11 Ways to Start the Day that Will Change Your Life
In a perfect world, every morning should start as a blank slate. Every day should be treated as an opportunity to do the best that you can for yourself and for those around you. How you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. I have found that if I perform certain rituals every morning, they help me to have a better, more productive, more fulfilling, healthier and happier day. Starting your day on the right foot helps you to end it on the right foot as well.
Below is a list of 11 life-changing morning rituals that I have found to be very simple ways to get me started on the right foot. I don’t necessarily practice all of them everyday, and you don’t have to either. But if you can incorporate a few into your daily routine, you will see that they will make you not only feel better, but also perform better throughout the rest of your day.
#1. Drinking a big glass of water
When you wake up in the morning, your body has gone without any water for eight hours or longer. Personally, I purposely don’t drink any water before bed because I don’t want to have to get up during the night. So in my case, it is definitely longer than eight hours. During those multiple hours of sleep, your body actually loses quite a bit of water through both perspiration and respiration. When you wake up, your body is dehydrated and would benefit from some hydration right away. I like to drink a big glass of water right after I get up, before I do anything else. This has a few benefits. First, it gives my body the water that it is craving. Second, it gives me a head start on the eight glasses of water that we are recommended to drink everyday. Third, a large amount of water first thing in the morning helps to flush out toxins that have accumulated in your body while you were sleeping. And fourth, I have found it to be a great way to help control my weight. Sometimes when we think we are hungry, we are actually just thirsty. I have found that drinking a large glass of water as soon as I get up prevents me from overeating during my morning meal.
#2. Drinking warm water with lemon
Another excellent way to rehydrate your body is to drink a glass of warm water with lemon. There has been some debate recently as to whether or not infused water is any better for you than plain water. There have been claims by such people as Dr. Oz that drinking warm water that has been infused with lemon first thing in the morning helps to aid digestion throughout the rest of the day. Even if that is not proven, the sensation that I get from drinking warm lemon water is much more pleasant and relaxing than when I drink just plain water. It gives me this warming, soothing feeling, plus the lemon smells and tastes great. If making the water more flavorful and making the experience more pleasurable helps you to drink more water, then it is already providing a great benefit. Anything additional, such as improved digestion, is just an extra perk. So I choose to drink my water warm and with lemon on those mornings that are a little chilly or when I have a couple of extra minutes so I can sit down and enjoy the entire experience.
#3: Drinking green tea
While the water in the green tea will also help with hydration, it doesn’t replace the large glass of water (with or without lemon) that I drink as soon as I get up. I drink the green tea, and so should you, for other reasons. One of the biggest benefits from drinking green tea is that it is an excellent source of catechins, a type of antioxidant. Because green tea is minimally processed compared to other types of tea, the catechins are practically intact and in very high concentration. Why are catechins so good for you? According to WebMD, there is research to show that they improve blood flow, lower cholesterol, help to control blood sugar in diabetics, and improve the health of both your heart and your brain. Some other health benefits that have been attributed to green tea include helping to lose and maintain weight, fighting tooth decay, lowering the risk of developing cancer, and increasing longevity. So just like you should be drinking several glasses of water throughout the day, you should also drink a few cups of green tea. It will definitely do your body a lot of good in both the short run and the long run.
#4: Having a fruit and vegetable smoothie or juice
Getting more fruits and vegetables into our diets is always a great idea. Blending or juicing those fruits and vegetables makes it much easier for us to consume a larger quantity than we would otherwise be able to eat. Also, consuming them raw (in the form of a juice or smoothie) makes sure that all the essential nutrients, particularly the active enzymes that can be damaged by heat, are perfectly intact and able to provide us with all their nutritional benefits. A juice or smoothie is the best way possible to get those leafy green vegetables that have become known as “superfoods” into your daily diet. Vegetables such as arugula, spinach, dandelion greens, kale, watercress, parsley, lettuce, endive, and chicory may not be among your favorites to eat, but they are extremely easy to drink when incorporated with others that you find tastier. I try to limit my morning juice to just one piece of fruit, to control the amount of sugar, and use a mixture of vegetables for the remainder. And I try to always include at least two cups of those super healthy leafy green vegetables. There are plenty of great recipes out there for healthy juices and smoothies, but remember that the point is to limit the sugar and maximize the nutrients. While protein-rich additions like yogurt and nut milks are good ideas, try to avoid recipes that call for high fat nut butters. The whole point of your juice or smoothie is to get a big dose of nutrient rich fruits and vegetables into your body when it is the most ready to absorb whatever you put into it.
#5: Eating some protein
Whether you incorporate it into your morning smoothie, or you eat it as part of your breakfast, it is essential to have some protein as part of your first meal of the day. Your body needs protein in order to perform basic functions, as well as to maintain muscle mass and regenerate itself. Additionally, your body does a better job of properly processing and using that protein if you eat it at regular intervals throughout the day. I prefer to get my protein as part of a solid meal in the morning, rather than drink it. That also gives me an opportunity to space things out a bit more. Plus I love salt, so an egg, a couple slices of turkey, or some leftover chicken from the previous night’s dinner are a real morning treat for me. Just remember to try to eat a leaner protein, specially if you choose a meat-based one. One of the best benefits of eating protein in the morning is that it helps you to stay fuller longer. Just like that big glass of water will help you to not overeat in the morning and to maintain a healthy weight, so will that serving of lean protein help you to not overeat later in the day.
#6: Making the bed
Making my bed in the morning gives me a big sense of satisfaction from knowing that I have accomplished my first task of the day. It only takes one minute, but it makes a big difference in how I feel about myself and about the rest of my day. For the amount of effort it takes, it gives me the best return on investment of any task that I perform. Plus it makes me feel good whenever I walk back into my room and see that the bed has been made. If I have time, I try to also do as much as I can to organize and clean up my room and the rest of the house before I start my day. Picking up scattered items, organizing your desk or work space, and loading the dishwasher all go a long way to give you a feeling of accomplishment at the star of your day and a feeling of relaxation when you return home at the end of the day.
The early morning is a great time of day to meditate. While you will definitely benefit from meditating at any time when you have about ten minutes to spare, the early morning helps to get you focused for the rest of the day. I prefer to do my morning meditation after I have gotten everything else out of the way. That way I know that I can fully devote my time and my attention to it. Like I said, you only need to spend about ten minutes. If you have more time to spare, then go for it. But it may not be possible with everything that you need to accomplish before you go out the door. Just find a quiet, secluded spot in your home where you can sit comfortably and without any distraction. Set an alarm to limit yourself to your allotted time. Meditation is something that you will find easier and more rewarding each time that you do it. I find that on the days when I skip it for whatever reason, I actually miss it and I can see a difference in my ability to focus throughout the day. So try it and you will see how it will improve your day as well.
Think about it. Your body has hardly moved at all for a good eight hours since you went to bed. Your muscles and joints are likely to feel a little stiff right after you wake up. It has been shown that performing regular morning stretches provides several health benefits, including giving you better posture, helping to relieve muscle soreness and pains, improving your circulation, and giving you increased energy throughout the rest of your day. It’s another one of those practices like drinking a big glass of water or eating some protein that will keep paying off for hours to come. Getting the blood flowing also helps you to become more alert faster if you still have a sleepy head in the morning. Just make sure that you cover all your major muscle groups to get the most benefit from your stretches. An effective and thorough stretching routine doesn’t need to take more than just five minutes so it is well worth the investment.
#9: Saying good morning
You want to have a good morning? Then come right out and say it. Say good morning to those with whom you share your home. Say good morning to your pets. If you happen to live alone, or if you are the first riser in your home, then why not send a close friend or relative a good morning text? Take turns texting different people on different days. They will be so pleasantly surprised and it will put a happy start to both their day and to yours.
#10: Waking up early
The best way to have a positive and productive start of your day is to wake up early enough to make sure you have the time to accomplish all your morning tasks in a leisurely manner. Nothing can get you off on the wrong foot worse than feeling rushed and worrying about being late to wherever you need to go. That type of negative energy can stay with you throughout your day and affect everything else that you do. So start your morning off right by making sure that you go to bed on time the night before. Take note of all the tasks that you want to accomplish the next morning and determine how much time you will need to do so. That will tell you what time you need to wake up. I find that when I plan my morning properly the night before I get everything done that I need (or would like) to do and I also feel great doing it. Once I sit down to start work I feel at ease and my mind is perfectly focused. There is no better way to start the workday.
#11: Visualizing your day
I am a big fan of visualization. I find that it can help with practically every aspect of my life. In the morning, I like to take a few minutes (it literally takes five minutes or less if you don’t allow yourself to start daydreaming) and start to picture everything that I would like to accomplish that day. I not only see myself completing each task, but I actually try to experience the physical sensation associated with each one. If for example, I plan on going to a yoga class that evening, I not only visualize myself arriving at the gym, but I also visualize how my body will feel both during and after the class. I preview the satisfaction that I will have from completing each task successfully. I also visualize myself being successful and doing an excellent job at all the tasks that I will be attempting that day. Of course you won’t be able to predict everything that will happen during your day, and perhaps some of the things that you had planned to do will have to be postponed. But because you have already visualized yourself successfully completing your planned tasks, you will find that they will be much easier to finish once you actually start them.