Good morning! Not so much? Then it’s time for a morning routine overhaul.
Getting physically and mentally prepared for the day is crucial. A great morning regimen could be the difference maker in looking and feeling good all day long. Cue up the classic "Morning Song" and follow these six steps to have the best morning—and day—ever.
1. Drink water
First things first: hydrate! After going seven to eight hours without a drop to drink, it’s important to quench thirst first thing in the morning to encourage blood flow. This Ayurvedic tradition—also known as water therapy—of drinking water on an empty stomach is believed to carry a multitude of health benefits: Colon cleansing, purging toxins, balancing lymphatic system for better immunity, and improving absorption of nutrients. It’s also considered one of the best ways to boost the metabolism right away, and provides an initial shot of energy.
Ayurvedic tradition recommends drinking 1.5 liters (about six 8-ounce glasses) in the morning. It might be tough to swallow all that water in one sitting, so try working up to it—start with one glass each morning and try to build on that each day. Keep water on the nightstand, wake up, and bottoms up. Another hydration option with benefits: Drink a few cups of warm water with lemon.
2. Stretch and meditate
A yawn and a stretch is a natural response on waking because it feels awesome. An initial stretch is invigorating for the body, especially if a morning workout is not always an option. This can loosen up joints, increase muscle flexibility, and ease tension going forward into the day. Take a minute or two in downward facing dog to stretch and stimulate blood flow and circulation. Even just a couple of minutes of yoga can enhance production of neurotransmitters and hormones that inspire a positive, upbeat mood.
A stretch session is also an opportunity to engage in a moment of meditation. Mindfulness sets the tone for calm throughout the day as well as exercising concentration, which can improve focus. A few meditative minutes each morning can also relieve stress and anxiety, helping with countless stress-related issues including inflammation and immune function.
3. Face time
Facing the day with glowing skin is easy. First, put eye cream in the refrigerator for just 10 to 20 minutes. Chilled eye cream can reduce inflammation and puffiness. Then, hit the shower. A hot shower is basically a built-in home steam room—and steam helps relax pores and soften the sebum and skin cells that get clogged in them. Opening up pores can also facilitate absorption of serums and moisturizers to amplify their effects.
A few times a week, do a morning scrub on the face to get skin looking bright and polished. Moisturize every single day, using massage strokes to boost circulation—do this on the undereye as well, very gently massaging the chilled eye cream onto the delicate skin for at least one minute.
There are plenty of conflicting opinions about whether or not breakfast is the most important meal of the day. The truth is, it really depends on each individual. Yes, skipping breakfast can sabotage mood and energy levels. Eating breakfast within 60 minutes of waking can stimulate the metabolism, but rather than loading up on pastries or sugary cereal, opt for whole grain cereal or the healthy protein of a hard-boiled egg. The B vitamin choline, found in egg yolks, can improve memory and attention span.
Some people actually can't stomach a big breakfast first thing in the morning, or prefer to hold out until lunch—that's okay too. In this case, consider intermittent fasting, a technique that can help boost immunity and burn fat.
5. Use protection
We’re talking about SPF. Before heading out, always apply sunscreen to protect skin from the aging effects of sun exposure. However, use moderately, since the skin still needs to absorb a fair amount of rays to be able to produce enough vitamin D.
6. Coffee (Finally!)
Wondering when coffee time was coming? We feel that. As tempting as it is to reach for java as a waker-upper, it actually serves us well to wait it out. Our bodies produce high levels of cortisol in the morning, which regulates the body’s stress of waking up and raises blood glucose. Drinking coffee too soon can interfere with this process, causing a decrease in essential cortisol production while creating an increased dependency on caffeine to do the hormone’s job instead.
According to ASAP Science, cortisol levels peak between 8 and 9 a.m., regardless of waking time, since this process tends to be regulated by sunlight. So waiting until 10 a.m. before taking the first sips of coffee will ensure caffeine produces optimal effects. To boost coffee even more, spice it up! A pinch of cinnamon can help regulate blood sugar.
Bonus tip: Throw your brain a few curve balls in the morning to sharpen mental function and focus. Try brushing your teeth or eating breakfast with your nondominant hand, or showering with eyes closed to get the brain firing on all cylinders.
Here's to an excellent morning and a great rest of the day!
Illustration by Foley Wu