By: Aaron Brewer MS, CSCS, PES, CF-L2, USAW-SPC
As winter approaches so does the risk of seasonal affect disorder. A lot of people suffer from this form of depression during the cold, gray months of the winter season. Not to mention to loss of an hour of daylight. With that, it is even more important that we control the things that can make us feel better each day.
Most of us begin our days the same. You hit snooze 2-3 times before finally getting out of bed. Then you rush getting ready and maybe grab a breakfast bar as you run out of the door. Then there’s a good chance you get stuck in traffic. And all of this stress has occurred before you have even set foot in your workplace (probably more stress coming your way)
So here are a few tips to help you start your day off better and reduce stress. And you only need to devote 20-30 mins.
1.Don’t Hit Snooze. I know its easier said than done. One tip for this is to place your phone/alarm on the other side of the room so that you are forced to get out of bed to turn it off. The next tip is to change your annoying alarm sound to a favorite song (Mine is set to JT Can’t Stop The Feeling). Yes it may be stuck in your head all morning, but signing also helps reduce stress haha. No really this will help.
2.Drink Water. Be sure that the first thing you consume in the morning is going to benefit you! I like to mix a berries and greens mix by Driven Nutrition in with about 8 oz of water. Then I can have a coffee =)
3.Breathe. Oxygen is a pretty vital part of life, so why not flood your body with it the first thing when you wake up. Adding breathing exercises to your morning routine has many benefits such as lowering stress levels, increased focus, increased energy levels and improved recovery and healing. Try this belly breathing exercise
- Sit down comfortably, or lay down. I prefer to lay down.
- Place one of your hands on your stomach, just below your ribs. Place the second hand on your chest.
- Breathe in deeply through your nose letting your first hand be pushed out by your stomach. Your hand on your chest shouldn’t move.
- Breathe out through your lips, as if you were about to whistle. Gently guide the hand on your stomach inwards, helping to press out the breath.
- Slowly repeat between 3 and 10 times.
There are more advanced breathing exercises that you can try once you have learned how to breathe properly. I really like the exercises in the book “The Way Of The Seal” by Mark Divine. Check it out. It’s a great book to own and read regardless.
- Move. Add in a small routine of stretches, self deep tissue work and exercise. Get a foam roll and spend some time rolling your calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes (butt muscles). You will notice the benefits of foam rolling pretty quickly. Also, add in some simple body weight exercises. Lunges, sit ups, squats, push ups and planks. All are very easy to learn and can be modded for most levels of fitness. Try this:
10 Forward lunges (5 each leg)
10 Push ups (modified position to scale)
10 Sit ups
10 Second plank hold
Add rounds as it becomes easier. Assess how you feel after each round.
- Eat. Be sure to eat breakfast. I know you’ve heard the line “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. So listen to what your Mother told you and make it happen. You don’t need to make a huge breakfast. Even something as simple as an apple with peanut butter or a greek yogurt and some granola is much better than nothing at all. I personally like to make a smoothie in the morning for my two boys and I. Here is what I put in mine
- Frozen Blueberries
- Greens Powder
- 10-12 oz almond milk
- 1 Tbsp peanut butter
- 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
- Frozen avocado slice
Creating a morning routine isn’t easy. Why? Well because it makes us change our current habits and behaviors. I would recommend starting slow and adding in maybe 2 or 3 of the above suggestions. You need a routine thats sustainable. Going all in from day one may set you up for a crash and burn. So after a couple weeks of adding in 2 of the above suggestions then add another and continue that pattern until it has become habit. I wish you the best of the luck and I hope this helps you start each day better. Remember we are only here for a little while. So make each day awesome.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me [email protected]