How you start your day can have a surprisingly strong influence on how well your day goes, your sense of well-being and your long-term health.
Do you wake up to the sound of a screaming alarm, scoff down some breakfast (or skip food altogether), grab a coffee, and head out the door, before your brain even knows what’s happening? These are habits which can cause imbalance to the bodies’ endocrine system, and can lead to elevated stress levels for the rest of the day which can contribute to chronic fatigue.
While we sleep, the body has a rest from many of its waking processes and goes through a period of detoxing. When we wake up, we can assist this process through some simple changes and choices of behaviour which will lead to us feeling and looking healthier each day.
While not all the items on the list below may be practical for you, just choosing a few that you might not already be doing is sure to have a positive influence on your wellbeing.
1. Wake up naturally
Waking up naturally goes hand in hand with getting enough sleep, and creating a healthy sleep pattern. The problem with using alarm clocks is that they create stress by waking us abruptly, and they are not as intelligent as the human body. When we sleep we go through a number of sleep cycles of lighter sleep and deeper sleep. After 7-8 hours we are at the completion of one of these cycles and when the body is balanced it will wake up naturally, at the right time in the cycle and you will feel refreshed. If you wake up during the middle of a deeper cycle however you will wake up feeling groggy and it will be hard to get moving. Therefore, aiming for between 6-9 hours’ sleep (depending on your age, daily activity levels and other factors) every day, going to sleep around the same time each night, and getting up around the same time each morning, will help the body to fall into a natural rhythm where you should be able to wake up at the same time without needing an alarm clock.
Bottom Line: Establish a regular sleeping pattern coupled with good sleep hygiene (eg. switch off screens at least an hour before bed, do something relaxing, use essential oils such as lavender, have a warm bath, drink some non-caffeinated tea etc.). If you can’t get to sleep early, and know you are going to be sleepy in the morning – use an alarm clock, but aim to go back to your sleep pattern as soon as possible and this will help you to wake up naturally.
If you’re not a “morning person”, here are some tips on becoming one!
2. Try a morning affirmation/choose a positive quote for the day
Each day try focusing on a specific affirmation. Affirm to yourself those qualities you know you are capable of being and wish to work on. Say it in a present sense, for example “I am a patient, calm person.” Or, “I am organised, and get everything done.” Or, “I am fit, healthy, and enjoy exercise.” Say this affirmation a few times in your head, out loud, or try writing it in a special affirmation notebook. If you find this idea a little silly, you may prefer to keep a book of positive quotes by your bedside and read a new one each morning.
3. Start off with some yoga or some basic stretches
Even just 10 minutes of simple stretching when you first wake up is such a great way to gently awaken your body, setting yourself up for a relaxing, less stressful day. Why not try our morning stretch sequence.
Another GREAT routine is to do 10 minutes of sun salutations, a popular yoga vinyasa. Sun salutation yoga routine will stretch, strengthen and awaken your entire body.
Why is stretching so important? Read here to learn why.
Sitting for 10-20 minutes in quiet meditation each day has been scientifically shown to provide numerous benefits that go beyond stress management. Any time is better than none, but the ideal time to meditate is first thing in the morning, as early as possible, when the world is a little quieter, and before you have done a lot of other things during the day that distract the mind. There are many techniques for meditation, but at the end of the day, there is no ‘wrong’ way to meditate.
Simply sitting upright in a comfortable cross legged position or in a chair, or on the corner of your bed, closing your eyes, and counting or observing your breath go in and out for a period of time, can be enough to deeply relax you and reduce the thoughts in the mind. Over time this practice helps us to have more control over our lives, feel better each day, understand our actions and reactions more clearly, make better choices, relate to others more deeply, and get through hard times with greater understanding.
5. Try a tongue scraper
Tongue scraping is an Ayurvedic ritual known as Jihwa Prakshalana. When we sleep our digestive system remains awake, removing toxins from the body. Many of these toxins end up on the surface of the tongue – you can verify this for yourself with that furry/slimy feeling on the tongue in the morning. Tongue scraping removes these toxins along with bacteria, food debris, dead cells and fungi and is more effective than a toothbrush. If we don’t scrape away these toxins, they get reabsorbed by the body which compromises the immune system and can have other adverse effects in the long term.
Tongue scraping may feel a little weird at first if you are not used to it. You can use a spoon or better yet buy a stainless steel tongue scraper available at health stores and in some supermarkets. Go gently, scraping 1-3 times from the back of the tongue to the front then rinsing out the instrument. After a few times seeing the stuff that can come off the tongue in the morning, you will probably be convinced it’s a good idea to do this every morning!
6. Drink fresh water or hot lemon water
Staring the day off drinking a few glasses of filtered water is a great way to help the body in it’s detoxing process. Even better yet, try a few fresh lemon slices in hot water (adding ginger in winter has extra benefits). Here are some reasons to drink lemon water every morning on an empty stomach:
*Is said to balance your PH levels
*Hydrates your body
*Aids in digestion by flushing out unwanted toxins from your body
*Promotes healing with anti-inflammatory properties
*Strengthens immune system with its antibacterial and antiviral properties
*Reduces mucus and phlegm
Make sure you brush your teeth after drinking lemon or acidic drinks to protect your enamel.
7. Skin brushing/oil massage
If you have a shower in the mornings, a healthy pre-shower habit to get into is either skin brushing or oil massage – or both! Neither of these has to take more than 5-15 minutes.
To skin brush; use a natural skin brush, and sweep light strokes over the entire body starting from the feet up. Aim to stroke upwards, towards the heart. Skin brushing improves circulation and sloughs off dead skin cells and so helps the skin regenerate, look younger and smoother, and feel great. Increased circulation helps the muscles relax and eases tension. Try to skin brush only 2-3 times a week so that you avoid over doing it.
On other days you could try oil massage. Place a small beaker/thin glassed jar or cup with a little olive oil, almond oil, macadamia oil, coconut oil, or sesame oil into a bowl of hot water to gently warm the oil. Then, working from the scalp (if you don’t want oil in your hair give a gentle head massage without the oil first) down the entire body. Use long strokes on the limbs and circular motions on the joins.
Oil massage has so many benefits such as – relaxing and yet invigorating the entire body, increasing circulation, hydrating the skin, removing rough patches and preventing wrinkles, plus it gives you time to get to know your body and become familiar with what’s normal and what’s not.
8. Get some sunshine
Natural sunlight boosts our mood, increasing serotonin – a neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, sleep, memory and mood. It is important to get a safe amount of sunshine exposure every day (the amount changes with season, age and skin tone).
If you know that you are going to be spending most of your working day indoors, then it can be a very healthy habit to start the morning off with some sunshine. Here are some tips:
*Eat breakfast outside in the garden
*Go for a 20 minute walk around the block/walk the dog while the sun is out
*Take your yoga mat outside for some yoga or meditation
*Open all the blinds in the house early – get as much natural sunshine as possible in the winter months
9. Get organised
Having a plan from the get-go can be a huge positive influence on our mood and stress levels from the start of the day until the end. Even just sketching a rough to do-list at the start of the day, reviewing it, prioritising your tasks, and creating a rough time line sets you up for action. It creates a feeling of ‘already doing’ or already ‘accomplishing’ which lowers stress, and increases our likelihood of actually doing these tasks compared to if we just kept all our to-do lists in our head and relied on our own memory to sort them out through the day.
10. Eat a healthy breakfast!
One of the most important healthy habits! Breakfast literally means “break ‘your’ fast”. Fasting while we sleep is important for the body’s healing and detoxing processes, but to start a-fresh in the morning it needs new fuel. How can we expect to propel ourselves into a new day running on empty or on unhealthy fuel?
We have so many health breakfast ideas on our blog. Why not try some!
Got any healthy morning habits you would like to share? Let us know in the comments below 🙂