Great days aren’t given, they are chosen and created. How you start your day sets the tone for how the rest of your day will go. Whether you flow or struggle is simply a choice that is made the moment you wake up. This is in accordance with Sir Isaac Newton’s law of inertia: in the absence of forces, a body at rest will stay at rest and a body motion will remain in motion.
Set your body and mind in motion with positive thoughts and healthy habits to create an upward spiral of energy to help you flow through the day with a smile on your face. Here are some proven healthy habits that can shift your day, your health and your outlook on life from average to extraordinary.
1. Breathe, Set Your Intention and Visualize. A few cleansing deep breaths can be a like a morning cup of coffee for your brain and body. As you breathe, set an intention for your day. In The Power of Intention, self-empowerment author and psychologist Dr. Wayne Dyer writes that “intention is not something you do, but rather a force that exists in the universe as an invisible field of energy – a power that can carry us.” This universal power can help you “flow” through your day as you conquer challenges and obstacles with ease.
An example of an intention is to say, “It is my intention to be kind, calm and compassionate in all of my words and actions today.” As you set your intention, inhale through your nose. This stimulates the olfactory nerve, which triggers the parasympathetic nervous system. This provides stress relief, while simultaneously giving the brain a big hit of oxygen to stimulate energy production. Exhale out any thoughts that may be blocking you from fulfilling your intention. Repeat this for 5-8 slow deep breaths.
Next, visualize how you would like your day to go and how you would like to feel. Make your vision as vivid and real as possible. A visualization practice can help you organize your tasks for the day and keep balanced and focused.
2. Drink Lemon Water. Our bodies are made of about 75 percent water. After 7-8 hours of restful sleep, it’s important to hydrate thirsty cells. Twelve to 16 ounces of warm water with a half fresh squeezed lemon helps detoxify the body, preps the digestive system for a healthy balanced meal and aids in elimination.
To enhance detoxification, consider adding 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to your cup. Studies show that it can help detoxify the liver, which in return can help you burn more fat around the clock.
3. Eat Protein at Breakfast. According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who ate a high protein breakfast reported fewer sugar and fat cravings later in the day. Eating a protein-rich meal can also put a pep in your step since it stimulates the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, which helps enhance alertness. A meal rich in carbohydrates can have the reverse effect as it releases serotonin, which promotes relaxation and drowsiness.
Aim for 20-30 grams of protein from sources like eggs, meat, nuts and seeds, or cold-processed whey or plant protein powder at breakfast for fewer cravings and brain power.
4. Engage in Mindful Movement. We are constantly evolving. Your body will feel different each day depending on the activity or inactivity of the previous day and weeks. Starting your day with mindful movement like joint mobility exercises such as neck circles, shoulder rolls, hip openers and squats can help send nutrient rich blood to the muscles and synovial fluid to the joints. This can help you move freely and feel refreshed and renewed. Other ways to get moving include light stretches, a yoga sequence or walking. Aim for at least 5 minutes of movement every morning to set your body in motion.
5. Express Gratitude. Giving thanks for friends and loved ones, the food on your plate at breakfast, your health and positive aspects of your life can help you find contentment and peace within. When you’re going through tough times, give thanks for the new day and opportunity to continue to grow and evolve in body, mind and spirit. Walking out the door with positive thoughts radiating from your being brings more joy to you, others and the world.
Conclusion: A health-conscious morning routine may not turn every day into a complete fairy tale, but it may help you feel strong, confident, less reactive and more centered when life throws you a curve ball.
Multi-Tasking Doesn’t Work
Do you roll out of bed and try to make breakfast, check email and talk on the phone simultaneously? Researchers at MIT have reported that it is actually impossible for our brains to multi-task. We can’t focus on more than one thing at a time, but we can shift from task to task with great speed. Studies have shown that the frontal lobe, that part of the brain responsible for important tasks and problem solving, decreases with age.
According to Psychology Today, “too much information freezes your brain’s dynamic frontal lobe capacity to engage in clear thinking and discerning decision-making. You and your brain get overwhelmed by too much information.” This not only causes stress, but may possibly drain your will power reserve.
Some experts believe that willpower is like a muscle. It gets worn out if overused throughout the day. Advice from author of The 4-Hour Work Week and productivity guru, Tim Ferriss, is to ask yourself, “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?” Figure out what that task is each day the night before and set the intention to get it done early, discipline yourself to focus on the important and relevant information and discard the rest.
Researchers found that those who exercised outdoors showed an improvement in mental well-being, reported feelings of stress-relief and greater satisfaction and enjoyment.
A study in the Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry found that exposure to exercise and natural sunlight in the morning improved sleep related hormonal responses and quality of sleep.
According to an article published in Environmental Health Perspectives, natural sunlight boosts vitamin D production, aiding in proper bone formation and prevention against osteoporosis. It also increases blood levels of endorphins, and may help prevent autoimmune diseases “through the upregulation of cytokines and increased activity of T regulatory cells that remove self-reactive T cells.”
By Kelly Gonzalez, MS