By – Lea Hohsfield
Waking up, for most of us, is the hardest chore of the day. We all crave that 10 more minutes of sleep. Some mornings, when we see the sun rays creeping through our blinds, we groan and roll over, and wonder how morning came so quickly. This is especially true if we didn’t get a good night’s sleep. But the key to having a good day is having a good morning, and having a good morning means being pro-active and getting your body moving.
In retirement this issue might become more complicated if we make the mistake in thinking that we no longer need a structured morning routine if we don’t have to be anywhere first thing in the morning. However, studies show that people who spend more time in bed in the mornings may experience higher levels of depression and anxiety. They are also less likely to exercise, which may add to a decline in health.
With these 6 simple steps, we can all work towards becoming cheery morning people:
- Don’t hit snooze! This is one of the most commonly made “morning” mistakes. When you wake up only to hit the snooze button and then fall back asleep the brain thinks you’re going to bed again, starting the sleep cycle over from the beginning. The more times you hit snooze, the deeper your brain falls back asleep, and the harder it is to wake up. Instead, set one alarm and respond to it by getting up immediately. This is important if you work or have an early appointment. Hitting the snooze button may cause you to skip a shower or breakfast. It can also cause you to miss appointments or to be reprimanded for being late to work.
- Don’t look at your phone first thing in the morning. The emails, texts, and calls, can all wait another 30 minutes before getting your attention. When you turn to your phone first thing in the morning, your brain isn’t fully awake. Give yourself a chance to take a deep breath and focus on you before your phone. Pray or meditate, and enjoy the waking process. Reflect on things to be thankful for, even if you are experiencing hardships. If you focus your attention on your cellphone while still in bed and tired, you are more likely to stay in bed for up to 30-45 minutes longer. So, unless it’s an emergency, allow yourself to wake without distraction.
- Turn the light on and open the blinds. If you wake up and it’s still dark in your room or house, you are more likely to remain groggy during your morning routine. This, in turn, could cause lingering fatigue. Pull those curtains back and twist the blinds open! The sun is not your enemy!
- After lying down for 5-8 hours a night, your body may feel stiff and tight. Stretching, while taking some deep breaths can help to loosen muscles and release stress, and clear your mind of any overthinking that is done the night before. If you have an office job, which requires you to sit through most of your day, it is important to stretch your body out for maximum range of motion. Yoga or platies are great for keeping your muscles relaxed. Ask a friend to join you and you’re sure to double your fun!
- Get some fresh air. Open a window, drink your coffee on the patio, or go for a quick walk around the block. Fresh air helps to increase oxygen levels in the body, which in turn helps to increase your energy levels. You will feel more awake and ready to start the day on a positive note.
- Eat a good breakfast. Instead of drowning your tiredness in cup after cup after cup of coffee, eat clean for energy. If you don’t eat breakfast in the morning it can cause you to overeat later in the day. Overeating can cause depression and mood swings if done on a daily basis. A good way to start your day would be to combine foods that have good carbs and fiber with foods high in protein. Whole grains, oatmeal, eggs, or whole wheat toast with almond butter are all great foods to get you going strong. Need something fast? A cup of Greek yogurt, layered with granola & blueberries are a sweet and healthy treat you can make in minutes.
If you are sick or become injured, you will definitely need more sleep and you may need to stay in bed for a few days. However, even if you didn’t sleep well the night before, it is best if you get up at your regular time and engage in your regular routine so you don’t confuse your normal sleep patterns.