Discover how a mindful morning routine can lead to a happier, more productive day. Learn about the circadian cycle and how it affects our energy levels and productivity, and find out how to start your day without your phone, make your bed, meditate, and journal.
What is the first thing you do as soon as you wake up?
"Open my eyes." - Broken humor
"Check my phone." - Reality.
As soon as you wake up, you can't resist the urge to check your phone like a newborn baby needing your constant attention. You feel like the world's fate rests on your shoulders, and you must know what's going on out there. I mean, who knows what could have happened while you were in your slumber?
But let's be honest here: do you want to start your day with a screen in your face? Much evidence suggests that a more mindful morning routine can lead to a happier, more productive day, so does that old saying "Morning shows the day"? Yeah, there might be something to it.
Figure 1: Circadian rhythm cycle of a typical teenager. Credit: NIGMS.
This image captures the intricate workings of our circadian cycle, also known as the 24-hour biological clock, which was discovered by a group of scientists who were even awarded a Nobel Prize for their groundbreaking work. This clock varies from person to person and is influenced by a multitude of factors, such as genetics, age, lifestyle, and environment. That's why some are naturally "morning people," while others are "night owls." It's also why adjusting to changes in our sleep schedule can be easier for some people than others. Therefore, finding a morning routine that caters to your unique needs and preferences is crucial for a productive and successful day.
Let's look at the circadian cycle and how it can affect our energy levels and productivity throughout the day. According to Figure 1, the period between 3 a.m. and 7 a.m. is when we are at our lowest energy levels, and depending on our internal clock, we might not even be fully awake until 9 a.m. or even 10 a.m. When you're on your phone first thing in the morning, you're feeding yourself dopamine and distracting yourself from your vision of what you must do throughout the day. Checking social media or reading negative news can trigger stress responses and drain our energy before we've even started the day.
In our fast-paced world, disrupted circadian rhythms and irregular sleep patterns are becoming increasingly common. However, according to Lawrence Epstein and Syed Moin Hassan's Harvard Health blog article, "Why your sleep and wake cycles affect your mood," this can have severe consequences for our mental and physical health. Their research shows that an irregular circadian rhythm can lead to mood disorders such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder and impact our ability to sleep and function properly. It's not just about feeling tired; the long-term effects can significantly impact our well-being.
What Does A Mindful Morning Routine Look Like, Then?
- Start your morning without your phone: We return to the beginning of this issue. Checking your phone first thing in the morning is almost like giving up on the day. To take control over the day, turn a blind eye to the notification popups and global news.
- Make your bed: Believe it or not, something as simple as making your bed or tidying up your room in the morning can significantly impact your day. Not only does it give you a sense of accomplishment right off the bat, but it can also help reduce your dependence on dopamine and give your body a much-needed boost after a night of sleep.
- Meditate: Meditation is a step towards mindfulness. When you settle down to sort and deal with the thoughts cluttering your brain, you open it to its creative abilities. A study published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience found that incorporating mindfulness meditation into your morning routine can improve brain function and cognitive flexibility. This allows you to adapt to new information and shift your perspective quickly.
- Journaling: Journaling is a simple yet effective morning routine that can significantly enhance your daily productivity and mindfulness. Whether expressing gratitude for what you have or jotting down your plans for the day ahead, journaling can be a game-changer.
"Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced daily." This quote by Jim Rohn perfectly captures the essence of morning routines. Despite their simplicity, morning routines can profoundly impact our lives. By incorporating small, consistent habits into our mornings, we can set ourselves up for success throughout the day. As we follow our morning rituals, we prepare ourselves to not just exist but to live and make the most out of each day indeed. By doing so, we increase our productivity and energy levels, allowing us to tackle whatever challenges come our way. So, feel free of the idea of a routine. Instead, consider it a morning ritual for your body - a process that your body must pass through before facing the day with confidence and purpose.
Thumbnail Design by Mudit Jha