My alarm (an obnoxious honking sound) goes off at 7:00 AM. I immediately fumble for my phone and hit snooze with my head still firmly planted on my hemp pillow. For backup, I also set it to 7:15, 7:20, and 7:25 which created a terrible orchestra of honks, beeps, and bells until I begrudgingly woke up.
After silencing these alarms, I immediately check my email and get annoyed that my boss emailed me twice after midnight, clearly expecting an immediate response. Next stop, Instagram, where I get envious that my old roommate is vacationing in Mexico. Now that I have sufficiently wasted time and it's 7:45, I hop in the shower, quickly get ready and run out the door with my cold coffee.
That’s how my morning rituals looked like about ten years ago. Since then, I have been trying to perfect my AM routine, and fortunately, it has come a long way!
Your morning routine can determine how successful you are, how healthy you are, and maybe even how “attractive” you are - or at least that’s what some people say. These may be bold claims, but health gurus, sleep experts, doctors, and nearly every influencer on Instagram is making them as they share their morning routine.
Although the hype is undisputed, I still had some questions. Ultimately, I wanted to know what are the best morning rituals to start the day. If you have felt the same, you know there is a lot of conflicting advice!
5 AM club vs. waking up natural
Drinking lemon water vs. bullet-proof coffee
Cold shower vs. hot bath
Meditation vs. HITT training
Journaling vs. reading
After a deep dive into books, blogs, and everything in between, I have compiled the top morning must-haves you need to incorporate into your AM routine.
Wake up early
Although there’s some debate on the exact time, many people believe that the early bird really does get the worm. Jennifer Aniston is a famous advocate for early AM rituals. She wakes up at 4:30 AM every single day. She doesn’t waste time hitting snooze either; she gets up, washes her face, drinks hot water with lemon, and mediates for 20 minutes.
Studies report that waking up early will attune your body to the earth’s circadian rhythm, promoting more restorative sleep. This means you will wake up feeling more refreshed. Further, research shows that those considered “early risers” are better problem solvers, more optimistic, and more efficient.
As expected, meditation made the list of the best rituals to add to your morning routine. When you start your day by immediately grabbing your phone and looking at emails or social media, you can kick off stress. Instead, try meditation. When you meditate, you release endorphins that will give you lasting energy. Morning meditation will reduce stress, improve overall mental health, and increase creativity. This is a beloved morning ritual for many, including Oprah.
When I was first tried this, I thought I could meditate while lying down in bed, and long story short, I was late for work. To prevent falling back asleep, you should get out of bed and meditate while sitting on a zafu meditation cushion for at least 10 minutes.
Gratitude is very powerful. When you choose to focus your attention on things working in your life, you reinforce happiness and positivity. To get in a positive mindset, practice gratitude. Either think or write down at least five things you are grateful for right now. These can be small things like dinner with your family or that you get to enjoy the day outside. Do it every morning and watch the positive impact it will have!
Set out your clothes the night before
Whether your first activity is hitting the gym, going for a walk, or getting ready for work, you are eliminating one less decision and task for busy mornings by picking out your clothes the night before. Many believe this is the secret to getting them out of bed and stop hitting snooze.
If you want to take this to the extreme, you could be like Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who believes that you can spend your limited attention on more critical tasks by reducing your choices. This is why he has twenty identical gray t-shirts – the decision on what to wear each day is made for him.
Drink water first
As a coffee lover, it is the only thing I want in the morning. But, after doing the research, I will be reaching for water first. This is one of the most popular morning rituals to start your day. Dr. Nilu Ahmed, a University of Bristol behavioral psychologist, told Huffington Post that you flush your system when you drink water first, which helps keep joints and organs healthy. This will provide lasting effects, including improved mental clarity and clear skin.
If you prefer a warm beverage in the morning, try hot lemon water with lemon. Not only will it help flush out toxins, but it will give you an extra dose of vitamin C and help balance PH levels, reduce pain and inflammation.
Have a cold shower
Although more people opt for a hot shower in the morning, experts and those who take their morning routine seriously believe a cold shower is best. The cold water shocks your body and boosts energy levels.
According to anxiety coach Shirley Billson, “The cold shower is like suddenly slamming your foot to the floor and hitting 0 – 100 mph in six seconds. When you release the pedal and step out of the shower, it’s as if the pedal has moved past the stuck point and returned to its normal idle state. Your body can start producing calming serotonin and motivational dopamine once more. You’ll feel great.”
If this doesn’t sound appealing, you can meet in the middle and give your face an ice bath like Kate Hudson. This morning ritual was recommended to Kate by a makeup artist, and she’s been doing it ever since. Fill a bowl with a lot of ice and some water. Submerge your face in it and keep it there for as long as you can. This will give the same energy-boosting effects as a cold shower and give your skin a beautiful glow.
You can journal however you like, but there are some things you should include to set your day up for success. The first thing is writing down your goals. They can be your goals for the day or long-term goals. Next, write down your most important tasks today. Try to stick to no more than three. The goal is to focus your mind, not create a sense of overwhelm. These tasks should be related to the goals you set for yourself previously. By doing this, you will better prioritize your time and stay on track.
Affirmations, like gratitude, can also help boost energy, feelings of happiness and help you achieve your goals. Affirmations are “I am” statements that are written in the present tense and very positive. For example, “I am healthy and strong.”
Take a multivitamin
Typically those with a well-defined morning routine are more health-conscious. They are looking for ways to optimize performance, health, and wellness. This is why we see so many people taking a multivitamin in the morning.
Even with a well-rounded breakfast, you are likely not getting all the vitamins and minerals you need from one meal. When you pair breakfast with a multivitamin, you are getting everything you need to fuel your body for the day. This has incredible effects on brain function, preventing illness and injury, and will increase energy.
Accomplish one task and make your bed
It doesn’t need to be a big task, just something small that can give you a sense of accomplishment. Tim Ferris, a renowned author, public speaker, and entrepreneur, is a big believer in this. His one task each morning is to make his bed. According to Ferris, this gives him a sense of pride. After getting out of bed, fluff your hemp pillow and make your bed. The benefits as two-fold as bringing in a made bed at night is said to improve sleep quality.
Many people also believe that exercise is one of the best ways to start your day. When you exercise, you jump-start your metabolism, get your blood flowing, sweat out toxins, and release endorphins. These feel-good effects will last throughout the day, and it is also one task you can check off your to-do list. Former President Barack Obama would always wake up at least two hours before his first meeting to prioritize his morning workout.
If you want to overhaul your AM routine completely, you can, but experts suggest taking a gradual approach. A drastic change is unlikely to stick, so if you want to make consistent improvements trying adding in one morning ritual at a time. For example, start meditating on your zafu meditation cushion for 10 minutes every day for two weeks. After two weeks, start taking a multivitamin with breakfast.
Although these popular morning rituals work for some, they won’t work for everyone. Our bodies and sleep patterns are different. Experiment to discover what works for you, and before you know it, you could have an AM routine worthy of a celebrity health guru.