I’m not a morning person. Let’s be honest, my warm bed, snuggled up with my kitties, is much more appealing than doing chores or work. I have often struggled with myself to try and get up earlier. And I have a little bit of healthy envy for those who can hop out of bed as soon as their alarms go off, ready to meet the day. There are struggles with mornings when you aren’t a morning person, which we will talk about more, but there are also morning self-care rituals that you can implement to help you gently and effectively help make transition to waking a little easier. Boosting your mood, awakening your body, increasing energy, and giving you that healthy glow. Read on to find out what 7 Morning Self-Care Rituals for Healthy Living.
Science of Sleep
Scientifically, there are actual biological reasons whether or not it’s easy for you to get out of bed. In one study analyzing the genes of 90,000 people, they found that there are 15 genes that are specifically related to circadian rhythm (our natural sleep cycles) and preferences for morning or night (1). Basically, your genetics significantly impact your sleep cycles. The study also identified that people that are “night owls” tend to higher levels of obesity and depression. Yikes.
While it may be difficult for some (or many) of us to get out of bed, our quality of sleep effects our health. That is why I wanted to learn and practice healthy habits that will help reinforce my ability to wake up early. It’s good to know your biological preferences, but you can also create habits that shift or change your body’s natural tendency. Not working against it, but with your body, to help coax you into a more positive association with waking up in the morning.
In general, Ayurvedic tradition suggests the best time to awake is sometime shortly before sunrise (2). Although, not all bodies are the same. In general, as we age, we naturally tend to wake up earlier (6). So if you are in your 20’s, you probably aren’t waking up with the sun, am I right?
Self-Care for Healthy Living
Anytime there is an opportunity to implement “self-care,” I’m into it. I think there is an inherent value in making the care for our bodies and minds a priority. It saddens me when people truly believe they can’t take care of themselves. “I don’t have time!” “I have too many things to do, I can’t even keep my head on straight!” I empathize with these sentiments because they are result of a society that values productivity and maximizing time and effort. If we lived in Thailand or Tibet or Jamaica, I doubt we would be saying things like that.
However, the truth is that self-care rituals can be as simple as making your bed or brushing your teeth. Most of us practice self-care everyday, we just don’t label it as such. Self-care rituals can be found in many if not most cultures around the world. Tea ceremonies, prayer, meditation, food preparation, bathing. There is so much universality in self-care, its a wonder we haven’t honed in on it sooner.
The reality is that self-care fuels us to be our best selves. It nourishes our body and soul, helping lubricate our intricate parts to help things run more smoothly. Especially in a society where stress is high, it’s even more valuable to stop and take a little bit extra time in our mornings to help set us up for success. Without further ado, here are 7 morning self-care rituals to start practicing to help boost your radiance and live a healthy lifestyle.
1. Warm lemon water upon waking
This is one of the easiest practices one can incorporate into their morning routine. It’s simple, warm some water in a kettle, pour 1/2 cup into a mug, squeeze in the juice of half a fresh lemon, and drink. This self-care ritual holds its roots in Ayurvedic tradition and is said to help set the tone for the day, helping provide vitamins and minerals. Plus the warm water helps to stimulate your digestive track for proper detox (2). If for no other reason, you are getting a warm, soothing form of hydration. In general, try to hydrate your system in the morning as well as you can. Plus a daily dose of extra vitamin C? Could be good for your immune health as well.
2. Gentle stretching and yoga
Once your eyes open, your body has already been activating to help you wake up. The process can continue for another couple of hours or so, as your body works to loosen up and activate blood flow and your metabolism. Gentle stretching and yoga poses are said to help increase blood flow to the brain, help loosen up tight or creaky muscles and joints, releasing tension, improve spinal health, and stimulates the release of endorphins (3). You can even begin your gentle stretches while still in bed, before you even put your feet on the ground. You could try child’s pose, gentle spinal twists, or cat-cow pose. Or, keep your yoga mat by your bed begin with a few gentle asanas or flows. For a nice sequence of stretches, check out this article here.
3. Meditation, breath work, gratitude and self-affirmations
In addition to activating the body gently, it’s important to incorporate a spiritual practice into your morning self-care rituals. Whatever your beliefs, the act of calming and focusing your mind and seeking to focus on positivity, such as mantras, prayers, or self-affirmations, can set the intention for the day. Without the pause to reflect on the emotions or thoughts we wish to cultivate, we may get swept away into negativity and mindless tasking, which drains our energy and may lead to more stress. So whether you are still in bed, or after you have done a few stretches, take a moment and actively focus on your breath. If you like, add in one or two mantras or self-affirmations. This can be done with your eyes closed or in front of a mirror. Sitting for even 10-15 minutes a day can significantly impact your overall mood and resilience.
4. Make your bed, tidy your space
This is often overlooked as a self-care ritual. Well, at least in our culture. There are many traditions, such as Zen Buddhism and other monastics, that incorporate cleaning into their overall spiritual practice. Even on a psychological level, making the bed and tidying your space sets a backdrop of peace and tranquility and can actually promote happiness (4). If you don’t have time for anything else, at least make the bed. Do it as soon as you get up. Once you do so consistently, it becomes an easy and healthy self-care ritual that can help improve your environment and set a tone of accomplishment each day.
5. Cleansing and moisturizing your face
Our face takes on a lot every night as we sleep. It gets squished, it releases heat, and loses moisture (2). It is often the only part of our body exposed at night. Our skin is a delicate yet resilient part of our body. We need to give our faces some special attention in the morning. And if we have a self-care routine we love for our face, it’s one more small thing to look forward to in the morning. For expert approved, basic face care: 1) Wash your face 2) Use a toner 3) Apply serum or oil and eye cream 4) Apply moisturizer 5) Apply some kind of sunscreen. Always research what kinds of ingredients are in your skin care products. Be aware of chemicals and harmful preservatives and any products that contain alcohol, which could dry or irritate the skin.
6. Tongue scraping and oil pulling
Oral health is no joke. Our mouths are full of bacteria and the potential for complications from neglect can cause a lot of harm. In ayurveda rituals, the mouth is cared for above and beyond. Starting the day with tongue scraping to remove “ama” or bacteria that grows on the tongue while we sleep, is a perfect example of a healthy self-care ritual (2). Follow your tongue scraping with oil pulling, the ancient technique of swishing (and spitting) with oils, such as coconut, olive, or sesame oil. The trick is to not swallow any of the oil but to keep swishing for up to 15 minutes, which many purport draws toxins from the mouth. Many oils also contain vitamins and minerals which actually promote healthy gums and enamel (2). Follow your oil pulling with your normal teeth brushing.
7. Eating a proper breakfast
While some prefer to skip breakfast, there is a reason why it is referred to as the “most important meal of the day.” Eating in the morning is always a good idea, as it helps aid in waking up and igniting our metabolism. There is also evidence to support that eating a healthy breakfast contributes to higher mental and physical performance as well as overall improved nutrition intake (5). There is no need to gorge yourself on heavy foods, which in fact will work against you. But ideally, eat something moderately light but nutritious such as fruit and grains, yogurt, and low-sodium vegetable juice. Something with some protein and fiber but also good carbohydrates to begin to fueling the body immediately.
There are many self-care rituals you can incorporate into your morning everyday. Here were a few to help inspire a healthful, positive transition to waking. Hopefully, you are able to take 30 minutes of your morning to devote to just you, caring for your mind, body, and soul. What are your self-care morning rituals? Has anything been helpful for you to transition from sleep to awake? Feel free to post your questions, comments, or concerns below. Thanks for reading!