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The 5 Worst Things You Can Do in the Morning (before You Leave Your House)

Men's Health logo Men's Health 8/19/2015

© Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Getty Images Discover how to quit screwing up your day from the get-go

If you’re like most guys, you have no time to spare before work. And yet, you still have plenty of opportunities to mess up your entire day.

Here are the 5 most common mistakes men make after they wake. Avoid these morning mishaps to start every day right.   

1. Checking your work email as soon as you wake up

© iStock/Getty Images The flood of new messages can throw you into panic mode before you’ve even had the chance to wipe the gunk from your eyes. “It sets your day off to a negative start,” says Susan Bartell, Psy.D., a psychologist who specializes in work-life balance “And if you’re responding to an email when you’re half awake, you’re more likely to make mistakes.” 

So if you must log in before you reach your desk, pick a set time when you’re fully awake to do so: People who check their email at designated times report feeling less stressed than those who are exposed to a constant flow of new messages, found a recent University of British Columbia study. 

2. Telling yourself you’ll hit the gym later

© DigitalVision/Getty Images It might be obvious advice, but it’s worth repeating: Evening sweat sessions get derailed more often than morning ones do, says Jessica Matthews, M.S., assistant professor of health and exercise science at Miramar College in California. Things like extra-long meetings or spur-of-the-moment happy hours can all crop up over the course of the day and compete for your after-work time. And you might even be more tired after a stressful workday than you were at the sound of your alarm.

So make it a point to fit in what you can in the morning. If you’re running late and don’t have time to do your entire workout, just do part of it. Even a 10- or 15-minute sweat session can be worth doing. Plus, that doesn’t preclude you from working out later.

3. Steaming up your shower

© Jupiterimages/Getty Images Sure, the pulse of hot water feels great on your tired body, but it might be lulling you back into lala land. Heat tells your nervous system that it’s time for your muscles to relax and for your heart rate to slow down, so you start to feel calm and sleepy, says Jared Heathman, M.D., a psychiatrist based in Cypress, Texas. 

If you want to feel more awake, take a quick cold shower. It sucks a little bit, yes. But it’ll signal the release of the energizing hormone adrenaline, Dr. Heathman says. It might boost your mood, too, since research shows that cold showers can flood the body with feel-good endorphins.  

4. Having a carbfest for breakfast

© peredniankina/Getty Images That easy-to-grab morning bagel might torpedo your entire diet, even hours after you gobbled it down.

Research suggests that if you pick empty carbs over protein-rich fare in the morning, you might be more likely to spring for junkier foods all day long. Instead of chowing down on that stuff, aim to get at least 20 grams (g) of muscle- building protein in your morning meal, roughly the amount in an omelet made with two whole eggs and two egg whites, says Men’s Health nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, M.S.

You’ll stay fuller for longer—which over time, can help keep your fat loss goals on track, he says. Or you can try Aragon’s favorite morning meal: The Ultimate Breakfast.

5. Brushing your teeth right after you eat

© iStock/Getty Images No one wants to walk into a morning meeting with dragon breath. (Here’s Why Your Breath Reeks in the first place.) But brushing up right after breakfast—especially if you’ve downed acidic stuff like fruit or coffee—can actually push sugars into the surface of your teeth and erode your enamel, says Michael Tischler, D.D.S., owner of Tischler Dental in Woodstock, New York. 

So brush your teeth after you rise, but before you eat. And drink a glass of water right after your meal, which will help feel your mouth feel a little cleaner. Or if you can’t stand to skip brushing after breakfast, hold off for half an hour after you eat. In one study of people who drank an acidic beverage, those who waited 30 to 60 minutes before brushing lost significantly less tooth enamel compared to those who brushed within 20 minutes.

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