Wellbeing: Kickstart your morning

A morning routine for the most productive day

The case for a morning routine

Research has shown that genetics are the main factor in influencing whether we are night owls or morning people. Nevertheless, a morning routine can have a powerful effect both on the day that follows as well as on long term health, achievement and fulfilment. Our thoughts and actions have been shown time and again to have actual physical effects on the permanent shaping and sculpting of our brains and neural networks. Therefore, a conscious, decisive and mindful approach to how we start our day can result in daily and long-term benefits.

Below we will look at ways of creating a routine that includes strategies of affecting positivity in the following four areas:

  • Sleep/waking time

  • diet

  • morning practices

  • morning work

Consistency has a direct influence in reducing cortisol response and enhancing well-being simply because it reduces our fight or flight mode. A lack of routine means that we are always facing the unknown and therefore risk a constant state of heightened stress. By contrast, taking at least one positive step every morning results in what Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky refer to as the endowment effect. That is, the completion of a productive task in the morning sets us off on a track of positive momentum for the rest of the day.

Diet: Breakfast truly is the most important meal of the day. Making healthy choices regulates your appetite going forward and increases the likelihood that you will make healthy choices for the rest of the day. This also fuels your brain for optimum productivity. Try to include at least one of these in your breakfast:

  • Blueberries – they contain tannins, which protect brain cells, as well as copious antioxidants and phytochemicals shown to improve memory and cognitive skills

  • Almonds – they satisfy and regulate the appetite, and are rich in vitamin E which may help to slow cognitive decline

  • Oats – for their iron, zinc, potassium and B vitamin properties, which help the brain to work at its full capacity

  • Grains – these help to convert carbohydrates to glucose – the brain’s preferred energy source and a vital starter for the day

Morning practices: Choose one of the following morning practices that have been shown to help kickstart your day:

  • Yoga

  • Mindfulness/meditation – William Marchand showed that mindfulness can change brain function in several areas including the medial cortex, default mode network, insula, amygdala, lateral frontal regions and basal ganglia. Something as simple as attending to the feeling of your toothbrush on your teeth or savouring the taste of your morning brew helps you to be present in your morning activities.

Morning work: Find one of your arduous tasks for the day, and get it done as early as possible. This sets you off on a track of positive momentum, increases your sense of achievement, and reduces stress. In addition:

  • Drink coffee - get your creative flowing with a cup of joe – it increases dopamine release and helps to stimulate creative thoughts.

  • Take your time – studies show that most creative thoughts occur in our slow, groggy states. Give yourself some time to relax and chill out in the morning before entering the rush of the work day.

Blog post provided by Wrkit - The employee engagement platform:

#mindset #mentalhealth