So many of us are not morning people. And since most mornings consist of us tumbling blearily out of bed into an insufferably bright kitchen, making coffee, and rushing out the door praying we haven’t forgotten anything, how can we be?
Mornings may get a bad rap, but we can reframe our perspective on that by making a few simple changes. Here are five daily tips to start the morning right!
1 - Embrace the sun
The human sleep cycle is regulated by a hormone called melatonin. Ideally, melatonin levels should be high when it’s dark at night to allow you to sleep, and low in the daylight when it’s time to wake up. However, sleeping in a perpetually pitch-dark room keeps your melatonin levels high in the morning, which makes getting up in the morning a more grueling process. Further, the abrupt transition from your dark room to the brightly-lit one outside is a guaranteed unpleasant start to every day, and you don’t want that!
For this reason, set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than usual, open your blinds (just a little) and allow the sunlight to gradually fill your room. Alternatively, you can set your alarm for the usual time, but make it a habit to open your blinds first-thing. This way, as the sun rises and the room goes from dark to light, it gives your body ample time to adjust gradually. As you’re eating breakfast or getting ready, you’ll start to get into the mood for a productive day.
2 - Cleanse the body
Hydrating first thing in the morning is always a good idea. When you sleep, you’ve likely gone eight hours without water, and your body - which consists of 75% water - will be feeling mighty thirsty! Starting your morning with a long swig of water to rehydrate your cells, wake up your brain, and kick start metabolism and digestion for the day ahead.
Add some zing to your morning by squeezing a fresh lemon into a warm glass of water. Many people lack adequate hydration as they don’t like the empty taste of water in the morning. A squeeze of lemon adds flavour to your water and is great for you.
Aside from making water taste better, lemon also freshens the mouth and throat (ugh, morning breath!) and is an excellent daily source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
3 - And the spirit, too!
You needn’t be particularly religious to begin your day by nourishing your spirit!
This step simply means taking a few moments in your morning routine to clear your mind of distractions and practice being more mindful. For instance, you could take stock of what you’re grateful for upon waking today. Or you could reflect on what got you worried yesterday, and see how it has been resolved after a good night’s sleep.
Most importantly, focus on your intentions and goals for the coming day. Visualise what steps you’re going to take to achieve them, how you will react when you succeed, or what you will do if you experience a setback. Energy follows intention, and, if you start the morning with crystal-clear intentions, then the rest of your day will certainly follow.
4 - Get the blood pumping
You know how you need to warm up a car’s engine first in the morning before taking it out for a drive? Your body is the same!
Your mind and body run on low power for eight hours while you sleep. Like a car running on a cold engine, your mental faculties and physical responses are still a bit sluggish when you first wake. You may notice that forcing yourself to perform at your peak as soon as you get up (such as when you’re running late) ends up being inefficient and causes more problems than it solves.
An excellent way to gradually rid yourself of the sleep still clinging to your body is to engage in some light exercise. A popular choice for morning exercise is stretching or doing yoga; others go for an early morning jog or perhaps do some jumping jacks to get the blood rushing. You might even incorporate it into your other morning tasks, like power-walking when taking the trash out or walking the dog. While your choice of exercise may vary, stick with whatever fits your lifestyle to energise you and jumpstart your morning!
5 - Never miss a trick
Take a few minutes each morning to plan and order how your day will go. Check out your schedule, make to-do lists, and even plan your travel route to maximise efficiency and prevent redundancies. Perhaps you might realise it makes more sense to stop by the bank, pay the bills, and get your hair done before stopping by the store to pick up ice cream. Oh, and you could decide to fill up your tank before the day kicks into overdrive, instead of frantically detouring to the nearest petrol station midday when your fuel runs low.
You might also want to look at what you have planned for the next few days, in case there’s anything you’ll need to prepare in advance.
Not everyone is a natural planner, and for those who are used to winging their days, it might take a while to build this habit. But you’ll find that taking five to ten minutes to reflect and write down your tasks for the day will make you feel more relaxed, empowered, and accomplished overall. ■