Perhaps your morning routine goes something like this: Jolt awake with a beeping alarm, brush your teeth, take a shower, eat breakfast, feed the cat, and rush out the door to make your train and get to work on time. This is quite a stressful way to start the day! Your heart is probably beating fast, your breathing is shallow, and your stomach is tight. You carry those feelings and body responses with you for the whole day.
Could simply drinking water and 5 minutes of deep breathing, stretching, or writing upon waking increase the chances of having a better day? It sure can! Taking a few minutes to center yourself, get grounded in your body, and gently wake up your senses is a great way to set the tone for the day. This practice is particularly beneficial if you have a hectic or big day ahead of you.
“But I don’t have an extra 5 minutes!” you might be saying. To that I’d ask you, what would a less stressful and more productive day be worth to you? Just 5 minutes of being present in your mind and body goes a long way. Try going to bed just 5 minutes earlier and getting up 5 minutes earlier to make the time. When we do something long enough, and consistently, it becomes a habit. Think of it as a 5 minute mind/body booster, and one small way to care for yourself. Below are four ways to wake up your mind and body. Pick whichever practices work best for you. If you have others that you like, please share them in the comment section below!
- Hydrate – Drinking at least 2 glasses of warm or room temperature water upon waking will help you start the day on the right foot. Drinking water on an empty stomach purifies the body’s internal systems. Water fires up your metabolism, hydrates you, helps your body flush out toxins, gives your brain fuel, and helps keep you regular. Not getting enough water can leave you feeling sluggish, irritable, and contribute to headaches and stomachaches, and that’s something that no one has time for!
- Deep Breathing – Breathing deeply (breathing in slowly counting to 5, and exhaling counting to 5) has numerous health benefits and is one of the quickest and easiest ways to reduce stress, calm the body, and wake up. If you’re really in a time crunch, you can combine deep breathing with eating, deeply smelling and savoring several bites of your food. You’ll not only be calming and restoring your body’s relaxation response, but you’ll be fully appreciating your food, which is a mindfulness practice in and of itself!
- Stretching – Moving our bodies is one of the most important things we can do when we first wake up. Stretching increases blood flow and gently gets our bodies moving. While we sleep, our muscles hardly move and blood flow is restricted. Remember to breathe in and out slowly with each stretch.
- Writing – Writing upon waking can free your mind from racing thoughts that can create anxiety. Jotting down any thoughts, fears, joys, etc. that are on your mind, or writing anything that comes to mind – often called free association – can help clear your head so you’re ready to take on the day. Another approach is to write down one thing you’re grateful for, proud of, or looking forward to each day.
This week’s blog is a guest blog from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s Mass Public Health Blog. It was written by Alison Brill, Community Suicide Prevention Coordinator at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
To check out more blogs from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, visit http://blog.mass.gov/publichealth/.