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When we wake up, the quality of our sleep and our attitude have a direct impact on whether we have a happy and productive day. While some of us love to slumber until the very last second before rushing out of bed and accomplishing all we need to before walking out the door, others prefer to wake up slowly, providing additional buffer time to temper the hurry. According to experts, the latter is typically the better choice for most people, since how we begin our day frequently indicates how the remainder of the following 12 hours will play out. "Many of us think of the morning as a 'new start,' a chance to plan our day ahead of time," psychologist Dr. Emily Guarnotta, Psy.D. adds. "This kind of thinking may become self-fulfilling, where we truly profit from planning and projecting our day."
Creating a morning routine, on the other hand, may help you feel more in charge and lead to positive messages that will carry you through your day to-do list. When we start our days unknowingly, such as by reading through the news, social media, or your email, we begin in a reactive rather than a proactive mindset, according to London-based integrative nutrition health coach Lianna Nielsen. "This may set you up to be less productive, particularly in terms of reaching your own personal objectives, and give you less control throughout the course of your day," Neilsen adds. "Exploring negativity, fear, or comparison first thing in the morning may also form a lens through which you see the world."
If you fit this description, it's time to stop the pattern. Experts lay down the seven factors that might be ruining your morning—and restricting your productivity for the rest of the day.
Snooze Button Pressing
While clicking "snooze" may seem to be a simple method to get a little more sleep, it isn't, according to Dr. Amanda K. Darnley, Psy.D., owner of Chrysocolla Counseling in Philadelphia. In reality, it merely adds to your stress since you're reducing the time you need to get ready and mentally prepare for your day. Dr. Darnley recommends that those who often press the snooze button in the morning find a way to motivate themselves to get out of bed at the first sound of the alarm. "Perhaps it's arranging to eat your favorite breakfast dish or pre-setting the coffee maker so you always have a hot cup available."
Opening Your Electronic Devices Right Away
You may consider checking your phone, tablet, or computer to browse through email or social media to catch up on anything you may have missed throughout the nighttime and early morning hours. However, experts warn that this tendency might reduce productivity and negatively impact your mood. "Not only can scrolling be a significant time suck, resulting in rushing the rest of your morning," explains Dr. Darnley, "but it may also leave you feeling stressed out or frightened, depending on what you read." "Instead of scrolling through social media or checking email, prepare a brief five-minute guided meditation." Alternatively, set your alarm to play music and, instead of turning it off, stretch to the music before leaving your bedroom."
Getting Your Day Started with the News
In the same way, Nielsen believes that news should be prohibited. "If you start your day by exposing yourself to the world's issues, it tends to produce a more negative and fear-based lens through which you perceive your life, which may impact how you make choices and communicate," she adds, adding that the accompanying sentiments can also inhibit productivity. She suggests beginning your day by checking in with yourself and your needs before engaging with news. "If you must, scan the headlines and read any relevant items after you get at work," she says.
Not Allowing Enough Time for Yourself to Wake Up
According to Aimee Bernstein, a psychotherapist, executive coach, and mindfulness-in-action instructor and author of Stress Less Achieve More ($17.95, amazon.com), it's critical to give yourself at least 30 minutes to completely awaken. "If you don't take the time to properly wake up," she adds, "you risk being carried away by the people and events you meet and having your vitality sapped." "Instead, take a minute to appreciate the beauty of being, to feel where you are, to notice your breathing, and to express thanks for everything in your life."
Increasing Sugar and Carbohydrate Intake
Bagels and doughnuts may seem like the most appealing options, but Nielsen cautions that they might take your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride, leading to a high surge and a drop. "Our mood and attention are affected by our blood sugar, so if you start your day with simple carbohydrates, you can anticipate your blood sugar to plummet a few hours later, sabotaging your productivity, mood, and focus," she adds. If you prefer breakfast, she suggests beginning the day by balancing carbohydrates with protein, healthy fats, and greens. "Try some avocado, nut butter, or eggs on toast, or add some greens to your smoothie," she suggests. "Eating for blood sugar balance will set you up to be the most productive, so maintain protein, healthy fats, fiber, and greens balanced at every meal."
Not Making Your Bed
You may believe that making your bed is only for show, but it really goes a long way toward preparing yourself for a productive day. "Being productive needs both an energy flow and a framework," Bernstein adds. "You won't have the desire or creativity you need if you don't have an energy flow, and if you don't have structure, you'll lack organization and may end up spinning your wheels and doing very little." She suggests making your bed every morning as a routine that gives a foundation for the rest of your day. "Over time, this small achievement builds a muscle for completeness and organization, leading to a feeling of wellbeing and further successes," she says.
Purchasing "Sunday Scaries"
"Monday mornings are firmly connected in our society with a sense of dread about the week ahead," says Dr. Ashwini Nadkarni, M.D., associate psychiatrist and teacher at Harvard Medical School, as well as director of wellness for the Department of Psychiatry at Brigham and Women's Hospital. This anxiety, though, may have an impact on our feeling of purpose and, as a result, our eventual productivity. She suggests reframe this emotion as a sense of purpose—consider what you can do about these dreadful happenings. "For example, if you start your mornings dreading a noontime meeting, think of it as the time throughout the week when you intend to present a new concept or make it an occasion to communicate with someone on the team in deeper detail," she adds. "Reframing the 'dread event' as a chance to pursue a personal goal or purpose might be beneficial."