Life can be hard sometimes. Really hard.
Within all the hustle and bustle of modern day routine and distraction, it can be good to take a step back every now and then and evaluate how you can do you better.
Fortunately, we’ve stumbled onto some really great life hacks to help get you started!
Below are 21 ideas you can use to make subtle changes to your daily routine.
They’ll make things flow more smoothly and increase the quality of your everyday life.
1. Find A Routine That Works For You
The most important thing to take into consideration when changing up your morning routine is: does it work for you?
A morning routine can be a great way to get you up and moving for the day, but only if it’s something that adds value to your day.
If you find yourself stressing because you’re pressed for time, or it leaves you feeling tired and unproductive, ditch it and find something better.
2. Avoid Hitting The Snooze Button At All Costs
While waking up can be the hardest part of the day, if you wake up on time you will find yourself more alert and ready for the day ahead.
According to Dr. Jeff Brown’s post from Psychology Today, each time you reach for that snooze button, you are interrupting your sleep cycle and depriving your brain of the ability to function at its absolute best.
you’ve lost out on valuable sleep that your brain needs in order to consolidate memory and restore itself for tasks like concentration, focus, attention, and recall.
So do yourself and your brain a HUGE favor and get enough shuteye at night so you won’t want to snooze in the morning.
3. Down A Cold Glass Of Water When You Wake Up
Mild dehydration caused deficits in visual and working memory and executive function in healthy young women. These deficits were reversed by drinking…2.5 l/day [of water] for adult women.
As you sleep, you lose a fair amount of water. Drinking cold water when you get up will jolt body awake by giving your brain the water it needs for optimal performance.
4. Eat Breakfast With Intention
Eating a healthy breakfast and waking up on time are the only tools you really need to kick-start the day, so do it with intention.
If you eat breakfast distracted and on-the-go every morning, your body will get stressed out.
When under stress your body releases the hormone cortisol, preventing you from properly digesting your food and getting the necessary nutrients for peak performance.
So be present in mind and body when you eat, allowing yourself enough time to sit and enjoy your meal to start the day right.
5. Soak Up The Sun
Ever notice how Summer mornings are easier to wake up to?
You’re happier and more alert when the sun is out because your body is getting its dose of vitamin D.
Three-quarters of U.S. teens and adults are deficient in vitamin D, the so-called ‘sunshine vitamin’ whose deficits are increasingly blamed for everything from cancer and heart disease to diabetes
Spending even 10 minutes in the sunlight each day can drastically increase your body’s natural production of this essential “vitamin”, improving your overall brain function and even your mood!
6. Don’t Let Your Phone Dictate Your Routine
How many people do you know that sleep with their phone next to their bed?
If you’re one of them, it could be the reason you don’t always seem to “Rise and Shine”.
Sleeping with your phone disrupts your sleep cycles, aka your circadian rhythm, and makes it even harder to get out of bed and prepare to take on the day.
Keep your phone in a separate room at night for a more restful sleep.
7. Keep Your Outdoor-Wear In One Spot
Getting out of the door on time in the mornings can be hard enough.
Keep all of your jackets, shoes, umbrellas, scarfs, and hats in one place. Even your sunglasses.
Having things ready at the door is a sure way to make sure you get out of the house with everything you’ll need, without rushing around in a mad-search.
8. Keep It Cool
According to Sleep.org, people sleep better when the ambient temperature is between 60°-70° F.
This is because your body tries to cool itself down in order to fall asleep each night.
Keeping your bedroom at a cooler temperature can help this process along so you can fall asleep faster, and wake up as soon as your feet hit the floor.
9. Write It Down
As life gets more and more chaotic, you’ll learn to trust yourself to remember things less and less.
Writing a task-list down before falling asleep will help solidify your priorities.
It will also give your brain a lovely feeling of productivity, and help you to remember to accomplish it the next day.
This way you won’t keep yourself awake at night trying to remember what you have to do tomorrow.
10. Hit Play
Create yourself a morning playlist to get yourself up and moving.
With every tap of the foot or fling of the hip, you’re getting that blood pumping and the feel-good hormones flowing.
This is a great way to start your day if you aren’t keen on morning workouts, too.
Dancing to your favorite tune won’t feel like exercise and it’ll have you tapping your way to the door.
11. Visit With Your Friends And Family
While you may not see yourself as “morning person”, socializing with others early in the morning can wake you up in more ways than one.
Having a morning chat with someone will get your brain working as you think your way through the conversation.
It can also lift the morning blues, especially if you have a laugh or two, and help you remember your tasks that day as you recount them to friends or family.
12. Make Breakfast The Night Before
How many times have you skipped out on breakfast?
While it seems like you’re making a worthy sacrifice to stay on task throughout the day, you aren’t doing yourself any favors.
In order for the brain to function at its best, you need 3 key ingredients: protein, carbohydrates, and fats.
This trifecta ensures that you will be full, energetic and that you’re mentally equipped for anything that comes your way.
13. Keep A Snack Handy
Later in the morning if you start to get hungry, you don’t want to have to rely on the junk food available in most stores and office vending machines to get you by.
Most of them are loaded with sugars and devoid of the nutrients your brain is craving and will leave you feeling more lethargic than before.
On days where you just aren’t able to get in the three brain foods mentioned above, make sure to have a prepared, healthy snack with you.
14. Commit To Put 3 Things In Their Proper Place
Believe it or not, keeping a clean house will help keep a “clean” brain.
It can be distracting to wake up to a messy, unorganized house each day when you have to get up and ready for work.
Keep the task of tidying the house less daunting by committing to put away at least 3 things each night/morning.
This will prevent both house and brain from becoming too cluttered.
15. Enjoy 10 Minutes Of Reading Time
Reading has a plethora of brain benefits and can aid you in the process of waking up by jump-starting your ability to focus, remember, and understand the living world around you.
Numerous studies show that these effects are increased when you engage in “deep reading”.
This means an in-depth article or story that makes you exercise your brain’s ability to make connections, remember, and even feel more deeply.
So save the FB scrolling for the post-lunch break, and bust out one of your favorite novels to get those brain juices flowing.
16. Align Your Alarm Clock With Your Sleep Cycle
Remember the circadian rhythm we mentioned earlier? Essentially, this rhythm dictates when you become tired or alert.
This is also known as you sleep/wake cycle, or REM, and has a strong impact on your energy levels throughout the day.
The cycle lasts anywhere from 70-90 minutes, and if you set your alarm to go off at the end of one of these cycles you will wake up feeling more alert and have more energy throughout the day.
Check out this REM sleep calculator here.
17. Put Your Coffee On Auto-Brew
Most coffee machines have an auto-brew setting, so you can set your coffee up the night before and it will turn on and brew you a fresh pot at a preset time.
Take advantage of this feature and save yourself an extra few minutes in the morning.
With the spare time, you can pick up that book or follow the next routine.
18. Stretch It Out
Stretching does more than tone and lengthen your muscles, it also affects your brain.
When you engage in any physical activity, it releases endorphins in the brain that are responsible for both your mood and your nerve sensitivity.
In other words, when you stretch in the morning you will release those feel-good chemicals in your body and eliminate many aches and pains.
With a solid 10 minutes of stretching, you can be bouncing your way out the door with ease!
19. Turn Up The Podcast
If you find yourself too busy to sit down and read in the a.m., listen to your favorite podcast on the way to work.
Though you won’t be exercising your brain nearly as much as reading, you will still get the benefits of waking up as your brain works to understand and interact with the podcast.
20. Let The Sun In
If you can manage to open your drapes and do away with the alarm clock altogether, you will be happier in the long run.
Allowing yourself to emerge into the waking world with the slow rise of the sun will naturally lift you out of your REM cycle, leaving you less irritable and tired during the day.
An added bonus, when you wake up with the sunlight you get more daylight in your day and increase your vitamin D production and get all those great benefits mentioned earlier.
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21. Narrow Your To-Do List
We already had you write down all of your daily tasks, but accomplishing all of them on a given day can seem daunting.
No matter how well-planned your day is, things come up and sometimes tasks just have to be left undone.
Decrease your stress levels by narrowing down your list to just two of the top priority errands.
This way you will still accomplish what is most time-sensitive or important without wearing yourself out along the way.
H/T: The Daily Meal