Mindful morning rituals to kick-start your day
Rituals are performed in many cultures throughout the world for ceremonial, spiritual or religious practices. However, the premise of a ritual doesn’t necessarily have to be associated with or performed in a customary way to hold power in your life.
Weaving simple rituals into your daily life can improve your overall wellbeing and enhance the way you look, feel and function each day.
I believe that daily rituals like making time for a cup of tea in the garden every morning are the foundations to a life well lived. Rituals offer you a moment to do something you love and time to give back to yourself, and help to deepen the feelings of joy and fulfilment.
Many of the most successful people in the world carve out time each morning for a routine that helps to set them up for the day ahead and, not surprisingly, science backs up the health benefits associated with these simple habits.
Here are a few morning practices that you could weave into your daily routine to help you feel and function your best.
There is no such thing as a perfect meditator, so don’t worry if you feel like you can’t quiet your busy mind; your body will still reap the benefits of creating the space to sit and breathe deeply each day.
Physical, mental and emotional stress is one of the most prevalent health conditions people experience today, and it has been shown to have severe short-, medium- and long-term effects on one’s health, including increasing rates of anxiety and depression and fast-tracking the ageing process. While there will always be some degree of stress in life, incorporating effective stress management techniques will greatly help improve your quality of life and the effect stress has on your health. Research has shown that meditation can reduce the negative effects of psychological stress, anxiety, depression and pain.
Furthermore, meditation has been shown to have a positive effect on the ageing process and neurodegenerative diseases by improving one’s attention, memory, verbal fluency and cognitive flexibility. There is no such thing as a perfect meditator, so don’t worry if you feel like you can’t quiet your busy mind; your body will still reap the benefits of creating the space to sit and breathe deeply each day.
Move your body
It is no surprise that moving your body regularly is good for your health and happiness, but did you know that it can also encourage bright, clear skin and possibly reverse ageing? Exercise encourages the circulation of blood around the body, which carries oxygen and nutrients to working cells in the skin and helps carry away waste products, including free radicals, which have been shown to cause premature ageing. Aim to move your body four times a week for 45 minutes, balancing both restorative and strengthening practices such as yoga, tai chi, swimming, walking, dancing, boxing and jogging.
Water is essential to life, and one of the best routines to implement upon waking is rehydrating your body. Humans are made up of 50 to 65 per cent water, so it is no surprise that adequate water intake is fundamental for normal functioning of every cell, tissue and organ in the body. Memory, concentration, mood and energy levels all decrease with even mild dehydration, and research has shown that people who drink adequate water have improved skin structure and function compared to those who are dehydrated.
It is recommended that the average adult female drink around 2 litres (8 cups) and the average adult male 2.6 litres (10 cups) per day and more when exercising. Fill a 1-litre water bottle and drink half before your morning cup of tea or coffee. Now you only have 1.5 litres to drink throughout the day and your body and brain will be able to function more efficiently from the get-go.
Enjoy a nutrient-rich breakfast
There’s no doubt you have heard the saying “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, and it is for good reason. Extensive research shows that enjoying a nutrient-rich breakfast can set you up for a more productive day and improve your overall health and wellbeing by ensuring you are hitting your daily nutrient intake. Several large prospective studies support the association between breakfast consumption and a lower risk of obesity and weight gain. It has also been shown that breakfast intake is frequently related to mental alertness, increased concentration and cognitive performance. This makes breakfast especially important for children and adolescents who are learning at rapid rates.
Not everyone is a morning person, but if you can set your alarm for an hour earlier and squeeze in one of the above suggestions, your mind and body will thank you for it.