One of the best things about each morning is that you get a fresh start, a clean slate. But if you muck it up, it’s harder to navigate the rest of your day. So put a little thought into greeting the a.m. A few simple practices can help.
Banish your phone the night before.
Wake up with a real alarm clock. If it plays songs you dig, even better. You might be tempted to plug your phone into a device that accesses your digital music library, but resist the temptation. Keep your phone away from your bed altogether. Even if you’re excited for the dawn of a new day, getting yanked out of sleep isn’t pleasant. It’s worse if your phone, with all the obligations and demands it signifies, is the thing to do it. Greeting the morn without it helps you be more calm and grounded.
Give yourself at least a few minutes to get used to being awake. Then stretch gently for 5 to 10 minutes. Do what feels natural. “It’s a great way to energize the morning and ease away any stress or tension from the previous day or a funky sleeping position,” says Christine Hagemeyer, an exercise specialist with Colonial Life.
Your muscles and tendons shorten as you snooze. That’s why after a night of shut-eye, most of us stretch without even thinking about it. Just take it a bit further. Stretching releases endorphins and other natural mood elevators that your body produces when you exercise. But you don’t need an aerobic sweat-fest to get them going.
Even though you were mostly motionless while you slept, your body is thirsty. Have some water – but first use a tongue scraper. This is a common tool in Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) that you can find stateside in health-food stores. A metal spoon works too. Use your device of choice to get rid of the funky film on your tongue. Then down 3 to 8 ounces of water. Staying hydrated helps you be more alert, which will put you on the right path for the day.
Set an intention.
This might sound woo-woo or like too much work, but it doesn’t have to be. You are, of course, welcome to set a challenging goal for your day. But something as simple as “notice my breath” will recast your waking hours because you’re paying attention, simple as that. If you want an intention that will load you with adrenaline, try “say yes to something that seems hard to do.” You get the idea. The point is to be present for your life and not sleepwalk through it. You got enough of the sleep part the night before.
Journalist Mitra Malek has taught yoga regularly since 2006. She was a senior editor for Yoga Journal and still does research for the magazine on wellness, fitness and nutrition. Learn more at www.mitramalek.com.