Start your day feeling healthier and happier
Michelle von Hahn
Welcome to Next Gen Natural, a column where we share a Gen Z perspective on natural health and wellness. I’m Michelle—alive’s Digital Assistant and creator of the Healthy Num Num food blog. I love healthy living and want to inspire you to integrate wellness into all parts of your life, regardless of your age.
Fill your morning with intentional habits to set yourself up for a great day. I’ve experimented with various ways to optimize my morning routine, and these are some of the healthy habits that work well for me. We all have different priorities and schedules, so your ideal morning may include other tasks. Take inspiration from this list to find what makes you feel your best!
Challenge yourself to get up when that first alarm goes off. Repeatedly hitting the snooze button can make you feel groggier and more tired throughout the day. It takes time for your body to wake up, and multiple alarms continue interrupting your body as it tries to go back into rest mode. This causes your body to lose out on all that potentially restful sleep time.
Before consuming other drinks, such as coffee, drink a tall glass of water. I prefer warm water as it’s extra soothing and could help with constipation. You can also naturally flavor your water by adding lemon slices or powdered electrolytes.
While having an icy-cold shower generally doesn’t seem enticing, cold showers may improve your immune response, which is great for cold and flu season, and speed up your metabolism. Cold water immersion also boosts circulation by increasing blood flow to warm your body. It takes courage to turn the shower dial from hot to cold, but I always feel energized afterward.
Reflecting on several things you are grateful for helps you start the day with a positive mindset. Like mindfulness, gratitude helps you focus on the present and appreciate what you have. Start by writing down or saying aloud one to four things you are grateful for each morning. You can also try practicing gratitude the night before, as doing so has been shown to improve quality and duration of sleep.
Start your day on the right side of the bed by moving as soon as you can after waking up. Even if you prefer to work out in the evening, exercise helps your body wake up and improves circulation. Your morning movement can be as simple and quick as a five-minute stretch or short walk around the neighborhood.
Positive affirmations are phrases or statements said out loud or written down that are used to deflect negative thoughts. Studies show that positive affirmations decrease stress and increase well-being. A couple of examples include “I believe everything will be okay” and “I’m doing my best.” Reciting positive affirmations helps whenever I have anxious thoughts.
I aim to avoid making my phone the first thing I look at. Try setting a goal of completing everything in your morning routine and going as long as you can without looking at a screen. While it can be tempting to check my notifications, I’m in a less stressed and overwhelmed headspace after starting my day this way.
Open the blinds to expose your eyes to natural sunlight. This signals to your body that it’s time to wake up. Even if it’s a cloudy morning, I try to take a few minutes to look outside—instead of, for example, at a phone screen. Sometimes, I take it one step further by standing outside to expose my eyes and body to direct sunlight and breathe in fresh air.
Deep breathing has been shown to help ease anxiety and reduce stress. Although there are several breathwork techniques, I aim to just take a few deep breaths in and out whenever I need to calm any anxious thoughts about the day ahead.
Most North Americans skip breakfast or opt for a low-protein choice like cereal—even though a protein intake of at least 30 g is ideal at breakfast time. Adding about 10 extra grams of protein to your breakfast is as easy as including a boiled egg, scoop of protein powder, or tablespoon of peanut butter. Prepare a protein-packed breakfast the night before if you know you’ll have a busy morning.