Starting out with intention and mindfulness can set the tone for your day. You will feel less rushed, and more connected to yourself and the present moment. Check out these 5 healthy habits I practice every day that help me start the day right.
I don’t know where I would be without my morning routine. You may think that’s an exaggeration but it’s not. Mornings to me are sacred, and having a routine, sets the tone for the entire day and to me that’s non-negotiable. These healthy morning habits to me are nonnegotiable.
Of course there may be things that come up such as children waking earlier than intended, having company sleep over. But waking up before everyone else and having the time to truly connect with myself has allowed me to be creative, inspired and to take advantage of all the benefits that waking up early in the morning has to offer.
For someone who rolls out the bed and out the door, this may seem like a completely foreign concept. I understand. But stay with me. What would happen if you incorporated just one of these habits? How much time would it take to make warm lemon water? Or set a timer for 5 minutes and sit quietly or listen to a meditation app? Taking the time to slow down and do things that fuel your energy yet settle your mind can have a compounding, transformative effect.
What stands in the way of creating healthy habits?
Change is hard, the brain is hard wired to resist it, yet we humans are surprisingly adaptable and can manage to thrive in pretty much any situation.
When it comes to establishing healthy habits, we have to pay attention to the little voice in our heads that generally has a few classic lines it always repeats to you. “What a waste of time. Why would you even bother? It’s too hard you shouldn’t even try. What can possibly change if I try?” Sound familiar? Of course, this little voice has been our companion since we were little when our parents would ask us to try something new and we’d immediately reply - “I can’t, it’s too hard”.
So yes, we stand in our own way most of the time. But if you want something enough and find that your current habits are not aligning with your life, you will find a way to make space for them.
My 5 healthy habits to start the day
These habits, whether all 5 or at least 3-4, are staples in my life. I feel incorporating these little habits into my morning sets the trajectory for the day. We don’t have control over much during the day, but we certainly have control over our behaviors and habits. So let’s get into them.
1. Drink Lemon Water
I’ve been beating this horse for a very long time and likely will not stop. Drinking warm lemon water first thing in the morning has become ingrained in me. It’s not something I have to think about, I just do. After all, it takes just minutes to heat up water and squeeze half lemon into a glass. Drinking lemon water first thing is a fantastic way to get your digestive system moving as it essentially acts as drano for your intestines. It’s also a great way to hydrate the body after a night’s sleep.
This wasn’t always easy, I must admit. I would start, I would stop, making excuses as to why I didn’t have time, why I needed to get to this thing right away, etc. But the truth is, setting time aside to meditate and calm the mind is incredibly powerful, especially when you don’t think you have the time.
Most people view meditation as sitting for hours on a cushion completely still but that’s not the reality. You can start with 2 minutes or 5 minutes and work your way from there. You can find a plethora of meditation apps as well as YouTube videos which are my personal favorite. You can choose meditation music, guided meditations or you can simply sit still and pay attention to your breathing. Science has backed up the effects of meditation on anxiety, blood pressure, focus, emotional health and more.
If you’re still resistant to the idea of meditation, try this 1 minute breathing exercise instead:
Take a deep breath in to the count of 3, hold your breath for 3 seconds. Now exhale for 3 seconds and hold your breath for 3 seconds. Repeat with 4 seconds and 5 seconds. Done. It’s a quick and effective way to reduce anxiety symptoms and activate your parasympathetic nervous system also called the rest and digest system.
3. Put it on paper
What? If you’re currently struggling with any kind of situation (who isn’t), there is one effective way to make sense of the churning thoughts in your head, and that’s through brain dumping. Essentially this means, writing all your thoughts, without filter. Whether you do this on a laptop or physical page is up to you, but it’s been shown that physically writing with pen and paper, can be more effective in helping us discern our thoughts and solve problems.
Sometimes just writing thoughts out can be therapeutic in itself but can also be insightful since you’re not using logic and letting whatever comes to mind be written down. You can set a timer for 2, 5 or 10 minutes and just start writing. I find 5 minutes to be the best for me. Even if I’m not in the mood to write, I feel infinitely better once I do. Certain things are just better processed when written down. Try it for a week - you have nothing to lose!
If you want more help with writing in the morning, try this 2 Minute Mornings Journal
4. Eat a nutritious breakfast
You’re an adult and I can’t tell you to eat breakfast or what to eat for breakfast, but I can say that eating a nutritious breakfast is more than just putting food in your mouth. It’s an opportunity to provide your body with nutrients and also an opportunity to practice mindfulness while you eat.
What you eat matters. Having a high protein breakfast and a good amount of healthy fat, will ensure that your blood sugar is even, your mood is steady and your energy levels high. I generally go for my favorite, grain free pancakes, which I prep once a week, or an easy omelette or a nutrient dense smoothie.
It’s the perfect time to set the tone for how you will eat for the rest of the day too.
5. Stay off Social Media for the first 30 minutes
I probably should have put this at number one because once upon a time, the moment I opened my eyes, I was somehow on Instagram, checking to see what I’d missed out on during the night. Consuming content early in the morning can trigger a cascade of emotions, that can drastically impact mood - and generally not in a positive way.
I’m currently still off of Instagram and it has been the best 2.5 months without it. That need to consume content first thing in the morning, greatly diminished. But you may not be there yet…or at all. And I’m not asking that you quit all your social media but not hopping on first thing in the morning can make a big difference in your mood and keep you even.
How to implement healthy habits in your day
Give it one week. Try something new each day. You don’t have to completely overhaul your morning but start small. Set your alarm for 5 minutes earlier and use that time for breathing or meditation. If you spend time browsing social media, use that time to write some thoughts down as your brain dump activity.
It’s always about starting small and incorporating these habits to fit your lifestyle.
Prepare to have it not always work out, but don’t give up
As I write this, my 3 year old is convinced that 6 am is a legitimate time to wake up, which completely cuts into my morning routine (mainly writing). It can feel discouraging at times, especially if you’re dealing with situations that are out of your control. But I’m convinced that something is always better than nothing. Did you get the chance to have warm lemon water and get in a good bowl movement? Success! Did you eat a nutritious breakfast? Awesome! You get the idea.
It’s all about small wins, small steps that ultimately make the most difference. And don’t expect miracles to happen overnight either. Give new habits time.
I’m a firm believer that happiness, pleasure and contentment are not elusive things we can find “out there”, they are cultivated simply through simple habits. And I also believe that we are worthy and deserve to experience moments of contentment daily, simply by being present in our bodies and in our lives and incorporating small healthy habits that can create big changes.
If you want a reminder, check out this quick guide I created that you can use to help you with establishing new habits.