Monday, May 18, 2015

10 Ways to More Relaxing Mornings

For years, the thought including relaxing and morning in the same sentence sounded ridiculous.

I am the epitome of "not a morning person". I could press snooze ten times and still take thirty minutes to form a somewhat coherent sentence.

Last year I decided to change that, opting for earlier bedtimes and less chaos. There is nothing more stressful than starting your day sprinting out the door without time for even a simple breakfast.

Your morning should be as stress free as possible. Use your mornings to mentally prepare yourself for the day ahead. Whether it be your day off, a busy day at school or a harrowing day ahead at the workplace, make your mornings your oasis.

Today I will be introducing you to Mathematic Mondays where every Monday I introduce something that you can subtract, followed by something that you can add to your life. Whether it be a type of food, a habit, an exercise or in this case, a part of your morning routine.

Little changes over time make a huge difference without it feeling like a harsh or sudden invasion to your lifestyle. All you need is a little arithmetic and luckily, I've got you covered.

Without further ado, here are 10 ways to simplify your mornings to bring peace & wellbeing.

1. Instead of pressing snooze, start waking up 5 minutes earlier every day.

Giving yourself enough time in the morning is crucial. For me, the ideal amount of time that I need in the morning is an hour, but for you that might mean an hour & a half, two hours. Or maybe just a half hour is all you need. There is such a peace in the early morning hours that I was missing out by waking up 10 minutes before I had to go somewhere. By only increasing the time by 5 minutes earlier per day, you are not shocking your system and thus providing less disruption to your circadian rhythm. 

2. Instead of coffee, try a caffeinated tea.

Especially if you are prone to anxiety, coffee can be a toxic habit. For me personally, I drank coffee for years because I was scared of the "caffeine headaches" that come from stopping it. I didn't realize that it was coffee that was causing my acidic stomach, acid reflux and overall jittery anxiety (especially on the train in the mornings). Once I stopped drinking coffee (cold turkey!) and went to tea, I am so much more peaceful in the mornings. I don't have any of the symptoms listed above, and I even didn't have any caffeine headaches since I replaced coffee with 1-2 cups of black tea.

3. Instead of rushing around, try sitting down & meditating for 5 minutes.

Meditation can mean a multitude of things. Maybe you just want to sit down and focus on taking deep breaths. Maybe you need to set a timer on your phone and force yourself to be still for 5 minutes. Perhaps you want to say a mantra to yourself or set your intentions for the day. I personally love sitting outside with my dogs in the backyard for 5 minutes. Combining my love of nature with the love of my fur babies makes for a very peaceful morning.

4. Instead of vigorous exercise in the morning, try some yoga, pilates or stretches.

For some, this may not be practical as the mornings are the only time to get in some vigorous exercise. Others might be saying, "Exercise!? I'm lucky if I walk a tenth of a mile in the morning!". Whichever group you happen to be in, we could all benefit from at least a few minutes of stretching in the morning, opening up those muscles and preparing them for the day ahead. If you usually exercise in the morning, try replacing one of your workouts a week with yoga or pilates and see how you feel. For those who hate movement in the morning (I feel you), try doing some floor stretches, neck rolls and some gentle twists to help open everything up.

5. Instead of leaving everything till the morning, try prepping the night before.

I feel like this is something that Mom's always say. But it's true. The less you need to hurry to get done in the morning, the better. This not only includes laying out your outfit, but if you plan on working out that day, get your gym bag ready too. Pack your lunch and your snacks, fill your tea kettle up the night before, have your vitamins in sight, find your keys & wallet, charge your cell phone, find your headphones and make sure your shoes match. Even the tiniest things can make a huge difference. This can give you more time in the morning to peacefully reflect, and that can only happen when you aren't fretting that a million things need to get done.

6. Instead of juice, drink a water cocktail.

If there is one thing to change in the morning, let it be this. I cannot even begin to tell you the benefits that I have seen in my body since I started drinking warm water with lemon and grated ginger in the morning. I try to drink 1 liter of water before I drink or eat anything else. You would be surprised how easy this is to do! Our bodies get dehydrated, especially in the summer after going 8+ hours without water in the night. Your cells need the H20 & the replenishment! 

7. Instead of eating a dense breakfast, try filling up on fruit.

This is also an easy one to enact. Instead of your morning cereal, try filling up on some sweet fruit in the morning. This is not only great for your digestion, but it gives your body the sugar that it needs. Fresh, ripe fruit paired with a cup of warm tea will replace the energy of a cup of coffee any day. Fruit is easily digested on an empty stomach in the morning. Fruit is also absolutely packed with nutrients that your body needs to thrive. If you're feeling adventurous, try having some spinach leaves with some fruit in the morning for a real energy kick! My favorite morning fruits are melons, mangos, oranges or berries.

8. Instead of keeping your thoughts in your head, write them down.

Especially if you are particularly worried about something in the day ahead or if you just had a bad dream and can't seem to kick that morning funk you're in. Journaling is a great way to quickly get your thoughts down in the morning so that you can move on from them. You don't even have to write in complete sentences! By just getting it down on paper, I find that I'll either find that my worries are ridiculous, or I will realize that I need to put more thought into something during the day if I wake up so worried about it in the morning. It's a great tool to use to declutter the mind at any point during the day!

9. Instead of bolting out the door, try allotting time to do your hair/makeup.

This may sound superficial to some, but for me it is part of my self-confidence. Sometimes there is nothing I'd rather do less than do something nice with my hair and put on a little makeup. But I know that when I do, I feel better during the day. When I don't, I almost always regret it. I like to put my best face forward in any situation that I'm in and I don't always feel my best when I throw my hair up in a messy bun. When I take time to take care of myself, whether it be just putting on a moisturizer and sweeping my hair up into a cute clip, I feel better about myself and that helps me take on my day with confidence.

10. Instead of listening to music, try listening to a podcast or news radio.

I know for a lot of people, music is extremely therapeutic to them, and if that's the case, then listen to it! But for me, I find that my brain wakes up faster and is less anxious when I listen to a podcast or the news. This forces me to think about something productive, rather than my racing thoughts. It also makes for good conversation pieces if you feel socially anxious or can't come up with things to say in social situations. I can't tell you the amount of interesting stuff I have heard on NPR that I can bring into conversations months later. My favorite podcasts are, This American Life, the Dr. Axe Show, Tranquility du Jour, Serial, Food for Thought & the Chalene Show…just to name a few!


So there they are, 10 ways to relax-a-fy your morning by just adding and subtracting a few simple elements.

Tell me about your morning routines, what works for you and what doesn't? What is your favorite part about your mornings? Or, do you just hate mornings all together?! I'd love to know! Shoot me an e-mail, leave it in the comments or hashtag #wakeuplaughingblog on Instagram to show me your mornings!

Wishing you peace & happiness today & every day!

Kayla

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