November 21, 2016

I used to start most of my workdays lying in bed after my alarm went off, eating up time scrolling through social media, and only leaving myself a few minutes to get ready and hurry to work in a frenzy. That is until I realized that my weeks were slipping away because I wasn't taking advantage of that time. And, considering how many morning routines exist out there, that felt a little stupid. So, I decided it was time to come up with my own.

This moment of inspiration didn't come from the cosmos and just happen—it was after I read a few great books on the topic (like this onethis one, and this one). I played around with some ideas, and after practicing some healthy habits I realized I felt more productive and happier than I used to be in the AM.

If you're ready to take back your day, too, here are six routines to try that I personally vouch for. Best part? They each only take one minute.

1. For the Person Who Can't Stop Pressing Snooze: Hydrate Instead
According to research, hitting snooze only confuses your body more and can negatively affect you for two to four hours after you wake up. So, rather than pressing the button, try chugging a cold glass of water to rehydrate yourself—trust me, it works.

Don't have a faucet installed in your nightstand? Neither do I. That's why I fill a glass before I go to bed and place it within reach (so easy I can grab it with my eyes closed).

2. For the Person Who Always Wakes Up Stressed: Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness may seem like it comes with a price. While the New York Timeshighlights the many paid ways—apps, classes, even mayo—to find your chi, don't worry if you're on a budget. You can still start your day in peace without spending a dime.

My favorite tactic is the "4-7-8" breathing method. Taken from the Indian yoga practice called Pranayama, this is a rapid way to destress, relax, and become mindful first thing when you wake up.

Here's how to do it:

  • Take a big exhale like you're blowing out a birthday candle
  • Inhale through your nose for four seconds
  • Hold your breath for seven seconds
  • Exhale for eight seconds
  • Repeat three times!

Do this while sitting up in bed, eating breakfast, or as you work to keep you calm and collected all day.

3. For the Person Who Always Wakes Up Ready to Take on the World: Repeat a Mantra
We all want to be awesome at something. Regardless of what your dream is, the morning is the time to be aggressively ambitious and focus on something you want to achieve. To do this, take a note from You Are a Badass author Jen Sincero and "drown yourself in affirmations."

For example, I spend one minute in bed saying "I am good at my job and I will lead my team in sales in November!" I imagine what this would look like and it makes me feel much more confident to start my day.

4. For the Person Who Never Has a Plan for the Day: Visualize Your Perfect Day
Steal this one from Olympians: Athletes who put a major focus on training with mental visualization were more successful than their counterparts who focused only on physical training. Visualizing key events in your day going perfectly—closing a deal, finishing an article, rocking a presentation—helps stimulate your brain in the same places as when you actually do that task. Basically, it makes you more likely to succeed at it.

Whether I'm visualizing serving an ace in tennis to crush my friend in a tiebreaker, or responding with the perfect rebuttal to win a sale, taking 60 seconds to craft my perfect day adds clarity and reassurance to it.

5. For the Person Who Wakes Up Feeling Meh: Practice Appreciation
Practice appreciation and you'll be happier, simple as that. One study had subjects spend a couple minutes each day writing down three things that they were grateful for. As a result, each subject improved his or her quality of sleep and felt overall more refreshed!

So, take a minute to be appreciative for three things in your life every day when you wake up—and put them down on paper. Not only does it actually improve your well-being, but it helps put those stressors into perspective.

6. For the Person Who Needs to Start the Day With Caffeine: Substitute With Exercise
A quick burst of exercise is not only healthy but energizing. In one scientific study, someone replaced coffee entirely with 30 seconds of exercise and saw an increase in energy and cognitive functioning.

Take the time to find a routine that works for you—I prefer 20 quick pushups and 10 sit-ups to get things rolling. But if that's not your thing, try 30 seconds of a wall sit, or jumping jacks, or a quick walk around the house.

Practice one, or all, of these simple habits, and you'll quickly turn yourself into a productive and energetic person right at the start of the day (no matter how much you hate mornings).

By Daniel Ratner

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