When the sun comes up and you begin to stir, what runs through your mind? When your eyes open and your mind and body begin to awaken from a night of sleep, what happens? What does your mind do? What does your body want?
How we begin our day has an overwhelming impact on all the hours that follow, whether you groan out loud and bury your face under the pillows, resenting having to wake up at all, or your mind immediately begins to race before your feet even hit the floor.
Now, many of you may say there is no alternate formula for the morning routine – the start of the day has and forever will consist of getting up, supervising the children, running for the coffee-maker and heading out the door in a mad rush for the office. Many will argue that they’re just simply not “morning people.”
Like you, mornings aren’t necessarily by favorite time of the day either. But last year, I began working with a health and wellness coach, and this investment in my health inspired me to follow his prescription for a healthy morning routine as often as possible. I learned that to make the shift towards better morning self care. Yes, it certainly seemed like a stretch to me, but the benefits have far outweighed the challenges and inconveniences.
The following four insights explore how to begin your day in as healthy a way as possible.
Recent studies have revealed that attitude and thoughts have a direct impact on health. Scientific observation has also shown that the simple act of smiling or laughing—even “fake” laughter or smiling—increases the levels of beneficial hormones circulating in the bloodstream. When you wake up, it’s important to consider making an effort to begin your day with a smile. If you have a partner willing to play along, make a pact to begin the day by turning towards one another and beginning the day with a smile or a laugh. When you do, endorphins and other “feel good” hormones will immediately be released and lift your mood as your brain awakens.
Also, try to make a habit of keeping your mind from immediately going into overdrive when you first wake up. Turn off the to-do lists, turn your mind away from what has to be done, and give your mind the chance to awaken gently. To-do lists are indeed important, but launching into them when you first wake up will cause stress hormones like cortisol to be released, a physiological process it is best to avoid first thing in the morning. (One suggestion is to keep a pad of paper near the bed and write down your to-do list before going to sleep).
Another way to keep your mind from going directly into logical left-brain mode upon awakening is to linger in a dreamy state, maybe writing down your dreams or sharing them with your partner.