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Good Mornings: 5 Rituals For a Happier, Healthier Day

Whether you grumble at your alarm clock or jump out of bed every morning, you can make the first hours of wakefulness work for you.

Try these 5 simple morning rituals to help you be more mindful, productive or at peace throughout the day.

1. Take a walk outside

Walking does so much for the body and the mind. In a matter of minutes, walking lifts your mood (especially if you step outside) and gets your creative juices flowing. Walking regularly is also good for your heart, lowering blood pressure, boosting your metabolism and helping you sleep better.

Studies show that walking for just 30 minutes a day will improve your health.

If you don’t have that much time in the morning, just do 10 minutes. Then try to fit in two more 10-minute sessions later in the day.

2. Count your blessings

Take a moment to think about a part of your life that is important to you. It could be your spouse, family, home, friends, faith — whatever you value and appreciate. Then picture yourself at some point in the future, engaged in an activity related to that part of your life.

Doing this actually activates your brain to lessen stress and can help you to change behaviors that are unhealthy. In a study on this theory, people who reported being sedentary and overweight were given information about improving health showed. The study showed that participants who engaged in these kinds of self-affirmations became more active than those who didn’t.

3. Eat a healthy breakfast

The name of the meal itself says a lot: You are breaking many hours of fasting overnight, which means you need to fuel your body.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), people who eat a healthy breakfast are less likely to be obese, have inadequate nutrition, show evidence of impaired metabolism or be be diagnosed with diabetes.

Make sure your breakfast includes a lean protein, such as eggs or yogurt. That will keep you full until lunchtime. To learn more about meal timing and planning, visit the AHA’s website.

4. Meditate

Most people think of meditation as a way to calm down, and it absolutely helps ease stress and allows you to keep things in perspective. However, a morning meditation session can also increase your attention span, improve your memory and help you multitask in the day to come. That’s pretty good preparation, whether you’ll be tackling an important work project or keeping up with a hectic schedule of family chores.

If you’re new to meditation, here are some tips that can help you get started.

5. Take on a big task first

While some researchers have recently pointed out the benefits of procrastination, many successful people say they take an “eat the frog” approach to each day. That’s a reference to a Mark Twain quote: “Eat a live frog every morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Twain was using hyperbole, of course, but his point stands: Whatever the task on your to-do list that you dread the most is the one that you should do first. Studies show that the first part of the day is when our power of self-control is strongest, and it fades as the day goes on. If you leave the toughest task for later, there’s a good chance you’ll find a reason to avoid it.

Nancy Henderson

Nancy Henderson

Nancy Henderson, a writer and editor originally from New York, moved to Nashville more than 25 years ago and considers herself more Tennessean than Yankee these days. As Editor at Parthenon Publishing since 2005, she has written about health care and wellness for a variety of publications.

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