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It’s time to start some morning habits for a better day. Because, if you are like most people, your day starts like this:
You yawn. Drag yourself out of bed. Slurp down a cup of coffee in hopes it will wake you up. Sit down at the computer to check email…and suddenly two hours have gone by, you are still in your pajamas, the dog needs to be walked, and you are way behind schedule on everything! The rest of the day flies by and at the end of it, you are still mildly anxious and you’ve crossed nothing off your to-do list!
If this sounds familiar, let me tell you that I feel ya! Especially being more or less home-bound these days, I have fallen into some bad morning habits of late.
But it stops now!
In an effort to get on a more productive path, I have identified 4 tiny morning habits to focus on that are guaranteed to make me feel better all day, every day.
I will hydrate my body, breathe air into my lungs, stretch my muscles, and complete my first achievement of the day.
Want to hear more? Because I want you to come along on my journey with me! I’ve made it easy for us both, by creating a FREE 31-day challenge to develop outstanding morning habits to help us accomplish more each day.
These four habits can all be accomplished in less than 5 minutes a day!
4 Tiny Morning Habits for a Better Day
Morning Habit #1: Hydrate!
We both know how important it is to drink plenty of water throughout the day.
It’s especially important to drink water right when you first wake up, to replenish the two pints you lost during sleep.
So, the very first habit we will work on is to drink a big glass of water as soon as we get out of bed. (Ok, if you are like me, you will have to make a pitstop first…but then, drink up!)
Everyone is a little different in the morning, but the ideal would be to drink 16 ounces right after waking. Yes, drink the water before you have any coffee, and coffee does not count toward this total, because it is dehydrating.
If 16 ounces sounds like way too much, start with 8 or even just 4 ounces, and work your way into a consistent 16 ounces.
Drinking water first thing in the morning increases your level of alertness, jump-starts your metabolism, and fuels your brain. Because it helps flush out toxins that build up during the night, it can even help stave off illness.
That’s a lot of benefits from a glass of water!
Morning Habit #2: Deep Breathing
Now that you’ve had your water, take just a moment to do some deep breathing.
Take time to breathe in for a slow count of eight, hold, and expel for a slow count of eight. Repeat.
Why is this so important?
Deep breathing allows high levels of oxygen to enter our systems, making us more alert and energetic, decreases stress through the release of hormones, improves digestion, and releases endorphins which help reduce pain and illness. It also stimulates the lymphatic system which helps to detoxify the body, and encourages better use of core muscles for posture.
Ideally, we should give a good five minutes to slow, deep breathing every morning when we wake up. As we are just trying to create some good habits right now, I encourage you to take at least one deep breath, and ideally 3-5. This takes no time at all, and as deep breathing becomes a morning habit, you will find you naturally add more breathing time in.
Breathe in deeply to bring your mind home to your body.Thich Nhat Hanh
Morning Habit #3: Stretch Those Muscles
We must be gentle here! After all, our bodies are still in the process of waking up!
Do not force yourself to stretch farther than you are comfortable, but know that more repetitions will naturally help you go deeper into your stretches.
Our goal here is 1-5 forward folds (standing forward bend).
If you are unfamiliar with the term, this is how you do a forward fold:
Stand upright, feet about hip-width apart. Gently sweep your arms out to the side and up – reach for the ceiling. Feel a gentle stretch in your arms and back. Then, lower your arms to the side and stop at shoulder height. As you do this, bend forward from your hip joints (NOT your waist) until your back is at “table-top”, at a right angle to your legs.
From there, smoothly bring your arms and upper body down toward the floor until you are hanging like a rag doll. Relax and breathe, feeling the pull of gravity gently on your body.
To stand up, bend your knees slightly for support (this is important!) and roll your body back up one vertebrae at a time. Return to an upright position.
For a more detailed explanation of a forward fold, including a video and modifications, check out this detailed explanation from Yoga Journal.
Repeat as many times as you like. I’m always pleased to discover that, although I might only reach my hands to my knees on the first fold, by the third or fourth I can place them flat on the floor. That’s a sign of your body opening up and stretching out.
Forward folds help keep your spine strong and flexible, activate the abdominal muscles, increase blood circulation, stimulate the internal organs, and soothe the nervous system. They calm the mind and reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and fatigue.
AND, it is therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, infertility, osteoporosis, and sinusitis.
Morning Habit #4: Make Your Bed
Ha! You probably were expecting another body-focused action, weren’t you?
This one is for your mind.
Take two minutes to make your bed properly, actually tucking and smoothing and fluffing everything into its proper place. Pick those decorative pillows off of the floor, and put them where they belong. It doesn’t have to be hospital-precise, but do more than just pulling the coverlet up and calling it good.
Like the actions above, making your bed decreases your levels of stress. It makes your room look neater, and gives you a sense of accomplishment at the very beginning of the day. That small victory in turn increases your productivity for the day and encourages the development and maintenance of other good habits.
A poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that people who make their bed in the morning are 19 percent more likely to have a good night’s sleep, every night.
If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed… If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day.Admiral William H. McRaven, U.S. Navy Retired
Cement These Habits With a FREE Challenge!
Do you have trouble sticking with new habits? Then you should definitely download and print my FREE 31-day challenge! Print it out and hang it somewhere you are sure to see it in the morning (I suggest next to the bathroom mirror).
The challenge is set up so that you can record your quantities – from ounces of water to number of forward folds you do each day.
You can also cross off each activity as it is completed – but I’ve got a little trick for ya! Instead of using a pen or pencil, cross off with a highlighter. At the end of the challenge, you will have a page full of highlights emphasizing what you have accomplished! And it just feels good to see those bright highlights, rather than a bunch of crossed-out words.
And as I said above, I am working my way through this challenge myself in the month of October. I hope you’ll join in, and we can build our new morning habits together!
You can get the FREE challenge right HERE.
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Final Thoughts on 4 Morning Habits That Will Make Every day Better
Four simple, tiny habits. And so many significant reasons to do them! Let’s review:
- Hydrate – aim for 16 ounces of water right when you wake up
- Breathe – take 1-5 slow, conscious breaths
- Stretch – forward fold to wake up your muscles, 1-5 times
- Make Your Bed – there’s nothing like a quick win to motivate your for the rest of the day