Everyone has a morning ritual. Whether it’s repeatedly hitting the snooze button, a 20-minute meditation, or turning on the coffee machine to give you a jolt, I think it’s safe to say that how you start your morning can really affect the rest of your day.
Now that working from home is the new norm for many, here are some of the morning habits I’ve created to help give me greater energy, focus, and calm.
When it comes to sleep, we know that too little shut-eye impacts concentration affects our eating habits, and suppresses immunity, leaving us more vulnerable to viruses. However, too much sleep can be equally blameworthy. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, the extra winks that you get by hitting snooze doesn’t last long enough for you to finish a complete sleep cycle, so it could actually leave you feeling more tired and groggy. You’ll feel much more rested and energised if you just get up with your first alarm.
When you’re ready to begin the day, exposing your body to the sun’s natural light (e.g. open the shutters, pull the curtains) will not only help you become energised and motivated to start your day, but will help to regulate the symphony of hormones involved in our wellbeing, such as serotonin – a hormone associated with boosting mood and helping a person feel calm and focused. Serotonin will also stimulate melatonin, a sleep hormone needed for a deep restorative sleep later that night.
If the first thing you do when you wake up is check emails, it’s time to rethink this habit as you may be subconsciously spiralling into even more unhealthy habits, such as avoiding stretching, meditating or squeezing in some fitness, as responding to messages takes priority. Allow yourself to lie still for a couple of minutes, ease your eyes open, and take in the energy of the new day before deciding what your top priorities really are.
Speaking of morning priorities, ideally movement should be one of them – and it’s another great reason to get outside to soak up the natural light. With social distancing in full swing, there is nothing stopping you from taking a brisk walk around the block to get the blood pumping and oxygen flowing through the body. Regular exercise encourages the body to release endorphins, feel-good chemicals that can lift your mood. Research also proves that morning exercisers are more consistent with regard to forming a regular exercise habit as it’s one task that is out of the way before tackling other tasks on the ‘to-do’ list.
While some people can’t fathom eating first thing in the morning or tend to eat breakfast later than they should – I try to keep it simple and wholesome to ensure I’m receiving the nutrients I need. To make the ‘most important meal of the day’ more seamless, consider a set of easy breakfast options so you’re not left wondering what to eat. Choosing a breakfast with both fibre and protein is important because these key nutrients help with preventing mid-morning munchies or sipping way too many coffees. Common breakfasts in our household include wholegrain cereals, milk, fruit and yoghurt. And, if I am running out of time, I opt for an Uncle Tobys Oats Breakfast Bake, which contains the same amount of oats as a bowl of porridge (compared to a 34g sachet of quick oats). Coupled with a glass of milk or yoghurt, it makes a wholesome bite and is a great way to start the day in a healthy way.
While working from home is new to many of us, it can have great benefits when it comes to our daily routine. You can use this new reality to make sure you set up every day in an energised, healthy and productive way.
This article was written by The Right Balance nutritionist, Kathleen Alleaume.