You’ve probably heard the saying, “if you win the morning, you win the day.” The first few hours after waking tend to set up the trajectory for the entire day – starting off fresh makes a good day better, while starting off on the wrong foot can leave you feeling sour. This applies to mindset and to health: start healthy, stay healthy, and vice versa.
Let’s think…what does your morning look like? So many of us wake up from a night of too little sleep, jarred awake by a blaring alarm, immediately hit the coffee just to de-zombify, and take the day from there. Those first few hours can feel groggy and slow, and at worst, can ruin the whole day. My goal here is to explore some very simple habits you can do first thing upon waking to make your morning, and your whole day, more energetic and healthful.
For some of us, the morning is really the only time we have to ourselves. The day brings obligations to work, kids, loved ones, and everything else life offers. It’s easy to feel like we have hardly any time to take care of ourselves. If you prioritize taking care of yourself first thing upon waking, then you create a foundation of good health that you will carry with you all the way into the evening hours. Consistent good choices become habits, and one good habit tends to beget another, so why not get some good stuff in first thing?
Here are three simple habits you can practice every morning that will have profound impacts on your body and help you create a solid base of health. They’re simple to do early, and once they’re out of the way, they’re three less things you need to worry about, freeing up mental energy to focus on more important things. These practices have a great return on investment: they take very little time, can be done anywhere, and have major positive benefits for your well-being.
Gut health is the new sitting. You’d be hard pressed to read any health blog without hearing about how important it is to take care of your microbiome. Your bacteria outnumber you by several trillion to one, and they need attention! They need to be fed and taken care of, and helping them helps you. Taking care of your gut has positive impacts on digestion, mental clarity, immune system function, and so much more.
One of the simplest things you can do to feed your microbiome it to take a probiotic supplement. This is probably the easiest thing to get in the habit of: wake up, wash a capsule down with some water, and you’re done! Your gut will be primed for good digestion and good health, making your entire day much more pleasant. That’s a huge component of good health accounted for within the first 30 seconds of waking…not a bad way to start the day!
As far as recommendations go, I am a big fan of Enviromedica’s Prescript Assist. There are a ton of probiotic supplements out there. It will take some research to figure out which one is right for you, but finding the right one will positively impact your health in so many ways.
If you’re not a supplement person, you can feed your microbiome first thing by eating something fermented with breakfast. A side of sauerkraut with your eggs or a refreshing cup of Kefir will get the job done.
Get Some Sunshine
Lots of us have lifestyles that suck away time outdoors. Whether it’s a 9-5 gig, the commute that gets you there, kids, school, or any other number of things, it’s easy to get home as the sun is setting and realize you’ve spent most of your waking hours indoors. Lack of sunshine means lack of Vitamin D, and that carries major consequences for our health.
You can remedy this by spending just 10-15 minutes in the sun each morning. This may seem like a short amount of time, but a little bit of full on sun exposure is better than nothing at all. Morning sunshine primes your body to down-regulate melatonin production, which increases to help you sleep when the sun goes down. So, in addition to all the goodness you get from Vitamin D, some morning sunlight will help you wake up feeling fresh and energized. You’ll keep your circadian rhythm on track, meaning you’ll be more wakeful throughout the day and sleep better at night. That sounds like the ultimate bookend to me.
Exercise is good for you: this is likely not a shocking development. In our increasingly sedentary society, carving out intentional time for movement is becoming increasingly important. A structured training routine is great, but our bodies evolved in an environment where they weren’t just running or lifting weights for an hour each day. We benefit hugely from consistent, low-intensity movement and frequenently changing patterns. The effects of morning movement are immediately apparent: it’ll help you feel energized, keep your body moving better, and prime you to move more throughout the day.
Now, I’m not saying that you need to roll out of bed and hit some sprints or heavy back squats. That’s basically an injury waiting to happen. Instead, do something light and simple to get your blood flowing. I’m a huge advocate of gentle morning mobility. I’ve been using this joint circling routine for years, and I really notice if I go a day or two without it. Immediately after performing it, I feel more alert, more awake, and more energized to go take on the day. The routine only takes about 10-15 minutes, and keeps me moving more freely. You can also try some yoga or light calisthenics, or just spend some time hanging out in a deep squat. Heck, kill two birds with one stone by taking a short walk in the sun! The important thing is to find something that you enjoy and that helps you feel good.
These tasks are deceptively simple. They’re really easy to do, and they’re also really easy to put on the backburner, especially when we’re so used to immediately reaching for the coffeepot and turning on the news. That’s why I think doing these specific things first thing in the morning is so profound. Like I said, get them out of the way so you don’t have to spend the rest of the day worrying about them. That doesn’t mean you don’t need to take care of your gut or move around for the rest of the day; you’ve simply established a good foundation that’s easier to maintain.
Even if you don’t have the time or resources to be “perfect” all day, these practices will start you out on the right foot. The rest of your day could get completely crazy, but you will be able to rest assured knowing that you have these three biggies covered. Done consistently, they will become second nature and pave the way for other healthful practices.