Many of us are creatures of habit — we thrive on routine and do the same things every day because it helps us feel organized, productive and confident. Making and sticking to a morning routine checklist, especially when things feel uncertain, can help you to consistently stick with your healthy habits. Following an everyday regimen has many benefits, like starting things off on the right foot; giving a sense of peace and certainty in knowing what lies ahead; and helping you stay productive by checking items off your to-do list. Here’s how to create a morning routine that works for you.
7 Tips to Create a Morning Routine Checklist
1. Wake up at a consistent time.
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Keeping a regular sleep schedule (and getting enough sleep) are important for maintaining your natural circadian rhythm, the cycle of physical, mental and behavioral changes you experience daily. When you don’t practice regular sleep habits, like going to bed and waking up around the same times, your rhythm can get thrown off, which could lead you to feel drowsy and irritable (and might even promote weight gain1). To maximize your energy throughout the day, it’s important to set a consistent waking time — and yes, that means sticking to it even on weekends.2 Whether it’s 5:00 a.m. or 8:00 a.m., pick a time that works for your lifestyle and set that alarm seven days a week. Here’s how to practice better sleep hygiene, starting tonight!
2. Take a few minutes to yourself.
Things can get busy throughout the day when family and work demand your time — so start the morning with some quiet time to yourself. Are you into meditation? Take time to do this right after you wake up to ensure you don’t skip it. If you’re new to meditation, begin by taking 5-10 minutes to give yourself space to think and connect to your breath, which may help you manage stress. Or, take this time to enjoy a peaceful first cup of coffee or engage in some light stretches to warm up your body for the day.
3. Get your heart pumping.
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Even if you don’t have access to a gym, you can still get your blood flowing in the morning by doing a simple series of at-home exercises, like stretches, core-strengthening exercises or jumping rope. Squeezing in 30 minutes of daily activity can help you to meet the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ weekly recommendation of at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise for adults.3 Another great way to start your morning is by taking a walk. Not only can you support your weight loss goals; walking may also be another great way to boost your immune system.4 (Need more motivation to work out in the morning? Read this.) Mark exercise off your morning routine checklist and we bet you'll feel ready to take on the day!
Experts suggest drinking at least eight, 8-ounce glasses of water per day,5 but depending on your activity level and the climate you live in, you may want to have more. Drinking a glass of water when you wake up can help you stay hydrated and feel energized to start the day. In addition, one study showed that when combined with a reduced-calorie diet, drinking two cups of water before each meal may boost feelings of fullness, which could help support weight loss.6
5. Enjoy a healthy breakfast.
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You’ve heard it time and time again: Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. And it’s true — when you wake up, your blood sugar is naturally low, so you’ll need to replenish your energy. Eating breakfast and making it your largest meal of the day may also lead to a healthier weight.7 Once you find a breakfast you love to eat and look forward to enjoying each morning (check out some healthy ideas here), it’s a good habit to keep. Research shows that eating the same food for breakfast could actually contribute to better decision-making by helping you pare down the number of decisions you make in a day.8 Some of our favorite breakfast staples include oatmeal, nonfat plain Greek yogurt, and Classic Waffles. Pair your main dish with a serving of fresh or frozen fruit for a complete and satisfying first meal of the day!
6. Read (and share) good news.
It can be hard to look away from the constant barrage of news, but taking a break could start your day on a positive note. One study found that watching even three minutes of grim news led to as much as eight hours of grumpiness.9 On the other hand, reading and sharing a story that brings a smile to your face can spread positivity and help connect you to your community — both offline and online.10
7. Write out your to-do list.
Give your day structure by writing down what you’d like to accomplish and what you’ll focus on at different times. It’s important to not overload your to-do list, as that could leave you feeling overwhelmed. Be reasonable about what you can take care of with the time you have and prioritize the most important tasks first. Maybe it’s completing one pressing project at work, doing one load of laundry and making sure to eat a healthy meal or getting 30 minutes of exercise. In fact, writing down your goals each day could make you more likely to complete them11 — goal-setting could even help support your weight loss efforts.
Although there’s not one perfect morning routine checklist that works for everyone, the key is discovering what works best for you and your body. Once you find the right mix of morning activities, write them down in the order in which you’d like to do them, and stick to it every day.
Ready to make your morning routine even better? A healthier day starts right at your doorstep: Get delicious, balanced meals from Jenny Craig delivered!
Kelsey is a Chicago-based journalist specializing in wellness and travel who writes for publications like Shape, Cooking Light and The Wall Street Journal. When she's not working, she loves trying out new healthy recipes and traveling as much as possible.
Favorite healthy snack: plain Greek yogurt with a few chocolate chips
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
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