How to win with your morning habits
by Douglas Ross on Thursday 01 September 2022
4 min read
Looking for ways to get your morning routine to include healthy habits and bring health, happiness and productivity to your day?
Creating morning habits will help prioritise your mental and physical health. Researcher Dr Katarzyna Stawarz suggests that 'contextual cues' play an important role in facilitating behavioural change, meaning habits need these 'contextual cues’ in order for it to kick in, but most importantly, stick.
In other words, you wash your hands as a habit (the action) after using the bathroom (the contextual cue). There needs to be something that causes you to make that action to eventually turn it into an automatic response, and feels second nature.
The benefits of creating habits
According to behavioural researcher Dr Benjamin Gardner, the more systems you establish for daily processes, such as cleaning, exercise, goal setting, mental exercise etc. the more space in your head you have to allow creative or problem-solving thoughts to occur.
With the concept of ‘contextual cues’ firm in your mind, here are a few ways in which you can use habits to start your mornings off on the right track.
Break up your morning
Some parents may scoff at the idea of a child being conducive to good habits, but children can be the contextual cue that inspires healthy habits. For example, use their love for art and craft to create visual cues that you collectively follow in the morning (if you don’t have children, this is still a great methodology).
Be as creative as you like. Try sticking colourful visual cues (example, colourful chore board) on the fridge to give you a structure to follow and make it easier for you to delineate your mornings.
These can be as simple as writing down your morning routine: have a short shower, eat a nourishing breakfast, brush teeth, make the bed, watch 10 minutes of TV etc.
Train your body clock
Your mind can be trained to get up just a little bit earlier each day and contextual cues can make it easier to establish these good habits.
Separate yourself from technology within your bedroom. For instance, put your phone in the living room and rely on an alarm clock placed away from the bed - that way you will have to physically get up from bed to turn it off.
If it’s cold, place a jumper near your alarm clock so you aren’t tempted to run back to bed.
Lastly, consider sleeping with the curtains/blinds drawn out, especially on weekends. You may occasionally wake with the birds but your mind will get use to waking up with the morning light, making it easier to gradually set your rising time back.
Create a blank slate
10 minutes of meditation can be enough to create the right emotional base for the rest of your day.
Goal setting and self-reflecting can also be an effective and quick way to clear your mind and set your expectations for the day. For instance, note down the tasks you want to achieve or you can exercise the left side of your brain and note down how you are feeling that morning.
Book your morning
While you can create all these habits at home, it is important to get yourself out and about. Try out one of the many group exercise classes at Virgin Active that fit your schedule. This is a great way to stay accountable to your morning routine, and stops you from hitting the snooze button.
Pack the evening before, so your morning routine feels seamless and you won't be fumbling to rush out the door. That way, it is already done before the morning starts! Pick a couple favourite classes that you look forward to weekly, and stick with them.
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