I hope everyone reading this is staying safe and active! Today I’d like to write about the importance and benefits of a morning routine (as I lay basking in the morning sunlight!). If you don’t already have one in place, I urge you to find a way to incorporate one into your daily routine. Why? Consistency helps us to function at our best – on any ordinary day – with the challenges we face now, we must keep a consistent routine that uplifts our mood. It could be as simple, or as elaborate as you desire, just as long as you stay consistent.
I for one, love mornings, it’s my happy place! It feels other-worldly to me. The morning dew, the soft sunlight, the small birds co-mingling, and singing. Morning beauty energizes me. I embrace this positive energy and use it as fuel to jump-start my day. In addition to all that dreamy stuff, establishing a morning routine helps with managing stress, improving productivity, and helps us to focus on top priorities which adds to our overall happiness. I would personally add, “nourishes creativity”. By removing excess “brain chatter” – it helps to free up space for the imagination – having three small children around helps too (I’m a mom of 3)!
What truly makes my morning routine gratifying, is that I have shown up for myself, and I could never regret that! I’m disciplined about showing up for my routine but remain flexible on its execution. Some days I may want to skip or add a thing or two. Here’s how my routine usually plays out.
The first thing I do is sink my toes deeper into the mattress and take a moment to be thankful – for that simple act. Next, I open up the curtains and expose myself to natural light. I take a few seconds to let it soak into my skin, close my eyes, and feel its warmth blanketing my eyelids.
The Health Benefit: Direct exposure to natural light received through the eyes influences our circadian rhythm. An irregular rhythm has been linked to various chronic diseases. To keep it regular, it helps to have a consistent bedtime as well as waking up at the same time every morning.
After my sun soak, I like to massage my face with a face oil (I grind my teeth and have tense jaw muscles) this feels amazing! Lots of tension gets trapped in the jaw muscles, even more so, if you grind your teeth at night or suffer from TMJ. Take a minute to try this out for yourself! Massage your jaw muscles in small circular motions using your index and middle fingers, then take all four fingers and run them from the corner of your lips, toward your cheekbones, across to your temples, and down toward your jaw-line. Repeat 5 times. I finish the massage with a splash of cold water and gentle finger pad taps all over my face.
The Health Benefit: Reduces stress; improves circulation; improves mental alertness.
Now, I’m ready for breathwork. It makes me happy to see breathwork getting more and more exposure through fitness articles. We’re under stressful times, everyone should be aware of the huge benefits that come from optimizing their breathing. I practice box breathing. The steps are simple: Inhale slowly for a count of 4 seconds; Hold your breath for 4 seconds; Exhale slowly for 4 seconds. The Health Benefits: Reduces stress; Decreases blood pressure; Stimulates the lymphatic system, therefore detoxifying; Improves body awareness.
I follow breath work with oil pulling with coconut oil for oral hygiene. Oil pulling is part of an ancient Ayurvedic treatment. It involves swishing oil in the mouth for up to 20 minutes to remove accumulated bacteria, toxins, and plaque. This is recommended to be done upon waking, before brushing your teeth, eating, or drinking. I use coconut oil, however, different oils may be used as well. The process took a bit of getting used to since coconut oil is solid at room temperature. I built up my tolerance by beginning slow, with 1/2 Tbsp of coconut oil for 10 minutes. After a couple of minutes of vigorously swishing, the oil liquefies, and becomes easier to swish, getting into all the crevices of the mouth. The oil should be spat out in the trash, and be careful not to swallow. I’m up to 1 Tbsp for 15 minutes now. I practice this technique 3 times a week, I find it easier to commit to that way. I then move on to flossing and brushing – my oral care is quite extensive.
The Health Benefits: from superficial; whiter teeth, removes bad breath; to the more health beneficial; removes bacteria and toxins, preventing it from entering the body; reduces inflammation and gum disease. Some of these claims are anecdotal and some are based on studies. You will get plenty of results if you Google it.
Lastly, I move on to a 5-minute full-body movement routine that flows from joint to joint. Motion is lotion, as they say! Every month I choose a different movement focus. Last month I focused on my hip mobility, this month, I’m focusing on shoulder mobility.
The Health Benefit: Exercise has an immense effect on our physical and mental health. In addition to that, I consider this movement-flow a communication with my body. I emphasize the quality of movement. How fluid is my movement? Where am I experiencing tension? It’s an opportunity to slow down and listen to my body. This helps me adjust my overall training plan.
After I’m done with my routine, I feel focused, energized, and ready to begin my day! If you don’t have a morning routine in place, I hope this has motivated you and given you some ideas on where to begin.
Wishing you health and joy,