Your morning routine can be energising and inspiring or it can pitch you reluctantly into a stressful day.
In this article we’ll introduce you to a healthy morning routine which can be an incredibly powerful investment for your health. Your actions first thing in the morning can benefit you all day.
Are you a morning person? Do you leap out of bed eager to greet the day or do you hit the snooze button numerous times and eventually drag yourself into the morning, coffee in hand?
To a certain extent, genetics can determine whether we’re a classic morning person or a night owl. But lifestyle and food choices can also influence our circadian rhythm, or body clock. If you’re constantly lacking in energy first thing in the morning this can be a danger sign you’re not getting enough quality sleep, stress is affecting your energy levels or possibly both.
Ongoing stress leads to high cortisol levels towards evening, meaning we’re bleary-eyed first thing in the morning and wide awake late at night.
Stress management and good sleep hygiene can help considerably in ensuring you wake up refreshed and with a little more zing, but how you approach the morning will set the tone for the day ahead.
Making time for a morning routine will probably mean you need to set your alarm a little earlier. Don’t look on this as a negative thing, instead focus on the positive benefits it will bring you. But don’t be tempted to suddenly set your alarm an hour sooner – it’s kinder to the body and easier to adjust if we alter our wakeup time by increments of 15-minutes maximum. Allow your body a few days to adjust before shifting the time another 15 minutes earlier.
In fact, studies have shown waking up at a similar time each morning can help reset our circadian rhythm. Irregular sleep patterns have been linked to chronic health problems like obesity, high blood pressure and heart disease.
So having a long lie in at the weekend to try to make up for lack of sleep at the weekend isn’t necessarily the best strategy, because it can disrupt your body clock.
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely paying attention to experiences in the present moment. Mindfulness can reduce stress and anxiety, improve mood, benefit memory and attention span and may even reduce inflammation.
To help prepare your mind for the day ahead, try a short meditation practice. During meditation, we pay attention to our breath and how our body feels, bringing heightened awareness and a calm mind. As little as ten minutes’ meditation can be beneficial.
Gentle exercise first thing in the morning can lead to better sleep at night and may even help improve blood sugar control.
Yoga is a great choice because it’s an excellent stress-reliever. Yoga stretches the body, restoring flexibility after a night’s sleep, improves focus for the day ahead and increases blood flow and oxygenation by encouraging deep breathing. Or if you prefer more intense exercise, ten minutes of HIIT is simple to fit into anyone’s day – but make sure you warm up and stretch beforehand.
Studies consistently show exposure to daylight in the morning, even if the sun isn’t shining, can harmonise your circadian rhythm and so encourage better sleep.
It seems being outside before noon is especially beneficial, so first thing in the morning provides a great opportunity. Take the dog for a walk, stroll around the park or simply walk a couple of stops before you get on the bus to work. Aim for half an hour, but if time is short as little as five minutes outside can be beneficial.
We all fast overnight, so our energy stores will be depleted when we awake. Rather than propping up your energy levels with caffeine or a sweet pastry, invest in a healthy breakfast containing some protein such as eggs to help the body repair itself and leave you feeling full for longer. Load your breakfast with nutrients for the day ahead by including some nuts, seeds and berries.
Starting the morning with these habits means they won’t get forgotten about or pushed out of the way by the demands of the day.
These simple steps can significantly improve your stress management and contribute to better blood sugar control which in turn can keep you energised throughout the day.
If you’d like to discover more about how healthy lifestyle habits can contribute to better health and wellbeing, a Functional Medicine consultation can provide you with personalised dietary and lifestyle interventions tailored to your health goals, taking into account your unique genetics and health history. Contact me or book a consultation
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