your brain.
You can get creative with how you’re creative: Perhaps you sketch while you eat breakfast or whip up a creative meal rather than dumping cereal into a bowl. By waking up your brain, you’ll find yourself with a more excited, engaged outlook for the rest of your day. Seriously, try it.
10. Put Your Phone Down
This goes hand-in-hand with a bit of morning routine: Don’t look at your phone as soon as you wake up, and don’t spend all morning craning over it to check emails, social media, etc.
Instead, focus on what you have to get done in the morning and other little ways to entertain yourself while doing so. You just might find yourself moving a bit more quickly and excitedly instead of sighing at all of the banal updates on your Facebook feed.
11. Find Your Positivity
Finally, even if you’re not a morning person, you can probably find something positive about the day ahead. Focus on the good that’s to come and you will surely improve your morning routine. To that end, try adding in a few positive affirmations about how you can and will tackle the tough day ahead of you. By saying these things to yourself – and believing them – you’ve already made serious strides toward a good day.
Now, Wake Up
With these tools in mind, it should be a bit easier to improve your morning. You just might find that, with a bit of practice, you, too, can become a morning person – no matter what time that alarm clock rings.