Mindful moments (3 minutes)
As you wake up from what was hopefully a blissful night of sleep, refrain from picking up your phone or turning on the TV. Instead take a few moments to be appreciative of life. These three minutes are for you to express gratitude, recite daily affirmations, journal, or just be present with how your body and mind feels. Be fully aware and modify your thinking if you find your morning in a negative space. These three minutes are for you to take control and set the tone for your day.
Breathe deep and with intention (3 minutes or less)
We don’t often think about the function of breathing in relation to over-all health. However, your brain may not be getting enough oxygen. This is especially true for anyone with undiagnosed sleep apnea. The practice of 4–7–8 first thing in the morning assists with increasing oxygen-rich blood to the brain and reduces stress which may spark as you start your day. An oxygenated brain increases cognitive thinking and also has a calming effect, so practice 4–7–8 throughout your day and before going to sleep.
4–7–8: Simply breathe in for four seconds, hold your breath for seven seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Do this three times, but try not to rush the process. You will find after doing 4-7-8 you will feel a decrease in anxiety and an increased sense of calm and relaxation.
Drink a glass of water (3 minutes)
Drinking a glass (or two) of water after you wake up not only provides an instant mental and physical pick-me-up, but there is also a link between heart health and hydration in the evening and early morning. The American Journal of Epidemiology reported 46 percent of men and 59 percent of women have a decreased chance of a fatal heart attack if they consumed five or more glasses of water a day. This is compared to those whom have consumed only two glasses of water a day. Morning water activates internal organs and assists the body with flushing out toxins. For additional health benefits add lemon to your water. Lemon in your water adds essential electrolytes to your body in the form of potassium, vitamin C, magnesium and folate, and is easily assimilated by the body.
Stretch (5 minutes)
Just the act of moving the body sets the mind in a forward motion. We’ve all heard of the saying, if you don’t use it you lose it. Stretching helps keep the body nimble which may make you less likely to injure yourself if you do take a tumble. Enhanced coordination isn’t the only benefit of stretching. Other benefits include better circulation, pain relief, along with relief from chronic health issues such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, and depression.
Smile and laugh (1 minutes or less)
Smiling and laughing modifies your body’s chemical response. When you laugh or smile your brain releases a rush of endorphins. Consider the simple act of smiling to be a gift to the people around you, along with reducing your stress and boosting your mood. This is not a suggestion to smile or laugh inappropriately or with insincerity. However, if you can find moments throughout your day which are in some way enjoyable, comical, or downright hilarious, access those moments fully and enjoy!
Take two weeks to incorporate these practices into your morning routine. You may even discover you want more than 15 minutes of morning health. Starting your day with this 15 minute investment is quick and easy, and the pay-off will be increased health and well-being for a more holistic lifestyle.