Ever noticed how, in the movies, people wake up with perfect hair and makeup and a smile on their perfect faces, ready to greet the day ahead? And then you wake up looking like you slept in a hedge, scowling at the light as you angrily bash the snooze button?

Some of us are morning people, and some of us aren’t. But it’s hard to have a productive day, let alone a pleasant one if you don’t start it off in the right frame of mind.  A bad start to the day leads to lethargy, decreased energy levels and poor performance. It’s all too easy to set yourself up for failure before your day even begins.

There’s a lot of small steps you can incorporate into your morning routine to start your day off on the right foot. But added together, these small steps can make a big difference. Try out some of the ideas below, and you’ll be surprised what a difference it can make to your day.

These 10 Morning Habits Will Change Your Life

1. Wake Up Early

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There’s a reason why CEOs and successful entrepreneurs are almost universally early risers. Getting up an hour before you usually do means that you get to start your day at a more leisurely pace. The feeling of calm you get from knowing you have plenty of time to begin your day is invaluable. And often, the best time to get things done is early in the morning, while most of the world is still asleep.

Studies show that early risers are better at anticipating problems and finding ways around them. Also, those who get up early are more optimistic. Getting up early is like a superpower, and it’s one that you can easily give yourself by setting that alarm clock just one hour earlier.

2. Get Some Sunshine

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None of us can control the weather. But you need to make use of what light you have, especially in the morning. Start your day by opening the blinds to let the morning light in, and open your windows for a blast of fresh air.

There’s more to this than it might seem. Daylight is how your body regulates its natural cycles, and making sure you get enough of it in the morning will help you to feel more awake and energized. Plus, our bodies need vitamin D to make us feel happy, and the best source of this nutrient is sunlight. So get those curtains open and greet the day properly.

3. Meditate

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Meditation is a practice that’s been around for thousands of years, and for good reason. There’s no better way to center yourself in preparation for the day ahead than to take a few moments to practice mindfulness. Morning meditation will make it easier to stay calm in the chaos of a busy day and notice the small details that can make all the difference.

All you really need to do is take a seat, close your eyes and focus on your breath. When you first start to meditate, your mind will wander, and that’s ok. But when it does, just bring it slowly back to your breathing. Even five minutes of this simple practice can cause dramatic changes in your mindset that will have positive effects throughout the day.

4. Hydrate

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Every living thing needs water to survive. After eight hours or so of sleep, it’s important to drink some water and give your body the hydration it needs to thrive. This can also help you to feel more awake by starting your body’s digestive system.

A cup of warm water with a slice of lemon is an excellent way to start the day. Lemon water helps to flush toxins out of the body. The citrus fruit also provides a source of vitamin C, which is crucial for boosting the immune system.

5. Stay Unplugged From the Tech

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For many of us, our phones are also our alarm clocks. And it’s very tempting to make your phone the first thing you reach for in the morning. Chances are, you’ve received emails and notifications throughout the night, and checking them can become a compulsion.

Try to avoid your phone for that first hour of the day. Carving out some time for yourself will improve your focus and cultivate a proactive mindset rather than a reactive one. It sounds counter-intuitive, but starting your day in a low-tech way can actually make you more productive. By sharpening your mind first thing in the morning, you’ll be better able to deal with all you have to do when you finally turn your attention to it.

6. Make Your Bed

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It seems silly. No one’s going to see your bed while you’re at work all day. It’s easy to think that it doesn’t matter what it looks like and that rearranging the place you slept in is not a productive use of your time.

But actually, making your bed can have an outsized effect on the way you feel. Setting yourself this simple task in the morning allows you to start the day with one small accomplishment under your belt. This feeling of accomplishment will then spur you onto greater efforts elsewhere. There’s a reason why armed forces around the world make their recruits get up early and make their bed each morning. Great things come from small beginnings.

7. Exercise

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There’s no better way to energize your body than to give it some exercise first thing in the morning. It doesn’t have to be a marathon or an intense cardio session. Some yoga, a few push-ups or a short run on a treadmill could be enough. Get the blood flowing through your body, and both your body and your mind will function better for it.

Studies have shown that willpower is at is strongest in the morning, so you’ll find it easier to make yourself get the exercise you need. Even fifteen minutes or so of exercise can have a dramatic effect on your day.

8. Eat A Nutritious Breakfast

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It’s called the most important meal of the day for a reason. Eating a good breakfast helps give your body the energy it needs to conquer the day.

That doesn’t mean you should sit down to a heaping plate of greasy sausages every morning. Try to eat something with lean proteins, healthy fats, and whole grains to give you energy that will last. Even something as simple as cereal with fruit can be a good choice to get your day started.

9. Shower

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Part of feeling your best is looking your best. After you’ve gotten some exercise, take a shower and pay some attention to your appearance. Looking well put together can do wonders for your confidence.

For a more intense twist on this idea, you could try a cold shower. Nothing will wake you up and make you feel more alert than cold water on your skin, and some people swear by a cold shower to get them going in the morning.

10. Have A ‘To Do’ List Ready To Conquer

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Don’t just let the tasks you have ahead of you float around in your head. Take a pen and paper and write them down. And be sure not to overload yourself. Prioritize your list so that it contains the top 3-5 things you need to get done, with the most important listed first.

Having your day’s work written out in front of you gives you a sense of purpose. And crossing things off the list as you get them done throughout the day will help you feel like a champion. Momentum is key to maximizing each day, and nothing builds momentum like a To Do list.

Conclusion

It’s in the morning that we set the tone for the rest of the day. Successful people know that the way they start the day goes a long way toward defining how the rest of the day shapes up. Taking control of your day from the moment you wake up can make all the difference.

Try to work the tips listed above into your morning routine. You’ll be amazed at what a big difference a few simple changes can make. These ideas will have you ready to conquer the world, each and every day.

Mariah Strauss
Author

Mariah is a personal trainer, nutritionist, and health and wellness coach. She is the contributing writer on health and fitness for sites such as Women's Health, Shape, LifeHack and MindBodyGreen among some others. Her aim is to empower people with the knowledge and tools to lead happier, healthier lives.