The approaching New Year will have many of your employees thinking about establishing new habits and putting plans in place to achieve their goals in 2021.
The key word here is “plan”—healthy habits don’t become habitual overnight. They start as elements in a deliberate plan, and, over time, they become part of a routine. Eventually, the routine becomes second-nature, and a healthy lifestyle is born.
One of the best places to start? With a morning routine.
When Should the Morning Start?
Many people balk at the idea of creating a morning wellness routine, thinking it involves waking up at an ungodly hour to go for a run in the cold. After all, Benjamin Franklin is often quoted as saying, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” But rising before daybreak will not necessarily help everyone flourish.
Experts now understand that different people have different natural sleep patterns (or chronotypes). Some people are early birds; they have the most energy in the first few hours of the day. Others are night owls; they thrive after dark.
What matters for well-being isn’t how early you get up, but what you do once you get out of bed.
(This isn’t to say that regular sleep patterns aren’t critical. Most doctors recommend going to bed and getting up at the same time every day for optimal health.)
The Rewards of Morning Routines
For many people, the morning is the most chaotic time of day. We’re often so consumed with preparing for work, helping family members get ready for (and get to) school, and navigating stressful commutes that we neglect to make time for ourselves.
Unfortunately, a disorganized morning sets the tone for a disorganized day. On the other hand, a well-structured morning routine can set your employees up for a day of productivity, confidence, health, and satisfaction.
Here are some of the way morning routines can improve your employees’ well-being, along with tips for helping your employees establish and maintain healthy routines:
1. Better Nutrition
There really is some truth in the old description of breakfast as “the most important meal of the day.” Hunger can result in brain fog and slow production. A nutritious breakfast, on the other hand, can provide the physical and mental fuel to kick off the workday energetically (and to survive those taxing morning meetings).
Nearly one-quarter of Americans skip breakfast, often because they lack the time. A lack of adequate nutrition early in the day can lead some to compensate at lunch with heavier meals, causing even more fatigue and mental sluggishness. People who eat nutritious breakfasts rich in fiber, protein, healthy fat, and fruits or vegetables tend to eat better and be more active throughout the day.
You can help your employees fuel up for the workday by providing nutritious, tasty, and “grabbable” options at work. A nutritionist or dietician can help you plan your selection of breakfast choices. Feel free to set the tone by offering fruit or tasty protein bars at morning meetings, fueling your team for better creativity and productivity all day long.
For your employees that work from home, you can offer video seminars or coaching on healthy cooking and eating. And if you were providing healthy snacks in the workplace, keep the momentum going by sending work-from-home employees gift cards, so they can stock their own kitchens with smart choices.
2. Regular Exercise
Successful professional athletes routinely rise at 5 a.m. or even earlier to start the day with a workout. This exercise schedule can be a bit intimidating, especially to night owls. But there are several good reasons why, for certain people, the morning can be the best time for exercise:
- Fewer distractions.
- An early-day energy boost. The rush from a morning workout lingers for hours.
- Starting the day with a positive accomplishment.
- Healthier food choices. People who exercise in the morning tend to eat better throughout the day.
Not everyone is going to be able to jump out of bed and hit the gym. But even a 15-minute yoga session or a quick walk around the neighborhood can increase a person’s alertness and focus, setting the tone for the entire day.
You can help your employees create morning fitness routines by offering group exercise classes before work (in person or online). Fitness challenges can also be tailored to encourage morning exercise. You might even consider installing showers at the office so that employees who choose to bike, run, or walk to work can freshen up after they arrive.
3. Centered Minds and Balanced Emotions
As the workday progresses, your employees’ minds become more and more cluttered with thoughts about deadlines, meetings, responding to messages, solving problems, and everything else their work entails. As if that’s not overwhelming enough, many of us are not starting with a clean slate. We show up to work with our minds already brimming with family issues, reflections on the prior day’s events, and plans for the evening.
A quick meditation exercise in the morning can focus the mind and emotions, pushing away unhelpful distractions and reprioritizing life’s many demands. This is one of the many reasons more workplaces are recognizing the value of mindfulness.
As with exercise, it doesn’t take much to benefit from morning meditation. A few minutes before breakfast or before sitting down at your desk can make a world of difference.
There are plenty of ways to help your employees learn to meditate, from guided meditation classes to online educational sessions, to periodic “mindfulness breaks” throughout the day.
The Meditation Master Challenge is popular with WellRight colleagues and clients. This wellness challenge invites participants to meditate for just five minutes per day for 30 days.
Whether your employees are morning larks, night owls, or somewhere in between, everyone can benefit from a morning routine that involves giving the body and mind what it needs to perform at its best—at work and beyond.