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Healthy morning habits always seem so great in theory. But when morning rolls around, well, hitting the snooze button suddenly seems way more appealing. If you’re looking to make the most of your mornings, you need a solid game plan to adopt new habits.

Start here by learning about the benefits associated with popular morning habits. From there, commit to a habit or two, and use the tips below to make the new behaviors stick. You’ve got this.

Morning Habits For Mental Health

mother and daughter stretching in the morning sunlightWake Up Earlier

First things first: one of the best things you can do for your mornings is to wake up earlier. Waking up early (even if it’s just 15 minutes earlier than usual) literally gives you more time in the day. And who wouldn’t want that?

These extra minutes in the morning could just give you the time you need to add some of these other healthy habits to your morning routine.

When you wake up early, you:

  • Are more likely to sustain a healthier diet
  • Have time to exercise
  • Kickstart your productivity for the day1

How To Make It A Habit

If you typically wake up at 9 AM and decide that tomorrow you want to start waking up at 5 AM… you’re definitely not setting yourself up for success. To make this a habit that sticks, try these tips:

  • Set your alarm to go off just 15 minutes earlier each day, in increments, until you reach your desired time. For example, try setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier each week.
  • You need to still get your full 7-9 hours of sleep. This means going to sleep earlier the night before.
  • Play around with your alarm clock sounds until you find the one that best motivates you to get up. Bonus: try playing an upbeat song that you love.
  • Don’t fall victim to the snooze button – practice getting out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off. It will soon become a habit that sticks.
  • Write down the reasons why you want to wake up earlier, so it doesn’t feel abstract.
  • Think of the morning quiet time as a reward (not a punishment).

Meditate Or Just Be Still

man meditating or praying

Meditating is becoming an increasingly popular morning habit. Have you tried to meditate yet? Meditating may help support:

How To Make It A Habit

As with any habit, starting a meditation practice can be tough – even when you know about all of the positive benefits. Here are a few ideas for making it a habit:

  • Start small – aim for 5 minutes a day to start.
  • Make it convenient – there are plenty of meditation apps that will guide you through the process.
  • Add a trigger that reminds you – try meditating as your coffee is brewing in the morning. You can also set notifications on your phone.
  • Tell someone about your new habit, so you are accountable. They may even want to join you.

Write In A Gratitude Journal

writing in journal with morning coffeeStudies show that gratitude may benefit your health. Potential benefits range from improved sleep quality, improved mood, less fatigue, and a greater sense of connection. How can you harness these feel-good benefits for yourself? Start a gratitude journal.6

The basics of a gratitude journal are simple: every morning, write down several things you are grateful for. You can purchase a journal specifically made for this habit. You can also grab a piece of notebook paper or jot it down in your phone. It doesn’t have to be fancy.


How To Make It A Habit

  • Try keeping your gratitude journal or notebook on your nightstand so you see it right when you wake up.
  • Ask others not to view your journal. This way you’ll feel free to write whatever you want.
  • Write around the same time every morning – for example, take a few minutes to write after meditating.
  • If you’re ever feeling down, go back and read what you wrote. If your journal makes you feel good, you’re more likely to use it.

to do list graphic

Make A Short To-Do List

When you wake up, does your mind race with all of the things you need to do that day? A to-do list may help. Writing out your daily tasks can help you settle into the day. It can move some of that anxiety from your mind onto a piece of paper. Here are the potential benefits:

  • It creates order by breaking big projects into manageable tasks.
  • It helps you prioritize tasks.
  • It fosters accountability.
  • It helps you have a productive day.
  • It may help relieve stress.7

How To Make It A Habit

To make a to-do list you’ll actually use, make sure you aren’t stressing yourself out by your own list. Be realistic, and decide on just
a few big things you want to accomplish each day. From there, prioritize your tasks, and plan out your day. When you feel in control, you’re more likely to actually use your list.

Another idea is to create a “Done” list in addition to your to-do list. On that list, record all of the tasks you completed in a given day, whether they were on your original list or not. This list may help give you a feeling of productivity and fulfillment – one that will keep you coming back to your lists morning after morning.8

Morning Habits For Physical Health

Drink A Glass of Water First Thing In The Morning

water overflowing glassDrinking enough water is vital for optimal health.9 But sometimes it can be difficult to remember to drink water throughout the day. If you add the habit of drinking water to your morning routine, you’ll set yourself up for success before the day even gets going. Drinking enough water each day may:

  • Make you feel more alert
  • Positively affect mood and brain performance
  • Help with digestive issues and discomfort
  • Promote weight loss10,11,12,13

How To Make It A Habit

Many people naturally wake up thirsty and reach for a glass of water. If that’s you, great. Keep it up, and see if you can start to increase your water intake before your day starts.

If you regularly forget to hydrate, try this: when you get out of bed, fill your favorite coffee mug up with water. Make it a rule that you have to drink that water before your morning cup of coffee or tea.

Eat A Healthy Breakfast

Whether you eat first thing in the morning or wait until early afternoon, you’ll want to choose something healthy to fuel your body. Eating a balanced, healthy breakfast may:

  • Support weight loss
  • Help keep you more alert throughout the day14

Here are a few ideas for a quick, healthy breakfast:

  • Granola with fresh fruit and yogurt
  • A simple egg white scramble with seasonal vegetables
  • A protein shake with fresh or frozen fruit
  • High-fiber toast with a tablespoon of peanut butter or hummus

How To Make It A Habit

Start small and grab something like a hard-boiled egg or a piece of toast paired with a protein, like peanut butter. Reach for foods you enjoy, so you look forward to sitting down to eat in the morning. Once you incorporate breakfast into your routine, you may find yourself looking forward to that time.

healthy breakfast

Enjoy A Morning Workout

When it comes to exercising in the morning, it can be tempting to hit the snooze button instead of heading off to the gym. But science suggests that the morning may actually be the best time to exercise.15 A good morning workout offers these potential benefits:

  • It’s easier to stick to. Unexpected events, like a happy hour invitation, are less likely to come up in the morning.
  • It helps promote weight loss and burns stored fat.
  • It may help improve decision-making skills for the rest of the day.16,17

How To Make It A Habit

Here are a few tips to make your new morning exercise routine stick:

  • Pick a realistic time in the morning.
  • Get enough sleep the night before.
  • Set out your clothes, shoes, and earphones the night before. Bonus: pick a fun playlist you’re excited to listen to.
  • Make a plan for the exercise routine you’re going to do. Pick out a workout video, a walking route, or a muscle group you’re going to focus on.
  • Start small. Tell yourself you’ll exercise for just 10 minutes. If you go longer, great.18


Bonus: Step Yourself Up For Success The Night Before

Feeling inspired and ready to start your new healthy habits? Great. The best time to start practicing these habits is this evening before you go to sleep. Here are a few ideas to set yourself up for success:

  • Move your phone out of your room at night so you can sleep better and wake up earlier.19african american woman sleeping
  • Prep the breakfast you will eat the next day.
  • Set out your workout clothes, yoga mat, or running shoes.
  • Place your gratitude journal on your bedside table.
  • Download a meditation app.
  • Call a friend and tell them about all of the new habits you are starting the next day.


Learn More:

Cognitive Function 101: What It Is and How To Strengthen It

Meditation Tips For Beginners: Breathing And Clearing Your Mind

Mental Resilience — A New Breakthrough In Human Health