7 Simple, proven shifts to help you make the most of your first 30 minutes

Man in a lake at sunrise.
It can be the best of times, or…not. Each morning presents a fresh opportunity when you have the tools to make the most of it. What does your morning routine look like? Do you roll over and grab your phone, hit the snooze on repeat, or open the door to catch the first early morning rays of light? 

Those first 30-90 minutes have a significate impact on your energy level, driven by your earliest decisions. In fact, this brief stretch of time sets the tone for your day. 

Beyond the anecdotal, “start your day right!” advice, there are loads of (free) strategies that work with your body’s natural hormonal system to help you set yourself up for maximum focus and energy all day long. Even if you have your morning dialed in – you jump out of bed, head to the gym, and finish with a cold shower, these simple tips will shift your morning rev into a more steady, positive energy flow.

Try one or take all 7 in any order you choose. You’ll find adding self-care strategies into your morning or any time of day is a habit worth committing to!

Here are 7 simple, proven shifts to help you make the most of your first 30 minutes.

  • Hold the phone! The cortisol or stress hormone in your body is highest during the first 30 – 45 minutes after you wake up in the morning. Combine this natural hormonal spike with the stress of reading email, the news, or just rushing to get ready for the workweek can rev up your day, leaving you susceptible to the daily high-stress, low-energy cycles many of us get caught up in. Remember, our phones were designed by the top minds on the planet to keep you engaged with their products for as long as possible. The reminders, the alerts, and the scrolling, all have a hormonal reward, aka dopamine hit, associated with them. So if this habit is hard to break, ease into it. Move your phone to another room and use it as a reward for optimizing your first 30 minutes (see below).
  • Take a minute to hydrate with a big glass of water or lemon water
  • Bring in the light. If, (unlike me), you live in a region that is light early in the morning, take 5 minutes to step outside and shift your circadian rhythms by letting the light hit your retinas. Although I typically wake up to darkness or cloud cover (I live in Oregon, so you can see why I need these practices!), do a search for Happy Light and you’ll find lots of options for a helpful, plug-and-play substitute!
  • Set your breathing barometer with 5 minutes of your favorite breathing practice. As James Nestor, author of NYTimes best-seller Breathe explains, the simple act of focused nasal breathing done slowly and evenly with intention is enough to set your daily rhythm, as you begin training your body for greater self-awareness throughout the day.
  • Take five to find your focus; set a clear intention or name your top priority for the day. Embody your goal by envisioning yourself in action, or if you like to journal, write it down.
  • Put your mask on first.
    • Take at least 10 minutes to wake up your body through your favorite mindful movement sequence, a brisk walk around the block, a quick sprint on the elliptical or whatever suits your fancy. Make it as enjoyable as possible with great music or an uplifting podcast!
    • Acknowledge your wins with gratitude for showing up for yourself, knowing that self-acceptance is a practice and by honing it, you will show up more powerfully in everything you do. Take as much time as you need to cultivate this important habit.
  • Finally, reward yourself with a cup of coffee, chai or your morning beverage of choice and enjoy the difference in energy, mood and self-awareness you’ll feel as a result.

All this sounds doable, right? Yes, and…a few things will try to trip you up;

  1. “I don’t have enough time”. If that’s the case for you and you’re willing to invest 30 minutes for proven outcomes of evening out your energy cycle, better sleep, improved mood, better focus and increased ability to notice and shift away from stress triggers, then plan ahead to go to bed 30 minutes earlier and set your alarm for 30 minutes earlier.
  2. You’ll get phone-jacked. Remember to put your phone in another room and turn off notifications. You can use it as a reward to indulge in after you’ve completed this sequence. Remind yourself that since you’re getting up 30 minutes earlier, no one will expect an immediate response.
  3. You’ll forget. As School of Greatness podcast host Lewis Howes likes to say, if it’s not scheduled, it’s not gonna happen. So, schedule this sequence into your daily schedule.  Block out 30 minutes and copy and paste this list into your calendar:
    • First 30 phone-free
    • Hydrate
    • Let in the light
    • Breathe
    • Get clear about today’s priorities
    • Move
    • Gratitude (for yourself first!)
  4. You’ll get sidetracked. Set yourself up for success by gathering everything you need to complete your action plan the night before.

These schedule suggestions are based on a combination of well-researched best practices, what  I’ve seen work for clients with limited free time, and a much shorter version of my personal practices, but they are absolutely interchangeable and adjustable. 

In fact, doing any one or more of these habits any time of day is a great way to mindfully recalibrate your nervous system, which is what this is all about. So start where you’re at, smaller is more sustainable, and build up to making your first 30 the best foundation for the rest of your day!

What are some of your favorite morning wake-up habits?

Reply to this email to let me know and I’ll share them in next week’s newsletter!

In response to the Cold Therapy conversation last week,

Sean replied: Hi Elizabeth, you should come to Boston next New Year’s Day for the 120th polar plunge by the L St. Brownies. It draws a large crowd of fellow plungers and is a great way to start the year!

Ruth Emers suggested: I’ve been trying what Edgar Cace recommends called splashing cold water while sitting in the tub for just a few minutes the way you do when splashing cold water on your face, only you splash your entire body and yes it feels great. And you rub it with a towel after.

Thank you both for chiming in! I haven’t tried either of these options…yet – but I’ll be sure to keep you posted if I ever take the polar plunge – sounds like the ultimate adventure!

Ready to get started?

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