5 Morning Health Hacks to Boost Productivity and Keep You Energised All Day
The life of a leader, entrepreneur and business professional is not an easy one. Busyness, high stress situations and finding that delicate balance between work and life are a natural part of the role. If we don’t sustain our resilience, optimism and energy with these pressures, it often leads to burnout, fatigue and anxieties.
If you find yourself waking tired despite a good nights sleep, crashing out in the afternoon, feeling a general level of overwhelm or anxiety and suffer brain fog, these may be signs that you’re already on your way to burnout and imbalance.
Experiencing just one day of these symptoms can push your productivity, creativity, mood and enjoyment back tremendously. Therefore, for success in business, and in life, it's important to set yourself up right and introduce tools to put yourself in the best possible state, daily. This means to put your health first. In my clinical practice I've seen many entrepreneurs, CEO’s and top executives who have crashed and burned before realising they need to make themselves and their health a priority.
When it comes to our health, drastic life changes are difficult to implement and hard to sustain. What it comes down to is adopting small routines that we can easily maintain. This is what makes a long-term difference in how we feel and operate and the key to all this starts with how we begin each day.
In Ayurveda, we say the way you start your day, sets your tone for the rest of the day. Ayurveda has a big emphasis on the daily routine to maintain, persevere and create abundant health and well-being. To be more productive, active, alert and ‘on to it’ throughout the day we need to have a morning routine that sets us up and creates a positive state of mind.
If you’re ready to upgrade your health and well-being one day at a time, here’s a look at 5 simple morning hacks that can make a big difference.
1. Sync with your body clock - your circadian rhythm.
The Circadian Rhythm – Body Clock regulates the (approximately) 24-hour cycle of biological processes. There are patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration, and other biological activities linked to this 24-hour cycle. Basically, its function is to keep the body functioning in balance (homeostasis.) Essentially the circadian rhythm is your daily sleep-wake cycle.
The key for excellent health, energy, and sleep is to connect your cellular clocks with the natural ebb and flow of nature’s cycles, so you live a life of balance and vitality. But most of us have irregular circadian rhythms due to waking up at random times, staying inside all day, not going to bed when we are tired and being exposed to artificial blue light from our many devices. Research has found when we live out of sync with our body clock it can lead to brain damage, accelerated ageing, hormones disturbances, metabolic issues and sleep disorders. Day to day though, it impacts us significantly as we may feel exhausted at random hours during the day, then wide awake during the night. Our appetite is all over the place, and concentration is difficult. All of this making it hard to function at our peak.
Luckily, we can reset our circadian rhythm quite easily.
The best way to regulate your body clock is to adjust your sleep-wake cycle. This means going to bed at the same time every day, and waking at the same time every day, ideally at sunrise.
You can also expose yourself to sunlight throughout the day as our body clock is regulated by light. Get outside at least three times a day during sunrise, midday and within two hours of sunset. The light frequency from the sun at those times will regulate our circadian rhythm to elevate moods, boost the metabolism, decrease the stress hormones and combat afternoon fatigue and nighttime insomnia.
2. Wake up peacefully.
In the first hour or so of your day, focus on the self first - take the time to focus on your mental, emotional and physical health. Taking the time to nourish and check in with yourself puts you in the best possible state for the day ahead. It supports you in building resilience, clarifying your goals for the day and establishes bright, calm energy that will carry with you throughout the day.
There is a saying in our mediation tradition that explains how we need to be like the archer. First, the archer draws the arrow back, moving it to a state of stillness. It's only then can the arrow move forward with more energy, dynamism and precision to hit the target. We are the same. We need to move the mind inward in the morning to then be more dynamic, active and successful in the day ahead.
There was a survey that found 89% of mobile users check their phones within the first hour of waking up - usually to check work emails. Doing this not only harms your circadian rhythm but puts the brain into an immediate stress response, creating an anxious and urgent state of mind that carries with you throughout the day. It puts you in a state of reaction and action, instead of a reflective and calm state to tune into your own needs and priorities.
So instead of reaching for the phone on rising, create a morning routine that feels good for you. Meditate, journal, expressing gratitude, exercise or watch the sunrise and get some fresh air outside. You’ll feel much better for it.
3. Change up your coffee routine.
Coffee is a saviour for many. I know many clients who can't get into the day without first having a cup, or two! Their daily habit is to wake up and head straight to the coffee machine. While caffeine does give us an energy hit to face the day, having it first thing on rising actually puts our physiology in a negative state - it messes without bodies chemistry, weakening our resilience.
Coffee works by releasing stress hormones into our system - this is how we get that ‘get up and go’ feeling. Having coffee first thing in the morning on an empty stomach activates your stress response more profoundly, making you more on edge throughout the day. This is quite taxing and weakening to the nervous system, leaving you more vulnerable to stressors, anxiety and fatigue.
Change up your coffee routine and have your daily cup of mid-morning after food.
4. Meditation for success without stress.
Meditation is the number one practice to include into your morning routine for success, balance and health.
A morning meditation practice introduces a calmer mindset and clearer perspective throughout waking hours. Just 20 minutes in the morning has the potential to regulate cortisol (the stress hormone) and increase serotonin (our happy brain chemical) — ultimately building our resilience to stress and feelings of anxiety. It powerfully shifts your state to one that can better deal with whatever life challenges come your way.
People who meditate report a reduction in stress, improved concentration and enhanced creativity, relaxation, optimism and awareness.
NOTE: If you’d like to learn to meditate, please be in touch. We run courses monthly.
5. Take a brain-boosting breakfast.
Food impacts our cognitive performance. Most foods we eat (vegetables, fruits, grains) are converted by our body into glucose, which provides the energy our brain and muscles need to function and stay alert.
We need to understand that not all foods are processed by our bodies the same way or at the same rate.
Some foods like refined carbohydrates including white bread and processed cereals release their glucose quite quickly, leading to a quick burst of energy, followed by a slump. Dragging our energy and moods down with it by mid-morning.
Others, like heavy and high fat meals like bacon and fried eggs, etc. provide a little more sustained energy, but require our digestive system to work harder, reducing oxygen to the brain, making us groggy.
Therefore, when it comes to our daily fuelling, we should adopt a diet that balances blood sugar for sustained energy, increases our happiness and creativity, supports digestion, and leads to overall peak performance and productivity.
What we require in the morning is complex carbohydrates, good fats and protein.
Porridge, wholegrain cereals and muesli are fantastic breakfasts to have. They provide a dose of complex carbohydrates for sustained energy release throughout the morning. You can add a serve of healthy fats like hemp seeds, avocado oil, coconut oil, MCT oil, almonds or walnuts that will boost brain power, regulate sugars and balance hormones.
Give these simple hacks a go and note how you feel throughout the day. Just remember its the small routines over time that make a big difference in our lives.
What habits can you let go of that no longer serve you? Which small habits in your morning routine puts you in the best state to take on the day?
Author: Tegan Wallis
Tegan is a Naturopath, Ayurveda Health Consultant and Yoga Teacher at Griffith Consulting's sister company, Veda Wellness.
Tegan is one of Griffith Consulting's key program facilitators and specialises in workplace health & wellness.
For more information about Tegan or her services, please go to: www.vedawellness.com.au