Waking up and starting the day off right can feel like a gamble. Some mornings, we hit the snooze button over and over. Other mornings, we bounce out of bed, ready to take on the day.
Emily McDonald, a neuroscientist and life coach who uses science-based evidence to help people improve their daily routines, shared some of her morning habits that just might help you wake up on the right side instead of the wrong side of the bed.
The neuroscientist shared 4 things she does every morning to be the best person she can be and one thing she’ll never do.
1. Listen to affirmations.
McDonald explained that our theta and alpha brain wave levels are high when we first wake up, which leaves us primed to learn new things.
She said that “evidence suggests when we have increased theta and alpha brain wave activity, we have increased neuroplasticity, meaning that we have an increased ability to learn and remember things and reprogram our subconscious mind.”
She takes advantage of her brain’s early morning neuroplasticity by listening to affirmations, which help reframe negative thoughts, boost self-confidence, and lessen self-doubt.
2. Engage in movement.
“Morning exercise is key,” she shared, noting that it’s especially important for people who have ADHD, as she does.
McDonald described the many reasons why moving our bodies in the morning primes us to have a good day. She said that “exercise increases dopamine, norepinephrine, and endocannabinoids, so you get energy, focus, motivation, and a mood boost for the rest of your day.”
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“Exercise also just boosts blood flow and oxygen to the brain, so it’s the best way to wake up,” she continued.
3. Sit in the sun.
Sunshine has major health benefits, especially first thing in the morning. McDonald revealed that she gets direct sunlight in the mornings, as a way to regulate her circadian rhythms.
If it’s overcast and the sun isn’t shining, she uses red light therapy instead.
Getting exposure to the sun can boost and regulate our moods, and lowers our stress levels.
4. Practice meditation.
“Meditation has an extensive list of health benefits, as well as improving focus and productivity,” she explained. She noted that meditating “completely changed my life.”
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The one thing she won’t do in the morning is look at her phone.
>“When we are waking up in the morning, our brain waves are transitioning from delta, theta, alpha, and then into beta when we are more awake and alert,” McDonald explained, then detailed why this information is so important.
“If you check your phone first thing in the morning, you’re causing your brain to go straight into high beta waves and you are priming yourself to have more stress throughout the rest of your day,” she said. “Checking social media first thing in the morning also spikes dopamine and lowers your baseline dopamine levels, to make you continue to crave checking social media throughout the rest of your day.”
Photo: iddea photo / Pexels
Screen time first thing in the morning sets in motion the desire to stay on our phones during the day, which can derail our productivity.
The more we check social media, the more likely we are to compare our lives to other people’s lives that we see through the screen, which can lead to us feeling bad about ourselves. Staying away from our phones in the mornings is an evidence-based way to set our best foot forward and begin our day as the best possible version of ourselves.
Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango’s news and entertainment team. She covers mental health, pop culture, and all things to do with the entertainment industry.