It’s been said by many that the beginning of your day is the most crucial window of time that you will face on any given day. This is the period that ultimately sets the tone for the day. We often hear about the endless number of greats that all put emphasis on their morning routines. This isn’t a just coincidence. With that in mind, here are the five most effective ways to start your day.

1. Be Mindful

“Mindfulness is a way of befriending ourselves and our experience” — Jon Kabat-Zinn

You probably could have guessed meditation would be on this list. But how could it not be? It’s proven that mindful practices help reduce stress, clear your mind, and effectively boost your mood. We live in a complex world, one where there are few moments of clarity. Meditation is an exercise that allows anyone to achieve this clarity on demand.

Despite this, many out there resist the rise of meditation as a common practice. They come to the conclusion that meditation is not for them and simply too weird or difficult. While I believe this will begin to change over the upcoming years, in the meantime you can make your mornings a bit better by starting your daily meditation habit.

2. Express Gratitude

“It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful” — David Steindl-Rast

Another underestimated daily habit is expressing gratitude. Gratitude is the one of the easiest and purest forms of happiness, yet many don’t utilize this.

All it takes is one minute every morning, write down three things that you are grateful for. It doesn’t matter how insignificant these things may seem. Being thankful for the small things is an excellent way to create a positive outlook. I can’t stress enough for much I recommend building this habit. The positive results outweigh the time commitment even more so than anything else I suggest here.

3. Write in a Journal

“Journal writing is a voyage to the interior” — Christina Baldwin

I have written in my journal nearly every morning for the past year. While doing this, I’ve noticed several benefits. First, much like meditation, it is an exceptional way to clear your head for the day. You don’t want to start your day with anything but a clean slate.

It also helps you address things that may be bothering you by confronting them and putting them on paper. You’ll be amazed how much better you feel afterwards. Possibly most appealing, nobody else will see it. We live in a world where everything is public, however your journal serves as a private domain where anything goes. Not to mention the creativity boost that comes with writing everyday

4. Watch a TED Talk

“The education of a man is never completed until he dies” — Robert E. Lee

Lifelong learning is something that I have committed to myself to personally. Lifelong learning is the act of continuing to learn even after university life ends. TED talks are my way of practicing this philosophy each morning. They are all mostly under 15 minutes and cover a wide array of topics. By building the habit of firing one up each morning, you will be able to say that no matter what you did that day, you learned something new. This is invaluable.

5. Go to the Gym

“The resistance that you fight physically in the gym and the resistance that you fight in life can only build a strong character” — Arnold Schwarzenegger

We all know the health benefits of going to the gym so I won’t harp too much on that. Rather, I would like to get into the psychological benefits of going in the morning. Everybody feels great walking out of the gym with a good sweat going, why not use this feeling to jumpstart the rest of your day? You can use this energy in an efficient manner, rather than waiting until right before you go to sleep that evening. Did I mention the perk of having the gym to yourself as opposed to deal with the evening rush? Try it out.

Prioritize the Important Things

So these are the five big ones as far as I’m concerned. All of these actions do the job of building mental, physical, and spiritual health and that’s why they need to be done first and done often.

I practice each of these every morning without fail. This didn’t happen right away. Of course it took fine-tuning and practice building the habit to get where I am today. I imagine that moving forward, I will continue to be fascinated by morning routines and will likely tweak mine at some point. With this being said, even if I do change some things, I can guarantee these are the things that will stay constant. Enjoy them.

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