one green planet
one green planet

For better or for worse, the choices we make in the morning set us up for the day. Think of the last time you rushed out the door without eating breakfast or how a misplaced set of keys can send your mind into a tailspin. It’s easy to lose patience and be irritable all day after getting up on the wrong side of the bed! But it doesn’t have to be that way if you set healthy habits for yourself in the mornings!

Developing healthy habits is on everyone’s agenda but following through with our good intentions is harder than it seems, especially when you’re busy. The good news is that the less time intensive and complicated a habit is, the more likely we are to stick to it. Research shows that people maintain healthy habits when these are small and manageable changes to one’s lifestyle.

While it’s good to have big goals, making your morning habits as simple as possible will have a bigger impact on your life, if only because you’ll remember to do them more consistently.

Want to devise a morning routine to help you invest in your health, be it physical, mental, or spiritual? Here are 7 rituals you should consider.

1. Stretch

Our feline friends do it naturally after waking up from slumber, but the practice isn’t common enough in humans, which is a shame! A simple stretch in the morning can improve your posture, reduce chronic back pain, increase blood flow to your brain for better focus, and energize you all at once. Plus, stretching right after you roll out of bed gives you time to reconnect to yourself and wake up gently.

Experts from the American College of Sports Medicine suggest focusing on hamstrings, hip flexors, calves, and chest muscles, as these are the most commonly tight and stiff muscles. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat 3 to 5 times on each side of your body. As a rule of thumb, you should feel a slight pull, being careful not to stretch to a painful point.

If starting a stretching routine sounds intimidating, don’t fret! The key is to do what feels right to you. Less than five minutes is more than enough to start reaping benefits from working on your flexibility every day.

2. Have a Cup of Tea

Whether you enjoy green tea, a classic English Breakfast tea, or the trendy chai, forming the habit of having a cup every morning is a good idea. Packed with antioxidants named Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) or catechins, tea leaves hold healing power. They fight free radicals in our bodies to relieve inflammation and prevent diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and neurological decline.

Drinking tea as part of your morning rituals is also a good way to wake up gently as it promotes mental alertness without giving you a headache later on. Tea helps with digestive issues as well and will get things moving so you can start your day feeling light and energized.

3. Get Some Sunshine

Getting a good dose of sunshine right when you wake up — whether by going outside for a short walk or having breakfast in a room with an east-facing window — is one of the easiest and most rewarding morning habits to get into.

Natural light is beneficial to regulating our circadian rhythm, especially in the morning hours. It promotes wakefulness by stimulating the neurotransmitters involved with arousal in our brain. Exposure to light is also important to the production of melatonin, a hormone essential to proper and restful sleep. How well you sleep at night can be determined as soon as you wake up!

But what if it’s time to rise and shine and the sun is nowhere to be seen? You can invest in light therapy lamps which mimic full sunlight and are commonly used to treat seasonal affective disorder.

4. Get Creative

Using our imagination and taking the time for creative pursuits is not something most of us are eager to do when we’re fighting with the snooze button, but research says that early mornings are the best time to give our brains a bit of a workout.

Think of it this way: the demands put upon us during our day require us to make choices, use our willpower, and exercise our focus, all of which are tiring and weaken our ability to be creative. Getting our creative juices flowing not long after we wake up is a good way to seize upon those brain resources before our energies are depleted.

It also turns out that this time of day is when our prefrontal cortex is most active. This brain area is closely related to artistic creativity and divergent thinking or finding new ideas to solve problems.

Don’t have an artistic bone in your body? You don’t need to be the next Picasso or J.K Rowling to reap the benefits of using your imagination. Research indicates that being creative in small ways such as coloring, singing, or journaling has a positive impact on our mental health and can protect us from cognitive decline as we age.

Instead of scrolling through social media in the morning, why not try stream-of-consciousness journaling or mindlessly doodling for a few minutes while eating breakfast?

5. Eat a Piece of Fruit

Want to have a strong immune system, fight inflammation, get restful sleep, be full of energy, and have good skin? Consuming fruit daily can help with all of that!

As the most important meal of the day, breakfast is the perfect time to incorporate at least one of our ‘5 a day,’ especially as research shows that our ability to make healthy food choices weakens as the day goes on. Eating a good breakfast with the inclusion of at least one piece of fruit is an easy way to make sure that you get the necessary nutrients and antioxidants your body needs to thrive.

If you’re looking for healthy fruit-filled breakfast ideas, we have a ton for you. Try out this Red Beet, Pear, Orange, and Apple Smoothie, this Winter Citrus Smoothie, these Magical Mango Matcha Shakes, and these Hazelnut Oatmeal Baked Pears.

6. Add Chia Seeds to Your Breakfast

Vanilla bean chia pudding

Source: Vanilla Bean Chia Pudding

These seeds may be tiny, but their health benefits are not. Packed with omega-3s, fiber, a ton of micronutrients (potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and manganese), and antioxidants, chia seeds are good for digestion, regulating blood glucose, and preventing major diseases.

Not sure how to include chia seeds in your breakfast? Check out this Chia Pudding With Blueberries, these Chia Oat Banana Pancakes, these Blackberry Chia Jam Crumble Bars, and these Berry Fruit Tarts With Chia Seeds.

If you’re short on time, try adding a scoop of chia seeds to your on-the-go smoothie or simply mixing one tablespoon in a glass of water.

7. Take Your Vitamin B12

Whether you eat a plant-based diet or not, supplementing with vitamin B12 is a good idea. Far from being a vegan issue, it is estimated that up to 30 percent of the population is deficient in this vitamin.

Essential for maintaining the insulation of our nerve cells to protect our neurological and cognitive functions, vitamin B12 is also responsible for breaking down amino acids and fatty acids to supply our bodies with energy. If you want more information on the importance of vitamin B12 and how to fulfill your dietary needs, check out How to Get B12 and B-Complex Vitamins on a Vegan Diet.

Recommended Resources and Recipes

Vegan Gluten-Free Warm Blueberry Overnight Oats with compote

Source: Warm Blueberry Overnight Oats

Want to find more tips and tricks as well as recipes to help you lead a healthy life? Here are a few articles that might help.

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