5 simple morning rituals for a healthy start to your day
It's seems that everyone is striving to be healthier in this modern world, being mindful of eating habits, working hours and screen-time all in the name of achieving optimal wellness. And there's no better time to start... than in the morning! Developing a healthy morning routine can give you an early boost of mental and physical well being to face the day ahead, and there's quite a few ways to get started. The tips ahead are easy enough to incorporate into your routine all at once, but even adding just one of these tips to your AM could be significant to how well your morning and your day unfold. Here are 5 ways to start your day in the healthiest way.
Be an early(ier) bird
The reality is that adding anything to your morning routine is going to require you getting up earlier, and that has a surprising amount of benefits on its own. Research has shown that becoming an early riser can lead to an increase in happiness, health and general productivity. Getting up early gives you more time to get stuff done and an increase in productivity leads to a decrease in stress and an increase in the happiness that comes from not rushing around. Getting up earlier can also highlight another issue; if you can't get up 10 minutes earlier without feeling like a zombie, you may not be sleeping the recommended 6-8 hours you need, which means you need to adjust your nighttime schedule too. Just a small advancement in your rise time can force a positive outcome on your whole day.
Scrape it off
Does tongue scraping sound disgusting? That's probably all the more reason you should do it. Based in Ayurveda (an ancient Indian practice of health and well being), tongue scraping is to be done ideally upon waking, by gently dragging a curved metal scraper repeatedly along the tongue to remove bacteria. Removing bacteria that has been dormant inside your mouth overnight is bound to have some great benefits; the method can manage bad breath (and there's no better time to test that than the AM), aid in oral health and even refresh the palate, making your tongue better able to receive tastes and flavours. Though you can buy a tongue scraper for under $10 at your local drugstore, a metal spoon will also do in a pinch.
If you're not familiar with foam-rolling (or myofascial release), it works to break down tight and distorted connective tissue (fascia) that causes stiffness, pain, poor circulation and muscle dysfunction, which can lead to a slew of major problems. If you've ever had the knots in your shoulders massaged, you know what a relief this can be – but also that the process can be painful! Therefore it's best to start with a softer foam roller. In the morning, use a foam roller to roll over stiff muscles, pause on the most tender spots and hold (and wince) until a release is felt. While this can be tedious, the muscle is now primed for better stretching and handling the stress you'll put it under for the rest of the day (we know by now the dangers of sitting on our hips, backs, and that stooping our heads to check our phones can lead to "text neck"!). To stay efficient, choose one major muscle to roll each morning (calves on Monday, quads on Tuesday, etc.) and once you get rolling, it can act as a great nighttime release, too.
Think of this as foam rolling for your mind. Most of us wake up already swimming in thoughts; a sure sign that our mental treadmill is being overrun. A study at the University Of Waterloo found that just a simple, 10 minute breathing meditation helped those about to undertake a difficult task with their anxiousness, ability to focus on the present moment and overall productivity. Imagine what a healthy state of mind it can place you in if you do it every day upon waking. Set a timer, sit on the floor or in a chair, shut your eyes and simply focus on your inhales and exhales. If 10 minutes already feels daunting, start with one minute meditations before adding a minute every week. The calm and clarity that comes from such an easy activity will ensure it becomes a morning necessity in your life.
We talk a lot here about how important it is to stay hydrated, but it cannot be overstated. Would you start your car if it had no fluids in it? Then why would you do the same to your body? You've spent the last 6-8 hours in bed with no water, so your body is already thirsty. There's not a part of your body that won't benefit – your skin, hair, muscles, joints and organs all work their best when they're fully hydrated. If you have trouble going to the bathroom before your first cup of coffee, having water upon waking will literally clean your pipes and keep you regular. Once you figure out what your daily water intake should be, there's a few ways to keep your drinking on track. You can buy a drinking bottle that holds a quarter of your daily intake and have one bottleful upon waking, one between breakfast and lunch, one between lunch and dinner and one before bed. Conversely, you can get a big drinking jug, drawing a line every few centimetres down and label each line with a different hour as a timed goal marker (so you'd be halfway through by 1pm, finished by 9pm, etc.). Once you get into this habit, it'll be hard to break; because you'll feel the difference almost immediately.