Not all of us are morning people. Regardless of what time we go to bed the night before, some of us just cannot ignore the inner-demon that surfaces during the wee hours of the morning. I’ve learned to come to terms with what my personal capabilities are predawn: I can train someone. I cannot work out myself. I cannot solve complex mathematical equations. Ever, really – but especially early morning.
Humans naturally respond well to structure. Look, for instance, at babies. They need to eat at the same times every day. Maintaining a predictable bedtime and napping schedule is associated with fostering a well-adjusted child (and reducing parental anxiety). Tactile associations such as clothing or a specific blanket or toy bring a sense of security.
What makes us think we grow out of that?
Sure, no one is suggesting you show up to the office with “Blankie” in hand, but there are plenty of grown-up habits we can adopt in order to begin our day on the right track.
1. Breakfast. Duh. I’ve brought this point up ad nauseam but there are too many of you who still skip this important meal. Even something small like a protein smoothie or raw food bar is all you need to get your engine started.
2. Yoga. Or, for those of you who prefer a more Western-sounding term, stretching. Stretching first thing in the morning helps to “wake up” your muscles, preparing them for the rest of the day. One of my favorites is “flowing cat to cow”: assume all fours, round your spine while drawing the navel upward and looking toward belly button; then extending the spine in the opposite direction, looking slightly upward. This movement allows for safe spinal mobility and is an excellent way to prevent chronic back pain.
3. Reading. What better way to flip the bird to the hustle and bustle of the outside world than to sit and read your favorite new book or newspaper for ten minutes? Like stretching, reading can be looked at as a brain warm-up for the day’s demands.
4. Coffee. Those of you who truly need coffee know: it’s a tough habit to break. But why should you? Coffee contains an enormous amount of antioxidants, helps protect our liver from cirrhosis, makes us more alert, assists in the effectiveness in our morning workout, and promotes brain health. Drink on. Just don’t mix in so much whipped-cream-syrup-skim-milk-sweetener garbage that it becomes a caloric nightmare.
5. Exercise. Research has shown that people who exercise first thing generally get better, more consistent sleep. Also, by sweating it out before you head out, you leave no room for “things to come up” and deter you from your workout.
6. Drink 16 ounces of water. It’s probably been at least eight hours since your last glass of water, right? A morning glass will rehydrate you. Studies also suggest that a full glass of water on an empty stomach can help alleviate acid reflux, boost your metabolism, and aid in successful weight loss. Plus, you’ll already be two 8-ounce glasses in for the day. Take that, Drinking Water app.
7. Meditation. You don’t need candles and mood music to meditate (though they do help). Just find a comfortable position away from any distractions and connect. Ground yourself. Become thoughtfully present. Deep breathing and visualization can go a long way in determining how you handle what the day has in store for you.
These are just a few ideas to help you better tackle your busy life and things that have helped me along the way.
What are some of your favorite morning rituals?
Jodilyn Stuart is the Health & Sports Senior Staff Writer for 303 Magazine, owner of ModaBody Fitness, and has been a professional fitness geek since 1997. If you have questions, feel free to email at: [email protected]