Monday, November 17, 2014

How Changing My Morning Routine Changed My Life



Real talk: I’m not the best at keeping my morning schedule together. I’m more of a follower of the “uh oh, just slept through my ten alarms and woke up with five minutes to get to school” life. Luckily I lived close enough to my high school to walk, but I found that such a rushed, scatter-brained morning “routine” meant I forgot assignments on my desk and easily overslept, making me often late to class.

Over time, and especially in college now, I’m discovering that changing your morning routine – in minor ways with significant impacts – actually transforms my overall health over time. More sleep and efficient mornings meant I could be more alert and attentive in class, get my homework done more quickly, and get those better grades. There are days when I fail to follow it, but hopefully those will come less and less. Here are some tips to get you started:

Get Ready the Night Before

Unless you’re one of those early birds who rise as the sun rises, chances are you’ll only have enough time to grab your things and go in the mornings. Make life easier for yourself and get the contents of your backpack together before you even go to bed! That includes little things like grabbing your homework off the printer tray, refilling your water bottle, and putting your backpack by the door.

Preparing yourself mentally with a list of to-do’s for the next day – especially in the morning – is also a good way to make better use of your time. As long as you have a list jotted down to refer to later, you’ll spend less time trying to remember this or that errand, and more time actually doing it. It’s much easier tackling a task you’ve already gotten a head start on!

Actually Establish a Routine

Psychiatrists recommend going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day – even weekends, to set the body’s natural clock. I love sleeping in on the weekends more than anyone, but getting up and physically out of bed every weekday (with a little stretching thrown in) made more of a difference than I could’ve expected.

Giving yourself half an hour or so to get ready before school starts is a good starting benchmark. If you need to catch a bus at a specific time, or if you’re driving to school and you know traffic gets bad the closer you get to campus, adjust your timing to match that. Once you know how long you have, schedule it out so you have ample time for getting dressed, washing your face and brushing your teeth, and eating breakfast. Then stick to it. Some say the way you start your day is often the way you finish it.

Eat Breakfast

A healthy, balanced breakfast is the best way to start your day! Especially since I’m taking Introduction to Nutrition Science this semester (and memorizing the positive effects of every vitamin and mineral in the human body), I’ve learned grabbing some bread on the way out the door isn’t going to keep you fueled throughout the day.

Breakfast is known to keep your caloric consumption of the day down, meaning you’ll eat less at lunch and dinner, thus avoiding weight gains. Eat a proper meal that includes fiber, which lowers cholesterol levels and aids with digestion; milk fortified with vitamins and minerals; whole grains instead of white; and fruits and vegetables. It may also help to prepare this meal the night before, so you can sleep more in the morning and get food into your system sooner.

Avoid Your Phones

Too many of us open Facebook or Twitter first thing in the morning, especially before we even get out of bed. Surfing these social networking sites on our cell phones is the number one reason why we fall behind on our morning schedules – save checking your news feeds and timelines until you’re well on the way to school. The world will keep turning even if you don’t reply to your friend’s text first thing.

If you incorporate these habits into your morning routines, you’ll find yourself more and more refreshed over time, ready to face the next lesson of the day! Improved morning routines are your ticket to better school days and grades.

What are some tips you have for a better morning routine? Have you done any of the strategies above? Tell us in a comment below.

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