9 quick science-approved things you can do to make your mornings better.
Mornings are tough...
Whether you're one of those mythical "morning people" who actually set their alarm as early as possible just to, I don't know, listen to birds or whatever, or if you're one of my fellow not-morning people whose a.m. routines involve marathon-smashing the snooze button before finally dragging yourself out of bed to sloppily make a pot of coffee and stare at the mirror, wondering if today is the day you finally give up on being an adult and run off for life as a house cat—
—well, they're tough.
Did you know there are a few science-approved things you can do to make your mornings less of a drag?
These nine simple tips only take a few minutes to complete and could mean never spending another morning falling asleep in the shower:
1. Take a few minutes to actually make your bed.
If you're not already a bed-maker, it probably seems like a huge waste of time. Why straighten sheets and fluff pillows that you're just going to mess up again anyway?
It turns out, making your bed correlates with being happier and even more successful. According to a survey of 68,000 people, 71% of bed-makers consider themselves happy, while 62% of non-bed-makers said they were unhappy.
Now, it's impossible to know if bed-making really makes people happy or if happy people just tend to make their beds more. However, we do know that clutter tends to beget stress. If your bed looks less cluttered, it's possible that it could lower your stress levels.
Not to mention, making your bed probably only takes about three minutes and gives you an easy morning win to check off your to-do list. Which means you're starting your day more relaxed, you've already done something productive, and you're ready to go out into the world and continue being productive.
2. Tidy up. Even a little bit.
Along the same lines as bed-making, if there are a million dishes in your sink from the day(s) before, that clutter is probably creating subtle stressors in your brain.
If you can find a minute in the morning, do some of the dishes. Or clean up some living room clutter. Maybe sweep out a single room or take out the trash. Reducing clutter and completing a task (no matter how small) will give you a nice sense of satisfaction to kick-start your day.
3. Drink a glass of lemon water.
Don't worry, you don't need to replace your vanilla soy latte or go on a questionably effective cleanse to make this work for you in the morning. Before you leave the house in a beeline for the closest Starbucks, drink a 16-ounce glass of water with a little bit of lemon juice in it.
I know it sounds kind of hokey, but lemon water is pretty amazing and a perfectly simple way to brighten your morning routine. According to The Huffington Post, the benefits of lemon water include but are not limited to: hydration, a nice dose of vitamin C, freshening your breath (by killing bacteria), clearing your skin, and helping with aches and pains by reducing uric acid in the joints.
Lemon water won't compliment your shirt or walk the dog for you, though, so while it can be a nice addition to your morning, it's not going to solve all your problems.
4. Raise the blinds and let the sunlight in.
Yes, I know. Its early in the morning and the world probably isn't ready to see you yet. But raising the blinds lets in some natural light, and there are a lot of benefits to that.
"There is increasing evidence that exposure to light, during the day — particularly in the morning — is beneficial to your health via its effects on mood, alertness and metabolism," Dr. Phyllis Zee, a neurology professor at Northwestern University, told WebMD.
Natural light also helps your brain sync up to the Earth's natural rotation, which can have major health benefits. According to one study, people with more exposure to natural light slept longer and better at night. They also got more exercise and reported a better quality of life.
So at the risk of shrieking in horror at the sunlight and your neighbors shrieking in horror at your bedhead, open up the blinds and let the light in. The benefits outweigh the risks.
Even if you don't have any windows to open, you can get an alarm clock that lights up with the sunrise.
5. Eat something high in fiber and grains.
While it can be tempting to start every day with a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich, starting your day with a heavy, greasy breakfast can slow you down a lot.
Having a lighter breakfast instead can have a ripple effect that boosts your entire day. Try a bowl of berries or something else high in fiber and grains. If you give your body some heavy-duty nutrients in the morning, you'll feel more awake and your body will totally thank you later.
Meditation has been shown to reduce stress, increase creativity, and even reduce blood pressure. Also like a million other things.
Meditation is easy: Just breathe, focus on the sound of your breath, and sit still quietly. You don't have to do it all day, either. Meditating for three to five minutes in the morning is a perfect way to start your day with a stress-free, take-on-the-world attitude. There are even great apps you can use that help you meditate quickly on the go — what better way to spend a long commute than with a little mental R&R? Just don't do it if you're driving, obviously.
7. Text something nice to someone.
I know, it sounds silly, but seriously. Try it.
Sending someone positive thoughts or words of encouragement is a quick and easy way to make yourself feel happy. Being kind is a great way to live a happier life, and mornings are when we could all use a little pick-me-up.
It's mutually beneficial. Not only will it make your morning brighter and make you happier, but you'll probably be helping someone else get their morning off to a great start too.
(Also this is way better than drunk texting. Much less regret and significantly fewer awkward connections with your ex).
8. Set aside a few minutes to read.
The benefits of reading are innumerable and well-known, ranging from improving your vocabulary to promoting creativity and memory. Starting your day with a little bit of reading gets you those benefits first thing in the morning.
Reading stimulates your brain, which wakes you up. Not to mention it also helps take your mind off of the stressors of the upcoming day so you can go into it feeling relaxed and prepared.
Whether you're reading a chapter of your favorite book, the newspaper, or even an entry from your favorite blog, reading in the morning is good for you. Reading at any time is good. Reading is good. End of statement.
9. Stretch it out.
Don't stretch out your morning, you'll be late to work — but stretching your body before you head to the office is a great, easy way to get ready to face the day.
Stretching promotes flexibility, blood flow, and posture, and it can help you recover from injuries. It also has many mental benefits, including stress reduction and calming the mind.
This can be a few quick stretches before running out the door or a full-on yoga session with Becky.
Either way, stretching in the morning is a great way to be physically and mentally prepared for the uphill battle that is the rest of your day.
A better morning is completely up to you.
Some of you may choose to keep rolling out of bed with 10 minutes to spare before you run out the door, but taking even a few moments to try some of the things on this list can have a huge impact on the rest of your day.
Mornings set the precedent for the entire day, and (as time is linear) entire days are what make up your entire life. So even if you can only fit one of these good habits into your morning routine, I encourage you to try it out. It could make your whole day, and maybe even your whole world, just a little bit brighter.