By William Imbo
June 2, 2016
As a night owl, I have trouble functioning when I roll out of bed in the morning. I know I’m not alone in this all-too-real struggle. I envy the early birds who seem to catch all the worms and are as chipper as can be as they start their day. Clearly, they’re doing something right, and considering that how you function in the morning can lay the foundations for the rest of the day—including your athletic and mental performance—it would behoove us to follow some beneficial actions that can help us operate.
We all could do with some added mobility in our lives, so what better way to get 10 minutes of free stretching outside of the gym then by doing it first thing in the morning? In fact, the morning is the ideal time to stretch, since your joints and muscles are likely stiff and tight from lying in the same position for hours. Considering that many of us will then head off to jobs which involve remaining in the same position for an extended period of time (desk jobs), it’s imperative that we get 5-10 minutes of stretching done in the morning. Doing so will help to increase circulation, relieve stress, tension and improve your range of motion.
It seems obvious, but many people are in such a rush to get out the door and head to work that they forget that they’re actually dehydrated—considering they haven’t had anything to drink since they went to bed. When you’re sleeping, your body performs a natural detox, so flushing your body with water in the morning helps to push the toxins through our kidneys and eventually out of us via urine. On top of that, your metabolism slows significantly when you sleep in order to conserve fluids, but a study from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that drinking two cups of water increased metabolism by 30% after 30–40 minutes. So, when you wake up, aim to get at least two cups of water into your system—one of which can be hot water with lemon prior to breakfast. The lemon helps to activate your digestive system to prepare breaking down food, as well as supporting the liver’s task of removing toxins from the body.
Meditate, motivate and set some goals for the day
You don’t need to be in a temple with candles surrounding you in order to reap the benefits of meditation. In fact, just finding a quiet room (or even the shower) and focusing on how you feel at that moment can help to relieve stress and increase productivity. Following that, listen to some of your favorite music, watch a motivational video and give yourself three goals for the day (say them out loud while you’re brushing your teeth). That way, it won’t seem like another mundane morning before trudging off to work—you’ve given yourself an action plan to follow, so things just got a little more interesting.
Things to avoid
Specifically, phone and email. I know this might seem impossible to many of you, but do you really want to be hustling through your emails and potentially get burdened with some stressful news or tasks that you have to do as soon as you get out of bed? What a horrendous start to the morning that would be. Mornings should still belong to you, so why worry about something that could disrupt your ‘me time’ before you need to?
You’re trying to build a set of new habits here, and sleeping in is not one of them. For starters, it leaves you less time to get ready for work. Secondly, how are you going to accomplish the beneficial things listed above if you’re lounging under the sheets? If anything, you’re going to get up, feel groggy and tight from the extended time in bed, then rush through breakfast and getting dressed in order to get to work in time, leaving you stressed, agitated, and in a less than ideal state to be productive. I love a good lie-in as much as the next chap, but let’s try and savor it as a reward for the weekends, not a prerequisite to starting the day.
Photo courtesy of Clarissa Blackburn/CC BY NC 2.0