Better morning routine leads to better, healthier day

Growing up, my parents always seemed like obnoxious morning people. My dad often greeted me by crooning, “Wake up, little Susie, wake up!” My mom called into my room, “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it!”

As a teenager, I’m sure a groaned and rolled my eyes more times than could be counted and rolled back over praying to sleep just a few minutes longer.

Now, it seems their dormant anti-sleepy gene blossomed into full maturity for me. I often find myself falling into both of the above habits with my own girls. Of course, I have my days when I’d rather lay in bed until midmorning, but more often than not, I greet the new day with energy and zeal.

I try to keep the words of Marcus Aurelius in my mind as I get up out of bed. “When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive — to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

However, this truism sometimes seems easier said than done. Beginning the day well takes effort and intentionality. These habits can reboot your morning routine, giving it a shot of energy your coffee can’t even accomplish.

Get plenty of rest

Your morning really begins hours before your alarm ever goes off. For a morning routine to begin well, you need a good night’s sleep. Maybe as a child you had an adult encouraging you to go to bed at a decent hour. But now that you’re the adult, you need to tell yourself to get the sleep you need.

For this reason, yes, it may be necessary for you to set an alarm to wake up in the morning. But you may also need one for when it’s time to start winding down, too. Set your timer thinking through all of the steps you’ll need to take before you hit the hay. When the buzzer sounds, stop interacting with all screens — TVs, phones, and laptops — at least 60 minutes before your head hits the pillow.

Prepare night before

Your past self can be your future self’s best helper when it comes to morning routines. Try to do as many menial tasks as you can before you go to bed at night. The more automatic your morning becomes, the better. Night-before tasks can include choosing your clothes for the next day, setting the coffee pot to automatically brew, packing your lunch and taking a quick look at your calendar so you know what to expect.

If your appliances have timers, use them to their capacity. You could have an entire load of laundry washed and ready to be placed in the dryer before your feet even hit the floor in the morning.

Quit snoozing

I have a love/hate relationship with the snooze button on my alarm clock. During college, I got into the bad habit of setting my alarm hours before I knew I would actually need to get up. That meant once it went off, I hit the snooze button multiple times.

In the end, it would have been much better for my body (and my roommate) to get another full hour of sleep rather than having an hour or two punctuated by annoying buzzers every 10 minutes. If you use the snooze button on your alarm, try to hit it only one time or eliminate the practice all together.

Set the mood

The first few minutes of your day can set the tone for the next 12 hours. Be intentional about what sorts of materials you interact with in the morning. Choose music that uplifts. Read words that challenge and inspire you. Avoid media that incites malcontent or anger first thing in the morning.

You don’t have to hide your head in the sand when it comes to the everyday challenges of life and our world. However, don’t engage those thoughts until you’ve had your first cup of coffee and filled up on wisdom first.

Take care of body

Few of us would treat an overnight guest as poorly as we often treat ourselves in the morning. Rarely would we offer a friend or family member staying in our home cold pizza or a candy bar or nothing at all for breakfast. My guess is we wouldn’t encourage them to grab a huge soda on the way down the road either.

Each morning, take time to take care of your body. Consider doing a 5- to 10-minute stretching or exercising routine as you wake up. Make a wholesome breakfast rather than reaching for junk. Take care of your physical needs so your body can thrive throughout the day. Before you head out the door, don’t forget to grab your refillable bottle of water to ensure you remain hydrated, too.

Whether you’re a night owl or a morning bird, choose to put practices into place begin each day well. Once those routines become habit, you’ll find your day runs much more smoothly and you will be able to handle the challenges that come your way the rest of the day with more energy and grace.

Each day is a gift. Open it with kindness and treat it with gratitude. After all, it’s the only today you have.