In this article, we explore the art of the morning routine.
Read on to learn more, and also about how red light therapy may be one of the missing ingredients that could improve your day.
Morning Ritual Length: Is Two Hours Necessary?
It’s likely that you already have some form of morning routine. They’re almost necessary, just to be a functioning human being!
One of the key questions we start by asking is.. ‘how long do morning rituals really need to be?’
If you keep adding things, at some point you’ll be spending two hours every morning on a set of tasks that leave you exhausted before your work day even begins.
Excessive tasks in the morning may actually take time and energy away from your most productive activities.
Some of the most successful people wake up early, have a cup of coffee, and then get right to work. And, in some cases, this may actually be preferable to an hour of exercise, multiple sauna sessions, and meditation, which could leave you exhausted by eight AM.
This doesn’t mean that those other things aren’t important, just rather that expending time on them from five AM to eight AM every day may not be the optimal answer.
Morning Rituals: When Should You Wake Up?
Some high achievers follow Benjamin Franklin’s wisdom: ‘Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.’
The ideal time for you to wake up depends on some of the following things:
- Your circadian rhythm. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
- Your schedule. Do you need to be somewhere or get things done by a certain time? Will you have a busy day ahead or a mellow day?
- How quickly you wake up and how quickly you get ready for the day ahead, including whether you're getting kids ready for school
- Are you getting up so early that you’d have to go to bed at 8 or 9 PM to get eight hours of sleep?
'Hustle culture' used to emphasize the importance of being willing to work throughout the night. However, now, in many cases, it has turned on its head to prioritize good sleep hygiene over burning the midnight oil.
Morning Exercise Tips
Starting the day with exercise really wakes your body up. It obviously helps with weight loss and can keep you healthy. It also helps increase positive energy. It can even energize you to the point you don’t feel the need for a cup of coffee!
Exercising for even 15 minutes as part of a healthy morning routine can involve a brisk early morning walk to get some fresh air.
If you’re used to daily exercise but typically work out in the evening, try switching to a morning workout and see which works best for you. If you’re just starting, then stick to 15 minutes.
A favorite yoga practice called the sun salutation helps limber up your body and wakes up your organs. You could do several each morning followed by a quick walk while listening to uplifting music to start the day in a good mood.
Red light therapy goes along well with 15-20 minute morning stretching or yoga sessions.
It can also help to get sun exposure early in the morning, which may come along with a healthy dose of vitamin D.
The first meal of the day is important. What you put in your body first thing will influence how you feel and how your mind and body perform until lunch.
While many people feel that breakfast isn’t important and they grab an energy bar as they rush out the door, there are benefits to a healthy sit-down breakfast. A healthy breakfast morning routine is:
- A demonstration of self-love i.e. you care enough about yourself to prepare healthy meals for yourself.
- An opportunity to choose healthy foods that will truly nourish your body.
- A way to de-stress, if you don’t watch the morning news or scroll through your phone while eating or drinking a cup of coffee. A tranquil and undistracted breakfast routine can turn into a practice of mindfulness.
- An opportunity to connect with your family. If you make breakfast part of the perfect morning routine, it makes mornings less hectic for everyone!
Many of us are on autopilot in the morning, and this includes breakfast. Even a simple meal can become meaningful and pleasurable when we take the time to savor it, to enjoy a few extra moments with the simple pleasure of eating.
Another quick tip would be to try drinking a full glass of lemon water first thing in the morning. This wakes up your digestive system and helps you start the day off hydrated.
Morning Wellness Rituals
How much time do you actually take for yourself every day? Here’s your chance to boost your well-being by choosing a healthy morning ritual that may contribute to health, focus, better mood, and productivity.
Morning Rituals and Meditation
Meditation is a healthy morning routine because it primes your mind for the day. It reduces stress, helps you to focus, and promotes a positive attitude.
It’s a way to ease into the day, since it’s easier to meditate before your mind starts racing. Its anti-stress effects will also help you get a good night's sleep. Better sleep will make it easier to get up the next day.
If you don’t enjoy traditional meditation, you could give brainwave entrainment a try! Use technology to put yourself in a meditative state simply by listening to a soundtrack with embedded beats that guide your brain into meditation.
Meditation is also an antidote to social media distraction. It eliminates all exterior stimulation and forces the mind to dwell on its own thoughts, which can help rebuild the habit of sustained focus.
Visualization and Gratitude
Visualization and gratitude are powerful elements of an empowering morning routine. It may help to visualize accomplishing important tasks or on the achievement of a goal.
Not only does it feel good. Studies show that visualization can have many benefits. It helps you mentally rehearse achieving goals and to set your intentions for the day..
A morning routine of gratitude has been proven to boost moods and even improve your health.
The Value of Positive Affirmations
Making affirmations part of your morning routine might sound hokey, but they can make a huge difference in creating positive change.
Anything you say “I am” about, has a way of becoming your reality. Think about how many negative things you say attached to “I am” (I am not good enoug… I am no good at… and so on). Look at your health, relationships, and success. They are directly related to what you say and believe about yourself.
Start the day off by repeating one to three empowering "I am" affirmations, even if you don't believe them. Repetition of any statement will create neural pathways in the brain that makes it easier and easier to think along those lines. And then, your attitudes, choices, and actions follow: and so do your results.
You can say affirmations at any time… while you're in the shower, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, cooking, or during your morning commute.
Practicing of self-affirmations has been shown in functional MRI imaging to increase activation of the reward centers of the brain to include the medial prefrontal cortex, posterior cingulate cortex, ventral striatum and ventral medial prefrontal cortex, all of which are responsible for self-processing. By creating clear intentions you have the power to guide your brain's neural pathways towards creation of new processes and positive outcomes.
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical Therapy,
Dr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
Reading in the Morning
Reading for a few minutes can be a good part of your morning routine. Feed your mind with something inspiring and informational. Learning is the way to fast-track success. It can enhance your curiosity, help you solve problems, help inspire you, or simply help you escape for a while.
Reading also requires active thought and engagement, whereas most other mediums can be consumed with little to no attention. Thus, reading is a key part of keeping the brain healthy.
A morning routine of journaling for a few minutes can help you achieve goals, reduce anxiety, improve memory, and help boost problem-solving skills.
Write down your worries and leave them in your journal! If you “brain dump” worries into a journal, you don’t have to carry them with you in your mind all day long. The act of writing things down stimulates different parts of the brain which helps you become a better creative problem solver.
“Eat the Frog”
There’s an old saying that ‘if you eat the frog first, then the rest of your day will be easy by comparison!’
What this means is that you should do the hardest thing on your ‘to-do list’ first thing in your workday. This is an amazing and empowering suggestion to start the day ahead.
You'll find you'll have a more productive day when you're not stressing about doing the hard thing.
A willingness to ‘eat the frog’ also contributes to a more generally proactive stance about getting unpleasant things done that have to be done. Those unwilling to take this approach may find themselves putting off important tasks indefinitely, and that can stretch from days into years.
A cold shower may not seem like the most enticing morning routine. However, cold exposure is a big part of the culture in Scandinavia and has notable health benefits.
One study with 3,000 participants found that taking a daily cold shower (followed by a warm shower) for 30, 60, or 90 seconds for one month reduced illness. It also gets your blood flowing.
Meanwhile, a study on older adults suggests that washing your face with cold water improves memory and attention.
If you want to make a cold shower part of a healthy morning routine, it helps to start with a very short one and gradually build up to longer sessions. You may be surprised by how quickly you acclimate to taking longer showers that are freezing cold!
Avoid this morning ritual if you have a heart condition or if your doctor advises against it.
Red Light Therapy as a Morning Ritual
Red light therapy is a great morning routine that supports your health. It is a natural and non-invasive, light-based treatment. Red light therapy uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to shine red and/or near-infrared light onto the skin.
Wavelengths of light have different abilities to absorb into the body’s tissues. Red light is used to treat skin and hair conditions, whereas near-infrared light treats muscles, joints, and other tissues deeper in the body.
How Red Light Therapy Benefits Your Body
There are four main ways that red light therapy benefits your health:
Increased Cellular Energy Production
Each of your cells contains tiny organelles called mitochondria, which are responsible for cellular energy production. Sometimes, the mitochondria don’t work as efficiently as they could. This leaves your cells weak and vulnerable, in a condition called mitochondrial dysfunction, which is linked to every major disease.
Red light therapy triggers light-sensitive chromophores in the mitochondria, stimulating ATP production. Once cells are energized, they perform better. This includes cellular repair and regeneration.
Chronic inflammation is a major cause of mitochondrial dysfunction and therefore plays a role in all major diseases. Red light therapy reduces inflammation, which helps your cells to function normally.
Improved Blood and Lymph Circulation
Red and near-infrared light treatments increase blood and lymph circulation in skin tissue. They work beneath the skin, dilating blood and lymph vessels and promoting the growth of new vessels. This helps to bring oxygen and nutrients and removes waste and toxins. It also promotes cellular health and speeds up healing.
Increased Collagen and Elastin Production
As your only visible organ, your skin tells an important story of the state of your health. If you’re experiencing chronic skin disorders or you are aging rapidly, you can trace this back to mitochondrial dysfunction and the resulting inflammation that interferes with skin health. This includes the production of collagen and elastin.
Red and NIR light stimulates intradermal collagen density increase. In this study, patients reported significant improvements in skin tone and complexion after 1-4 months of regular use.
The anti-aging properties of red light therapy are well-documented. Starting your day with 15 minutes of red light therapy gives you the opportunity to not only boost your health, but enjoy meditation to reduce stress at the same time!
Uses for Red Light Therapy
Discover the many ways that red light therapy benefits your body in the Learning Center.
These include faster wound healing, anti-aging, the treatment of chronic skin conditions, muscle performance and recovery, faster return-to-play after sports injuries, scar reduction, arthritis pain reduction, low back pain, weight loss, hair regrowth, and much more.
Red Light Therapy for Home Use
Today, you can enjoy medical-grade light therapy devices at home.
You’ll get the best results using a quality red light therapy device that delivers maximum light energy to the skin.
Discover the industry-leading red light therapy devices and make red light therapy part of a healthy morning routine!