By Angela Martindale – Becoming a morning person can seem like an overwhelming undertaking when snuggled up under the covers ignoring your alarm and dreaming of-well, more sleep! As nice as it would be to spend more time in bed in the morning, the realities of life require that we be up with boxing gloves on, ready for our day, at a responsible time to make it to work before our boss does. So, how can you turn your "I hate morning" attitude into an "I can’t wait to get started on my day" mantra, both physically and mentally? Here are a few positive and practical health and wellness tips to get you started on a morning wake-up routine feeling rested and ready for the day:
Although this sounds like the exact opposite of getting out of bed, there is substantial evidence that getting more sleep, leads to an easier wake-up in the morning. Often, people who have difficulty moving in the morning are individuals whose bodies genetically require more sleep (let's say 9 hours instead of 7). If you are one of these individuals, getting into the habit of going to bed at a cyclical time at night, will allow you the extra time your body requires to rest and repair, so that your cognitive skills and brain clarity are working together. As a lack of sleep inhibits cognitive clarity, getting to bed earlier for more sleep will automatically make getting out of bed an easier task in the morning.
Breathing is one of the body's most powerful tools in both relaxing and creating energy, which is why yoga fans love their art so deeply. Our physical body holds all of our emotional stress, and needs a place to put it. Deep, rhythmic breathing (inhaling through the nose and exhaling through the nose) is one tried and true method to calm your muscles and your mind, both in the morning and before bed at night, to help alleviate stress, and/or renew your energy. Here's why:
When we breathe deeply from the abdomen, our body activates the parasympathetic nervous system (responsible for stimulation of “resting-and-digesting”) and triggers your brain into rest/relax mode. This enables our mind to create a small escape-like experience from any negative stress we feel. Aside from the mental benefit, deep breathing also offers medical benefits such as:
Lowered blood pressure
An increase in nitric-oxide (a naturally produced molecule in our body helping cells to communicate)
Essentially, breathing deeply, signals our cells to tell our body that it's time to be more effective at relaxing. An infusion of oxygen also assists our cells in effective tissue repair and can awaken our senses when we are dragging our feet. If you are not a morning person, deep intentional breathing is a sure fire way to get better sleep and get going in the morning. Try this breathing exercise within 5 minutes of waking up to get your body and brain on the right track:
Before getting out of bed, lay still on your back for three deep breaths through your nose, from your abdomen, and out through your nose.
Get out of bed slowly until you are standing with your feet hip-width apart and your arms at your sides.
While you take a deep breath from your abdomen through your nose, bring your arms out to the side and up over your head slowly. Hold that pose and count to 5, before exhaling through your nose and lowering your hands back to your side as seen in my CHIYOGAFLOW series). Repeat this activity between 3-6 times concentrating only on your breathing.
Although this exercise may seem like it is out of your comfort zone, commit to trying it for a week to feel the difference in how your body responds to exuding energy in the morning, and over a couple of weeks it will become an activity that you look forward to as a helpful part of your new "morning person" routine.
If you are not a morning person, exercising as part of your wake up routine may seem like a dreadful suggestion, but did you know exercising at any point during your day for a total of 20-30 minutes will help your body rest better at night?
Choosing to do something active tells your brain that you are releasing stress, moving your body, and that you are building strength while breathing deeply to oxidize your body's cells overall, which helps your body and brain to fuel your fitness. Exercising essentially utilizes extra brain power in order to communicate with muscle, cells and endorphins-all while you are repeating a motivational mantra to keep you going! This little boost of activity during the day will do 2 big things to help you become more of a morning person; Boost your energy throughout the day and help you sleep better at night.
When you have an outlet for your stress, and an energy booster during the day, your body doesn't have to hold on to the tension it builds up daily, which can alleviate the achiness of waking up, and replace it with a more refreshed approach to the morning grind.
What we put into our bodies absolutely impacts our energy output and brain clarity. When we feed and hydrate our bodies, we also fuel the mind which is why water, proteins, healthy fats and superfoods are vital to balancing our bodies. Our body is an ecosystem, and it requires live nutrient dense foods in order for it to maximize its abilities as a machine that carries your life around. If we choose to feed ourselves processed and sugar heavy foods throughout our day, then our body will reflect the absence of a nutrient rich diet that aids in repair and functionality. Being nutritionally deficient can manifest itself through many symptoms which can include, but are not limited to; headaches, constipation, bloating, weight gain, slowed muscle and tissue repair, unexplained sharp pains, unhealthy skin, tired eyes, lack of energy and poor sleep. So, what do you need in your daily diet that can help you to turn your mundane morning madness into positive morning success?
Do not drink alcohol for at least 3 hours before bed. Your body spends additional energy to breakdown the sugars in alcohol, we are spiking insulin which causes the body to heat up (terrible for hot flashes in pre-menopause or menopause), which can also cause restlessness and your mind starts to race, making it difficult to indulge in restful.
You need water. Drink at least 64 oz. of water a day to flush built-up toxins from processed foods out of the body and keep your cells clean and your digestive system functioning properly so that your body can be the healthiest for healthy sleep.
Eat lean proteins for your main meal at dinner. Choose lean grilled chicken and fish whenever possible for healthy protein intake and heightened brain/body energy and muscle repair instead of the heavy carbs and desserts for more impactful sleep.
Eat your superfoods. Feed your body and brain the best there is in antioxidants with fruits and veggies like spinach, beets, apples, kale, squash, blueberries, cranberries and raspberries, while transforming your health with every bite. Eating these foods can help reset your body for better overall health and wellness, which will have a direct impact on your sleep quality and ability to charge yourself up in the morning.
So shake off those morning blues and get going with any of the 4 tips listed above! With enough small habit changes, you'll soon see a big transformation in how you take on the day!
Angela Martindale is the President of Utah based “Meals that Transform”, Producer of the 16 week Ultimate Transformation Lifestyle Series, and Creator of “CHIYOGAFLOW”. A graduate from the School of Integrative Nutrition in New York City, Martindale has traveled the world as an international fitness expert in Exercise Science, Kinesiology, and Biomechanics and has garnered an impressive 16,000 clients in her career and over 54,000 clinical hours in her field, making her a highly respected in-demand nutritionist within the industry. Angela has been voted SLC, UT’s #1 Nutritionist and Wellness Coach, and along with her kitchen staff creates over 70,000 fresh, organic, GMO and Gluten-Free customized meals to clients every year.