Your rising routine can make all the difference in how prepared you are to face the hours and tasks ahead of you. Like most things in life, there are a few tricks for optimizing your mornings. These tips will have you looking forward to the time you have early in the day, and put a spring in your step — or at the very least remove that permanent “I’m not a morning person” scowl.

Wake Up with Your Beverage of Choice

It was long thought that coffee was bad for you. Fortunately for java heads like me, it has been more recently proven to be just fine for you.

Regardless, those benefits are offset somewhat when you load your coffee up on sugar and cream. Or perhaps you don’t even like coffee. If that’s the case, there’s still hope!

Many people do not get as much water as they should. Start off your day with some good old H2O – you might be surprised to discover that water increases your energy levels. Other healthy morning pick-me-ups include orange juice or a steaming mug of tea.

Let the Light In

Leaving your curtains or blinds partially open will allow natural light to come in when morning arrives. The natural light signals your body to start preparing to wake up, by slowing production of melatonin and increasing adrenaline to help you wake up alert and ready to face the day. You may even find you start to wake up on your own, without the use of an alarm clock. Waking naturally instead of being jolted awake by a noisy machine will get your day off to a more peaceful start.

Breakfast of Champions

A nutritious breakfast will provide the energy you need to power through your tedious morning tasks. The protein in eggs is the highest-quality protein of any food; they make you feel full for a longer period of time and increase your energy levels and sense of alertness. Try combining eggs and another power food such as tomatoes into one delicious omelet. Can’t eat eggs? A delicious vegan alternative involves tofu — sauté it with vegetables like spinach, onion, peppers and garlic. This colorful combination really packs a punch!

Some other great breakfast options are:

    • Oatmeal

Steel cut is the best for you but takes longer to cook. Rolled oats and instant oatmeal are fine, you just want to avoid flavored instant oatmeal, which can contain a lot of sugar. Instead, use honey and milk to sweeten your oatmeal, and for an extra nutritious kick, top with fruit and nuts. Bananas are a healthy carb that help you feel full for a long time and add natural sweetness.

    • Greek yogurt

It is loaded with calcium and contains almost twice as much protein as regular yogurt. Greek yogurt will help you feel full longer, and you can customize it by choosing a plain yogurt and flavoring with fresh fruit, jam or honey.

    • Whole-wheat bread

Whole wheat contains more fiber and nutrients than white bread. Don’t cover your toast in empty calories such as butter. Instead opt for a more delicious and healthy option, like avocado with an egg on top.

Get Moving

Doing some light stretching in the morning or 30 minutes of exercise will make you feel more alert and pump you full of endorphins that will last well into the day. One of my favorite ways to loosen up and get a little “me” time in the morning? Yoga. The gentle stretching and quiet leave me feeling refreshed.

You can also:

  • Hit the treadmill for 30 minutes
  • Try some gentle stretches like slowly rolling your neck side to side, interlacing your fingers and stretching your arms above your head, or reaching toward the floor to touch your toes

Forget the Snooze Button

When your alarm goes off, don’t hit snooze. Take a few seconds to slowly come back to consciousness. Bend your fingers and toes, and roll your wrists and ankles to gently start waking your body up. Getting up on time means you won’t have to frantically scramble trying to get everything ready, all the time worrying you’ll be late. Once you get used to getting up on time, try getting up 15 minutes early. Revel in those extra couple minutes that are just for you to do whatever you want with.

Here are some ideas for how to use that time:

  • Read a passage from a book or something motivational
  • Sip a mug of warm tea. Green tea is bursting with antioxidants
  • Talk to your family before the morning rush begins, spending a few moments with the people you love
  • Watch the world come alive. Where I live is brimming with wildlife, so in the mornings I like to sit on my porch and watch the world wake up

Finding the perfect routine will depend on who you are. What do you need in the morning to conquer the day ahead of you? A better morning routine means a happier, more productive you.

Knowing what the morning brings will make your plans run more smoothly, and you might be surprised to find yourself excited to get up and face the day.

What’s your morning routine? Do you have one? Leave a comment below, and let’s talk about it!