For most of us, mornings are rough. We snooze, wake, repeat. Jump out of bed. Java. And then start firing off emails and Slacks. It’s no way to greet the day and its disruptive energy that carries into our work. To help you kick-start your day the right way, here are 10 tiny, two-minute switches that are easy to implement and can have a major impact on your day. So, what are you waiting for? It’s only your life.
1. CONSCIOUS BREATHING
When you feel anxious, you disrupt the ease and flow of your breath. You might not even notice these slight disruptions in your breathing pattern and how they affect you. But reestablishing normal breathing restores your energy and focus.
How to do it: Breath in through the nose for a count of five. Feel as though there’s a balloon that is filling your entire pelvis and causing it to stretch out in all directions. Hold that inhale for a moment, and when you exhale, contract all the muscles in and up the spine as you exhale for a count of five. Hold the exhale for a moment and repeat 10 times. Do this whenever you feel stressed.
2. CHEW SLOWLY
It’s not just what you eat that matters, it’s also how you eat it. You can eat all the highly nutritious food you desire, but if you don’t chew your food well, it can lead to indigestion, bloating, and lack of nutrient absorption. The more you chew, the more saliva you produce. Saliva coats the particles of food with enzymes that break it down for better nutrient absorption.
How to do it: Chewing 25 times per bite helps cultivate more mindful eating. You eat in a more relaxed state of mind, which aids digestion. Plus, the more slowly you eat, the less you’re likely to consume because you’re giving your body time to let you know you’re full.
3. SIP ON WARM LEMON WATER
Skip the ice in your cup and add warm lemon water to your daily routine instead. First thing in the morning your body needs to be rehydrated. Warm lemon water quenches thirst, preps and primes your digestive system, aids in detoxification, and supplies a free-radical-crushing dose of vitamin C. Lemons may taste acidic, but they are actually alkaline forming, helping the body maintain an ideal pH balance and neutralizing free radicals to keep you feeling vivacious and looking vibrant. “Lemon water benefits the enzyme functions in your body, stimulating the liver and flushing out toxins,” says Josh Axe, DNM.
4. TAKE MOVEMENT BREAKS
When it comes to improving your movement, it’s not just about doing your workout for an hour in the morning and checking it off the list. Your body thrives on movement. More movement all throughout the day is highly beneficial for your body and brain. Mobility exercises help lubricate the joints to ward off stiffness, aid in circulation and help boost energy levels and increase focus and productivity. For every hour of sitting, aim for at least a few minutes of mobility drills, such as alternating between arm backstrokes and pelvic circles.
5. FIX YOUR POSTURE
Proper posture—with the spine aligned and the joints stacked—puts your body at ease, reduces tension and strain and ensures that muscles and tissues are well oxygenated and receive nutrients for proper function.
How to do it: Katy Bowman, biomechanist and natural-movement expert, recommends first aligning the outside edges of your feet with a straightedge. Then make sure your feet are hip-distance apart. Press all four corners of your feet into the ground. Make sure your pelvis is over your heels. Engage your thighs to lift your kneecaps, squeeze your glutes, keep you chest lifted with the bottom ribs tucked in, and keep your head in a neutral position with chin slightly tucked.
6. TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES
One of the greatest health tools is right under your feet, literally. Earthing, or walking or standing barefoot on the ground, sounds simple enough, but how often are you actually barefoot outside? It may sound a bit hippie, but a 2012 review published in the Journal of Environmental Public Health found that research supports the touted benefits of going barefoot, which include improved mood and sleep and reduced inflammation and chronic pain. Just don’t step on any rusty nails!
7. DRY BRUSH YOUR SKIN
Take care of your body’s largest organ: Your skin. Dry brushing is a natural technique that can reveal the beauty of your skin by sloughing off dead skin cells as it stimulates the lymphatic system. Dry brushing has also been credited with giving the skin a natural, luminous glow.
How to do it: Purchase a dry brush with natural bristles. Start at your feet and brush in long, sweeping motions toward your heart (avoiding the face) without applying too much pressure. Don’t dry brush for too long or too often. Try just a few minutes once a week.
8. SET AN INTENTION
When you want to break out of your comfort zone or start a new healthy habit, you must first have a strong intention to do so. As Wayne Dyer, author of “The Power of Intention,” said, “The power of intention is the power to manifest, to create, to live a life of unlimited abundance, and to attract into your life the right people at the right moments.” You can set an intention for every action in your life. Before eating, set an intention to eat mindfully. Before working out, connect to your intention. Ask yourself, “What are you aiming to achieve?”
9. APPLY SUNSCREEN
Sunscreen isn’t just for summertime. Dermatologists recommend wearing sunscreen daily because, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. Yikes! Even if you’re not hanging outdoors for a long period of time, UVA rays that cause wrinkles and premature aging can pass through window glass. Check the ingredients on your sunscreen and look for one with the mineral zinc oxide for UVA protection. If you’re going to be outside for an extended length of time (at least two hours) look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 30 that’s sweat and water-resistant.
10. EXPRESS GRATITUDE
Western society is constantly telling us we need to be more, do more, have more, and achieve more. It can be depleting and depressing. Keep your vibe high and light by filtering out the noise and filling yourself up with gratitude throughout each day. There have been numerous studies regarding the positive effects a daily gratitude practice has on the mind, body, and spirit.
How to do it: Keep a journal in which you jot down what you’re grateful for each evening before bed or when you wake up in the morning. Try writing affirmations, positive things about yourself and your life. Or write a thank-you note to someone to say how grateful you are to have him or her in your life.
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This story was originally published on May 21, 2018, and has since been updated.
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