Four morning habits that can wreck your day
Common behaviors that start your day on the wrong foot.
What’s the first thing you did this morning? Brush your teeth? Make tea? Wash your face? No to all three? Guess again. You reached for your phone. You’ve barely gotten out of bed and you’re already lost in the cyber world of emails, messages and more, in effect giving everyone but yourself the power to start your day like you should. Sure, there’s plenty that can go wrong in the a.m. The maid shows up late (or not at all), your daughter’s running a fever, you hit a traffic jam on your way to work or you forget your umbrella when it’s pouring. There are some things that are simply out of your hands but there are plenty of small morning habits—like reaching for your phone—that start you off on the wrong foot. Wait, there’s hope! You can set yourself up for the best day possible by ditching four morning habits that are bringing you down.
# 1 Letting your phone take over
Recent studies suggest that more than 80% of adults sleep with their phones right next to their beds. But why is such close proximity to your cellphone so bad for you? You’re letting your inbox—and not you—take control of your day. Think about it. All your emails are about things to do, things to buy, places to go, people to meet and deadlines to keep. In essence, it’s about all the stuff people want you to do. So by checking your phone first thing in the morning you’re allowing others to set your priorities even before you’ve even eating breakfast.
Obviously it’s a habit you need to break starting tomorrow because all its doing is set you up for all day stress. Instead, spend the first hour of each day doing the things you love and calm you. Sip a cup of tea, watch the sun rise, pray, read the papers, talk to your partner. These activities center you, boost productivity and get your creative juices flowing.
# 2 You stretch as soon as you wake up
It’s a common habit, and boy, does it feel good! Stretching creaky joints to get the knots out. But this habit is fraught with danger. Back stretches first thing in the morning puts the discs in your back under pressure. Spinal discs become hydrated and expand through the night which puts more pressure on them when you sit upright in the morning. When you stretch the minute you wake up, the action puts abnormal stress on your spine that can lead to chronic back pain, neck strain and frozen shoulder. Start by loosening up with small morning activities like using the bathroom, washing your face and making tea for about ten to fifteen minutes before some light stretches.
# 3 Scrimping on breakfast
You’ve probably heard it countless times before but I’ll say it again. It really is a good idea to start your day with a proper breakfast, not a ‘healthy’ breakfast bar or fistful of biscuits. Most of us start the day promising to be good. Which usually translates into a single whole wheat toast or a fruit or just a bowlful of dahi. It might sound virtuous enough but it’s setting you up for a binge later in the day. You need a breakfast that not just makes you feel full but supplies you with adequate nutrition so that you feel full for the rest of the day. So what should you be eating? The ideal breakfast should have about 15 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fiber, some complex carbs and healthy fat, toting up to about 450 calories. This is equal to two whole wheat toast, an egg white omelet and a small bowl of oats porridge with a sliced fruit. You could replace the omelet with a besan/mung chilla, 100 grams of cottage cheese or a bowl of sprouts.
Increasingly, studies are pointing to the role oat bran plays in curbing appetite. Appetite magazine published the findings of a study where 30 healthy and slim women were given four different variations on biscuits and juice on separate days. Some breakfast options were fortified with more oat bran than others, while others had no oat bran at all. After eating each breakfast, the participants were asked how full they were. The results: They felt most full after eating the meal with the most oat bran, while the meal without any oat bran had them the hungriest. Aim to get four to eight grams of oat fiber which translates to a large bowl of oat porridge or two to four oat bran rotis.
# 4 Stoking up on coffee
There’s good and bad news here. While studies suggest that coffee prevents cognitive decline, others note that having a cup of coffee first thing in the morning can leave you jittery and high strung because your natural energy levels are already high when you awake. According to a study conducted at Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences in Maryland, to get the best benefit from coffee, drink it an hour after you climb out of bed. That’s when energy levels start to fall, and coffee gives you a much needed boost.