Today, we begin our Healthy, Balanced Life series. We start with what happens when you wake and when you go to sleep. The end caps of your day have a huge impact on your overall health.
Healthy Balanced Life Tip #1: Create a Morning Routine
Why I do this: One of the biggest game-changers for me was establishing a morning routine. I set aside time for myself every morning. Ideally, my kids are still asleep during this time, but I have early risers, so I set the expectation that they will not disturb me until 7am. They can play with their toys upon waking as I am doing my own thing, uninterrupted. (Note: I have small kids so this is not executed flawlessly, but the understanding exists between all and it is respected more times than not).
I have a few different practices I use depending on how I feel and how much time I have, but being consistent about my morning routine directly affects my mood for the day, how much patience I have with my kids, my energy levels throughout the day, and my productivity.
On days I’m very short on time, it usually means I have not been getting to bed early enough and I slept longer than usual. On these days, I roll out my yoga mat and do 3 – 10 sun salutations. Then I go through a series of stretches specific to my pelvic PT, IT Band tightness, and just good over all body flexibility and mobility. During my sun salutations, I state something I am grateful for, daily intentions and personal affirmations.
Taking time to focus on what you are grateful for, helps you live more in the moment. Setting daily intentions helps to keep you focused on what you want to accomplish and less likely to engage in distracting tasks and activities that do not serve you well. Self-talk is powerful. When it’s positive and affirming you can tackle challenges with more confidence, stay rooted in strong self-worth, and cope with stress easier.
On days I have a little more time, I do my sun salutations and stretches, plus a 15-30 minute workout. I have a series of things I can do in my home, so it’s super easy and super convenient. I can incorporate weight bearing exercise that is so important for my body as I get older. Once or twice a week, I sub a 15 mile bike ride, 30 minute swim or 45 minute walk for the in-home exercise. It all depends on the weather and what I feel like doing. And my time constraints are on based on the fact that if I want to take my exercise outside of the home, I have to be up early enough to finish it all before my husband needs to leave for work.
On these longer days, not only have I practiced gratitude, set my daily intentions, affirmed myself and limbered up my body, but I have sweat out some toxins in my body and produced a bunch of endorphins. Endorphins energize you and promote feelings of happiness. Exercise also revs up your metabolism, and when done in the morning, helps you burn more calories all day long.
Healthy Balanced Life Tip 1: Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
Why I do this: First, it helps me get to sleep faster every night if I have followed my routine, and I can’t do Healthy Balanced Life Tip #1 if my sleep is not restful or long enough. Adults need 7-9 hours of restful sleep in order to reap the benefits. People who are consistently getting good sleep tend to weigh less, have more energy, are less prone to injury, have reduced levels of stress and inflammation, are more focused and productive, and their hormones aren’t riding a daily roller coaster. When you are getting adequate and consistent sleep, you likely won’t need an alarm clock. You will wake up within the same 15 minute window each day. Hence my different morning routines!
Best Practices: First, you need to figure out your ideal amount of sleep. For me, it’s 9 hours, and I know that I need to be up by a certain time every morning to keep my morning routine sacred. So, based on that morning time, I back calculated to figure out what time I need to have lights out.
Now, start winding down 30 minutes prior to lights out. Lighting during this time is crucial. Turn down lights and power off devices and the tv. The light from screens tells your body it’s daytime and you start producing the hormone serotonin, which tells your body to wake up. This is why some people experience a “second wind” late in the evening or fall asleep and wake up a few hours later, and then can’t fall back asleep. Turning down the lights and powering off will relax you and tell your body to produce melatonin, the hormone that tells your body to fall asleep and stay asleep. During this down time, do something relaxing like drinking a cup of tea, reading a book, or taking a warm bath infused with essential oils. There are lots of relaxing activities, so figure out what is best for you.
Consistency is the key. And once you’ve retrained your circadian rhythm, then the occasional late night will not set you back too badly.
Give these Healthy, Balanced Life tips a try. Set up your mornings and nights well, and by the end of this series, you will feel better rested, have more energy and you will be starting your days in much better moods! If you feel like you need guidance and support in creating a Healthy, Balanced Life, get in touch with me. I’d love to give you more support.