Woman to Woman: Top 7 Ways to Start Your Day
By Sharon Liao
In a perfect world, you’d leap out of bed and cross off half of your to-do list before heading out the door. The reality? It takes three hits of the snooze button and two cups of coffee before you can muster enough energy to drag yourself back to the daily grind. But you can break out of an a.m. slump -- without overhauling your entire life.
Work these seven tweaks into your daily routine, and soon you’ll have so much spring in your step, you’ll become known as a morning person. Rise and shine, indeed.
1. Stretch it out
Instead of immediately stumbling out of bed, take a moment to do a simple yoga move. Extend your arms over your head and feet in the opposite direction while taking three deep belly breaths. “This move increases circulation throughout your body, which may help you gradually transition into wakefulness,” says Jeremy Fahey, a yoga instructor in New York City.
2. Raise the shades
“Sunlight tells your brain to cease production of melatonin, a hormone that causes drowsiness,” explains Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and the author of Beauty Sleep: Look Younger, Lose Weight, and Feel Great Through Better Sleep. So let there be light. Keep blinds open to allow the sun to enter in the morning. Along with being more alert, you may also find yourself singing in the shower: Research reveals that light can also increase levels of serotonin, the mood-boosting brain chemical.
3. Decorate with flowers
Channel your inner Martha Stewart and adorn your bedside stand with a container of daisies, or place a potted violet on your kitchen table. Catching a glimpse of fresh blooms in the a.m. can make you happier, less stressed and more energetic all day long, according to a recent study from Harvard University. To keep your buds beautiful, fill the vase with a mix of one part water to three parts lemon-lime soda.
4. Drink up!
Before you shuffle to the coffee pot, pour yourself a tall glass of water. “You need water in the morning to flush out your system and replenish the fluids you lost throughout the night,” says Sharon Richter, a registered dietitian based in New York City. What’s more, research shows that even a 1 percent to 2 percent dip in your hydration levels -- the point at where you start to feel thirsty -- can increase fatigue.
5. Have a breakfast of champions
To stay powered up all morning, you need carbohydrates for energy and protein to keep you full and satisfied, says Richter. A few of her favorite breakfast choices include low-fat yogurt with fruit and high-fiber cereal; whole-wheat toast with peanut butter and a banana; and oatmeal topped with nuts and raisins. Bonus: Fiber gives you an instant boost.
Researchers from Cardiff University in Wales found that people who ate a breakfast with at least 6 grams of fiber had 10 percent more energy throughout the morning than those who consume smaller amounts of fiber. That’s because fiber can help the body utilize energy-boosting nutrients and healthy fats, say researchers.
6. Get minty fresh
Don’t save the mint for your toothpaste: According to a study from Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, people who whiffed peppermint felt 30 percent more alert and 25 percent less frustrated. Try lathering up with a mint-scented soap.
7. Add some sparkle.
Still feeling sluggish? Fake perkiness with some makeup. “Shimmer powder brightens and illuminates the face,” says Brooke Glaser, a makeup artist for “Good Morning America.” Using a fluffy brush, sweep a shimmer-infused pink blush in a C-shape around the eye.
Sharon Liao is an award-winning health editor and writer who has been on staff at Prevention, Fitness, and Reader's Digest magazines. She has contributed to Seventeen and Weight Watchers Magazine, as well as The Intellectual Devotional: Health
Woman to Woman: "Top 7 Ways to Start Your Day"