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These 7 Habits Help Make Morning People Happier

Your a.m. routine could be the key to more passion, productivity, pleasure and peace. These women prove it!

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illustration_of_women_doing_different_activities_in_the_morning_by_Simone Martin-Newberry_1440x560
Simone Martin-Newberry
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For many women, mornings are messy. After hitting the snooze button two or three times, you’re rushing to get yourself or your family out the door. You want to make time for exercise, but before you know it, you need to start your morning commute or log on for a Zoom meeting. If you’re a homemaker, you may look at your to-do list and feel exhausted. If you’re retired, you might feel overwhelmed by obligations to your church, community or family.

But it doesn’t have to be this way! I frequently ask successful sisters in my circle about their morning routines because I believe such practices can be the key to living a life that is both productive and peaceful.

“I love mornings!” says Tiffani L. Bibb of Jacksonville, Florida. “I am happier and more productive.” Bibb, 41, works as the chief culture officer for a nonprofit and runs her own career coaching business, The Office Informant. Her days may be unpredictable, but she can control her morning routine.

In the face of major life changes and even traumatic experiences, a morning routine can help you feel more grounded.

“Morning routines are one way that one can find consistency and certainty in moments like this, which helps to produce feelings of adequacy, empowerment, security and value,” says LaToya K. Williams, Ed.D., a licensed therapist and licensed clinical social worker based in Atlanta, Georgia. “When we feel these emotions, overall, we feel better about ourselves and are able to have positive lifestyle changes.”

As a bonus, rising early can mean getting more sunlight. “Light has a way of energizing and motivating us, and, more specifically, increasing our serotonin levels,” Dr. Williams says, adding that serotonin improves our mood.

A 2012 study by researchers at the University of Toronto found that early birds are happier than folks who profess to being night owls. Genetics plays a role. A 2019 study by researchers at the University of Exeter and Massachusetts General Hospital suggests that people who are genetically predisposed to being early risers are at lower risk for depression and other mental health disorders. But behavior matters too: Folks who crush their mornings may also have night-before bedtime rituals that ease them into a more restful sleep.

Sisters spoke to several early birds for more tips.

1. Write the vision.

I revamp and revisit my morning routine every season. And I always begin by journaling to this prompt: What would the woman I want to be do every morning? My ideal morning routine would include journaling while sipping green tea, taking time for prayer, and taking time for exercise.

2. Check in with yourself.

Dr. Williams encourages clients to do a body, soul and spirit scan. “This simply includes, before you get out of bed, asking yourself, How does my body feel? How does my heart (soul/emotions) feel? How does my spirit feel? Do I feel connected to God? Am I encouraged and full of faith?”

Don’t wake up, grab your phone and immediately scroll texts and emails, suggests Dr. Williams. “It’s easy to start answering [to] others before we even get out of bed, but there is no way we can [be effective] if we don’t … attend to ourselves first.”

3. Remember that your morning routine begins at night.

Angela Abdur-Rasheed reviews her plans the night before, packs her lunch and chooses her outfit. “I … keep my mornings … easy breezy,” says the nonprofit communications exec who works in Birmingham, Alabama.

Turning in early matters, too. “My alarm goes off at 5:30, but I am usually already awake,” Bibb says. “The alarm is my signal to get out of bed. I go to bed early so I don’t dread mornings.”

4. Get your spirit right.

Abdur-Rasheed says, “Reading scripture, reading a daily devotional along with two friends and listening to a sermon while I get ready is nonnegotiable.” Even if you’re not religious, you can center yourself with meditation or affirmations. Tia Murry, Ph.D., a 52-year-old business coach, motivational speaker and author based in Chickasha, Oklahoma, gives herself a daily high five in the mirror. Bibb has a chat with her 7-year-old daughter to affirm that each will have a “marvelous Monday” or a “terrific Tuesday.”

5. Do something good for your body.

Bibb, a teleworker, spends much of the day at her computer. Mornings, she gets moving at the gym or outdoors. “I walk with a group of wonderful women on Friday mornings,” she says, calling it “priceless” for emotional well-being.

If getting in a workout in the morning feels impossible, start with something simpler. “As soon as I wake up, I chug the bottle of water sitting by my bed.” Bibb says. She also does simple stretches.

6. Try habit stacking.

Be patient with yourself. Dr. Murry is a big fan of habit stacking, or adding one new habit at a time until you have a tower of nourishing practices. “I always encourage people to look at the ‘low-hanging fruit’ and do that,” Dr. Williams says.

For example, for me as a writer, adding five minutes of journaling to my morning routine would be simple. Next, I could add a 30-minute walk. Then, eventually, I could add meditation to the stretching session after my walk.

Give yourself credit for small victories too. Dr. Murry relies on a solid morning routine for a positive mindset. “Some days the only thing that goes according to plan is making my bed, so I see it as a successful day,” she says.

7. Remember that you’re worth it.

Go ahead and borrow Dr. Murry’s affirmation: “I am worth the effort of creating a healthy routine.” Abdur-Rasheed says, “I learned the beauty of balance from my mother, who had a husband and three children to nurture each morning while also making sure she was well. [My] routine has helped my day flow more smoothly, start more peacefully and set the stage for greater ease at work. … I spend time with God, on [myself] and with my husband.”