Starting the day the right way means addressing your self-care daily from the moment you wake up. Healthy morning habits may seem hard to adopt at first, but with a little bit of perseverance, these following examples of daily self-care will become second nature to you.
A healthy routine in the mornings doesn’t need to involve arduous ten-mile jogs and extreme dietary restrictions. Instead, healthy morning habits are about finding a way to energise your body and bring about a positive mindset to carry you through the day ahead.
Finding a healthy routine to start the day with is all about finding what works for you, as no two people are the same. However, here is my preferred morning self-care routine that you can apply to your day in a way which most suits you.
A glass of water and a spiced coffee to wake up with
I’d love to say that I’m now so energised with all the healthy self-care practices that I follow that I no longer need coffee in my life. But let’s face it, what’s life without a morning coffee! The first thing that I do when I wake up is to trundle downstairs bleary-eyed and put the kettle on. I make sure that I drink a large glass of water while the coffee is brewing. Then I pour myself a black coffee with some added coconut oil and a few sprinkles of mixed spice.
Now before you screw your faces up, let me explain the logic behind this surprisingly delicious coffee concoction. I try to keep my eating within a 10-hour eating window (more about this in a bit), hence the black coffee. The addition of the coconut oil not only helps to slow down the caffeine spike of a cuppa but also provides you with a source of medium-chain fatty acids, which are said to help with weight management and athletic performance amongst other benefits. Spices are brimming with phytonutrients that help to support a healthy immune system and overall health. Plus they quite literally spice up your morning brew, giving it a tasty oriental twist.
Morning meditation to centre you before you start your day
I find that unless I go and meditate straight after my morning coffee has started to take effect then it doesn’t happen. So once I’ve had my spiced coffee (and a trip to the loo), I settle into 15-20 minutes of meditation.
Whilst challenging to make yourself do at first, you’d be surprised how quickly this morning mindfulness becomes a welcome part of your self-care morning routine. There’s something about having that small period of calm stillness in your morning which seems to set you up ready to tackle anything that day might throw at you.
If 20 minutes seems like too long out of your day then try sitting for 10 minutes. You might be surprised how in time you find yourself wanting to increase your time sitting in meditation. And if finding the time is your excuse then try setting your alarm 15 minutes earlier. There are 1440 minutes in a day, are you sure that you can’t give at least 10 of these over for morning self-care?
Dry brushing to stimulate your lymphatic system
Dry brushing helps to eliminate toxic build-up on the skin and encourages lymphatic drainage, essential for ridding the body of waste materials. The liquid known as lymph carries pathogen fighting white blood cells within it and filters out bodily toxins in the lymph nodes. The lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump to move this liquid around the body, as is the case with blood and the heart. Therefore healthy daily routines should include movement practices and dry brushing to stimulate both the circulatory and lymph systems.
When dry brushing work in a sweeping motion from the extremities towards the heart. Make sure that you sweep past areas where lymph nodes gather such as in the backs of your knees, your groin, armpits, and neck. If you can, dry brush before you shower so you can wash the external toxins away after.
Think of dry brushing like doing your daily self-care housework. Almost like daily dusting for your body that will leave you feeling sparkly and bright. Beneficial for breaking down fat deposits, reducing the appearance of cellulite, and to smooth and tighten your skin. Dry brushing is one easy healthy routine that will get you feeling good on both the inside and out.
Contrast showers for immunity and wellbeing
Now, this healthy morning habit is not for the faint-hearted, that’s for sure. But the vast range of health benefits gained from alternating between hot and cold water when showering, far outweigh the initial discomfort. The benefits of contrast showers include reducing inflammation, improving circulation, boosting your immune system, preventing DOMS after training, the prevention of colds and flu, and they may even help with weight loss and depression!
The basic science behind this age-old practice is that it forces your tissues to adapt to sudden changes in temperature. This mild stress stimulates the body into metabolic and circulatory action, which in turn provides extra support to your vital organs and ups the numbers of disease-fighting cells in your body.
The optimal ratio for contrast showering is 2:1 hot to cold. Start your contrast shower with a couple of minutes of hot showering and then switch to a minute of cold water. The colder the better, so be brave, turn that dial and breath deep. Try to repeat the process 3 times, finishing your shower on cold water. You’ll soon notice how energised you feel in body and mind on getting out the shower.
10-hour eating window
There has been much talk recently in health and fitness about the benefits of intermittent fasting. In particular, the cited benefits for your gut health, whereby a routine period of daily rest for your micro-biome gives it a chance to fully rest and recover.
Now whilst a full 24 hour fast may be out of the realm of practicality for a lot of us, there are still immense benefits to be gained from shorter fasting periods. After 12 hours without food, your body enters into a state known as ketosis. When in ketosis your body begins to burn fat over glucose for its energy supply. This means that not only will your stomach feel more settled and happy after a short fasting period, but it may also help you to lose weight. Time-restricted eating can also help manage the risk of developing diabetes and raised blood pressure.
This simple form of self-care for the digestive system means that if you finish eating your evening meal by 8 pm, then you wouldn’t break your fast (Break-Fast) until 10 am the next day. I like to break my fast with a glass of probiotic dense Kefir to populate my gut with some good bacteria ready for the day ahead. Another great thing about time-restricted eating is that it focuses on the time that you consume your calories, not necessarily on cutting back on the calories you consume.
Move your body and top it up with Vitamin D
We all know that moving our bodies on a regular basis is essential for our health. And any healthy routine for morning self-care should include some form of movement practice in it on a near on a daily basis. Whether that be a short yoga stretch, park run, or cycling to work, try to get in at least 20 minutes daily of various movement practices in over the course of the week.
One of the best ways to optimise your morning exercise is by taking it out in the fresh air. This will expose you to your daily dose of vitamin D, an essential vitamin for supporting your immune system and nervous system. Although we can consume vitamin D through food products such as sardines, mackerel, eggs and almonds, it’s very hard to get the body’s required amount through diet alone. We actually absorb the majority of our vitamin D through exposure to the sun. So exercising outside provides an extra health boost compared to working out indoors.
Vitamin D also contributes to supporting lung and cardiovascular health. It helps to regulate insulin levels and is also vital for healthy bones, skin and hair. This all makes the case for walking or cycling to work an outstanding example of daily self-care and a great way to energise you for your day ahead.