The 5-Step Morning Routine That Can Set You Up For a Good Day

Itxy Lopez

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I opened my eyes and the first thing I thought was: Oh, God. What time is it? I vaguely remembered having already turned off my alarm, but clearly, I’d fallen back asleep.

When I checked the clock — 8:30, an hour later than my usual wake-up time — I groaned and threw my head back on the pillow. I reached for my phone, immediately reasoning that I’d check it quickly. I texted my friends back, scrolled through social media, and checked my email. “Quickly” had turned into fifteen minutes. Now, I felt even worse than I had when I realized I’d overslept.

I’m a morning person, which means that if I feel grouchy in the a.m., I know I’ve messed up along the way. Thankfully, those off-days don’t happen often because I have a system in place that helps me wake up and sets me up for a good day. On these days I don’t wake up late or feel the urge to check Twitter so early.

This wake-up routine is simple enough for anyone to follow, and there’s a reason it’s not called a morning routine: because you can follow it whether you wake up at 5 a.m. or 10 a.m.

1. Set an Alarm at the Time You Need to Wake Up

Sleep-expert Matthew Walker shares in his Masterclass that as long as you consistently receive seven hours of slumber, and sleep and wake at the same time, your sleep schedule is just fine. That’s why I won’t tell you to set an alarm at five or six in the morning.

I sleep at around eleven-thirty and used to set my alarm at seven. However, I was always still too sleepy, so I moved my alarm just half an hour later, and that made all the difference. I resisted at first because I thought I had to rise early, but my body needed more sleep for me to function properly.

If you’re going to set an alarm, set it at the time you need to wake up: seven (or eight, or even up to nine) hours after you typically sleep. This way, you’re well-rested and your body has received all the benefits of sleep. This’ll help you lessen the drowsiness you may usually wake up with.

If you can’t adjust your alarm because you need to wake up for work, then adjust the time you get into bed.

2. Establish a Face-Washing Routine

Even if I’m not tired, when I wake up it can be hard for me to fully open my eyes. I don’t feel drowsy, but I feel groggy. Plus, my face is typically oily, my eyes a little swollen. I used to wake up like that and get straight to work but I always felt like I had to back to sleep.

And then I set up a face-washing routine. After I brush my teeth I:

  • wash my face using a cleanser;
  • then apply rose water (ranges between $5 to $10) and;
  • finally, I add moisturizer.

The combination of the minty taste in my mouth and a clean face transforms the way I feel about facing the day. It takes away that final grogginess and I go from drag-me-back-to-bed to ready-to-have-a-good-day instead.

Dermatologist Divya Shokeen suggests that you start simple: with a cleanser and an oil-free, fragrance-free moisturizer, and experiment with more products as you see fit. (You can do this face routine after you’ve showered — if you shower in the morning — too.)

3. Stretch Your Body

Your body is likely stiff after you’ve woken up, even if you’ve had a shower. This is why it’s important to develop a morning habit of stretching. Health Educator Hope Klein says:

Stretching first thing in the morning can relieve any tension or pain from sleeping the night before. It also helps increase your blood flow and prepares your body for the day ahead.

The good news is, you don’t need to watch a forty-minute yoga video. You don’t need a yoga mat or even some workout clothes. Emily Cronkleton, a certified yoga teacher, wrote in Healthline that, “It’s better to stretch for a short time every day.” You can stretch from anywhere between five or ten minutes, and you can do it in your PJs.

I stretch my legs, arms, wrists, fingers (these two are important if you do anything from typing on a laptop to driving often) and neck muscles (sometimes).

I’ve become so accustomed to stretching that my body feels like a Barbie if I skip. Remember, this is just a way to warm up and loosen your body so that you feel physically ready to tackle your day.

4. Get Out of Your PJ’s

Have you ever struggled to work or even just get by in your comfortable pajamas? You may feel the need to snuggle back into bed and watch Netflix. Jennifer Dragonette, PsyD explains:

“What many might deem insignificant [wearing pajamas all day] can actually lead to dwindling motivation and productivity as you subconsciously associate your pajamas with bedtime or relaxation time.”

I can’t stand staying in pajamas or even sweatpants all day, even if I’m not working. It makes me feel lazy. When I change, I genuinely feel my mood lift, my productivity increase, and like I’m ready for the day ahead.

This doesn’t mean you have to wear uncomfortable clothes. If you want to remain comfortable, invest in soft sweaters and t-shirts, comfortable jeans, or leggings. The point is merely to get out of your pajamas.

5. Start Doing

That’s the whole routine:

  1. Set an alarm to the time you want to wake up
  2. Wash your face once you’re up
  3. Stretch for five to ten minutes
  4. Get out of your PJ’s and into clothes

After all of this, I suggest you just start doing whatever you’re supposed to be doing. Try avoiding social media, the news, or any other time-sucking habit that’ll only ruin the good mood you just worked hard to get yourself into.

To clarify, by ‘good mood’ I don’t mean that you’re running around like you’re a happy-go-lucky person. I just mean that you’re mentally, physically, and emotionally ready for your day.

Filling your head with a bunch of noise and political tweets will distract you and probably destroy that mood. If you need to work, work. If you need to go somewhere, get in the car and start driving. If you want to have breakfast, have breakfast. But try avoiding distraction. I know, easier said than done, but we can try, can’t we?

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