Written By: Dr. Steven Scappaticci, B.Sc. (Hons.), CSCS, DC, FRCms
Do you ever have one of “those” mornings? The one where nothing goes right and you get off to a bad start? Maybe you hit snooze one too many times, took forever to pick out what to wear, spilled your coffee, or got stuck in traffic? Generally these tend to occur on Mondays but the remaining days of the week are not immune to it either. It is mornings like these that set up the rest of the day to be a struggle. These are the kinds of mornings where just one cup of coffee won’t do!
Wouldn’t it be great if by 8 or 9am you had accomplished so much and felt good about your day? I know for me it does! What helps me feel this way is a morning routine (also referred by some as a morning ritual). Something as simple as accomplishing a few things in the early hours of your day can have a profound impact on your mood and the rest of your day.
The great thing is that your routine could include anything. It doesn’t have to be super complicated, just as long as it includes a few tasks to help start your day on a productive note. Things that your morning routine can include are: going to the gym or working out at home, going for a walk around the neighborhood, making your bed, packing a healthy lunch, flossing…etc. The list can literally go on and on.
Some would even say that what you do is not even as important as simply just doing a few things. It doesn’t matter if your routine includes running 10km and then prepping a gourmet lunch versus making your bed and flossing your teeth. The principle is the same. Having a somewhat structured morning allows for tasks to be completed and gives you a sense of accomplishment before even going to school or work.
If you’re in your mid-twenties and single your routine may differ from someone who is in their mid-forties with two children but you would both have a routine. But age does not matter! In fact, those children can have their own routine too. Sure it may not involve going to the gym at 6am, but if they made their bed, packed a nutritious lunch, and maybe did one educational thing before catching the bus (i.e. educational flashcards) they would be off to a way better start than someone in their cohort who gets to school half asleep. Parents can incorporate their children in their routine as well so both are feeling accomplished.
What is my routine you ask? Well my alarm is set for 6am, and I’ll admit I hit snooze a time or two (or three) but I am at the gym for 7am. After getting my butt kicked for an hour by a vigorous workout, I head home and enjoy my reward, two espressos (my only coffee intake for the day). If time permits, I will catch up on the sports world by watching a little Sportscentre before getting cleaned up, packing a lunch, and off to work. So before even stepping into my office, I’ve gotten my recommended daily exercise, made my bed, and packed a healthy lunch. These are small but important victories.
This also frees up some time later in my day. For example, by going to the gym before work, I free up time at night where I would have normally gone to the gym. To fill this time at night, I can read, cook, spend time with family & friends, or simply relax and reflect on a productive day.
Similarly, you can have routines for other parts of your day as well. Maybe when you get home from work, you feel unproductive. Perhaps incorporating a evening routine will make you feel more productive. Things like, organizing/cleaning one room of your house each night, doing 30-60 minutes of yard work each night (weather permitting), meal prepping for tomorrows lunch. Once again, the list goes on.
Now you may be thinking that this is going to get boring really quick! To do the same thing day in and day out with little variation can get boring. I completely understand. And for those of you who feel this way, I suggest alternating your routines. Have a different routine for different days of the week. Make it simple by doing tasks ‘ABC’ on Mondays, Wednesdays, & Fridays and complete tasks ‘XYZ’ on the other days. Similarly, you can have different routines based on the seasons. In the summer, you can spend more time outside doing different things before/after work than you would do in the winter. Variability is possible and within your control!
A morning routine can be the difference between starting your day with a sense of accomplishment and enthusiasm versus a grumpy mood and the need for a third cup of coffee. It makes a difference, believe me. I encourage you to try it for a month and let me know what you think!
We all have 24 hours in a day, how you choose to use them is your choice. No excuses!
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