Wake Up Happy: Your new morning routine, sorted

Stop stress and set yourself up for succes—all before breakfast.

You just hit snooze for the second time this morning. And, ugh, you know what those extra nine minutes of zzz’s’ll have to skip your a.m. shower. No big—that’s why they invented dry shampoo, right?

By the time you finally roll out of bed and into yesterday’s skinny jeans, you’ve got exactly six minutes to locate your laptop, wolf down a bagel and sprint for the bus. Oh, and you’ve got a major bio test first period, not to mention you forgot to brush your teeth and totally left your lunch bag on the counter. Stressed yet?

If this sounds all too familiar, you’re not alone. One recent study found that only about 7 percent of teens are self-described “morning people” (and, P.S., we have yet to meet them). This naturally starts to shift as you get older, but what about now? Here are seven ways to get sooo much more out of your mornings.

So how can you suddenly switch from a night owl to an early bird? Think about the payoff. “Establishing a morning routine is a form of self-care that sets the stage for the rest of your day,” says empowerment speaker and life coach Elizabeth Trabert Piper. “It invites you to ask the question, ‘What do I need to have a great day?’ It’s simply the first and most important step.”

Start by imagining what your ultimate morning would look like: Maybe it’s leafing through a magazine, free-writing in your journal, doing some down dogs or whipping up your favorite smoothie bowl recipe. How amazing would it be if you got to do that every single day? By setting aside 15 or 20 minutes each a.m. to do something that you love, you’ll feel calm, centered and ready to tackle the rest of your schedule.

Sure, a few more minutes of glorious sleep can feel extra luxurious. “But every time you do it,” Elizabeth tells us, “you’re really saying ‘no’ to things you love, like fitting in yoga or making avocado toast before school.”

Besides, you don’t gain much by giving yourself that extra snooze sesh—and crash- ing for even a couple extra minutes may actually make you feel worse.

Science shows that humans sleep in cycles that last approximately 90 minutes. This means that snoozing for an extra 10 minutes can ultimately make you groggier, even though it feels amazing in the moment. So as tough as it is to get out of bed at that first alarm, it’ll actually make you wake up more energized.

Setting yourself up for a successful morning actually starts the night before. If you tend to forget everything as you dash to school, organize your stuff before you hit the hay. 

If you’re indecisive, planning your outfit before bed can save you a lot of time and agony in the a.m., says Allison Gervais, therapist and owner of Marin Mental Wellness in San Rafael, Calif.

Try prepping your breakfast before bed, too—like keeping a batch of home- made muffins in the fridge for a quick reheat, or portioning out your smoothie ingredients into plastic baggies so you can grab one from the freezer, add some almond milk and hit blend.

Most important? Stick to a set bed- time schedule (even on the weekends!). We know it’s tough, but going to bed around the same time each night will make getting up a little earlier feel much more manageable.

We’re not psychic, but we’d bet our last dollar that the first thing you do when you wake up is reach for your phone.

But that’s a big no-no, according to all of our experts. Scrolling through stories and checking texts “can almost imme- diately set you into comparison mode or even elicit a feeling of rejection,” Elizabeth explains.

Try doing something that’ll charge you up instead, like checking in with your own thoughts through meditation, deep breathing or journaling, suggests Taylor Morrison, founder of, a lifestyle brand focused on self-care. “I don’t check my cell until I’ve journaled, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes,” she says. “Checking your texts or social media first thing gives others the power to decide what your day looks like. You should be in charge of your day.”

Studies show that sunlight hitting your pupils first thing in the morning helps
to rebalance your circadian rhythm— naturally busting you out of a bleary state. Slide open the shades or crack the curtains just a bit before you hit the hay, and wake up bathed in a golden glow, just as nature intended. A few more tips to make your space morning-friendly? Set fresh (or faux) flowers on your nightstand so you have something green to focus on, and fill up a big glass of water to down right when you get up, too, which will help get your metabolism moving. Changing your blaring alarm buzzer to a fave “it’s gonna be a great day” song also can help. We like “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles or “Mr. Blue Sky” by ELO. You can’t help but wake up happy.

Another way to get ready to really carpe diem? Mix in some movement. But there’s no need to force yourself outside for a 5 a.m. jog with your pup Banjo every day if you’re just not feeling it. Even simple stretches can help wake up your body and get your blood flowing, Taylor tells us. Elizabeth loves turning up the tunes while she gets ready: “A little interpretive dance, a little mascara and I’m feeling like a boss,” she shares.

And if you want to try something more rigorous but still can’t find the morning motivation? Unroll your yoga mat, set out your weights or prep your running shorts and sneaks the night before, so you see them first thing. “Visual cues are helpful until you’ve developed your routine for long enough that it becomes habit,” Allison notes.

And if you’re wondering just how long until this new routine becomes old hat? Current research states that it takes just over two months (66 days to be exact) to really make a new habit permanent— which is why so many New Year’s resolu- tions fizzle out before February.

“You’ll need to find ways to remind yourself about the changes you want to make during those two months,” suggests Allison. That could be through mini notes stuck on your fridge telling you to prep your breakfast, or an alarm on your phone at night giving you a 30-minute warning until bedtime. And keep referring back to your original intention: setting aside a little daily time for self-care. “Think of that reward when all you want to do is hit snooze,” says Taylor. Your end goal should be to feel excited about the day ahead. Good morning? You bet.

A version of this sotry appeared in the August/September 2018 issue of Girls' Life.

by Jessica D'Argenio Waller | 9/22/2018
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