You’ve probably seen, heard, or even tried them before: tips about what do first thing in the morning to feel better and be better all day. There are 10 things to do to wake up metabolism, and 10 things to increase productivity, and 10 more things to ensure smart food choices that day—whew, that’s a lot to take care of right when you wake up (30 things before coffee?!), and now you’re definitely going to be late to work. Instead, we broke down the easiest tips, plus an upgrade for when you’re feeling ambitious. So you can have the best day ever without burning out by midmorning.
Easy: Do something you love. “The best morning routines involve a good reason to get out of bed,” says Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. Whether it’s some really good coffee, a satisfying breakfast, your favorite morning show, or a workout class you love, it’ll brighten your morning, get your butt out of bed, and have you off to a positive, productive start.
Upgrade: Stop hitting snooze. “Snooze sleep is lousy sleep,” says Vanderkam. You’ll be serving your body better if you sleep an extra 30 minutes instead of hitting the 10-minute snooze button three times. Plus, “we have a limited quantity of willpower at our disposal every day,” she says. If you make your wake-up time non-negotiable, you’ll save time and energy arguing with yourself on when to finally get out of bed, banking your willpower for more important things.
Jump-Start Your Metabolism
Easy: Take a swig. Take your pick: water, coffee, or both! In a study of 12 healthy, normal-weight subjects, drinking about 16 ounces of water increased metabolic rate by 30 percent, while another study shows that coffee has a short-term metabolism-boosting effect as well. (Yes, that’s just another health benefit of coffee to be psyched about.)
Upgrade: Eat a balanced breakfast. This study found that eating breakfast doesn’t directly impact resting metabolic rate, but those who eat breakfast are more likely to burn higher calories throughout the day through physical activity. “A good breakfast can not only keep you satisfied physically but can also help boost concentration, so you’re less likely to mindlessly eat,” says Rachel Berman, R.D., director of health at About.com and author of Boosting Your Metabolism for Dummies. “Also, according to the National Weight Registry, people who eat breakfast are also more likely to find time to exercise that day.”
Be More Mindful
Easy: Change a chore or daily morning routine into a mindful moment.“Mindfulness is developing the capacity to bring your attention to all aspects of your life, and is characterized by participation in the experience of the moment,” says Christy Matta, therapeutic services manager for the City of San Jose and an expert in dialectical behavior therapy and mindfulness. She recommends giving yourself a little time to complete a morning task, like putting on your makeup or doing your hair. The point isn’t just to slow down; it’s to get off autopilot and be fully present with your body and thoughts about the present moment. Still sound hard? Focus on the five senses: the smell of your hair products, the warmth of the hair dryer, etc.
Upgrade: Try a breathing exercise before you get out of bed. When you wake up, without attempting to change your breathing in any way, bring your attention first to the tip of your nose. As you inhale, follow the breath to the back of your throat and down into your lungs. As you exhale, do the same in reverse. At the pause between the inhale and exhale, bring your attention to your diaphragm; feel it contract while you exhale and follow the breath as it flows up from your lungs, through your throat, and out your nose or mouth. “You may want to continue with simply noticing your breath for a few minutes, or choose to notice how your arms, legs, and mind slowly activate and become alert as you breathe,” says Matta.
Boost Your Confidence
Easy: Create confidence triggers. “We are big on structures—visual, physical things that trigger literal confident brain activity,” says Alyssa Dver, author of Kickass Confidence: Own Your Brain, Up Your Game. Find something you can see, touch, feel, or hear that you associate with a time you felt confident and in control—whether it’s a quote, song, or photo. (Or use this as the perfect excuse to hang up all those medals and certificates you have hoarded from 5K races.)
Upgrade: Do some deep breathing. Whether it’s before you even get out of bed, while waiting for coffee to brew, or when stopped at a red light, focus on inhaling and exhaling every bit of air you can.”Get oxygen into the body. Deliberate, deep breathing also feeds the confident centers in the brain,” says Dver.
Stick to Your Diet
Easy: Drink a glass of water before breakfast (and every other meal). “Thirst and hunger are hard to tell apart,” says René Ficek, R.D., lead nutrition expert at Seattle Sutton’s Healthy Eating. Once you get into the habit of drinking water first thing in the morning, you’ll start craving it as soon as you wake up. Plus, it’ll help you reach for oatmeal or eggs instead of a sugary muffin or cereal. “Drinking a glass of water before each meal can prevent dehydration which allows us to better navigate hunger and satiety signals,” says Ficek.
Upgrade: Add protein to your breakfast. By adding whole grains, nuts, eggs, low-fat dairy, and lean meat to your breakfast, you’ll start the day with a balanced meal full of protein. “Protein digests slower than other food and helps you stay fuller longer, making midmorning splurges less appealing,” says Ficek.