by By Courtney Telloian
Morning routines can vary depending on individual needs. What works for one person may be burdensome for another. Explore the building blocks of mental health friendly morning routines below and start thinking about what elements you could incorporate into your morning to enhance your well-being throughout the day.
You’ve likely heard it before, but a successful morning routine is only as strong as the bedtime routine that came before it. Which aspects of your bedtime routine should you use to ensure the success of your morning routine? Try preparing what you’ll need, such as coffee, meals, or an outfit, the night before. Making sure your keys, bag, and other essentials are near the door, especially if you need to leave home first thing in the morning, can also help reduce stress and chaos.
A solid bedtime strategy often comes together with good sleep hygiene, and good sleep hygiene can help you get a more refreshing night of rest. Quality sleep, meanwhile, can help minimize symptoms of mental health issues like anxiety and even psychosis (while lack of sleep may exacerbate these symptoms), so your morning routine may only support your mental health to the extent that you slept well that night.
2. Let light in
Exposure to bright light first thing in the morning increases feelings of wakefulness. To clear away morning grogginess, try turning on a lamp or your bedroom lights, or take in some sunlight within the first 5 to 10 minutes of waking up in the morning.
Those who live in higher latitudes (father away from the equator) will experience more seasonal darkness. Individuals who live farther away from the equator have been shown to experience higher rates of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and sleep issues have been identified as a key factor in SAD. A morning routine may help individuals who experience more hours of darkness continue to feel awake each morning, even if the sun has not yet risen.
For those who routinely wake up before the sun has risen, blue light has been proven to help people feel awake in the morning. Using the right kind of light first thing in the morning could help decrease morning drowsiness and increase alertness more quickly.
3. Make your bed
It takes minutes to make a bed, but bed making is still a task which many people neglect. If aren’t currently in the habit of tidying up your bed each morning, you might want to reconsider. Surveys by Hunch.com and Sleepopolis have shown that the habit of making one’s bed are positively correlated with better sleep and an overall happier mood.
Now are people who are already happier and get better sleep also more likely to make their bed in the morning? Perhaps. But some experts argue that making one’s bed first thing in the morning is an effective way to boost your self-esteem. By completing a task first thing, you’ve boosted your own confidence in your ability to set things in order and may be more likely to continue that trend throughout the day.
According to a study published in Nutrition Reviews, dehydration can negatively impact cognitive function. As most of us wake up a little dehydrated after a night’s sleep, rehydrating first thing in the morning can help improve cognition. Dehydration has also been linked to fatigue as well as symptoms of low mood, including irritability and confusion.
While adequate hydration alone probably won’t cure mental health issues such as depression or anxiety, chronic dehydration also isn’t likely to make those conditions any easier to handle. Drinking water is a good way to hand yourself the energy to deal with the symptoms that come with many mental health issues.