Morning routine ideas that will boost motivation and productivity


For a great day, start with a morning routine that works in your favor.

“We want to use the most powerful tools that work the fastest to help put our brains into motivated and productive mode in the first place,” says Wendy Suzuki, PhD, neuroscientist and author of Good anxiety: harness the power of the most misunderstood emotion.

Creating an arousal practice can also help you reap the benefits of the ritual: research reveals that people who engage in repetitive behaviors that have meaning attached to them feel more in control and can cope better. anxiety and stress. Try these science-based morning routine ideas (choose the ones that work best for you) to create the perfect mindset to fuel your next 12 hours. (But first, a little reminder that you won’t fail if you don’t have an Instagram-worthy morning routine.)

1) look on the bright side

Exposing the optic nerve in your eyes to light activates your cortisol arousal systems, releasing energizing neurotransmitters, peptides and hormones, including adrenaline, dopamine, serotonin and testosterone, according to Kristen Willeumier, PhD, neuroscientist and author of Biohack Your Brain: How to Improve Cognitive Health, Performance, and Potency.

The body’s energizing cortisol and testosterone naturally peak in the morning, but exposing your optic nerve to light is the permanent switch your brain needs to stay alert throughout the day, she says. Open your curtains or blinds immediately after you wake up and have your coffee or smoothie on your porch or near a window. Natural light is best for this idea of ​​a morning routine – the sun is the strongest trigger for alertness.

Morning routine
Image: Courtesy of Allison Christine / Unsplash

2) imagine a successful day

“Visualization helps you form mental images that have not been experienced or perceived by the senses, but that you may have seen someone else do and want to emulate,” says Willeumier. And when you imagine something, you are setting up the neural pathways for it to happen in real life: Functional MRIs have shown that certain areas of the brain look the same, whether we are experiencing an activity (like playing an instrument or hitting an instrument). tennis ball) or just imagine doing it.

Visualization techniques such as mentally rehearsing an event the way you want, imagining yourself having qualities that you admire in a model, or seeing yourself make healthy food choices for the day ahead improve athletic, professional performance. , and personal goals, building confidence and focus.

3) get up and move

(Image credit: Andrew Heald / Unsplash)

Exercising right from the start provides benefits for the mind and body throughout the day. “Exercise bathes the brain in a chemical bubble bath of serotonin and dopamine, which helps focus and mood,” says Suzuki, who changed his workout routine from afternoon to morning. based on his research on the link between exercise and mood.

Another reason to get up and sweat is a beneficial morning routine idea: it keeps you “active” all day. Dopamine is a reward chemical, and the more of it you get, the more you want to do what delivered it in the first place. “We have proof that the more movements you do, the more motivated you are to keep moving throughout the day,” says Suzuki.

Starting your morning with a workout also predicts better brain function. One study found that those who exercised 30 minutes after waking up and moving three minutes every half hour throughout the day were better at focusing, making decisions, getting organized, and planning.

4) go out

(Image credit: Emma Simpson / Unsplash)

If you’re someone who opens your eyes and instantly starts worrying about your to-do list, Mother Nature can pump the breaks on the stress pedal. Just being in nature – watering the garden, taking a walk in a park – activates our parasympathetic nervous system, helping us to feel refreshed.

“A little stress and cortisol are okay because they activate and make us productive, but you want to combine that with a feeling of calm so that you can move forward in the most positive way,” says Suzuki, who meditates in the face of his plants to get it. green in his routine. Just hearing the chorus of nature makes a difference: Research has found that natural sounds like raindrops and rustling leaves in trees reduce stress, decrease pain, and improve mood and feelings. cognitive performance.

5) turn caffeination into meditation

(Image credit: Clay Banks / Unsplash)

Doing something that has multiple steps, like brewing coffee or brewing tea, is an easy way to give meditation shape, pace, and purpose, and to have something to focus on as you guide your meditation. spirit. Not to mention that it probably fits perfectly into your morning routine. (You can also turn, for example, your morning skincare or beauty routine into a meditation.)

Regular meditation has been shown to relieve stress, improve learning, and increase the volume of areas of the brain associated with attention and memory, says Willeumier, who does this every morning for 30 minutes. Suzuki devotes 45 minutes each morning to a tea ritual and open-watch meditation, which she learned on vacation from a monk in Bali.

“The tea ritual is the engine that keeps me in meditation – there is always a next step to focus on,” she says. “As I brew, wait, pour, taste and drink, I watch what comes to mind. It helps me wake up gently and gives me time to ask myself, “How am I feeling?” I tune in to what my body needs that day. If you are short on time for this idea of ​​a morning routine, know that even five minutes of deep breathing will give you brain benefits, according to science.

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(Main and feature image credit: Chris Liu Beers / Unsplash)

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