7 Ways to Change Your Life, One Morning at a Time

7 Ways to Change Your Life, One Morning at a Time

Make every day a great day with these morning alternatives to hitting the snooze button.


By: Heather Chaet

Mornings – some people love them, while others dread their arrival. Whether you are a morning person, you have your usual a.m. routine, right? Maybe you hit the snooze button three times and then head directly to your coffee maker before flipping on the TV news. Or maybe you hop right into the shower, wake the kids, and then make lunches as your hair dries.

The beginning moments of your morning directly affect how the rest of your day will flow. “How we feel when we wake up has a huge impact on the day, both on how we cope with challenges and how productive we are likely to be,” says clinical psychologist Allison Breen. What should you do each morning to make the day -- and you -- the best it can be? Check out this list of fresh ideas.

1. Expand your brain. Start your day by learning something new. Keep a dictionary or a daily word calendar by your bed to expand that vocabulary. Do a crossword puzzle. Read a chapter in the latest book club selection (instead of doing it before you go to bed). What do all of these activities do to affect the day ahead? They work those memory muscles, increase mental functions, and reduce stress. It’s a fabulous “good morning” high-five to that brain of yours.

2. Exercise. Positive psychologist and best-selling author Caroline Miller encourages her clients to start the day with a “win.” “Testosterone and self-regulation (willpower) are highest in the morning, which means that you want to start every day with a win or mastery experience that is outside your comfort zone,” explains Miller. “If you start the day with physical exercise, even a meditation routine, you have successfully overcome temptation to do something easier, and you have set yourself up for a domino effect of goal accomplishment.” Go for a jog, do 23 jumping jacks, or stretch for 15 minutes -- any form of exercise works as an excellent first choice to begin your day.

3. Drink water. Before you grab that coffee cup, fill up a glass with the most natural beverage there is: water. As you sleep, vital fluids have not been replenished, so your body wakes up thirsting for water. Not only that, but drinking cold water may increase your metabolism. Drink your morning water chilled to jumpstart your day.

4. Practice gratitude. Many recent articles have outlined the connection between gratitude and our mental health, but stress reduction expert Melissa Heisler has an even better reason to start your day with thoughts of gratitude. “[Practicing gratitude] strengthens your anterior cingulate cortex, or decision center, of your brain, releasing you from the survival centers of your brain often focused on fear,” Heisler explains. “Before getting out of bed, think of three things for which you are grateful. By starting your day with gratitude, you reduce stress and gain clarity.” Hel-lo! Who doesn’t need a bit more of that?

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5. Have a positive inner dialogue. Sometimes, we wake with the worries of yesterday and a long list of burdens ahead. It’s easy to let your mind wander to that dark corner of negativity as you climb out of bed, but it doesn’t have to if you start your day with a positive monologue. “In our busy world, we often think, ‘I don't have enough time to get everything done,’ or ‘I am already running behind,’” notes Heisler. “Einstein showed us that time is relative. Bend time to the abundance by reframing your thoughts about time. Every morning say or write, ‘I have more than enough time to complete all that needs to be accomplished.’ This simple statement will calm you down, allowing you to handle the day more efficiently and effectively.”

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6. Choose mindfulness. Studies prove that folks who practice mindfulness cope better with stress, are more productive and happier, and procrastinate less. How to ensure that is your daily M.O. within your waking moments? “Incorporate a mindfulness practice into your regular morning routine,” suggests Breen. “Integrate a practice of paying attention to the present moment when you’re brushing your teeth or doing your hair.”

7. Snuggle. This may be a bit of a head scratcher and put you behind schedule, but there’s scientific proof that cuddling has mega health benefits. When you snuggle close with your kids or your spouse, chemicals (such as oxytocin and endorphins) are released in your brain. They give you a sense of wellbeing and help shift your mood to a happy one that lasts well beyond the waking a.m. hours.

What’s the best way you start your day?


Heather Chaet documents her mini parenting successes, epic mommy fails, and everything in between for a plethora (love that word!) of publications and websites such as CafeMom, New York Family, and AdWeek. While her online persona is found at heatherchaet.com, Heather lives in New York City with her film director husband and one insanely curious, cat-obsessed daughter.

Image ©iStock.com/PeopleImages


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