Our habits have a profound impact on our mental, physical, and emotional health.
When we cultivate bad habits - like spending too much time on social media and eating unhealthy food - we end up feeling lethargic and tired, and have lower self-esteem.
By taking the time to examine our habits and make conscious decisions to change them, we can improve our overall well-being.
The Importance of Mornings
If getting rid of bad habits were easy, we would all be in perfect health. The truth is that it’s not easy to consciously cultivate healthy habits. However, there is a specific time of day that’s perfect for setting habits. You guessed it: it’s the morning!
The great thing about having a morning routine is that it allows you to start your day with a purpose. By giving yourself a list of tasks to accomplish right away, you set the tone for the rest of the day. Furthermore, once you fill your morning with healthier choices, you’ll have less room for the bad ones.
When it comes to changing your habits, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It all depends on where you are in your mental, physical and emotional journey. A morning routine is extra important in the winter, when there’s less sunlight: check out Afreina’s blog post on how a good routine keeps the winter blues away.
Remember that becoming healthier is a process that involves your mind as well as your body: you can achieve the best results by taking care of both at the same time.
Calm your mind with meditation
Meditation can truly have a transformative impact on your life. I know what you’re thinking, “I can’t meditate. I just can’t shut off my brain. ” Well, I've got news for you, meditation is not about shutting off your brain! It’s about focusing your thoughts.
Here’s a secret - meditation is easier if you do it first thing in the morning. Your brain is clearer, more focused, and free from the previous day’s baggage. By meditating in the morning, you’ll also be less likely to forget about it or dismiss it because you’re too busy.
As soon as you’ve used the bathroom and brushed your teeth, make yourself comfortable in a quiet space.
Meditation videos can help you set a goal (such as doing five minutes of meditation a day) and stick to it. A lot of people use apps like Headspace and Calm, but YouTube is also full of resources: I personally love The Honest Guys meditations.
If meditation videos aren’t working for you, choose a mantra that reaffirms your current life goals; for example, “I am strong,” “I will get the job,” “I trust that everything is where it should be.” Repeat the sentence a hundred times while breathing purposefully and BOOM, you’ve meditated.
Meditation can lower anxiety and improve focus.
Some people find sitting still to meditate particularly difficult, but there are ways to practice meditation while moving too.
Be patient with yourself on your meditation journey. Not every day will feel the same, even if you’re using the same mantra, video, or recording. The key is to push through the rough times and appreciate the good times. Don’t get down on yourself when you realize that your mind has wandered. Just gently bring your mind back into focus and keep going.
Take care of your body
When we first wake up, our bodies are dehydrated. It makes sense: we just went six to eight hours without any food or water. Drinking a large glass of water first thing in the morning will help you stay hydrated and kick your metabolism into gear. To make this easier for yourself, you can set the glass on your bedside table the night before: this way, you can start your morning right before you even get out of bed!
Once you’re out of bed, it’s a good idea to get moving. Exercise helps eliminate waste, massages your organs, and gets your blood flowing. Plus, it’s also a great way to keep your energy levels up throughout the day.
Choose a form of exercise that suits your schedule and physical capacity. If you’ve always wanted to try running, get out and let the cold air hit your face! If you want to start slower, even a five minute warm-up in the morning can make a world of difference: try a simple forward bend three to seven times. And if you don’t have time to exercise before work, don’t worry: here are some light yoga stretches you can do at your desk.
IMPORTANT TIP: If you have accessibility restraints, here are some helpful videos!
Finally, don’t forget to eat some breakfast! The calories that you consume in the morning are the first fuel you give to your body and your brain. Too many calories will leave you feeling sluggish, but make sure you eat enough to get the energy you need to focus. Stick to proteins and fats that your body and brain can use for energy. Stay away from carbs like breads and rice that will leave you feeling lethargic by lunch!
Healthy body, healthy mind
Establishing healthy morning habits is crucial for your overall health. Focusing attention on activities that are good for your body will also help your mind in the long run.
You may not be able to integrate all of these habits into your schedule. That’s okay: don’t be afraid of a little trial-and-error, and keep in mind that there’s no one-size-fits-all model. It took me a long time to find what works for me. Pick and choose what fits your lifestyle.