10 ways a structured start will boost your happiness

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  • Plus, we speak to personal trainer Stef Williams about how a more structured morning routine boosted her mental and physical health.

    It’s dark outside, you’re freezing and you really, really can’t be bothered to get out of bed. Sound familiar? If your morning routine has gone out the window this year, don’t worry: you’re not alone. One study of 2,000 adults found more than half of adults go outside less in the winter months because of the cold, wet weather and lack of daylight.

    That being said, another study has found that sticking to a regular and consistent morning routine can not only boost your productivity, but act as a form of mental health help, too. Like the sound of that? Yep, us too – which is why we’ve spoken to personal trainer and founder of Sefi, Stef Williams, to pick her brains on how she starts her days. She’s a self-confessed fan of a morning routine and here, she shares her top tips for creating your own.

    Don’t miss our guides to workout recovery, fitness tips, and how to stay healthy on a budget, while you’re here, and do read up on the many meditation benefits and perks of breathwork training, too.

    Morning routine: your guide to shaping a start that works for you

    What is a morning routine?

    Good question. According to Williams, a morning routine constitutes a set order of events that you do every morning to start your day. We’re largely creatures of habit, and research has shown that a set morning routine can do everything from boost your mental health to increase your productivity levels.

    “It’s about setting yourself up for the day so you can be clear and organised, and should include you taking small steps that make you feel good,” she shares. “Personally, I think it’s important to have a moment of still – the calm before the storm – without your phone and to yourself before the day properly begins.”

    A routine can be important for a number of reasons – as Williams says, to take a moment for yourself before a busy working day, to have some productive time outside of working hours, or even just as a way of building healthy habits.

    “It helps you build discipline which you can then apply to all aspects of your life,” she goes on. The logic is that even if you can stick to a morning routine – even if it is super dark and cold and horrible outside and you’re really not feeling it – then you’ll be able to conquer anything.

    Stef’s morning routine 

    The PT explains that to her, structure is so important. “Making a positive change to my routine has such an impact on not just my day, but my week – and so on to my life, too,” she explains.

    1. Lemon water

    “I love starting my morning with some lemon water”, she shares. It’s as simple as popping some slices of lemon in a mug with hot water. Enjoy.

    2. Skincare

    Next up – a quick face wash and cleanse.

    3. Gratitude journal

    “I love working through my gratitude journal,” she continues. Keen to try? Our guide to the best wellness planners is a good start.

    4. Writing a to-do list for the day

    “Having two teams across SEFI and WeGLOW – my new activewear brand and my fitness app – means taking some time early morning to get organised is crucial,” she shares.

    5. Movement

    Next up? Movement of some form, whether that be weight training or a walk. “I like to make time in the morning for movement before the day gets too busy,” she explains. “I normally do a workout or challenge from my app or if I have a bit more time, I’ll go for a walk.”

    10 simple morning routine ideas 

    Now you’ve read what Williams does every morning – are you keen to craft your own morning routine? Use the following as prompts and remember, not all will work for you. Just be flexible in working out what does.

    • Hydrate with water
    • Make a hot drink, whether that’s coffee, tea, or hot lemon water
    • Stay off your phone for a set amount of time before you start your day
    • Dance to your favourite song
    • Write a to-do list
    • Write a gratitude list – aka, what makes you feel happy and good about yourself
    • Try some movement
    • Have a nice bath or shower
    • Practice a skincare routine
    • Eat wholesome food you enjoy
    • Wear something that makes you feel good.

    Our self care ideas may help, too.

    Morning routine: hot lemon

    I find the idea of a morning routine challenging – help! 

    So, you’re after advice for people who find sticking to a routine generally challenging? You’re in the right place –  but do remember, what works for you won’t work for the next person. Everyone is different.

    Williams’ advice? Don’t be too strict or unrealistic. “Start by adding one thing at a time and seeing if you can stick to that for a few weeks,” she shares. “Once you have ingrained that new habit, add the next one. Implement changes that you actually enjoy as then you’ll be more likely to stick it out.”

    “I’m a big believer in listening to your body. Sometimes your morning routine is staying in bed because your body needs rest and relaxation,” she shares.

    “We’re all so different – some people really are not morning people but as structure is so important, maybe those people would work better with an evening routine that helps them unwind and get themselves sorted ahead of the next day,” she goes on.

    Remember this: things take time. “If you don’t see a difference in a week, don’t give up on the process – try to stick it out,” she shares. “The same goes for any goal setting like going to the gym: you can’t see the progress in a day – it takes months and sometimes years.”

    Any positive change should be seen as a way of life rather than a short-term fix. It sounds simplistic, but consistency is key, and as long as setbacks don’t hold you back completely, it is never too late to reset and start again.

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