The snooze button is calling, phone alerts beckon, and work responsibilities loom. If you start your days tired and stressed, it’s time to rethink what you do first thing in the morning. “A new day offers hope, a fresh start, and opportunity—seizing that can set your intentions for the day,” says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, a registered dietician nutritionist and the author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean.
Transform your morning—and the hours that follow—by doing something that affirms your commitment to wellness. And don’t worry: Even a small change can have a big impact! Read on to learn how to design a morning routine to help you feel healthier and happier all day.
15 ideas for the best morning routine
To create your a.m. routine, choose something that supports your personal wellness goals, and then do it every morning. Need some inspiration? Here are 15 ideas:
1. Don’t hit snooze.
Wake up at the same time every day, and you’ll likely start going to bed at a consistent hour too. That’s important because an irregular sleep schedule not only affects your energy, it also increases your risk of heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure, according to research.
2. Practice gratitude.
“Sometimes we just plow through our day and forget to reflect on the positive things that happened or what we accomplished,” Minno says. “Writing down a few things you’re grateful for first thing in the morning can set a positive tone for the rest of the day.” Don’t overthink it: You can be grateful for something as simple as a sunny day or making it to a yoga class. All The (Good) Feels Pop-Open Cards can also be a helpful tool to get your gratitude juices flowing. Display them on your fridge, by your laptop, or in your wallet to help remind you to check in with what's important to you.
3. Drink water.
Having a glass of water as soon as you wake up helps rehydrate your body after a night’s sleep. And that’s important since dehydration can cause headaches, increase fatigue, and even make it tough to concentrate. Keep a water bottle by your bed so it’s the first thing you see in the morning, suggests Bazilian.
4. Have a healthy breakfast.
Load up on nutrient-rich food in the morning and you’ll be motivated to eat well all day long. “Come up with two go-to breakfast options, so you don’t have to think too hard about what to have,” Bazilian says. Include healthy fats (like those in olive oil, avocado, and nut butter) as well as fiber (from whole grains, fruits, and veggies). And don’t forget protein: A breakfast that contains this key nutrient—think Greek yogurt or eggs—helps control hunger throughout the day.
5. Don’t look at your phone.
If you start the morning with social media and news, you’re overloading your mind and likely beginning your day in a negative headspace, Minno says. Charge your phone in a different room than you sleep in (so it’s not the first thing you reach for when you wake up) and commit to waiting a set amount of time before you check it.
6. Repeat a mantra.
Write down an affirming phrase, post it somewhere you’ll see often (like on your coffee maker or bathroom mirror), and say it out loud. “Instead of a to-do list, it’s a who-you-want-to-be list,” Minno says. For ideas, think of phrases from inspiring songs and poems, or check out your favorite Instagram pages. Two of our favorite mantras: “I will find joy in everything I do” and “Slay today!”
7. Open your drapes.
Light is proven to affect your circadian rhythm and melatonin levels, which help regulate your sleep. “Natural light flips your body into its wake cycle,” Minno says. Can you get outside for those morning rays? Even better, as little as 10 minutes in nature will boost your mood and decrease your stress, according to one study.
8. Listen to a pump-up song.
Play an upbeat tune while you’re brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Music can boost your mood, helping you start your day happy and energized. Choose any song you love—but you can’t go wrong with Happy by Pharell.
9. Make your bed.
“A tidy space can help you feel in control of your day,” Bazilian says. “And fixing your bed lets you see the results of one good thing you’ve already accomplished.” Want to take the morning tidy-up a step farther? Wash your breakfast dishes, hang up your bath towel, and put your pajamas in the hamper.
10. Get moving.
Whether you take a walk or crank out a strength-training session, starting your day with activity is one of the smartest healthy habits you can adopt. Exercise boosts your energy and decreases symptoms of depression, and a morning bout significantly improves your memory and decision-making, research shows. Plus, people who work out in the morning lose more weight than those who exercise in the evening, according to a study published in the International Journal of Obesity.
Spend five minutes just sitting still and breathing. Meditation can make you feel happier, lower your blood pressure, and even improve your focus and concentration. To start meditating, simply sit or lie down and breathe normally, focusing on each inhale and exhale.
12. Put on a happy face.
It might feel silly at first but look in the mirror and smile at yourself. “Smiling stimulates the release of endorphins, which make you feel good,” Bazilian says. This two-second habit can provide just the mood boost you need to start your day with a positive mindset.
13. Make a list.
A written plan of action can make you more productive, according to research. Jotting down a to-do or grocery list helps free your brain from worrying about unfinished tasks. Take a few minutes to write down what you hope to accomplish during the day and plan what you need to buy for upcoming meals. You can use any notebook you have.
14. Check in with yourself.
Before you even get out of bed, try this exercise to get in tune with how your body is feeling, Bazilian says. Tense up and then slowly relax each part of your body, starting with your toes and moving up to your legs, torso, arms, and neck. Finish with three deep breaths, inflating your belly as you inhale and then flattening your belly as you exhale.
Instead of scrolling through social media at breakfast, pick up a book. Reading reduces your heart rate and blood pressure to help you feel less anxious and more relaxed. In fact, reading relieves stress as well as yoga, according to research published in the Journal of Teaching and Learning.
Can morning routines support your weight loss and wellness goals?
Absolutely! Think of a morning routine as a kick-off to your day. When you start with a healthy habit you’ll be more motivated to stick with other wellness goals too, Bazilian says. Plus, routines eliminate the guesswork of exercising and eating well, so they can help you stick with weight-loss strategies.