‘Motivated’ and ‘morning’ is certainly an alien concept for many of us, particularly at this time of year – dark and cold added into the mix just motivates us to retreat further under the duvet.
However, for some, mornings are not such an uphill struggle. So what’s their secret? Is it really possible to feel at your best first thing? Discover how you can kick-start your mornings with just a few simple steps.
1. Energise with Exercise
Let’s face it – given the choice, most of us would rather take ‘vegetate’ to a new level than put our bodies through a gruelling exercise regime. However, exercise is proven to be the ultimate method for getting your morning off to a great start, whether it’s taking your canine companion for a walk around the block, having a quick jog around your local park or opting for a workout at the gym. Research has proven that a minimum of 20-30 minutes of exercise at the beginning of each day releases endorphins (natural ‘feel-good’ chemicals), eliminates fatigue and provides a better quality of sleep. In fact, a mere 30 seconds of exercise in the morning actually gives you more energy than a shot of espresso.
Top tip: Warming up properly in the colder months is essential. You might not feel like you’re doing your muscles any damage by exploding off the blocks, but that’s often just the sub-zero temperature numbing the pain. Start slow and build up your pace in whatever exercise you choose. And remember: dehydration is the enemy!
2. Let There Be Light
You wake up and it’s dark; you go home and it’s dark. The grind of winter often feels like large-scale cabin fever. The cold season equals darker mornings, which can hardly be counted as a mood booster. In spring and summer, sunlight could understandably be the number one motivation for getting out of bed in the morning, yet in winter it’s nowhere to be seen.
However, studies have shown that light of any kind automatically signals to the brain that it’s time to wake up – the same principle applies to why we’re advised to switch off any electronics about an hour before going to sleep. As soon as your alarm goes off, hit the light switch to tell your brain it’s time to get going and avoid falling back asleep. Why not begin moving the moment your alarm rings – avoid pressing snooze and force your body to get up and switch it off by putting your phone or clock out of arm’s reach.
Top tip: Invest in a light therapy lamp for a soothing wake up call that’s as bright as a spring morning.
3. Get Wet
Nothing says quick-pick-me-up quite like a splash of cold water to the face. Showering is another no-brainer for waking yourself up in the morning and feeling ready for the day ahead.
If you’re looking for a more extreme way to blow away the cobwebs, why not dive into icy waters.
Top tip: Don’t opt for winter swimming if you’re prone to asthma, a weak heart or can’t swim – cold water is still water.
4. Break the Fast
Knowing you’re jumping out of bed to a delicious, filling, nutritious breakfast is definitely a good wake up call. Have some favourite recipes lined up, such as pancakes, eggs and bacon, porridge, avocado on toast, fruit or a colourful smoothie. Alternatively, why not arrange a date with your partner or a friend for added excitement? It’s true what they say – breakfast is the most important meal of the day as you’re literally ‘breaking the fast’; it increases your energy and metabolism and keeps you going until lunch.
Top tip: Stick a list of favourite breakfast recipes on the front of your fridge for a quick flash of morning inspiration.
5. Soak Up Sound
One of the most feel-good things you can do for yourself in the morning is blast your brain with some favourite tunes to accompany your exercise regime or in the kitchen as background breakfast noise.
Top tip: Start listening to an inspirational podcast on your morning commute to keep you upbeat for the rest of the day.
6. Organise Your Evening
Wherever possible, make sure you know how and when to switch off. Avoid stimulants just before going to bed, such as caffeine and staring at the screen of your phone or laptop. Unwind with a bath, a hot drink and a good book to guarantee a blissful night ahead.
To save on sleep and avoid cutting into the aforementioned exercising, showering and breakfast-preparation time, why not organise yourself as much as you can the night before?
Select (and perhaps iron) an outfit, pack your bag and possibly make tomorrow’s lunch, review any presentation/meeting/exam notes and check any travel plans to eliminate last-minute morning stress.
Top tip: Check out these inspirational books for some great bedtime reading.
7. Set Daily Targets
If you set yourself an aim for the day, it will give you a goal to achieve. Think positive, but be realistic – it might not be possible to achieve a list of 20 things in one morning. Try to have at least three daily targets you want to accomplish by the end of the day. Remember, take one day at a time. Reminding yourself of all you have to aspire to and enjoy will make getting out of bed as natural as falling into it.
Top tip: Place a vision board in your home or office to remind yourself of all the positive goals you can achieve each day.
8. DIY Time
No, we’re not suggesting you take a trip to your local hardware store. ‘Do-it-yourself’ can also translate to spending part of the morning doing an activity or taking up a hobby/class you enjoy, purely to leap out of bed and inject motivation into the rest of your day.
Top tip: This could be a free activity, such as walking, reading a chapter of a book, writing a diary entry, photography or painting.
9. Make Your Bed
Believe it or not, this isn’t just a repeat of your teenage years. According to research, bed makers lead happier and more successful lives compared to those who jump out of the covers and don’t look back. An organised living space has shown to contribute to an organised mind.
Top tip: Throw a few crazy cushions and cosy blankets on top to make the finished result a work of art.
10. Plan Your Coffee Intake
You don’t need telling twice that coffee will wake you up. However, despite the widely held belief that you need to down one the moment you open your eyes, studies advise waiting at least one hour before consuming a cup. In fact, the recommended intake time is between 10am and midday.
Top tip: Go easy on the sugar, and aim to drink a glass of water alongside your caffeine fixes to prevent dehydration.
Please note – the purpose of this article is to simply suggest and encourage alternative lifestyle choices as a positive aspiration for our readers.
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