6 ways to start your mornings right
If you're working out regularly and making good food choices, you've probably noticed that you've got more energy throughout the day, and enjoy better sleep at night. Unfortunately, this doesn't guarantee that you'll wake up feeling on point every morning. Here's a quick list of good morning habits that can help stack the deck in your favor.
There’s no need to try all of these at once—the key to building habits into your day successfully is to start small and stabilize that habit before adding another.
One more pro-tip before we start on the list: if you try one of these suggestions and like it, keep doing it, but if it doesn’t work for you, drop it and move on to the next. Find what works for you and stick to it.
Tip #1: Be strategic about breakfast
We don’t preach low-carb eating, but the crash after a carb-heavy meal is real. To prevent yourself from getting sleepy or feeling lethargic early in the day, stick to things that are higher in protein and/or fat, and make sure to get some fiber into your system. A great option here would be eggs and avocado, followed by an apple.
If you don’t know what you’re going to have for lunch, or whether you’re going to get your vegetables at dinner later, consider covering your bases in the morning, too. A simple veggie smoothie for breakfast can solve all of this. There's no need to overcomplicate things: simply grab a handful or three of washed veggies (for micronutrients and fiber), add a serving of fruit for flavour, then add a bit of good fat for richness, thickness and satiety (think avocado or unsweetened nut butter). You can get some protein (and texture) from adding nuts and seeds, but if you want this to sustain you for a while, you can add any high-quality protein powder to the mix.
Tip #2: Stretch and breathe
If you're one of those people with the discipline to get up early and drag yourself to a yoga class in the morning, great—but if you don’t have the time, just a couple of minutes of something like the lizard stretch, happy baby, or half-moon stretch will go a long way. Pair the movements with deep breaths—in through the nose, out through the mouth. You’ll wake up, increase circulation, and feel alive.
If you need some inspiration, check out the mobility library in the on Ritual FIT app where you'll find videos and instructions on a range of stretches to help kick off your day the right way.
Tip #3: Go out for a long, easy walk (or a short brisk one)
Kick start your morning with a little activity to increase circulation and oxygen intake as you wake up your central nervous system. In an ideal world, we’d recommend 45 minutes in the morning, but realistically speaking, getting off the train/bus one or two stops early and walking briskly to your destination will do just fine. Side note: this also pairs as the perfect opportunity to set your intentions for the day (or decide on the most important thing to accomplish today).
Note that being outside makes a difference. Apart from the calming effects of nature, a few minutes of sunlight (even on a cloudy day) helps calibrate your circadian cycle, so you’ll be more switched on during the day, and find it easier to fall asleep at night. It’s important that your eyes receive the light directly, so keep your shades off for a few minutes (note, this definitely doesn't mean you should look directly into the sun).
Tip #4: Work out when you're going to work out
Each morning, decide on your workout time for the day, whether that’s first thing in the morning, in between meetings, or the end of the work day. Protect that time, because it will make everything else better.
It sets your mind right subconsciously, too. You’ll be thinking about consuming things that won’t affect your session or desired results, and it can help break up a day that feels monotonous. It also creates an opportunity to accomplish something physically challenging today, which is going to earn you the calmness and fortitude to accomplish the other difficult things.
Quick aside: there’s a reason we’ve engineered the Ritual Fit App so that all you have to do is tap ‘Start’ for your workout. Your decision-making ability is better spent on work or family, not planning what you have to do for your workout. Check it off the list, and move on with your day.
Tip #5: Drink some water, not just coffee
Coffee is great, but don’t forget to hydrate as well. You’ve just gone eight hours or so (hopefully; and if not, check out this article on sleep) with no water overnight, so make sure you get a couple of glasses in before going about your day. The body functions most efficiently when it’s well hydrated, and that includes physical and cognitive performance.
Tip #6: Go easy on the sugar in your coffee/tea
Most of us crave that caffeine boost in the mornings, but while sugary caffeinated drinks may perk you up for a bit, you'll probably experience a crash before lunch (which will probably lead you to make another sugary coffee). If you're trying to lose weight or be more conscious of your food intake, the sneaky bits of sugar in drinks can ruin the show—many energy drinks contain the same amount of sugar as soft drinks.
These small adjustments to your mornings might seem too simple to make a significant impact, but that’s actually how healthy, sustainable change happens—stack the small daily wins, and let the magic of consistency take you on a journey.
Be brave. You’ve got this.