by Liberty Stembridge, Lifestyle Columnist
Published in Lifestyle on 12th November, 2018
We use a surprising amount of energy while we sleep and so we're often unaware of just how dehydrated we are when we wake up. 6+ hours of no water consumption is a lot, and so the best thing you can do to energise and wake up your body after a night's sleep is to consume plenty of water. Without being sufficiently hydrated in the morning, we often quickly fall into a state of lethargy as our brains are made up of around 75% water as it is, so it's easy to see why dehydration can affect our mental acuity so much.
Nutrition is a tricky science and we could all probably be a little healthier. It's currently estimated that over 90% of Americans have a vitamin deficiency, if not several. We may not realise it straight away, but deficiencies in even one of our essential vitamins or minerals can have a huge impact on our health. Around 25% of americans suffer from Iron deficiency which can lead to fatigue, weakness and pale skin. Starting the day off with some supplements, whether it be an all-round multi-vitamin or specific vitamins or minerals to make up for any that are lacking is a great way to ensure that you are preparing yourself physically for the day. Getting the right nutrients is also essential to maintaining your immune system, which will help you fight off any potential sickness that could knock you down.
Not everyone wants to spend an hour at the gym before breakfast, understandably so. However, a little bit of exercise in the morning goes a long way, research suggests. It doesn't have to be particularly strenuous either - gentle stretching, pilates or a brisk walk are all enough to get the heart rate going and blood flowing, which will wake you up and prepare you for the day. Research also suggests that light exercise in the morning can help to prevent and treat mental illness and boost levels of essential neurotransmitters in the brain that contribute to happiness and concentration.
Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard of the benefits of meditation. Meditation is not just reserved for yoga instructors and buddhist monks however, everyone can benefit from a meditation practice, and it doesn't have to interrupt your day. Many people have reaped the rewards of meditating for just 10 minutes a day in the morning. Meditation has been shown to improve mood, regulate stress levels and relax the body and mind. You don't need anything to meditate, simply sit or lie down and put on a guided meditation track if you're not sure where to start.
Is there any benefit to sitting down in the morning and imagining your dream day? According to research, yes. Positive visualisation is the practice of spending some time visualising what you want your life to look like and most importantly, how you would feel while living that life. It doesn't have to be grandiose either - you could imagine what your life would be like with your dream job, or with a new puppy, or whatever it is that you would like to see in your life. So long as imagining it makes you feel happy and positive, studies have shown that positive visualisation can improve your mood, improve your productivity and make you more likely to achieve whatever you were visualising.
The best way to start the day is in the most positive way possible, and there's not better way to inject some positivity into your life than starting a gratitude journal. For the uninitiated, a gratitude journal is a place for you to write down all the things that you are grateful for in your life. It can be anything, doesn't matter how big or how small and you can repeat it however much you like. A common practice is to try and find 10 different things that you are grateful for every morning, a habit that studies have shown to increase mood and lead to a better relationships.
Mindful living is all the rage - taking the time to step back, slow down and approach life in a mindful way has been shown to lower stress levels, improve relationships and reduce mental health issues. Mindful living doesn't stop at the dinner table however, and changing our approach to eating can radically change our mornings and our relationship to food. A mindful breakfast is the perfect way to get a headstart in the day, allowing you to not only fuel your body, but also prepare and calm your mind. How do you eat mindfully? It's simple - you pay attention while you eat your food. This might sound easy but it's surprising how few of us do this on a regular basis. How often do you find yourself scrolling through your phone while you're eating, or watching TV. Eating has become something that we multitask, but by focusing on our breakfasts, without any distractions, we can not only improve our digestion, but also improve our own mental health and eating habits.
Reading is a great habit to incorporate into your morning routine. Keeping a small stack of some inspirational, guidance-filled books by your bed gives you easy access to a treasure trove of advice and inspiration. For many religious people, it can be beneficial to start the day off by reading from their holy book to remind them of what's important and guide them through the rest of the day. This practice can still be applied by the non-religious however. There are many books out there full of spiritual guidance, inspirational quotes or motivational speeches. Books like A return to love, Be here now, the life changing magic of not giving a fuck and the little book of mindfulness.
For the particularly daring person, morning cold plunges are an excellent way to seriously wake up the brain, while also benefiting the rest of the body. A quick morning full-body plunge into cold water has been shown to improve immune function, improve blood flow, improve digestion, increase the metabolism and contribute to better cognitive functioning, meaning you wake up almost immediately.