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Did you know that a healthy morning routine can directly affect the trajectory of your day? It’s true. Taking the time to slow down and welcome space and tranquility into your early mornings can not only help your mind and body set a tone of productivity for the day ahead, but it can eliminate stress, increase efficiency, and bring an overall sense of calm.
“The biggest benefit of having a slow morning is that your nervous system gets a chance to come online without triggering your fight or flight response, which is known as your sympathetic nervous system,” says Dr. Patrick K. Porter, PhD, neuroscientist and creator of the meditation app BrainTap. “When this happens, some people have a tendency to stay stuck in that stress response all day long, which brings about anxiety, fear, and depression.”
Yes, many of us start our day with a hectic array of events—hitting the snooze button three times, getting up late, skipping breakfast, and scrolling on our phone screens. But imagine this: beginning your day in quiet solitude, free of interruptions, taking time to gather motivation for the day, and avoiding the rush. This may seem like a pipe dream, but it’s not as far out of reach as you think it might be.
Ready to reclaim your mornings? Try these six simple yet transformative habits for peak mind, body, and heart wellness first thing in the morning.
Tap into your ikigai. Your ikigai, also known as your purpose in life, is a Japanese concept that combines the words “iki”, meaning life, and “gai”, meaning benefit. When finding your ikigai, ask yourself: what do I love? What makes me happy? What makes me light up inside? This process can start with small habits like accepting yourself, connecting with others and the earth, and being present.
Your ikigai is literally the reason you get up in the morning, which is why tuning into it when you first wake up can be extremely beneficial to your mood for the rest of the day. Taking steps towards your ikigai is easy, you can start by practicing any small feel-good habits such as meditation, stretching, walking outside, or offering a small kindness to someone.
Wake up mindfully. Dr. Porter suggests trying to wake up naturally, without an alarm, to the light of the sun. This way you’re not waking up to a blaring alarm causing your body to go into fight or flight, which could cause anxiety for the rest of the day. If that’s not possible, use pleasant-sounding soft music as an alarm. “You should also set your phone to ‘do not disturb’ while you’re sleeping so your sleep isn’t disturbed with notifications during the night.”
You can also enable smart wake on your Fitbit Charge 3, Fitbit Charge 4, Fitbit Luxe, Fitbit Sense, Fitbit Ionic, and on the Fitbit Versa series, which finds the best time to wake you starting 30 minutes before your alarm on your device is set. It avoids waking you during deep sleep so you’re more likely to wake up feeling refreshed.
Get some sunshine. Before opening your computer or heading out on your morning commute, take a few minutes to go outside and get some natural light—bonus points if you walk barefoot in the grass. “This is called grounding, and you will find that this sets your day towards a very positive mindset and mood and helps you to slow down,” says Dr. Porter.
Recite a morning affirmation. One of the best actions you can take in the morning to start your day off on a good note is reciting a positive affirmation. “Reading a positive affirmation before you begin the bulk of your day helps give you the proper mindset to remain relaxed and focused throughout the day,” says Dr. Porter.
Drink water before having your morning cup of joe. Hydrating before having caffeine can be extremely beneficial as it’s been found that your brain can shrink up to three quarters of an inch during the night, says Dr. Porter. “Even better is to add some Celtic sea salt to the water. Celtic salt is not the same as table salt. It has all the minerals our bodies need to replenish our systems.”
Listen to your body and move. If possible, wake up 30 minutes earlier than usual and fit in some time to either exercise, stretch, or do yoga. “Stretching and exercising are really good for the brain and engage a brain frequency called SMR, or sensory motor rhythm, that is used all day for cognitive thinking, problem solving, and more,” says Dr. Porter.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.