There’s an ongoing fetish of morning routines and rituals, with largely good reason – how you start your morning is how you execute your day. There are a million ways to skin this cat, and you’ve no doubt heard of most of them, from journaling, visualization, to positive affirmations. There’s nothing wrong with those activities, and if you’re already a millionaire as is promised by doing them (directly or implicitly) then by all means continue.
I’d like to offer a slight reframe to the conventional morning routine: designing a morning routine that maximizes your health fuels you with sufficient energy and positive mood to [near-] effortlessly execute your day with success. Might I offer a less pedantic way of saying this: life is just easier when you are healthy, inside and out. In addition to winning the day from a productivity or “success” standpoint, this routine sets you up for long-term vibrancy and powerful deflection of age-related ailment onslaught.
A common objection to morning routines is that you simply lack the time. “I’d like mornings if they started later.” You and me both. The right things for your health are easy to do, but also easy not to do. I’d offer two thoughts of encouragement purporting that you do in fact have the time. First, you don’t have to do all the steps below. Set the bar low enough so that you are accomplishing a premeditated number of activities consistently, building your adherence and confidence to do more. Secondly, everything evens out in the long run, as is implied with an iteration of one of my favorite quotes:
“If you don’t make time for health now, you will have to make time for sickness later.”
Now that you’re hopefully primed to give this routine a shot, let’s get into the grass-fed meat and potatoes of the five steps. For your remembrance, I’ve coined the acronym W.A.G.E.S. since that’s what you’re doing: giving wages to your health. Corny, half-nonsensical jokes abound, let us begin.
1. “W” for Water: Detoxifying Hydration
After eight or so hours of sleep, your body is dehydrated and ready for 8+ ounces of water. Filtered water (ideally reverse osmosis) is a good starting point, by why not add some detoxifying zing? Try adding a squeeze of organic lemon juice and apple cider vinegar and a pinch of sea salt. The organic lemon juice contains d-limonene – a compound that helps flush toxins from the liver. It’s also has been shown to reduce* the formation of some tumor growths and alleviate fat buildup in the liver induced by diet. The apple cider vinegar flushes the liver, controls blood sugar, boosts* your immune system, and alkalizes your body. The sea salt helps to up-regulate morning blood pressure and protects your adrenal glands. If you’re really zealous, you can also add a tablespoon of diatomaceous earth, another internal cleansing agent comprised mostly of silica – great for your skin, nails, and hair!
2. “A” for Alternate-Nostril, Deep, Diaphragmatic Breathing Mindfulness Meditation
Quite a mouthful, but if I had to pick only one activity, this would be it. There are countless studies validating the benefits of mindfulness meditation. Allow me to break down each component:
- Mindfulness Meditation: Find a place outside (ideally barefoot grounded in nature) or open a window for some fresh air and situate yourself to a comfortable position. Mindfulness simply means becoming presently aware of your exact situation, without letting our mind wonder off. Your mind will wander off (don’t berate yourself), so simply recognizing your fleeting thoughts as they occur and bringing the attention back to your breath, the sounds in your environment, or the sensations of your body is the game.
- Alternate-Nostril: Alternating between thumb and ring finger, cover one nostril, breathe in, switch nostrils, and breathe out then in from the same nostril. Repeat. Alternate-nostril breathing confers a range of health benefits, most interesting of which is its thought to balance the left and right brain hemispheres leading to enhanced* mental functioning by providing oxygen to both sides.
- Deep: Slowing your breath down and breathing deeply in and out of your belly and lungs shifts you to a more parasympathetic state (rest, recover, digest) in addition to promoting better blood flow and release of toxins from the body. This is of particular importance for avid fitness enthusiasts and gym-oholics who easily slip into sympathetic dominance from overtraining. I shoot for a 5 second inhale, 7 second hold, 7 second exhale. Most of the detox effects occurs during the hold and exhale, but go with a cadence that you’re comfortable with; a good plan you’ll do is better than a perfect plan you won’t.
- Diaphragmatic: You’ll notice that babies breathe through their belly, but somewhere along the way of a sedentary, 8+ hours in a chair, lifestyle, they lose* their innate functional and breathing patterns. Breathing into your diaphragm retrains proper breathing techniques, acting as a potent de-stressor and blood pressure normalizer. If you’re new to this, it can be difficult to retrain from chest to belly breathing, so placing a hand on your belly as a form of kinesthetic signaling may help.
3 “G” for Gratitude: Embodied Gratitude
We’ve all heard how important gratitude is, from platitudes like “cultivate an attitude of gratitude.” But truly feeling and whole-heartedly embracing gratitude is different/better than the intellectual task of writing it down on paper. After the mindfulness meditation, I will finish by thinking of three things I’m grateful for, individually seeing and feeling each one. See what you see, feel what you felt, hear what you heard. After visualizing the event, place your hands on your heart and think about breathing the gratitude into your heart. That, my friend, is gratitude on fire.
4 “E” for Exercise: Rebounding
Jumping on a mini-trampoline, or rebounding, is great for lymphatic drainage to help detox your body, among other cardiovascular and fitness benefits. It’s also simply fun to do, with a low perceived exertion, meaning it doesn’t feel like you’re working as hard as you are (in layman’s terms). Rebounding is my top choice but otherwise any form of exercise will suffice (air squats, pull-ups, push-ups, etc.)
5. “S” for Sun: Walk in Sunlight: As a final step, it’s beneficial to get sun exposure as early in the day as possible to optimize your circadian rhythms (and therefore sleep). If it’s not a bright, shiny day where you are, I still recommend getting outside and going for a quick walk, be it on your way to work or just around the block to get the blood flowing. Both walking and sunlight offer unique health benefits paramount to your wellbeing. There’s really alternative for this, as we’re evolutionarily designed to receive ample loads of both. For example, there’s now evidence that vitamin D supplementation can’t identically replace vitamin D via the natural, sun-derived way.
You can go through this whole routine in about 30-40 mins, with most emphasis on the meditation, but I encourage you to make it your own. Play around with the order, timing, and even try adding your own elements. If you have any questions or need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
To your optimal health, let the W.A.G.E.S begin!
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