First impressions matter. Whether it’s a blind date, an important presentation at work, or a first-time meeting with the in-laws, the way something begins often informs and establishes the tone of what’s to come. 

That same principle is at play each time we wake up. You can think of the morning as the “first impressions of the day,” an all-important set of actions that sets the tone for the next 16 or so hours. If you wake up groggy, eat a sugary breakfast and hazily slump your way toward work, you set yourself up for a day mired with stress and fogginess. 

On the other hand, if you optimize your morning rituals for health and happiness, you can experience a noticeable improvement in the quality of each day. As winter winds down – and, with it, all those New Year’s Resolutions you made – take some time to craft happy, healthy morning routines to help make this year a successful one. 

Here are six morning rituals to get you started on the right foot. 

Wake Up with a Smarter Alarm Clock

Everybody’s internal clock is different. Over time, each person generates a unique circadian rhythm that dictates when they feel most at rest – and when they’re primed to wake up. 

It’s unfair to assume that your body wants to wake up at 7 am sharp each day. This one-size-fits-all approach to your morning alarm might wake you up during a deeply restful portion of your sleep cycle, which can make you feel groggy. A better approach is to find a personalized alarm clock. 

Consider downloading a personalized alarm clock app. There are several good options on the market, and they all do (roughly) the same thing. They track your sleep cycle to indicate your deepest and lightest sleep phases, and wake you during your lightest sleep phase. 

Try a Supercharged Morning Drink with Adaptogens

No one’s telling you to sacrifice your morning coffee or smoothie – there are some rituals too ingrained to remove. But you can improve upon these morning drinks by adding adaptogens. 

For the unfamiliar, adaptogens are plant-based products that help your body adjust to physical, mental or biological stressors. They can also help sharpen your focus and support a healthy immune system. Eastern medicinal practitioners have used these products for centuries (millennia, in some cases), and some recent studies have supported their efficacy. 

A little goes a long way. Pour a 3-gram scoop of chaga mushroom powder into your morning coffee to support a healthy immune system. Or tip a single-serving sachet of lion’s mane into your smoothie to promote physical and mental endurance throughout the day. 

Pair Your Adaptogen Drink with a Tall Glass of Water

A morning glass of H2O is one of the best things you can do for your body. Bodies require routine hydration to stay in peak physical and mental form – it “lubricates the wheels,” to use a mechanical metaphor. Water helps with mental clarity, mood regulation, thermogenesis, kidney function, cardiovascular health – and it helps keep your skin looking fantastic. 

The trouble is, your body obviously can’t get enough water while you sleep (unless you sleep-walk to the sink!). Therefore, it’s essential to compensate for that nighttime dehydration with a big glass of water in the morning. 

As you brew your chaga coffee or mix your lion’s mane smoothie, pour an accompanying glass of water. Experts say roughly 500 ml (or 16 ounces) should do the trick. 

Write Mindful Morning Pages

For this tip, let’s step away from physical needs for a moment and focus solely on your emotional wellbeing. It can be easy to start the day in a hurry, frenetically getting dressed and rushing out the door without taking time for self-reflection and positive self-talk. 

Don’t let the opportunity for self-reflection slip by; consider starting a morning journal to record your thoughts, hopes, and words of gratitude. As the New York Times reports, keeping a morning journal is a straightforward, inexpensive way to foster mindfulness, boost communication skills and contextualize your emotions for a more balanced response to stress.  

To stick to your morning journal routine, leave the journal somewhere conspicuous: next to your coffee and chaga station, or on the bedside table. If you attach journaling to another morning routine (i.e., your daily coffee), you’re more likely to stick to it. 

Take Your Rituals Outside

For all our modern concerns and technological advancements, our bodies are still remarkably ancient and primitive in design. 

For hundreds of thousands of years, humans spent time basking in the sunshine and fresh air. Fully indoor living is a relatively modern practice. 

As such, your body still craves those elemental things: nature, air, and natural light. Modern scientific studies show that natural light has several direct and indirect advantages for physical health and mental wellbeing – including, but certainly not limited to, the production of vitamin D. And experts contend that fresh air (alongside natural foliage and trees) helps regulate stress and improve cognitive clarity. 

To capitalize on nature’s invigorating properties, take your morning routine outside. Write your daily journal on the patio. Take your chaga coffee for a walk around the block. Or enjoy a tall glass of water after jogging on a nearby trail. 

Leave the Decisions for Later 

Lastly, let’s discuss a well-known tip in entrepreneurial circles: reducing morning decision-making. 

The approach was popularized by famous business figures like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg (which is why they often wore the same outfit day after day). The thinking is that by reducing the number of decisions you make early in the day, you reduce the likelihood of “decision fatigue.”

Decision fatigue is a real, well-researched phenomenon. Basically, your brain has a finite ability to make decisions in a day – the more you make, the more mental tax you pay. Eliminating low-importance decisions in your morning (what to eat, what to wear, etc.) frees your brain up to make more important decisions later in the day (business decisions, life choices, etc.). That’s why routines are so significant; they allow you to automate your morning. Prepare your breakfast the night before, lay out clothes for the following day, and stick to a beverage routine that works for you. 

Follow these straightforward morning rituals for a happy, healthy 2022.