I’ve always enjoyed waking up early to enjoy the morning. I love coffee. I love sitting at the kitchen table with my dad as the first few rays of light glint through the trees in our backyard. I love lounging on my deck with a good book, listening to the sounds of birds chirping and leaves rustling in the breeze before the heat of the day sets in, before we remind ourselves that there are projects to be completed, people to see, and errands to run. Mornings have always felt separate from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, which is why they are so sacred to me.
One of my goals this summer is to make the most of my mornings. (At least, the mornings when I don’t have to drag myself out of bed and go to work!) I’ve only recently adjusted back into the Pacific Coast Time Zone after living in Europe for four months. So, instead of waking up at 5 or 6 in the morning, I am now back to rising at my early (but not too early) hour of 8 to 9 a.m. It’s just enough time for me to get a decent amount of shuteye, but not enough to make me feel as though I’ve wasted the day. I always wake up in the morning with the intention to be productive, but if I don’t have any pressing work to do, I can easily to fall into the downward spiral of eating cereal on the couch and watching New Girl until noon…
Don’t worry if this sounds like a typical summer morning for you, or if most of your mornings involve rushing out the door to get to a meeting on time or making sure the little ones have breakfast. There’s still plenty of time to form a morning routine that will set the tune for the hours that follow. For me, having a good morning is about as essential as eating breakfast. If it’s rushed and stressful, the rest of the day will probably feel the same way. Here are five steps I am taking to make the most of my mornings, and make the most of the rest of my day as a result.
Meditation. Instead of reaching for your phone first thing in the morning to check your texts or emails, try lying in bed for a few more minutes, or even finding a comfortable place to sit up straight. Then, close your eyes and breathe deeply. If your mind begins to wander, just focus on your breath. It doesn’t matter if you do this for a few minutes or a few hours—even meditating for a short period of time will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day ahead.
For those of us with especially packed schedules, trying to fit in a morning meditation session will probably feel more like a hassle than something to enjoy doing. However, I’ve heard of a great app called “Headspace” that provides guided meditation for only ten minutes a day. The best thing about this app is that you can use it anywhere or any time of day because all you need is your phone!
Drinking lemon water. I have started doing this every morning after reading about all the health benefits of this powerful drink! I heat up a cup of water in the microwave, mix it with the juice of one lemon, and add a few dashes of cayenne pepper. Drinking lemon water on a regular basis can help to rid the body of toxins, boost your metabolism, and lead to an overall improvement in your physical and mental well-being.
Reading or writing. I try to start my mornings off with a little bit of inspiration, either by flipping through a magazine or reading a few chapters of whatever book has my attention at the moment. If I write, I tend to jot down notes or phrases—story ideas or fragments of my dreams from the previous night—rather than structured sentences. I will usually make a to-do list as well, which helps me to prioritize my day.
Having a healthy breakfast. We’ve all heard it before: breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Luckily for me, breakfast is also my favorite meal of the day—right after dessert, of course. My morning go-to’s are scrambled eggs with avocado on top, or a big bowl of oatmeal. I always add fresh fruit to whatever I’m eating, too. Lately, I’ve also been making sweet potato pancakes when I have extra time in the morning. (I know this might sound weird, but they’re delicious and only need three ingredients! I fully intend to post the recipe here at some point.)
If you’re the type of person who needs to eat on the go, try this quick and easy smoothie recipe for rushed mornings:
1 banana (fresh or frozen)
1 cup of strawberries
1 cup of blueberries
Handful of spinach or other leafy greens
¼ cup milk of choice (I usually use almond milk)
Blend until smooth and enjoy a filling, nutritionally-packed breakfast to go! I recommend topping with nuts or granola for extra flavor.
Catching up on the news. While I’m having breakfast, I try to skim the paper or read a few top stories on the New York Times website. Though it might not be the most uplifting part of my morning, I like to know what’s going on the world so I can form opinions about important issues, ask better questions, and have more interesting conversations with people who also stay informed.
Since sitting and reading the paper isn’t always an option on busy mornings, I recommend listening to the NPR podcast “World Story of the Day”. This podcast usually isn’t more than five-minutes long, so you can easily stay up-to-date on current events while you’re getting dressed for work or during your morning commute!
How do you plan to make the most of your mornings this summer?