If you read an anger-inducing social post right when you wake up, are you in a bad mood for the rest of the day? If the first thing you do is check work email before your first cup of coffee, do you spend the rest of the day stressed out and anxious? How you start your day can impact what the rest of your day is like, so follow these four tips to start the day off on the right foot.
Eat breakfast to start the day off right.
Everyone knows you shouldn’t skip breakfast, but what’s the best thing to eat?
If you’re the kind of person who thinks a granola bar will suffice for breakfast, you’re wrong. Many granola bars are packed with sugar and lack substantial nutrients. Try these quick and easy options instead to start the day off right:
Mix the following in a blender:
- Two handfuls of spinach
- One banana
- One scoop of vanilla protein powder
- One cup of unsweetened almond milk
- One handful of ice
Blend and pour into a to-go cup to drink on your way to work.
Add some flavor to your favorite sugar-free oatmeal by mixing in some sliced bananas, sliced strawberries and a handful of blueberries.
Toast a slice of wheat, multigrain or flaxseed bread and slather it with peanut or almond butter. Top it with some sliced bananas. If you’re in the mood for something more savory, cover your toast with avocado slices and a sunny-side-up egg.
Workout in the morning to start the day off right.
Sunrise sweats can help you lose weight.
If you’re not an early bird, a morning workout probably sounds miserable. But if you’re looking to lose weight, an early workout could be just what you need. A 2022 study published in Frontiers in Physiology found that, of the female participants, “those who exercised in the a.m. had greater reductions in total (-5% vs -2%) and abdominal fat mass (-10% vs -3%) and blood pressure (-10% vs -3%), as well as increased lower-body muscle power (13% vs 4%).” Additionally, a 2023 study published in PNAS, which was conducted using mice, found that “exercise elicits a time-of-day-specific transcriptomic and metabolic response in mouse adipose tissue, which is most pronounced during the early active phase.”
Start your day off right with a quick meditation.
The Mayo Clinic recommends meditation as a way to improve mental and physical well-being. Among other benefits, meditation can lower your stress levels, reduce your likelihood of chronic migraines and decrease your negative emotions.
We suggest the following two forms of meditation for beginners:
- Guided meditation: Picture a place you find peaceful and relaxing, such as the beaches of Hawaii or the mountains of Colorado, and try to place yourself there. What do you hear? What do you smell? How do you feel?
- Mantra meditation: Choose a word you find peaceful and calming and repeat it in your head.
Do your most important work before lunch.
Although everyone’s productivity peak varies throughout the day, a 2020 working paper found that, when comparing exam performance at three times during the day, “peak performance [occurred] around lunchtime (1.30 p.m.), as compared to morning (9 a.m.) or late afternoon (4.30 p.m.).”
We recommend starting the day off right by stacking the day’s most meaningful tasks—the big projects and important phone calls—earlier in the day, so you can leave more mindless tasks—such as responding to emails and having weekly staff update meetings—for the later afternoon or evening.
This article appeared in the September 2017 issue of SUCCESS magazine and was updated June 2023. Photo by Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
Jamie Friedlander is a freelance writer based in Chicago and the former features editor of SUCCESS magazine. Her work has been published in The Cut, VICE, Inc., The Chicago Tribune and Business Insider, among other publications. When she's not writing, she can usually be found drinking matcha tea into excess, traveling somewhere new with her husband or surfing Etsy late into the night.