How to Improve Your Life, Every Morning
I am a night owl. I always have been. Ironically, I also like to sleep, a lot. When I was younger, my friends and I would stay up all night playing, watching movies, making up dances, and just hanging out. The night time seemed magical, and when it arrived, I became electrified. In my early 20s, I worked until midnight and hung out with friends until 5 in the morning. These activities seem normal for a young person, but even after becoming a teacher, my summer months would revert back to my old habits--taking naps in the evenings to play all night. But as so many other things change with age, career, marriage, and babies, my circadian rhythm revolted and forced me into living during the day.
It has been difficult to adjust my natural temperament, but part way through college I started to notice an interesting aspect about my cognitive abilities: I performed better in the early morning hours. If I suffered from writer’s block, I forced myself to bed by 8 p.m. and started writing at around 4 a.m. Now, 4 a.m. has always been a great time for me, but during through maturity and personal growth, 4 a.m. became morning instead of night. My perspective changed. And as much as I hated waking up that early, I always felt amazing afterward.
Now, I can’t say the same about 4 a.m. while being a new mother. But as the kids became a little older, and I picked up writing projects here and there, I realized that I had to transform myself back into an early riser. I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a morning person, but every morning, I set my alarm for 4 a.m., and I write. I go through my routine (there is an occasional snooze); I put on socks, make coffee, and open my laptop. At first, I am so irritated. But after writing with ease and clarity, I feel energized. If I’m lucky enough to finish my work before the kids wake up, then the rest of my day is solid gold. And every time that alarm clock goes off, I have to remind myself of how I will feel.
The Science Behind Morning Success
Not only do I feel better by waking and working in the mornings, but I know that it is the path I must take to give my employers the best of my brain. But why is this? This phenomenon is not unique to me; data exists that highlights the impact of early morning routines on will power and creativity.
First, will power is an essential aspect of success. Without determination and perseverance, many people resort to activities that require less effort. Just like any other mechanism that gets worn with use, will power loses its strength as the day progresses. You’re more likely to accomplish the most important tasks of the day if you set out to do them first thing, as opposed to later on when you’re drained.
MRI scans also show that creativity is at its peak upon waking. The prefrontal cortex, which involves complex thinking and decision making, works at its highest capacity after resting. The connections among the brain’s many neural networks are highly active after sleep, which allows for more innovation and ideation.
Develop Habits through Morning Routines
You may scoff at the idea that an early morning routine will encourage better brain flow, but it is an important step toward individual development. Whether for work, school, or personal achievement, creating a morning routine will lead to many healthy habits. In fact, some of the most successful people wake early and perform their rituals. Of course, success is subjective, but you can start by defining your goals and then set your alarm clock. You may surprise yourself.
Step 1: Do something you enjoy.
You don’t necessarily have to wake up and immediately start working. You can practice yoga, read for pleasure, write for personal insight, or sit on your porch with a cup of coffee. Although this is an optimal time to harness your morning creative powers, the habits of starting the day right will follow you for the rest of the day.
Step 2: Get active.
Eliminating stress through exercise is a great way to start the morning. Research shows that working out before breakfast is ideal to maximize the benefits.
Step 3: Eat!
Don’t skip breakfast, no matter how busy you are. If your time is limited, you can prep an omelet the night before or eat yogurt, fruit, and granola. The nutrients will fuel your mind and body, and your tummy won’t distract you when you get to work.
Step 4: Get spiritual.
It doesn’t matter what you practice, people who include spiritual rituals in their morning routines are less stressed and benefit from being mindful. Meditation, prayer, yoga, breathing exercises, whatever you choose—connect with yourself and your beliefs.
Step 5: Set goals.
Waking early and planning your day will help you to feel less anxious about the day’s events. Take a look at your calendar, make a to-do list, and prepare. It might also be beneficial to take some time out to plan one random act of kindness. It will make you happier.
Step 6: Limit distractions.
How your morning starts will set the tone for the rest of the day. Don’t wake up and immediately check social media or e-mail. You will only ruminate over the information during your morning routine, shower, and drive to work. Accept the peacefulness of peace. What a great way to start the day.
- Melissa Lavery, M.S.
Goudreau, J. (2014, November 24). 12 Things Successful People Do Before Breakfast. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.businessinsider.com/things-successful-people-do-before-breakfast-2014-11
Lee, K. (2014, March 10). The Best Time to Write and Get Ideas, According to Science. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from https://blog.bufferapp.com/the-best-time-to-write-and-get-ideas
Locke, R. (n.d.). 10 Morning Habits Of Happy People. Retrieved March 17, 2015, from http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/10-morning-habits-happy-people.html
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