Written by Dr. Rob Carter III and Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter for ThePyramid

When the alarm rings each morning, does the sleeper arise quickly, eager to take on whatever the day brings? Or drowsily reach for the snooze button?

The answer could be crucial because the mindset a person starts the day with can play a significant role in whether the rest of their day is filled with successes or setbacks.

“Every time the sun rises, so do new opportunities to grow, develop and improve,” says Dr. Rob Carter III, co-author with his wife, Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter, of The Morning Mind: Use Your Brain to Master Your Day and Supercharge Your Life (www.themorningmind.com).

But to make the most of those opportunities, people may need to adjust their morning routines to better prepare their mind and body for what’s to come.

“A morning routine can be as little as 15 to 20 minutes if desired,” Carter says, “but the idea is to have time dedicated to you and habits that support you.”

Carter offers these suggestions for starting the day right:

Plan the night before

A woman with three small children

With a little planning, you can make your mornings more productive and less chaotic.

Plan each day the night before. A peaceful morning can quickly turn chaotic if a person doesn’t have things carefully planned out. “It’s not unusual for people to be heading out the door and discover they can’t find their car keys,” Carter says.

A lot of morning stress can be relieved by planning each day the night before, he says, such as deciding what clothes to wear, making sure the phone is charged, and writing the next day’s to-do list.

Make time for self

If a person is married with kids, this can be a challenge. But Carter says everyone needs time for reflection, which is unlikely to happen unless they can make it a priority.

Set aside time to meditate, pray, do yoga or even do nothing for 10 minutes. “Spending time by yourself,” he says, “allows a person to reflect on life’s happenings and can increase productivity and focus, and make them appreciate time with others more.”

Minimize distractions

Minimize noise and distractions. Many people start the day by turning on the TV, the radio or other devices. Avoid that urge, Carter says. Instead, devote that personal energy to getting mentally focused for the day.

“Definitely avoid watching the news if at all possible,” he says, “because the often-stressful images seen aren’t conducive to a peaceful morning.”

Create exercise

Create a morning-exercise routine. Exercising gives people a sense of achievement to start the day with, provides them with more energy for the rest of the day, improves personal mood, and makes a person feel in control of their life.

“Research shows that people who exercise in the morning are more consistent with their routine than those who try to fit exercise into their schedule later in the day,” Carter says.

“The most important thing about a morning routine is to create one that is enjoyable so much that a person will stick to it,” Carter says. “If a person begins to realize that any aspects are not making them feel good, then get rid of them and replace them with something better.”


About the Carters

Dr. Rob Carter III and Dr. Kirti Salwe Carter are co-authors of The Morning Mind: Use Your Brain to Master Your Day and Supercharge Your Life. Rob Carter is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army, an expert in human performance and physiology.

He has academic appointments in emergency medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio; in public health and health sciences at Los Angeles Pacific University; and in nutrition at the University of Maryland, University College.

Kirti Carter was born in Pune, India; and received her medical education in India, where she practiced as an intensive-care physician before moving to Texas to complete postgraduate training in public health.

She is a Fellow of the American Institute of Stress (FAIS), has more than 18 years of experience in meditation and breathing techniques, and has been facilitating wellness seminars for the past decade.

For more information, visit www.themorningmind.com.