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Monday, June 19, 2017

The Perfect Summer Morning Routine



Hello, beautiful! One thing you might not guess about me is that I am a morning person. I am most productive after I wake up in the morning, and I tend to hit a bad afternoon slump where I stop getting anything done at all until I've had my coffee.

As a morning person, I'm constantly trying to learn how I can make the most of my mornings. It's so important to start off on the right foot and take advantage of the most productive part of my day. Whenever I sleep through my mornings or forget to perform a step in my morning routine, I just feel off for the rest of the day.


However, for college students, I know how hard it can be to stick to any kind of routine while you're home. It's more than tempting to stay out too late and end up sleeping in too long over the summer, since you don't have any 8:00 AM classes to keep you in line!

Admittedly, striking the right balance between making the most of your summers and making the most of your mornings takes some practice. But just in case you were wondering, here are a couple of things I've learned along the way to help your mornings run as smoothly as possible - even over the busy summer season :)

P.S. Scroll to the end of this post to find out how you can get your free printable version of this summer morning routine!


Avoid Checking E-mail


The first and probably most important step in my morning routine is actually something not to do: don't check your e-mail first thing in the morning! I know how tempting it can be to reach for your phone when you're not ready to get out of bed just yet. (I'm still getting the hang of it myself, TBH.) But try your best to resist the urge! I firmly believe giving yourself a few quiet moments first thing in the morning, instead of diving into those pressing e-mails, is one of the kindest things you can do for your mind, body and spirit. 

If you're like me and you tend to get sucked into an Instagram and Facebook hole when your alarm goes off, try leaving your phone across the room when you go to bed at night. That way, when you wake up in the morning, you're forced to get up and start your day instead of using your phone as an excuse to be lazy! (Because let's face it: scrolling through e-mail is pretty much like hitting the snooze button.)


Meditation


Unless I'm headed to my internship early in the morning, I try to meditate every day for 5-10 minutes before I start my mornings. Starting my day off with a few moments of peace and quiet for myself helps me clear my head and puts me in the right mood to have an amazing day. Usually, I meditate using an app like Stop, Breathe & Think or Simply Being, which have been my two favorites as of lately. Stop, Breathe & Think is especially great because it asks you to check in with your body and emotions before meditating, so you really get a good sense of the place you're coming from this morning.

Meditation isn't an easy habit to start if you're not already doing it - it takes a lot of practice to be able to ignore the thoughts running wild in your head - but there's plenty of science to back up why you should be meditating first thing in the morning. In case it isn't enough that meditation is recommended by many therapists (like mine!), Psychology Today has a great article called 20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today that covers all the amazing ways that meditation benefits your body and mind. So, get schooled and start adding 5-10 minutes of meditation to your morning routine to help you have the perfectly productive day! 


Exercise


Since I've been home, I haven't been exercising as much as I would like, so I'm trying to start adding 10-15 minutes of HIIT - or High Intensity Interval Training - to my morning routine to keep me active during the summer months. In case you haven't heard of HIIT, the idea is that you alternate short periods of vigorous activity (like, so vigorous you can barely speak or breathe) with short periods of rest to maximize your body's fat-burning and muscle-building potential.

You might think you need a fancy gym membership to start working out first thing in the morning, but in reality, if you have a phone or computer, you already have everything you need to get a great HIIT workout in the morning! Tone It Up and Blogilates are my two favorite YouTube channels for HIIT workouts - Karena, Katrina and Cassey are such fun and motivational trainers, but they'll still whip your butt into shape! Try the Tone It Up Boxing HIIT Workout or Blogilates' Train Insane HIIT Workout for some quick exercises that will leave you feeling fitter in no time.





Hygiene


My personal hygiene routine is the most important part of my mornings. Even if I skip everything else on this list, I absolutely cannot miss washing my face, brushing my teeth and taking a shower, even if it's just a quick one. It may sound vain, but I honestly believe your physical appearance is inherently tied to your confidence and mental health! It's amazing what a difference taking the time to wash your face, do your hair and put on some cute clothes can make on your entire morning (and even your day!).

The first step in my personal hygiene routine every morning is putting in my contacts - weirdly enough, I just don't feel right starting off the day in glasses. I then love using Crest's whitening toothpaste and mouthwash products to get rid of any bad breath or plaque that may have built up in my mouth overnight. I also follow a very strict skincare routine to keep my skin glowing, soft and blemish-free - comment below if you want to see an updated post on my summer skincare routine! Finally, a quick shower to wash my hair, rinse my body and (sometimes...) shave my legs is all I need to feel squeaky clean and ready to start my morning right :) 


Water


Your body is SO dehydrated when you wake up first thing in the morning! After 8+ hours without a glass of water, your body is practically begging for a cool drink. So, instead of starting my morning with coffee or tea, I prefer to hydrate my body with a full glass of water first thing in the morning (usually I drink this with my vitamins; see the next heading for more detail on those!) and save the caffeine for my afternoon slump. 

It took me a long time to train myself to drink a healthy amount of water throughout the day. Believe it or not, someone my size needs to drink 9 full glasses of water every day - and I'm only 5'1"! But before you say H2O-no-you-can't, here's a tip I used to use to help me remember to drink: while I don't do this anymore, I used to use the app Plant Nanny to help remind me to drink water...basically, in the app, you take care of a virtual plant by logging the water you drink. If you don't remember to drink, your plant will die - symbolizing your own personal dehydration! 


Vitamins


Nutrition is one of those things I've always been interested in. I especially love learning more about different vitamins and supplements I can take to help keep my body healthy. YouTuber Nikki Philippi (she's one of my faves!) was actually one of the first people to introduce me to the power of vitamins. Now that I know what a big different getting the right nutrients can make in someone's health and lifestyle, I wouldn't dream of going a day without taking my morning multivitamin! Right now I'm just taking a simple women's multivitamin from CVS, but when these run out I'm planning to switch to a personalized pack from care/of - simply visit their website, take the quiz and get personalized recommendations for a daily packet of vitamins to take every day! (Not to mention, their vitamins are cheaper than those at most Targets or health food stores...)


I've also been a big believer in the power of probiotics ever since my struggles with hormonal birth control, which you can read all about here. If you haven't heard of probiotics, they're basically pills you can take every day to replenish the healthy bacteria in your gut microbiota. However, for women, probiotics can have special added benefits, because the beneficial lactobacillus found in many high-quality probiotics colonizes not only your gut, but also helps to regulate the pH of your vagina and prevent many infections (such as bacterial vaginosis). Currently I take Culturelle probiotics every morning, but care/of sells its very own probiotic blend for just $8.00 a month that I can't wait to try! 


Breakfast


Depending on who you are, breakfast is take it or leave it - but to me, it's non-negotiable! Without eating breakfast in the morning, I'm hungry, cranky and exhausted by noon. To avoid hitting a mid-morning crash, I always make sure to eat a filling and nutritious breakfast before I start the rest of my day. 

Over the summer, it's especially easy to make sure you eat a healthy breakfast because you tend to have much more time in the morning to get ready. I love summer because I can finally cook something a little more complex than a bowl of cereal or a piece of toast for breakfast! Breakfast potatoes (usually with kale and garlic!), steel cut oatmeal with dried fruit, banana pancakes or smoothie bowls are all delicious, plant-based options to start your morning off right...follow me @haleymarieblog on Pinterest to find some great recipes for each!





Reading


Another habit I've recently been trying to get back into is reading a little bit every day. I love to read, but I don't have much time for it during the school year. So, over the summer, I'm starting to read a couple pages of a self-improvement book every day to try to catch up on the reading I've missed! 

One of my favorite topics to read about is mental health, since my anxiety and depression impact my life so prominently. Right now, I'm reading the book Anxious in Love by Carolyn Daitch and Lisa Lorberbaum. If you're someone who experiences a lot of relationship conflict due to your anxiety, or at the very least feels self-conscious about how your anxiety might be affecting your partner, this book is for you! While it's aimed at people who are married, I'm still finding it extremely useful as a college gal in a committed relationship to help me analyze how much of my anxiety is really my partner's fault, and how I can prevent it from impacting our love for one another. 


To-Do Lists


Finally, the last thing I always do in the morning before I jump into my day is write my to-do list. I've heard a couple of good arguments as to why to-do lists are doing more harm than good, but I find that without one, I'm way too discombobulated to remember all of the tasks I need to accomplish. So, even if a good old-fashioned to-do list isn't what the experts are recommending nowadays, I'm still the kind of person who needs one to stay on top of my sh*t!

Usually I write my to-do list directly into my planner - this year I'm using a planner by Eccolo Ltd., and I have to say I'm hooked! Now that I've had the privilege of using their planner, I don't think I could ever go back to my old ways of writing my to-do lists on old scraps of paper and leaving them scattered around. Keeping my to-do list in one place helps keep me on track for the day, since I always know where to look for my list. It also allows me to easily look back on prior lists to see if there's anything I still need to accomplish from the day or week before. So, if you don't have a planner with a to-do list in its layout, I highly recommend you get one from Eccolo Ltd. - or simply buy a cute little notebook to write all your to-do lists in instead!


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