The actions you take during your first hour upon waking can often set your mood for the rest of the day, so it’s important to get things right!
If your usual ritual involves rolling out of bed feeling groggy and then downing some black coffee on the way to work, then you’re probably not getting the most out of your morning…
If that sounds eerily familiar to you, here’s our short, simple three-step morning routine that will prepare your body and mind for the challenges ahead.
Step 1 – Breathe
Breathing is something that we often take for granted. We breathe in and out automatically, and it’s as simple as that, right?
The reality is that it goes much deeper.
There is an intricate relationship between our breathing patterns and our stress levels. When you’re feeling stressed out from work or relationship troubles, your body enters the fight or flight mode, a remnant of our caveman days. In this state, your heart rate increases and your breathing becomes shallow.
The more you experience stress and the more you perform shallow breathing, the more you become accustomed to it, and the more stressed it makes you feel! It can be a vicious circle.
Fortunately, you can alter your breathing patterns by performing a few simple exercises. Practicing them every morning and whenever you can throughout the day will help to negate the impact of stress, and bring the body back to a more centered, relaxed state.
1. Mindfulness Meditation (5-10 minutes)
Mindfulness meditation involves simply sitting comfortably and noticing the breath. By becoming conscious of your breathing, you can start to breathe deeper into your belly, which will help to bring your stress levels down.
Simply sit in a quiet place and count each breath, returning to zero when you reach ten. Thoughts will inevitably pop up as you perform the exercise. When you recognise them, simply let them go and bring your attention back to the breath.
If you find that sitting there with your racing mind is too challenging, feel free to give guided meditations a try.
2. Box Breathing (2-4 minutes)
Box breathing is a technique that is sometimes used by tactical units and the military to return the heart rate to normal after stressful situations.
It involves inhaling for a count of four, holding for four, exhaling for four, and holding again for four. You then repeat this process as many times as you feel necessary, and increase or decrease the count time to find the right level of difficulty for you.
Box breathing can help to reduce anxiety and bring down arousal levels, meaning you’re less likely to get stressed over the little things, and more likely to remain calm and content.
Both exercises are great for clearing the mind, bringing you back to the present moment, and preparing your mind for the day ahead. Feel free to perform them one after the other if time allows it, or just pick one to start with.
Step 2 – Move Your Body
Movement is without doubt one of the keys to a happy, healthy lifestyle. It doesn’t just improve how your body feels and performs; it can also have a significant impact on your mood and state of mind.
Humans are built to carry out a vast array of complex movement patterns – running, jumping, climbing, swimming, balancing, crawling, lifting… The list goes on.
Unfortunately, modern living often requires us to sit all day, in front of a computer screen or behind the wheel of a car. Our capacity for movement is severely restricted, and this can often be reflected in the way we feel – stagnant and unfulfilled.
Thankfully, introducing a little movement into your morning routine can go a long way.
1. Shake it Out (1-3 minutes)
Although it may look and feel a little strange, shaking out the body is one of the best things you can do to relieve tension and reverse the effects of chronic stress.
Just a few minutes of whole body shaking is enough to get the blood flowing, remove toxins, and prepare the body for further movement.
2. Locomotion (5-15 minutes)
Performing animal movements is a fun way to get the heart rate up and improve your overall mobility.
There’s something quite primal about crawling across the floor like a lizard, or jumping around the room like a chimpanzee. These movements really help to release those feel good endorphins that improve your mood, and the twisting motions can even improve your digestion.
The guys over at Gold Metal Bodies have a video on locomotion exercises, so be sure to take a look.
Step 3 – Eat Healthily
Last but certainly not least, before you get on with your day it’s important to nourish your body with food.
Just like you need to put the right fuel in your car, it’s important to consume food that your body is designed to utilise.
You’ll want to take in something that will give you prolonged energy and allow you to perform well at whatever you are doing throughout the rest of the day.
1. Lemon Water
Not drinking enough water can have a serious negative impact on your body. A big glass of water with lemon juice helps to hydrate the body and alkalise the system. A glass a day will help to bring down levels of inflammation in the body, and may even help to boost your immune system, leaving you feeling fit and healthy.
You could drink it down as soon as you wake up, or have it before your…
2. Green Smoothie
A green smoothie is an ideal breakfast food. It’s easy to digest and packed full of health promoting vitamins and minerals.
For a healthy head start on the day, try a Coconut Water Green Smoothie:
- 1 cup coconut water
- 1 banana
- 10-15 raw cashews
- 1 large handful of spinach
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 heaped teaspoon potato starch (optional)
- 1 tablespoon pure whey protein powder (optional)
Simple blend those ingredients up, and sip it down slowly.
Over to you
In the modern world, time is a luxury. We all have places to be and deadlines to meet.
The great thing about your morning routine is that doesn’t have to last for hours to be effective. A few minutes of breathing, a little movement and some healthy food really is all you need to set your body and mind up for the day.
So don’t be afraid to start small, and then if it feels right you can gradually set your alarm a little earlier and extend your routine further.
Just remember to do what feels right for you, and take things forward at your own pace.
Do you have a morning routine of your own that you’d like to share? Get in touch with us on Facebook to let us know!