Why a Healthy Morning Routine is Important and How to Develop the Best One for You
“A year’s plan starts with spring. A day’s plan starts with morning.” – Chinese proverb
If you feel groggy or grumpy in the morning, and find yourself even more tired and restless as you go through the day, your morning routine (or lack of it) could be to blame.
You see, if you begin your day in a whirlwind of chaos and stress, you carry that chaos and stress with you throughout the day. On the other hand, if you begin your day with a relaxed attitude and an upbeat energy, then you equip yourself with the poise and vigor you need to face whatever that comes your way.
And in this post, I’m going to show you how you can create a healthy morning routine that will set the right tone for the rest of your day.
How to Have a Healthy Morning Routine
A healthy morning routine, in my opinion, provides three things to help us start our day:
- Fuel for our body
- Fuel for our mind
- Fuel for our spirit
All three work together to give us what we need to power through the day. No one thing is more important than the other, as they keep each other in beautiful balance.
This idea follows the “body-mind-spirit” model—an approach born out of holistic health practices of the East, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s hard to believe that this approach has only been gaining more recognition in conventional medicine only in recent years, when in fact, it’s been the way of life for ancient civilizations for thousands of years.
This is why I have a deep respect for ancient wisdom and try to embrace it wherever I can—starting with my morning routine.
So with the idea of the “body-mind-spirit” model in mind, let’s look at some healthy morning routine habits that you can incorporate into your own life.
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9 Healthy Morning Routine Habits to Jumpstart Your Day
1. Start Your Day With a Glass of Room-Temperatured or Lukewarm Water
How do I start my morning routine each day? With a glass of room-temperatured or lukewarm water.
I started this habit after learning that the Japanese have a ritual of drinking room-temperatured or lukewarm water first thing in the morning, and since they’re one of the healthiest people on earth, I was certain there must be something profound behind this simple habit.
And as it turned out, my hunch was right.
According to medical experts, there are many benefits to starting your day off with a glass of water.
Not only will it rehydrate your body after a long period of rest, but it will also help improve digestion and ensure your metabolism functions at an optimal level.
But why room-temperatured or lukewarm water? Many holistic health practices of the East discourage the drinking of cold water because it can disrupt digestion and cause stomach and intestinal cramps. It also interferes with the flow of your blood and “qi”—the vital life energy that flows within your body.
If you don’t like the taste of lukewarm water, try adding a wedge of lemon.
I’ve been practicing this habit as part of my daily morning routine for several years now and I can’t say enough good things about it. It makes me feel rejuvenated and helps keep my bowel movement regular. If you have issues with constipation, this healthy morning habit may just be the natural solution.
2. Belly Massage
If you’re like me and struggle with getting out of bed in the morning, a 2-minute belly massage may just be what you need to help you rise (and shine!)
Not only will it increase blood flow to your core, strengthening your abdominal muscles in the process, but it will also stimulate your internal organs and help move waste out of your system.
As someone who has been doing belly massages religiously for years, I can honestly say this stuff really works. It warms me up right away and fills me with the energy I need to get out of bed. And the best part is, I haven’t had a day of constipation since I started massaging my belly every morning. The effect is even more powerful (almost too powerful sometimes) when I drink a glass of water a few minutes before the massage.
Here’s how you do the belly massage (please consult your physician beforehand, if you’re pregnant):
- Start by lying on your back and placing your hands, one on top of the other, on the right side of your abdomen, approximately an inch away from your belly button.
- Apply light pressure and move your hands upwards in the direction of your ribs. When you reach the bottom of your diaphragm, move your hands over to the left side of your abdomen and down towards the pelvis bone.
- When your hands reach the pelvis bone, move your hands over to the right side and move upwards again.
- And repeat. Massage clockwise for a minute and then counter-clockwise for another minute.
3. Do Something You Love, Even Just for 5 Minutes
Research shows that engaging in leisurely activities we love brings a plethora of benefits—from decreasing our stress hormones and heart rate, to increasing our feelings of happiness and perception of health. And the list goes on and on.
So why not start your day by doing something you love? Whether it’s knitting, colouring, listening to music, or dancing—just do what makes you smile from the inside out, even if it’s just for a few precious minutes. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.
4. Practice Deep Breathing Exercises
Our breath is our life, and yet so many of us neglect our breathing.
We take shallow breaths with our chest that barely keeps our body oxygenated. Over time, this can lead to many ill effects—from anxiety and feelings of stress to muscle tension and posture changes.
Therefore, it’s imperative that we start the day by doing the one thing we all need to be doing properly, and that is breathing. And the best way to do this is by practicing deep breathing exercises.
Here’s a simple deep breathing exercise I do every morning, I call it the “Starfish”:
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Bend at the waist and lower your upper body as if you’re trying to touch your toes. While you do this, exhale until you feel like there’s no more air inside your lungs.
- Before you take another breath in, pause for 3-5 seconds (or however long your body is comfortable with).
- Take a long, deep breath (count to 5 while you inhale) into your belly while you return to an upright position.
- While doing so, extend your arms out to either side as far out as you can, as if you’re making the shape of a starfish with your body. You should feel a nice, relaxing stretch across your chest.
- When you’ve taken a full breath in, hold it for 3-5 seconds (or however long you’re comfortable with).
- Repeat the above steps 10 times.
I love how this exercise combines deep breathing with a good full-body stretch. Why not give it a try tomorrow morning?
5. Spend Time Petting Your Furbabies
Growing up, my family couldn’t afford to have pets, so I never really understood the bond between humans and their furry companions. That is, until I had pets myself.
Mojo, a confident and adventurous Russian Blue cat came into my life in 2019, then a few months later, Mew Mew, a reserved but energetic Ragdoll cat joined our gang. I don’t know how to explain the joy I feel every day from just looking at their faces and rubbing their cheeks. They’re truly the best things that have happened to me (oops, sorry hubby!)
You know what they say, love’s a mystery!
Well actually, there’s a perfectly good scientific explanation as to why we feel so happy when we pet our furry companions.
It has to do with oxytocin, a hormone in our body that creates that “warm and fuzzy” feeling that makes us feel safe and happy. Oxytocin is what I like to call “nature’s miracle drug”. Not only does it effectively buffer us against stress, but it also promotes growth and healing.
And what helps release oxytocin in our body? Physical touch—especially when we engage in physical touch with a loved one or a beloved animal.
So if you have pets, spend some time petting them every morning. Get some of that oxytocin flowing before you tackle the day!
6. Qigong Meditation
Qigong, like yoga, is a form of moving meditation. It combines deep breathing with targeted movements to help guide the flow of “qi” throughout our body.
Qigong meditation is a practice that will strengthen the body at the same time as it relaxes the mind, not to mention train your body to take deeper, fuller breaths.
And don’t worry, you don’t need a Qigong master to train you in order to reap its benefits—many forms of Qigong meditation are easy enough for anyone to learn and practice at home.
One of them is called the “8 Pieces of Brocade”.
As its name suggests, it combines 8 strategic movements with deep breathing practices to achieve powerful health effects on the body and the mind. It’s perfect for beginners and experts alike for its simplicity and effectiveness.
And it’s quick too—a full set of “8 Pieces of Brocade” will only take less than 15 minutes to do. If you have more time in the morning, I recommend you practice two sets at a time, but if not, one set, or even just a few movements combined with the proper breathing technique, will make a difference.
If I’ve successfully piqued your curiosity, here’s a video that will show you how to get started with the “8 Pieces of Brocade” Qigong meditation:
7. Practice Gratitude
Gratitude makes us happier, there’s no doubt about it.
If you’re still on the fence about the powers of gratitude, you need to check out this study from the University of Indiana, which is just one of many studies that show a positive link between gratitude and mental health.
And mornings are a great time to exercise our “gratitude muscles”. It can be as simple as mentally listing three things you’re thankful for as you brush your teeth.
But not everyone finds that spark of gratitude easily—especially when life’s in a downward spin. And that’s okay. The more you exercise your gratitude muscles, the stronger they will get. The key is consistency.
And if you’re not sure where to start, here are some simple and practical ways to help you find the inspiration for more gratitude in your life.
8. Eat a Balanced, Warm Breakfast
No morning is complete without a balanced breakfast. Research shows that a healthy breakfast may reduce the risk of illness, besides providing us with the energy and essential nutrients our body and our mind need.
And as a bonus, a balanced breakfast can help control weight by curbing hunger cravings. If you’ve ever skipped breakfast only to find yourself fantasizing about pizza at 10 a.m., you’ll know what I mean.
But what, exactly, is a balanced breakfast? Some think it’s sugar-laden cereal, while others think it’s a glass of cold green smoothie. Which is the best?
In my opinion, a balanced breakfast is first of all, warm. Or at least, not everything you eat is cold. (I’ll explain this in a second)
Secondly, it should be made out of natural, whole foods. If it came out of a box and it has ingredients that you can’t pronounce, then it’s not something you should eat often.
And last but not least, it should contain all of the major food groups—some carbs in the form of healthy grains, vegetables, or fruits; some protein—more plant than animal-based; and of course, some good fat—for example, avocados, olive oil, or nuts.
My philosophy to breakfast (and food in general) follows the principles of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Every natural food has a purpose and benefit and therefore we should consume a variety of natural foods, but everything in moderation.
And according to TCM, breakfast serves an important function in the upkeep of our overall health. Its purpose is to kickstart the body’s digestive system after a long period of rest, and to help promote the flow of “qi” within our body. Since both our digestive system and our “qi” like warmth, it’s important to have some warm foods in the morning.
9. Take a Contrast Shower
Taking cold showers can produce a number of health benefits from reducing our stress level, pain, and fatigue, to improving our circulation and metabolism.
But boy, are cold showers brutal. And I’m not so sure it’s good for everyone. When I started taking cold showers a few years ago, I suddenly started having the worst menstrual cramps, and I don’t usually get menstrual cramps. They stopped as soon as I stopped the cold showers.
But there are some real merits to cold showers that I couldn’t ignore. So what’s the solution? I started taking alternating cold and hot showers. One minute of hot shower then 30 seconds of cold (or however long you can tolerate), then back to hot, and repeat.
If you take a contrast shower in the morning, not only will it wake you up and fill you with energy, it will help keep your skin firm and glowing.
Dare to give it a try?
That’s it for my list of healthy morning routine ideas to help you start your day on the right foot. Did any of these ideas pique your interest? Do you have a healthy morning routine that you would like to share with me? I would love to hear from you!
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