Could Adding This 5-Minute Routine to Your Mornings Make All the Difference?

For most of my life, I recall making this statement: I love being up early in the morning, but I hate getting up early.

Mornings felt brutal. I was achy from sleeping, I would start thinking about how much I needed to get done during the day, and I could feel the stress creeping in before I felt like I was even fully conscious. I would wish that I could just sleep in, but that wasn’t an option.

For me, mornings always started slow, and while I still prefer to take my time, I no longer feel that prolonged groggy start to the morning once I’m out of bed. What made all the difference was a small change I made to my morning routine.

It’s frequently said that starting the morning with exercise is a great way to get your day going, and for many people that works quite well. Exercise has major benefits, like helping to improve your overall mood and increase energy levels, both of which are nice to have throughout the day.

But what if your mornings don’t allow for that on a consistent basis, or at all?

I wanted a quick way to start every day off on the right foot. Ever since I’ve been doing this, I’ve noticed a few things. After finishing the routine:

– Any pain and stiffness I had in my body that I woke up with was gone. (I used to notice it throughout the morning.)

– I stopped feeling stressed about work I had to do and felt much more excited about starting the day.

– I started to enjoy the rest of my morning routine rather than feeling like it was a groggy necessary evil I had to get through to get on with the rest of the day.

And I could make those things happen in 5 minutes. Want to know how? 🙂

I started to think about everything I had learned over time and what things were effective in the areas I wanted to improve: body aches, stress, and mindset. By doing three different activities over the course of 5 minutes, I was able to make those improvements. Here’s what I did:

1. Breathing + Stretching (2 minutes)

For me, what worked really well was combining breathing and stretching, and I chose the half sun salutation, a yoga movement, for that. Half sun salutations allowed me to invest deeply in breathing, and the inhalation and exhalation are coordinated with the stretch movements, which gives the nice added bonus of focus. Almost anyone can do this exercise – it doesn’t require getting on the floor or putting any pressure on the knees. 6-8 of these take up my 2 minutes.

2. Power Posing (2 minutes)

I was introduced to Amy Cuddy’s “power pose” study as part of my Social Emotional Arts certification. The results proven by this study are fascinating, and I highly recommend watching her TED talk on it. The premise is that our body language can affect not only how we are viewed by others but also our own performance, and that certain poses can actually change our body chemistry in as little as 2 minutes.

There are three basic power poses: placing the hands on the hips, holding the arms up in a V shape (victory!), and placing the hands behind one’s head with the elbows out. Cuddy’s research showed that holding these positions for 2 minutes increased testosterone levels, decreased cortisol levels (the hormone that is triggered by stress), and increased feelings of being powerful and being able to handle risk. Conversely, positions where the body was collapsed and small caused the opposite in both feeling and chemistry. I power pose for two minutes. You can set a timer, or I just count seconds since it’s a short period of time.

3. Drink and Think (1 minute)

The human body is made up of 55-60% water, and anyone who has ever been dehydrated knows that things go south fairly quickly when that’s the case. The body needs water to thrive and operate efficiently.

We can lose up to a pound of water weight overnight due to respiration and perspiration. That’s a pint (just under .5 liter) of water. If we lose water and then drink something caffeinated in the morning like coffee or an energy drink, we’re going to lose even more water, since caffeine is considered to be a diuretic. So, while you won’t become dehydrated just because you have caffeine, you can imagine that losing water and then continuing to keep water from your system will not allow it to operate optimally. For the body’s performance, fluids are not the same as water.

I grab a 16 oz. cup of water every morning, and while I’m drinking it, I think about one thing that I will do that day to move me closer to my goals. (Note: if you haven’t had a sit down with yourself about your ideas and goals, do it! The motivation to move forward is not very strong when you haven’t decided what you are moving toward and what that looks like to you…). It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but I want to choose one task. A day of work without any sort of forward personal growth can leave you feeling like you’re just going through the motions of life. And that’s a path toward burnout.

That’s it! Three simple things that made all the difference for me. And while I can only speak for myself, maybe it will make a difference for you too. If you try it out, let me know what you think!

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