The Perfect Morning Routine: Strength, Flexibility and Journaling

Everyone has a morning routine, and whether it’s a leisurely soak in the tub or a frenzied dash for the bus, the way you spend your first half hour sets the tone for the rest of the day. With that in mind, get things started right with this simple morning routine. First, do a gentle full-body stretch to maximize your body’s strength and flexibility, and to release endorphins for a natural mood booster. Then, take a few minutes to write in a journal, using the time to assess your current situation, learn from the past, and create concrete dreams that you can reach for to improve your future. Finally, grab a quick, healthy meal that will give you lasting energy and power. This three-part morning routine takes less than half an hour, but you’ll feel the results all day long.

Part One: Awaken Your Body

Chances are, your current morning routine includes a cup of coffee or tea, but there are better ways to wake up your body than to chug caffeine. One of the reasons why caffeine helps you feel more awake is that it gets your heart pumping faster, increasing blood flow throughout your body. Luckily, you can get this same result without coffee. A simple five minute, full-body stretch will give you a natural jumpstart, gently raising your heart rate so that your body feels awake and ready to handle the day’s challenges. In addition, unlike coffee, stretching improves the strength and flexibility of your muscles so that you’ll be more energetic hours, days, and even months down the road. Start by tensing and relaxing the muscles in your feet, then gently rotate each ankle, circling three or four times clockwise and then counter-clockwise to explore your full range of motion. Slowly work your way all the up from your feet to the top of your head, tensing each muscle group for a count of five and then releasing it, and giving every joint a few soft rotations. This should take you about five to seven minutes. When you’re done your whole body will be humming with endorphins, the naturally mood-elevating hormones that your system uses to reward itself for exercising, so you’ll feel great as you head into the next part of your morning routine!

Part Two: Journaling For Your Mind

Now that you’re body is ready to face any challenges your day throws at you, it’s time to rev up your brain. Recent scientific research has shown that writing on a regular increases happiness, relaxation and feelings of positivity, so try making this fun and easy practice a part of your morning routine. Here are a few examples of the kinds of journaling topics that might make a great addition to your morning routine. Try writing about one of your favorite moments of achievement, recalling as many details as possible. Be vivid not only about how good it felt to reach a goal, but note the sounds, sights, even the smells of that moment! This kind of intense recall of a triumph will help you remember that success is in your grasp. You can also write about things that don’t make you feel succesfull at all. If there’s an issue in your life that you’re upset about or is bothering you, try writing about it. Get yourself to write down any positive aspects about it: if you can discover something you’ve learned in the struggle, you’ll feel more upbeat and hopeful about finding a solution to your problem. Of course, these are just the tip of the iceberg for journaling topics: when it comes to what to write about, the sky’s the limit. Taking just ten or fifteen minutes to write about anything in the morning will help you wake up your brain by pumping it full of upbeat energy, so just have fun with it!

Part Three: Fuel For Energy

Statistically speaking, breakfast is the meal that you are most likely to skip. When you don’t eat breakfast, your metabolism doesn’t know that the day is started, so you burn fewer calories. Plus, if you haven’t given your body enough fuel at the start of the day, you’re likely to grab an unhealthy mid-morning snack that will go straight to your thighs. Instead of skipping and snacking, set aside five to ten minutes of your morning routine to give your body the nutritional power sources that will keep your metabolism pumping and your body and mind running at premium performance until lunchtime. Whole grain products, like wheat toast, Cheerios, Oat Bran, and even simple oatmeal, are an ideal morning fuel because they provide lasting energy. These foods are rich in complex carbohydrates, which slowly release nutrients over a course of several hours as your body gradually breaks them down. This long digestive process means you’ll stay satisfied and won’t get hungry again all morning. Most people who dash out the front door without eating breakfast say that it’s because there isn’t enough time in their morning routine to make and eat a good meal. However, there are ways around this common problem. Pre-sliced whole wheat bread will make healthy toast a snap, and instant oatmeal can help you find the time to eat right at the start of your day. If you just can’t see yourself making time in your morning routine for a meal, try grabbing a whole-grain cereal bar, or even a plastic baggie of dry cereal that you can munch on during your commute. With the right fuel, you can keep your fully awakened body and mind going all day long.

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