The first hour of the day dictates how the remaining 23 will go. Lots of events and situations are outside of your control, of course, but your perception and attitude can be influenced by what you do when you first wake up. What do you do, anyway?
If you want to start on the road to self-improvement, you have to be aware of things like this. Take control of your day by taking control of your morning. Get into a groove and start things off right with a proper routine that’s mentally and physically refreshing.
It’s going to be tough, but you won’t regret it. I promise. Here are some ways you can change your morning around and become a happier you.
Wake Up on Time
One major way to begin the day right is to wake up on time. The moment you wake up late is the moment you start rushing. Rushing leads to anxiety and recklessness. You lose control, so you sweat and stress.
There are two components to waking up on time. You have to address both.
Use an effective alarm. Whether you use a physical clock with an ear-shattering bell or one of many advanced mobile alarm apps, you’ll need to find something that works for you. If a traditional alarm app doesn’t cut it, you might want to check out these unique alarm apps instead.
Get enough sleep. Ideally we wouldn’t have to use alarms. Instead we’d wake up naturally as soon as our bodies and brains got enough rest, but that’s a luxury that most of us can’t afford. So we need to adapt, and that means deliberately going to bed at the proper time.
If you have trouble falling asleep, you may need to change your computer habits. Bad posture can tense up your muscles. Web browsing, video games, and caffeine can keep your mind active long after you’ve “dosed” yourself.
But most importantly, the screen glow from electronic devices and monitors can trick your brain into thinking it’s daytime, which is why you should always use a program like F.lux or an app like Twilight to shift the light towards a warmer color at night.
Stretch and Stay Fit
You have to keep your body happy to keep your mind happy. They go hand in hand. Sitting in front of a computer all day long will kill your posture, strain your eyes, reduce your flexibility, and generally make you feel miserable.
On the flip side, a little bit of physicality — even if it’s just a bit of stretching and a brisk walk — can work wonders for your mental clarity. Fit it into your mornings and you’ll reap the benefits for the rest of the day.
For a healthy dose of at-home exercise, check out these YouTube workout channels and consider reading some of the advice from these online fitness experts. For something less intense, what about these YouTube yoga channels supplemented by these mobile yoga apps?
And if you’re really pressed for time, these quick workout apps can get your heartrate up and your muscles limber in less than ten minutes. We also recommend switching to a standing desk and doing a few office desk exercises throughout the day.
Think Positive Thoughts
While I don’t subscribe to the “think positive and you will prosper” school of thought, I do believe that your state of mind is heavily influenced by the company you keep. If you’re always around X, you’re bound to become more like X.
Therefore if you indulge in positive content, your mindset will gradually become more positive as well. You will still experience the ups and downs of life, but your perception and attitude will be different. In the end that’s what really matters, isn’t it?
Start with these TED Talks about human psychology, particularly the ones by Alain de Botton and Richard St. John. Highly recommended by many.
Then, find some encouragement with the Internet’s friendliest websites as well as these positive thinking websites. Need some more inspiration fodder? Continue on with these inspirational websites and these motivational Android apps.
If you’ve gotten this far and you’ve skipped all of the links above, that’s okay. I don’t blame you. At the very least, however, do check out these motivational TED Talks and these inspirational videos. They just might change your life.
Meditate, Relax, and Enjoy
Are you the kind of person who reaches for your phone as soon as your eyes flick open? Or do you roll out of bed and sit down at the computer as if by reflex? Just because you’re up and awake doesn’t mean you have to start your day yet.
Why not take some time — maybe just a few minutes — to sit back and enjoy the morning? Perhaps you can watch the sunrise, sip a cup of coffee, meditate and/or pray, or even just listen to the silence of dawn. What’s important is that you slow down.
With an app like Stop, Breathe & Think, you can start practicing mindfulness meditation right away. Not only does it help set the tone of the day to come, it aids in developing self-awareness and focus. We also have several other resources for meditation that you’ll find useful.
For how long? For as long as it suits you. Seriously, it could be as short as relaxing for two minutes or for as long as an hour. The right length is whatever time period fits into your schedule and gets you adequately prepared for the day.
And don’t forget the tea and/or coffee. If you don’t drink either, that’s fine! But if you find that tea and/or coffee helps to clear your mind, go for it. Supplement with these Android coffee apps and iOS coffee apps for maximum enjoyment.
Schedule Time to Catch Up
By now, you’re well into the morning and likely dying to check your email, text messages, RSS feeds, etc. If so, good news: now’s the time to catch up on everything that happened while you were asleep!
But there’s one caveat: you must set a time limit.
We’ve all been there. You wake up bright and early, you feel ready to take on the world, but then you sit down at your computer to “see what’s new” and before you know it a few hours have flown by. Time is slippery, which is why you must set a time limit. I recommend a maximum of 30 minutes.
If you’re still having trouble, try this morning email ritual instead.
It Takes Discipline to Build Habits
No one said it would be easy. Falling into a new morning routine is just as difficult as — if not harder than — building new habits. Are you quick you break your resolutions? Try using one or more of these habit-building mobile apps.
Just stick with it for a month and you’ll start seeing noticeable changes. Once you’ve conquered the morning ritual, you can move on to these daily productivity rituals that many people swear by.
Are you a morning person? What does your morning routine look like? Do you see any areas where you could improve? Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below!