A morning routine can make or break a day. The first things you do in the morning set the tone for the remainder of the day, so it is important to engage in activities or tasks that initiate positivity, productivity, relaxation or any other desirable vibe. Unfortunately, many people partake in unhelpful habits that inadvertently sabotage the next parts of their day.
Learn what to do first thing in the morning to establish a solid routine and create an advantageous awareness that suffuses the rest of the day.
10 Bad Habits to Avoid in the Morning
If looking to boost productivity and feel good right from the very get-go, make sure to avoid these bad habits in the morning.
Hitting the Snooze Button More than Once
Once can easily turn into five times and also teaches the brain to procrastinate awaking. Although a sounding alarm sometimes feels like being hit with a brick first thing in the morning, popping out of bed on the first ring initiates high energy.
Looking at Your Phone
Looking at your phone, scrolling through social media, and checking emails upon waking is quite possibly the single worst thing to do. Not only does it flood the brain with an overload of information, it can elicit comparison and depressive or anxious thoughts that linger.
Turning On the TV
To the above point, watching TV poses similar risks as scrolling social media first thing in the morning when the brain, attitude, and thoughts are most vulnerable. What you see, hear, and feel in the morning can stay within your subconscious throughout the rest of the day.
Ultimately, if the content is negative, this can be problematic and set a negative tone for the day.
Reaching for Refined Sugar
Immediately consuming refined sugar is like riding a blood sugar roller coaster for the rest of the day. Refined sugar often is in favorite breakfast staples like cereal, poptarts, donuts and other pastries.
What you eat first can affect subsequent feelings and choices throughout the day’s entirety. This is why many health professionals suggest breakfast is the most important meal of the day
Skipping Nourishment Altogether
On another note, not eating anything an hour or two after waking can cause hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Though individual, one may experience symptoms of dizziness, lethargy, clamminess, sweating, and nausea.
Drinking Coffee Before Water
The body is already dehydrated upon waking up and drinking caffeinated coffee right away only exacerbates this. However, waiting too long to drink the first cup of joe can affect sleep.
So, the sweet spot to sip this beverage is likely after water but before 10 a.m.
Rushing to Get Ready
Starting the day in panic mode can trigger the sympathetic nervous system, the flight or fight response and stress hormone release, to remain on high alert for hours after a stressful situation. Stress affects mental, emotional and physical health in impactful negative or positive ways.
Looking at the To-Do List
Similar to the above, looking at all that needs to be done can provoke anxious or burn out stress responses. Taming these thoughts in the morning primes the nervous system to respond more calmly when accomplishing that to-do-list is more necessary.
Sitting for Too Long
Because the body is dehydrated after sleeping, joints and muscles feel stiff and stagnantly sitting for too long intensifies this. Though worse in the morning, sitting for too long of periods is not conducive towards physical or mental health either.
Not Having a Good Morning Routine
It is much harder to be productive without some structure. Tackling the mornings willy-nilly can feel chaotic and set you up to feel similarly the rest of the day.
Overall, while you do not have to have a perfect morning routine, it is important to at least have one.
How to Break a Bad Habit
Simply put, habits are adaptive brain mechanisms intended to reduce the energy of decision making throughout the day. And understanding how habits form can actually make breaking poor ones less painful.
No specific scientific steps layout how to break a pesky habit. However, a concept known as “the 3 R’s” (reminder, routine, and reward) attempts to discern how to create one. Applying some educated reasoning to this same concept can accomplish the opposite.
- Reminder: The reminder or cue serves as a trigger for the brain. When trying to break a habit, instead of acting on the reminder, one would be reminded not to act on the trigger.
- Routine: Practice makes perfect! Doing something over and over so often that it becomes naturally ingrained creates routine. Once again, rather than the behavior becoming routine the lack of action becomes routine.
- Reward: Finally, the notion of positive conditioning or rewarding a desirable behavior (or lack thereof) can help create or break a habit. It is most helpful when the reward is also healthy or constructive.
Breaking a habit is difficult, but creating one can be even moreso. However, replacing a poor habit with a productive one can ease the process and essentially kill two birds with one stone.
Good Replacement Habits
Out with the bad and in with the good! When breaking bad habits, try creating and implementing these habits into a morning routine.
Mindfulness refers to being fully present in the moment, allowing waning thoughts to pass, and acknowledging gratitude. This can be developed through a variety of ways such as meditation, journaling, yoga, reading, and various other spiritual practices.
Journal About Daily Intentions
Related to mindfulness, journaling about how you want to feel during the day essentially manifests that feeling in reality. Writing it on paper is further assurance for the brain!
Move Your Body
Exercising, stretching, taking a short walk, rebounding or another form of movement helps the nervous system awake. Movement also leads to clearer thinking for hours afterwards.
Get Natural Sunlight
Getting even five minutes of natural sunlight from the sun or a lamp that mimics sunlight helps regulate the circadian rhythm. In turn, this helps with hormone and mood regulation and consistent sleep patterns.
Shortly after waking up, it is smart to drink at least 8 oz of water. The body wakes up dehydrated and cells are yearning for lubrication to function at their best for the day’s remainder.
Eat Nourishing Foods/Beverages
Breaking an overnight fast with nourishment like lean protein, fiber, satiating fat, and/or complex carbohydrate is an excellent way to promote health and longevity. Research shows it can also lead to better nutritional choices throughout the rest of the day thanks to balanced blood sugar levels.
One cup of joe or about 60 mg of caffeine per day is associated with positive health. Drinking it in the morning after water and well before noon helps ensure that sleep is not affected later that night.
Plan for the Day Ahead
Rather than approaching the day haphazardly, set a loose plan to instill some structure that can serve a guide to accomplish the tasks of the day. This is best tackled an hour or so after a mindful morning.
Set Small Goals
To complement the plan for the day, setting small goals offers a further framework to productively guide the day ahead. Prioritizing 3-4 things to achieve can make one feel more empowered to seize the day.
Continuing the planning train, prepping meals and snacks for the day makes eating healthy much simpler. Focus on fibrous carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, lean protein and healthy fat for naturally nutritious choices that promote lasting energy.
The Bottom Line
The morning is arguably the most important time of day and what you choose to do during that time even moreso. Because it often sets the tone for the rest of the day, equip yourself with conducive tools and habits.
Try to avoid consuming content like social media, news outlets and even email inboxes first thing in the morning. Instead, consume healthy nourishment, practice mindfulness, move a little, and plan for the day ahead.
Although breaking a habit is hard at first, eventually it begins to feel like second nature with consistent practice and perseverance. And replacing a poor habit with a productive one eases the process further.
Raypole C. How to Break a Habit: 15 Tips for Success. Healthline. Published October 19, 2019. www.healthline.com/health/how-to-break-a-habit.
Shortsleeve C. How to Break Bad Habits, According to Science. Time. Published August 28, 2018. www.time.com/5373528/break-bad-habit-science/.
Waheeda. 11 Bad Morning Habits You Should Quit to Stop Wasting Your Day. Habits Buzz. Published March 14, 2020. www.habitsbuzz.com/quit-bad-morning-habits/.