If you feel groggy or downright low when you first get out of bed, you might accept that you’re “just not a morning person.” However, the truth is that there’s a lot you can do to influence how you feel in the early hours and to boost enhance your work output. In fact, many of the best techniques keep you focused and optimistic throughout the whole day, so they’re not just useful for those who feel like they always get out of bed on the wrong side. Here are ten-morning rituals that will boost your productivity all day long.
1. Look at something that makes you smile
Rearrange your bedroom so that the first thing you see in the morning is something that makes you smile (or even laugh). Whether you choose to lovingly create a collage of photos showcasing favorite memories or opt to place an uplifting statue next to your bed, make sure you see a source of joy when your eyes first open. You’ll feel invigorated and ready to go as a result.
2. Make a healthy smoothie
If you make a habit of going straight for your juicer and making a delicious, nutritionally dense smoothie, you’ll be feeling vibrant in no time. For example, consider trying green smoothies—although they don’t sound that tasty when you consider their vegetable content, all that kale is easily masked by ingredients like apple, grape, and coconut water. As well as being natural energy boosters, green smoothies are known for supporting immune system function (making them an even smarter addition to your morning routine in the winter months).
3. Deliberately seek inspiration
Reading a chapter of an inspiring autobiography, watching a stimulating TED talk or listening to a motivational piece of music are all ways to fire up the part of you that wants to do great things with the day ahead. This ritual is even more effective if you make sure that you choose inspirational material that’s directly connected with what you want to achieve (whether in your career or personal life).
4. Perform a quick gratitude inventory
Every morning, try asking yourself what makes you feel grateful that day. Do your best to come up with at least three things, whether small or large. In fact, it may be even more powerful to connect with the gratitude you feel for everyday luxuries like having enough to eat, being physically well or having a home in a place you love.
5. Do a mindfulness exercise
If you’re already used to doing mindfulness exercises, you may immediately see why incorporating them as a morning ritual could set you up for the day. However, if you’re new to mindfulness then you can start out by simply spending 5-10 minutes concentrating on your breath. Inhale and exhale deeply, letting stray thoughts drift by. Studies show that mindfulness improves emotional regulation and concentration, so it can help you create a “blank slate” for the day ahead—a particularly useful benefit if your work requires a lot of mental focus.
6. Practice creative visualization
Creative visualization is a natural alternative to (or extension of) a morning mindfulness ritual. The idea is that you spend at least a few minutes imagining something you’re working to achieve. If you’re looking to feel great and be particularly productive, perhaps your creative visualization might be of you achieving something fantastic at the office. However, you can keep it as simple as you like—even just picturing yourself smiling and feeling mentally sharp can help you get into the right frame of mind for an excellent day.
7. Spread good feeling
Although it’s best if being kind to others has at least a partly altruistic motivation, it’s also useful to remember that you can improve your own mood by spreading good feelings. Try a morning ritual of saying something nice to someone within the first hour of waking—it’ll make you feel positive and keep you feeling generous and self-confident all day. You might commit to doling out at least one authentic compliment to a stranger on the way to work, or to sending a quick text message to make a family member feel loved.
8. Smile before you feel like it
Simple but effective, the act of smiling first thing in the morning will prompt your brain to produce mood-enhancing chemicals that help you start the day on the right foot. While it can feel false at first, you’ll soon get used to it, and with time may even find that you wake up already feeling like smiling.
9. Set a goal
There’s no time for feeling listless or groggy if you make a habit of immediately setting one goal for the day each morning. This process lends extra structure to your life, and there’s room for all kinds of aims. While one day’s goal might be to complete a major work project or network with at least three new people at a conference, another day’s goal could focus entirely on self-care (e.g. spending two hours reading fiction or taking a hot bubble bath in the evening).
Finally, although you may think the idea of working out first thing in the morning sounds appalling, you don’t need to run for miles to get the benefit of exercising when you rise. Even a brisk walk around your neighborhood, a series of deep stretches, or dance to your favorite song will get your blood pumping and tell your body it’s time to be productive.