From Steve Jobs’ routine of ‘getting into his uniform’ every day to Bryan Johnson’s (quite frankly insane) routine of eating all of his day’s calories before 11am and taking 111 supplements a day, it seems like most people who are successful in the world of business have a well-established morning routine.
The Kardashians famously get up at 5am to get a workout in, and go to bed early doors at around 8 or 9pm.
But reality stars and tech giants aside, what do people who have inside knowledge of how our brains work do in the morning? Do they rise with the sun and write in their gratitude journal? Do they hit the snooze button and allow themselves another hour of sleep?
Here are some ways that psychologists set themselves up in the morning so they have a day of ease and mental clarity and not one buzzing with stress and running around like a headless chicken.
Start with a pause
Kate Mason, DClinPsy, a clinical psychologist based in Worcester told Everyday Health: “I set my alarm for slightly earlier than I want to be up and lie still for a minute or two. I take some deep breaths and think of three things I’m looking forward to today. It literally could be anything from a coffee and breakfast in peace to an episode of something I’m planning on watching on Netflix that evening.”
Put on your positive pants
Psychologist Dr Lindsay Bira says it’s important to decide from the get-go what kind of day you’re going to have, and that starts with reframing your mindset first thing: “As soon as I wake up, I need to put in my brain some things that make me feel good,” she shared in a TikTok. “Something that makes me feel inspired, motivated and connected to humanity. If I don’t do that, then I start to go down that track of thinking of everything I’ve got to do,” she says. She suggests putting on a podcast about something you’re interested in to start your day on the right track.
Get moving in a way that feels good to you
Joshua Coleman, PhD, a psychologist shares that he starts each day with an outdoor run. “It’s the first thing I do in the morning. I put on my running clothes and go for a run, rain or shine. It clears my head and puts the day in front of me in focus.”
If running isn’t really your bag (can’t blame you!), then making it to an early morning yoga or pilates class, to the gym to do some strength training, or even a simple walk to enjoy nature could work well, too.
In fact, one 2019 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that morning exercise improves attention, visual learning, and decision-making. Win, win, win!
Every little helps
For those with ADHD or simply anyone who struggles with focus and attention in the morning, Dr Carrie Jackson suggests a theory known as ‘habit stacking’ to help you get things done.
“Use habit stacking to add a new habit onto an existing one you already have,” she explains. If you usually don’t have time for breakfast, try adding that in as a new habit, then once you’ve nailed it, move onto another goal.
Get some early morning sunlight
“Make a beeline for sunlight,” says neuroscientist Dr Andrew Hubermann. “Viewing sunlight within the first hours of waking (as soon as you can, even if through cloud cover) increases early-day cortisol release (the ideal time for elevated cortisol) and prepares the body for sleep later that night.”
“A morning spike in cortisol will also positively influence your immune system, metabolism and ability to focus during the day,” he explains.
But, how to do that in cold climes such as the UK? He says that even just turning all of your lights on first thing will have an effect, and getting outside on a cloudy day will still give you benefits — even if it doesn’t feel like it.