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8 Things You Can Do Instead of Scrolling Through Social First Thing in the Morning

Most mornings, I wake up and start scrolling through Instagram before my groggy eyes have even adjusted to the light of day. When I open the app, which serves as a window into other random lives of people I follow, I’m effectively putting mine on hold. After scrolling, I have a hard time detaching from the screen and moving on with the day. I’ve found that holding off on social media and doing pretty much anything else (other than going back to sleep) leads to a more productive, satisfactory day. 

Avoiding social media in the morning is also a form of self-care. During the day, chances are you’re constantly entrenched in the digital world between work, school, or communicating with others (which is especially true of the COVID-19 era where in-person contact is limited). This constant stimulation can make it difficult to gauge your own thoughts and feelings throughout the day. Instead of letting social media frame your mood first thing, take the opportunity to check in with yourself.

Here are eight of my favorite things to do instead of scrolling through socials when I wake up.

Stretch or take a walk

I’ve never been able to commit to a full-blown yoga routine in the morning, but unlike moving your thumb over a screen, stretching or walking can get your blood flowing first thing. There are tons of guided stretching videos on YouTube, including my favorite 10-minute morning stretch by Yoga from Kassandra. You may choose to follow an entire routine, or pull specific moves you feel will best benefit your body. Exercise can actually boost your energy for the day by increasing oxygen and nutrient flow throughout the body, according to the Mayo Clinic. It may seem counterintuitive to expend energy to feel more energetic, but that’s what the science says!

Read a book

Chances are, there’s a book you’ve been meaning to read that you just haven’t gotten around to yet. Picking it up can be the hardest part, but keeping it on your nightstand for early-morning access will encourage you to read right when you wake up. Not to mention, you’ll probably feel greater satisfaction (and less FOMO) from a book compared to social media.

Victoria Catherine, admin of the Bookstagram @the_sixthbennet, says that she has transitioned to reading in the morning instead of checking socials right off the bat. 

My favorite part of this morning routine in the morning is setting an intention for the day,” Catherine says. “When I start the day by reading, I commit to a new day of learning and exploring the world and not just necessarily in the context of my phone or what the Internet can offer. It reminds me that there is a whole world outside the technological one at the tip of my fingers and grounds me.” 

Cook breakfast

You’re going to have to eat one way or another, and investing a bit of time into cooking in the morning can mean the difference between a full, healthy breakfast and a granola bar as you sprint out the door. As I prepare to move into my first apartment next month, I’ve also found that there are tons of fun breakfast recipes I want to try.

Fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy and whole grains are the core components of a healthy breakfast, according to the Mayo Clinic. These staples include essential nutrients like carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and a little bit of fat. My go-to choices include oatmeal topped with fruit or a breakfast wrap filled with eggs and vegetables. Both recipes keep me energized and full for hours. 

Start a load of laundry

You’ve probably heard that making your bed is a great small task to kickstart your day. To take it a step further, consider starting a load of laundry. If you’re like me, you dread doing the laundry and may routinely put it off to the end of the week. Starting a load immediately after waking up not only helps you chip away at your to-do list, but it gives you a sense of accomplishment even before you grab your first cup of coffee.


Writing down your goals, whether only for the day or for the long term, is a great way to help yourself wake up and stimulate the mind. Writing down the things that you’re grateful for can put you in a positive mindset before leaving bed in the morning. There are endless ways to journal, and you can make it your own.

Catch up on the news

If you can’t help but scroll, open up the latest news for the day. There are countless newsletter services that will deliver curated stories to your inbox daily, which is a great way to get your dose of current affairs first thing after you wake up. My favorite newsletters come from Her Campus and Refinery29. Tread carefully here and try to avoid switching from emails and newsletters to socials!

Watch a TED Talk or listen to a podcast

TED Talks, delivered by some of the world’s most notable thinkers, are a far more stimulating alternative to looking at a mutual friend’s vacation pictures in the morning. Some talks are so mind-bending I find myself wondering, “how is this website free?” In as little as five minutes, you can delve into anything from life in space to the latest in the social sciences and tech. TED Recommends allows you to indicate your interests and will deliver curated talks to your inbox.

Podcasts are also great options to access the daily news or listen in on a more niche topic (I hear true crime pods are wildly popular)? The New York Times offers a 20-minute podcast called The Daily, which is a great way to catch up on the news audibly when you don’t have the time to read articles. Spotify also offers a curated podcast section on the app.

Organize and delete photos

If you’re like me, you have a hefty collection of meaningless screenshots and blurry live photos sitting in the camera roll that you haven’t gotten around to deleting. Do yourself a favor and clear out those old images so you stop getting those all-too-frequent “storage is full” notifications on your phone. 

There are countless alternatives to scrolling through social media in the morning. Whether you’re looking to be more productive, or just to relax and reflect, incorporating these activities after you wake up will cut down your screen time and prepare you for the day ahead.

Hi! I'm Bella. I study journalism, public health and neuroscience at The Ohio State University. www.bellaczajkowski.com