“Find the beauty and joy in your daily rituals and you will find beauty and joy in your daily life. To love your habits is to love your days and to love your days is to love your life.” From James Clear
As we transition out of holidays and back into our daily routines, mornings can feel a little frazzling until we find our groove again! Whether you are hitting the snooze button or want to hit the reset, consistency is the key. Adopting healthy practices can improve mood, energy, mental focus, confidence and resilience. Here are the top tips for gracefully easing into your day, setting the stage for success!
1: Adequate sleep
It might seem like a no-brainer but my number 1 tip is sleep! A healthy sleep schedule rolls into a smoother morning. If you are waking up groggy and grumpy or are addicted to the snooze button, chances are you aren’t honouring your natural sleep requirements. Know your sweet spot and commit to getting the rest you need. Get to bed at the same time and wake up at the same time everyday. 8 hours is the recommended average but this is different for everyone. If you know you need X amount of sleeping hours to feel refreshed, start your evening wind down an hour or so before you need to be cozied up with the lights out for some well needed shut eye. Bringing down the energy of your day with some calming activities can set you up for a more restful sleep. Here are some ideas to wind on down:
- Set a bed time reminder an hour before bed and switch gears for the evening. Stick to it!
- Turn off or get off devices, including the television, research shows the blue light and stimulation interferes with the sleep regulating hormone, melatonin, produced in the brain.
- Avoid negative information such as the news, who wants to take that into the dreamtime?
- Attend to light duties, such as those listed in Tip #2 on planning ahead and being prepared.
- Dim the lights in the house and turn on some relaxing music.
- Connect with your family for bedtime hugs or cuddle with your partner.
- Prepare a calming night time beverage such as a chamomile or sleepy-time tea but avoid caffeine at all costs.
- Take a warm bath with bubbles, scents and low light.
- Do some gentle stretching or restorative yoga.
- into bed with a paperback novel, an uplifting audio book or podcast or listen to a guided meditation for sleep such as Yoga Nidra.
- Run an essential oil diffuser with your favourite calming scents, such as lavender and lemon.
- Write in a journal, share what you are grateful for this day.
- Write a to do list and prioritize for tomorrow, or the week ahead. Keep it beside your bed Just in case you wake with a nagging thought. Jot it down, then gently remind yourself that the middle of night is for sleeping, not solving problems and let it go.
2: Plan ahead and be prepared
An instructor of a first aid class I was attending started the course by explaining that the first step in first aid is to prevent the accident in the first place. That statement has always stuck with me. Taking measures needed to plan and prepare can divert many disasters from ever happening. It can also be the difference between gracefully moving through your morning or frantically running around in a state of complete disorganization.
Imagine this scenario…
You stay up later than you intended bingeing on brain-candy. By the time you realize how late it is, you are tired and decide you can just get up early and deal with your life in the morning. You head to bed only to be rudely awoken by your dog vomiting all over the bedroom floor. You jump up, let the dog outside, just in case there is more, and set to cleaning. Half an hour later, you are back in bed thinking you can get another couple of hours of sleep but you are now running the hamster wheel. You finally fall back to sleep only to feel your morning alarm like a hammer to your head. “Just a few more minutes”, you think, as you hit the snooze button. Before you know it you hear the kids in the kitchen searching for the hidden Lucky Charms you vowed were only for weekends as a treat. Insert here I have know idea whether you are a single parent or your partner works night shift! You roll your bedraggled butt out of bed, tripping over the laundry basket you never folded, dig for something to wear and emerge shellshocked to the kitchen. You realize you haven’t filled out the permission slip for the school field trip, you are yet to pack lunches, you give in to the Lucky Charms, you can’t find your gym bag and the dog is looking at you warily as he missed his morning walk. You show up at the office starving and shovel a handful of stale, processed, store bought cookies into your mouth followed by a cup of cheap battery acid tasting coffee. You really don’t feel great and realize you haven’t even had a drink of water, but of course you forgot your bottle, too! Let’s assume the rest of the day probably didn’t get much better!
Been there? Some mornings seem destined to derail us but having a system in place and being organized can prevent the train wreck before it leaves the station! Except, perhaps the dog vomit, maybe he got into the Lucky Charms? Here are a few things to plan ahead:
- Avoid having to look for items as you are trying to get out the door by putting your keys, wallet, sunglasses, shoes and bags in the same place every time you walk in the door. Double check it is ready to go before you go to bed.
- Have your water bottle filled and travel mug ready to go.
- Gather and pack up items needed for the next day such as school or work projects and folders.
- Have your gym bag packed and ready to go for your after work yoga class. If you are organizing kids, make sure their sports gear is ready to go for after school activities.
- Have a healthy breakfast plan and pack up left-overs the night before for lunches. A great tip is to cook once and eat twice!
- Meal plan and prep for the week.
- Wake up to a clean kitchen, attend to dirty dishes, wipe the counters and turn on the dishwasher the evening before. Make this a part of your wind down. It is so much easier to start the day with a clean slate and that means your personal space as well.
- Have some lemon wedges pre-cut in the fridge for your glass of lemon water.
- Consider an automatic coffee maker that turns on before you rise.
- Make a morning music playlist that gets everyone moving’ and groovin”, make the morning fun.
- Check your to do list from the night before and get clear on your priorities for the day.
- Keep on top of things like folding laundry and home de-cluttering.
- Have a routine around personal hygiene such as showering, teeth brushing and preening. Be consistent.
- Expect that occasionally something will go sideways and roll with it!
3: Start the day with presence
I heard a tip from a Coach on gratitude that makes me smile every time I practice it. When you wake up and open your eyes, simply declare “I’m back!”. It reminds me that every time I awake I get a whole new day of possibilities! Finding gratitude for the very gift of aliveness can create a sense of curiosity and excitement for the day ahead. Simply taking a few moments to connect and set an intention can create the tone for your day. Here are some ways to wake up as a human being before you are swept up into a human doing:
- Avoid looking at your device as long as humanly possible, it just sucks you in and can trigger the feelings of doing and takes you away from presence, instantly! Take time to be with yourself before you let the rest of the world in.
- Breathe in the day, literally! Step out on your balcony, porch or open a window and breathe deeply of the outside air. Deep belly breaths that lights up yuur brain with oxygen.
- Move from breathing in the day to simply observing the day. Tap in to your senses. What do you smell? Hear? See? What is the weather? How is your mood? What do you feel in your body? Where have you landed on this luscious planet this fine morning?
- Set an intention or affirmation for your day as you breathe it in. For example, I step on my deck each morning, breathe in, tune in to my inner and outer environment then pick a word for the day such as gentleness, relationships, productivity or strength. Whatever word I choose can shape my day.
- Practice a morning meditation or a guided visualization in a quiet space. Even 5 minutes can be effective in reducing overwhelm and anxiety, creating resilience and self awareness.
- Enjoy the ritual of your morning beverage, many people make a hot cup of coffee or tea, make it with intention and gratitude (but don’t forget to start with that glass of lemon water first!).
- Check in with your house mates, partner or kids, remember to give hugs and kisses and I love you’s to everyone before you go your separate ways.
4: Stretching and moving
Physical exercise is a fundamental of wellness. The benefits are endless, and can include increased energy and vitality, decreased levels of depression and anxiety, increased levels of concentration and memory, physical strength, weight management, heart health, improves flexibility and reduces stiffness and muscle tension, acts as a stress outlet and improves overall quality of life. Not every body is made out to jump out of bed and head out for a jog or to the gym at some ungodly hour of the morning, but even a little movement can be a step in the right direction. Consider:
- Sitting on the side of your bed before standing up and doing some shoulder shrugs, neck rolls, forward bends and back arches, rotating your ankles and wrists before taking your first step.
- Once up, try some mindful movements, such as a few lunges, high squats, wall push ups, sit ups, sun salutations and jumping jacks. Start with 5 repetitions and do them slowly and deliberately. It may take you all of 5 minutes and if it feels good, maybe you can make it 10!
- Take a light jog around the neighbourhood or a sunrise hike.
- Take the dog for a brisk walk.
- Attend a morning fitness class or yoga class.
- Do some simple gentle stretching to limber up for the day.
If morning exercise is impossible, try to find time in the day to include some form of physical activity, even if it is a 10 minute walk at lunch.
5: Choose a Healthy Breakfast
The word breakfast literally means to break the fast of not eating or drinking as you sleep through the night. The first meal you put into your body as you break your fast is considered the most important. This may not mean you eat upon arising. In fact, many people practice intermittent fasting and choose not to eat food until mid morning. This is a personal choice. However, choosing foods that are nutrient dense and balanced with complex carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats provide the fuel needed for sustainable energy. Foods that are highly processed or full of sugars often lead to mid day glucose crashing, weight gain, sluggish energy and chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardio-vascular disease and cancers. Here are some breakfast do’s and don’ts and some recipe ideas to add to your meal planning to promote sustainable energy and vitality:
- Start with a glass of lemon water, it is rich in Vitamin C, acts as a liver and digestive aid and is a great way to rehydrate after a night of sleep.
- Avoid sugar laden coffee and teas as well as energy drinks and soda. Drink fruit juice in moderation as they are a simple sugar.
- Choose whole grains and high fiber foods such as rolled oats, chia pudding and sprouted whole grain breads.
- Avoid white flour, white sugar foods such as muffins, pastries, cookies, pancakes, waffles, bagels and white breads.
- Add dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach and parsley to boost smoothies.
- Add quality plant based protein powders to smoothies.
- Include nuts and seeds such as hemp hearts, flax, chia, sunflower, pumpkin, almonds, peanuts, walnuts and cashews.
- Include healthy fats such as plain greek yogurt, avocados, MCT oil and nut butters.
- Include anti-oxidant rich berries and fruits such as blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, apples, bananas, peaches, oranges and grapefruits.
Try these breakfast recipes:
Remember that when your morning goes smoothly, the rest of the day follows. Creating efficient and healthy habits can lead to a ripple effect that improves all areas of your life from feeling accomplished and finding fulfillment. Try on some of these tips to support you in establishing and promoting wellness in your day to day routines.
Are you looking to establish healthier habits in your life from rockin’ your mornings to eating healthier? Do you want more joy and meaning in your life? A health and Wellness Coach can assist. Contact me for a free consultation to find out if we would be a good fit to work together!