How to Stay Sane During the Hectic Holiday Season

This week is Thanksgiving!  Besides lots of food and friends, it also means that the start of the hectic holiday season is officially here. While it’s one of my favourite times of the year,  I tend to easily get swept up in all of the excitement. While this might not seem such a bad thing, it often leaves me feeling unbalanced, spread too thin, and unnecessarily stressed. Add a few long-distance flights into the mix and it’s a recipe for disaster.

Between holiday decorating, gift shopping, and festive get-togethers my free time slowly diminishes. Once the holidays arrives I feel extra pressure to make the most of it. Because I don’t get to see family and friends in the US very often, I feel like I have to pack every possible minute into every trip, which only makes me even more stressed. To ease some of the pressure I feel to make the absolute most of every minute, I use the list below to make sure I stay balanced and grounded when things seem like they are getting a bit too hectic.

  1. Schedule Strategically 

I’m always tempted to pack each of my trips home full of back to back activities with friends and family, but over-scheduelign can be just as bad as under-scheduling. I’ve found that planning one main thing with each person I want to spend time with– whether its a coffee date or group dinner– makes me way less stressed. Knowing I have at least one thing planned lets me relax a little more and really enjoy the time since I’m not worrying about what’s next.

2. Stick to You Routine

This one seems like a no-brainer, but at some point during the holidays I inevitably lose track of my regular routine. While it’s totally fine to let my regular a.m. yoga session slide for a day or two, any longer and I start to feel a little on edge.  The same can be said for my sleep schedule– as tempting as it is to spend more nights out with friends (and wine!), keeping my nighttime routine helps me stay well-rested to enjoy my time at home. Making sure to stick to my day to day schedule helps me stay grounded and calm. Which takes me to number three…

3. Sleep

Of course I manage to  squeeze in some sleep, but this one is more about making time for enough sleep. I like to wake up early, but the rest of my family are night owls, and when I’m home the time after dinner and before bed is one of the main times we all relax and catch up together. This means either getting less sleep, shifting my routine a little bit. It’s taken me years to find the balance, but now I try to have a mix of early (regular) bedtimes and later ones, so I get to enjoy time with my family. Prioritising a good 7-8 hours of sleep helps me manage the holiday stress and stay a happier version of myself all year.

4. Take Notes

I’ve had an on again/off again relationship with journaling since I was in high school, when the thought occurred to me that one day I would want to read back through and remember what my life was like. During college I got a lot better at regularly recording my life, but I make an extra effort to put pen to paper around the holidays. Not only is there so much to be thankful for, but holiday memories are some of the most precious. Knowing that I have more than just my mind to keep my holiday memories has the added benefit of keeping me ‘present’ so I can record things later.

5. Breathe

Making time for even one minute of conscious breathing in the morning and before bed is good practice for staying ‘in the moment’ when the list of things to do to prepare for the holidays seems to be exponentially growing. I’ve been loving the Breathe App on my apple watch, but even just a good old fashioned timer is a great way to carve out a few minutes to decompress. A quick meditation is also a great way to combat stress and anxiety when dinner table discussions get tense, or when you’ve answered the same question for the hundredth time.

 

Hopefully at least some of these help you stay balanced during this holiday season. While its easy to get caught up in all the preparation, the best parts of the holidays is everything that happens in the down time. I don’t remember what my holiday meal was last Thanksgiving, but I do remember laughing at the dinner table with friends, and singing along to Adele after several glasses of wine.

This year I’ll be celebrating away from home, but am looking forward to a belated ‘friendsgiving’ at the weekend.  How are you celebrating this year?

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

DIY Cinnamon Sugar Scrub

Every winter I run into the same problem of chapped lips and dry skin that drives me crazy. Preventative measures work up to a point, but eventually I need some light exfoliation to get back to normal. This super-simple, three-ingredient scrub has worked wonders for turning my scales back into smooth skin, plus I know exactly what’s in it (no micro beads for me!).  I also love that it uses three ingredients I always have in my pantry.

The three ingredients are just coconut oil, cinnamon, and sugar. While these might sound like the beginning of a delicious seasonal dessert, they actually make a fantastic scrub that smells amazing, and leaves your skin super smooth. It’s like a little bit of holiday indulgence without the guilt.

Here’s why the three ingredients work so well together:

Coconut Oil:

I know coconut oil is being used for just about everything, and while it may not be the solution to all of your problems, it’s probably a pretty good solution for some of your winter beauty dilemmas. It’s a healthy choice for cooking, both because the medium-chain fatty acids are easier for your body to digest and burn off than long-chain fatty acids, and because the lauric acid that makes up almost 50% of raw coconut oil is converted to monolaurin, an immune-supporting substance that helps your body fight viruses and bacteria. Try adding some to smoothies or oatmeal for some healthy fats in the a.m.

But there are benefits to topical applications as well– not only does it make a great hair mask, it is also surprisingly effective at removing waterproof makeup and lipstick naturally and gently. It is also a great base or carrier oil for a scrub, both because its relatively gentle, and its unique properties add to the benefits of the scrub.

Cinnamon:

Like coconut oil, cinnamon has a mild anti-bacterial effect, which makes it a great ingredient for acne prone skin. It’s ‘spicy’ quality can also spark an increase in blood flow, which makes it great for skincare because it stimulates nutrient-carrying blood to the surface. Using this as a lip scrub has the added benefit of a subtle enhancing your pout sans injections or scary chemicals.

You may have seen cinnamon and honey masks, but I find them too strong on my relatively sensitive skin. The cinnamon in this scrub is less concentrated, but if you prefer a stronger feeling you can always add more. Be sure to patch test a little bit on your arm before trying it out anywhere on your face though, just in cause you also have a strong reaction.

I also love the warm, spicy scent, which feels especially seasonal. But the benefits go beyond this– the cent of cinnamon can also help to relieve headaches, and increase alertness.

Sugar:

While I try to avoid added sugars in my diet, they are great for scrubs because the particles are less abrasive than salt, but still pack some powerful buffing qualities. This means that this scrub should be safe to use on your face (as long as you use a very light touch) as well as hands or other areas that tend to look a bit dull or feel chapped in the winter.

img_9719

Ingredients for Scrub:

3 tsp coconut oil at room temp. (It should be soft, but not melted)

1-1.5 tsp ground cinnamon. (The fresher your cinnamon the more it will warm your skin, or cause any irritation, which is why patch-testing is so important)

2 tsp sugar. A finer grind is generally better here, especially if you are thinking of using it on your face. For body scrubs I like a coarser sugar, or even salt to really slough off any dead skin.

Directions:

  1. Combine in a small bowl or container, mixing thoroughly. The consistency should be like a paste, so you may need to make minor adjustments accordingly.

When I use this as a lip scrub I like to remove any lipstick or balm with a little bit of coconut oil and gently wipe away with a face cloth. Then I follow up  with a small amount of scrub, using my index finger to make small circles before gently removing. Don’t worry if you accidentally ingest some– that’s the benefit of using things from your kitchen!

When using this this on my face I like to first remove any moisturiser or leftover makeup with a mild cleanser (like Lush’s ultrabland), then apply a fine layer of the scrub (avoiding the eye area), massaging my face very gently with my fingertips. To remove I use a face cloth and warm (not hot!) water to gently wipe away the scrub.

The most important step to remember when using this scrub is to follow up with another layer of moisture once its removed, whether on your lips, face, or hands. Also, when removing, be sure you use warm water to remove the coconut oil throughly. It’s important that the water not been too hot though, as this can cause redness and irritation.

This will keep for a few weeks if stored in your fridge (just be sure to thaw it thoroughly before using), but because it’s so simple to make you could also easily mix a small amount as you  need it and use extra-fresh cinnamon each time. Let me know if you give it a try in the comments– I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Winter Wellness Teas to Keep You Healthy

As the temperature begins to dip even more I’m always reminded how much I love that winter is a time for slowing down. Rather than hectic, never-ending days, these early sunsets make get to sleep earlier, and shorter days mean I prioritise, rather than try to do everything. Cold weekend mornings become decidedly more lazy, with slower yoga sessions, and warm, hearty breakfasts that feed my body and soul (baked oatmeal? Yes, please!). Warm drinks are a must– wether my essential cup of coffee in the morning, a few cups of tea through the day to keep me going, or a turmeric latte (or occasional hot chocolate) to wind down in the evening. Not to mention favourites like mulled wine and spiced cider!

A warm drink in the winter is often the perfect opportunity for a bit of a pause, wether in the middle of the day, or as I try to relax in the evening. While a cup of tea is lovely any time of year, there are a few I especially crave as the air gets chillier. Not only are they comforting and warming, but each has a few unique benefits of its own from immunity support, to anti-inflammatory properties, a cup of tea can be a great way to practice self care. One study even found that keeping your neck and throat warm can help you fend off colds!  If that’s not a reason to keep warm with a cup of tea (and a cute scarf!) I don’t know what is.

Chamomile

This is by far one of my favourites, especially for colder months. I like to steep longer than recommended to get a stronger flavour, and then add a tiny bit of agave or raw local honey. It’s wonderfully calming, and is my go-to for when I’m feeling stressed, wanting to wind down in the evening, or if I have an upset stomach. I’ve also used it to make a really lovely hair rinse to bring out natural highlights– but that a topic for another post.

Echinacea 

A classic immune-supporting tea,  Echinacea is great for both fending off, and reducing the symptoms of a cold, so I like to brew a cup at least a few times a week in the winter. If you’re curious to know more about echinacea’s many benefits, this article is a great resource, and also has some brewing tips to get your best cup. Sometimes I like to brew a blend of echinacea and chamomile for an extra herbal blend that balances some of the astringency echinacea can sometimes have. Echinacea also makes a really delicious hot toddy (just brew as normal, then add a bit of lemon, raw local honey, and a shot of whiskey).

Chai

The blend of cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and other spices is perfect for winter! It’s delicious on its own, but is also great with a bit of warmed coconut milk for something a bit more indulgent. Black tea is a great source  antioxidants, and the added spices are a great way to support your immune system, especially if you steep them at home.

Turmeric 

While this one isn’t technically a tea, it’s just as lovely and warming. It’s recently seen a boom in popularity, but has been around in South Asian cultures for centuries as a health drink. Turmeric not only tastes delicious, but also has some pretty potent anti-inflammatory properties, and may reduce the severity of viral infections (aka the common cold). There are tons of recipes for turmeric tea/ turmeric lattes, but this one is a great place to start.

 

While these four are my favourites this time of year for their amazing taste and wellness-boosting properties, there are plenty of others that are just as delicious and good for you. Really, any way you manage to add a little bit of self care to your routine, either for a five-minute tea break midday, or by incorporating a lovely turmeric latte into your evening routine you can make the most out of this slower time of year, and recharge your batteries a bit before the busy time around the holidays.

Happy sipping!

 

What is your favourite warm drink in the winter? Do you have a favourite recipe for a hot toddy or chai tea latte? I’d love to hear about them in the comments! 

 

Monday Motivation

Last week was a busy week for me. I started a new internship, said goodbye to a friend of mine who moved back to the states, and had a mini-breakdown that it’s August and my dissertation is due in less than a month. I thought I would put together a few things that helped me through the week, and hopefully help you, too!

This TED talk titled “How To Make Stress Your Friend” by Kelly McGonigal will change your life. Seriously. I don’t think I’ve ever described something on the blog that way. We all know that stress is super bad for our our health…or is it? Kelly’s talk made me completely rethink the way I handle stress and conceptualise stressful situations.

I love listening to podcasts when I’m commuting, running, or getting ready in the morning. They are a great way to keep updated with the news, learn something new, or are  distracting enough to keep me from panicking when the tube is packed at rush hour. I’ve been listening to a new Ukrainian language podcast, as the class I’m taking is on summer holiday. At about fifteen minutes it’s just enough to keep me practicing daily. The NPR Politics podcast has also been a great way for me to keep up with the US election while living in London.

Since I’ve been on the go a lot recently (and occasionally playing Pokemon Go), this EasyAcc power bank I got during Prime Day has been my new best friend. It carries enough of a charge to power my phone four times, which means it can live in my purse during the week always at the ready when my phone is about to die, and has a flashlight!  It’s great, and if you don’t have a backup power pack already, I definitely recommend this one.

Happy Monday!

Finding Balance

Almost all of my time of late has been taken up by dissertation writing, which is definitely productive, but can start to be a bit psychologically an emotionally draining. Spending hours in front of my computer without talking to people tends to start getting a little weird. Luckily I only have about two weeks until I start an internship (yay!) which will force me to take two days a week as a break and get out of my head a bit.

Since I decided to take June and July and really focus on dissertation work, finding a balance has been the key to retaining my sanity. Growing up as an only child has made me super comfortable spending time alone, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t occasionally get a bit stir crazy.

This list are all things I’ve found to be really helpful in finding balance, and are simple enough you can incorporate any number of them relatively easily, whether you’re writing  dissertation or working full time.

• Find a Routine (and stick to it!) 

This is probably the most important thing for me in terms of personal happiness and productivity. Having a schedule takes a lot of the thinking/planning out of the way so I can focus on other things. It also makes things like workout a bit easier to fit in– if you get used to doing something every day momentum starts to build making it easier to stick with it. Beyond this, having daily or weekly ritual, like dinner sans-phones can be a great way to recharge.

• Schedule Some Personal Time

Whether this means an a.m yoga practice, a few minutes of reading a book for fun, or even watching an episode of your favourite show, this time is super beneficial. I’ve recently started taking some yoga classes at a studio near me, and found that having that to look forward to makes the writing go by that much more quickly, but the key here is to find whatever helps you relax.

• See Other People

Even besides having some personal time, I’ve found that planning one ore two activities with friends per week does wonders for my happiness levels. Even if it’s a FaceTime call with a friend, it helps me to feel like myself again. It’s so easy to lose track of time and push things to the next week, but strong friendships are key for both mental and physical health.

• Make a List 

One of the things I do each night as part of my evening routine is to make a list for the next day of all of the things I need to do and would like to accomplish. I generally include a few shorter, fun items like yoga, or a coffee date to boost my morale. Seeing a visual representation of everything I’ve done makes me feel even more productive. If lists aren’t your thing, try writing down all of the tasks you accomplish after the fact– it will still be a nice visual, but will likely make you feel less anxious about crossing things off.

 

Finding balance for me means finding ways to acknowledge something positive, or find some happiness in every day. All of these are just different ways I do this. Whether it’s making a list that lets me prioritise the important things so I don’t sweat the small stuff, catching up with a friend over coffee, or exploring my yoga practice, they all help me life a fuller, more present life.

Do you use any of these to find balance? Feel like I’ve forgotten something? Let me know in the comments!

Spa Day at the Berkeley Haybarn

Last week I took a day out my (surprisingly) busy schedule to take a day off, and enjoy a morning/early afternoon at the Berkeley Haybarn Spa in Knightsbridge (massage, facial, pedicure). My family sent me a gift certificate for a half-day back in March, but I’ve only just now managed to find some time to put it to use!

For some reason I have a terrible time carving out time for myself to relax– I always feel a bit guilty, or find my thoughts wandering to all the work I need to do and emails I need to check. Definitely not conducive to relaxing. For my half day at the Haybarn I was determined to actually relax. On my way to my 10:00 am massage I opted to listen to a relaxing playlist, rather than my usual squeezing-in of extra reading for my dissertation, and even managed to arrive about 20 minutes early to give myself time to change and have a seat in the sauna to melt away any residual stress from the journey.

Bamford-Treatment-hub-716-x-380

My massage was first, followed directly by my facial, and both were fantastic. For my massage I opted for Bamford’s signature scent– a blend of geranium, lavender, eucalyptus and peppermint. By the time the massage ended I had successfully banished any thoughts of work to be done, and at the end of my facial felt thoroughly relaxed and refreshed.

I had a break for a bit and sat out in a really lovely courtyard filled with greenery while I sipped some fresh mint tea. The pool had some gorgeous views over Hyde Park and Knightsbridge, and I enjoyed a high lunch (and glass of champagne!) by the window, followed by some reading entirely for pleasure, which never happens as of recently.

Garden-1

My last treatment of the day was a pedicure, which was an excellent way to end the day, and slowly get ready to go back into the real world. It was definitely hard to leave, but on my way out I picked up some of Bamford’s botanic body oil to extend the experience a bit, and hopefully capture some of the relaxation of the day.

Thinking about my overall experience, I was struck with the idea that a large part of why the day was so relaxing was being forced to tear myself away from my devices. Being away from my phone, as well as my apple watch, was a bit unnerving at first, but soon because wonderfully freeing. So much so, in fact, that I’ve decided to incorporate some device-free relaxing time as a regular part of my week. The best part? Not only is it totally free, but it’s also fabulously simple…if I can stick to it, that is. So, expect a post soon about the challenges and benefits of some tech-free time each week, and treat yourself to some self care at the spa or otherwise!

IMG_8093

 

(photos from the Berkeley Haybarn website because I was phone-free)

Why I Dry Brush Every Morning

This post was inspired by one I wrote last week, and got me thinking about how much of a difference just one small change can make. Dry brushing is all over the place right now, and having done it every morning for the past few years I can honestly say its worth it. There are a few main benefits to dry brushing, but some of the biggest are its amazing detoxing benefits, exfoliation, and  increasing circulation at the surface of the skin (which has the added benefit of reducing, or at least minimising) any cellulite or imperfections. Better yet it takes less than five minutes, making it a super easy way to slip a bit of self-care into your morning routine.

Detoxing:

I feel like every week I’m riding a new article about why I should be detoxing, but most of them involve juice cleanses, fasting, or product-based regimens. While I may be all-for detoxing, I definitely think it’s possible to do so without shelling out a large sum of money to a financially-motivated company. Dry brushing is a fantastic way to detox without shelling out unnecessary cash that would be much better spent on clothes, wine, and exciting trips. Our skin is the largest organ in our body, and is the one that’s also exposed to the most toxins (through our clothes, cosmetics, general pollution, etc). One what dry brushing helps detox our bodies is by simulating our lymphatic system, which naturally cleanses our bodies on its own but sometimes needs a bit of help to get things moving. Brushing in short, brisk strokes toward the heart helps this movement along. Definitely a lot easier than a week-long juice cleanse!

Exfoliation:

As I talked about in my post last-week, exfoliating is step one to smooth skin. Dry brushing literally wipes away dead skin while wiping away toxins built up in the lymphatic system and skin. While I do enjoy a nice skin scrub, dry brushing is an easy way to do a bit of exfoliating through the week.

Improving Circulation:

Increasing your circulation has a whole host of benefits, both in helping to remove toxins from the body, but may also help smooth any cellulite by gently breaking down and evening out the net-like structure of connective tissue within the skin. Certainly stimulating the surface of the skin will increase blood flow, but definitely doesn’t guarantee a ‘cure’ for cellulite. However, since I’ve been dry brushing I have definitely noticed smoother skin on my back body, and on the backs of my arms which have suffered minor KP (those annoying little bumps that just won’t disappear) since I was in high school. The key here, though is keeping up with dry brushing even after you notice its benefits.

How To:

I’ve used both long-handled and no-handled brushes, and definitely prefer a longer handle. If you’re not sure, there a brushes you can buy with detachable handles that let you try both.

The first time I dry-brushed was mildly uncomfortable, but went away after a days of brushing every morning. You should apply light pressure, and use long,smooth strokes towards your heart. I begin at my ankles and go up each leg, then my arms, then finally my torso. MindBodyGreen has a really nice in-depth how-to, as does this site. If your skeptical I definitely recommend giving it a try for at least a month before throwing in the towel– at worst you now have a body brush that’s great for general exfoliation, and at best you have a new morning routine that gets you glowing.

 

(complied/condensed from multiple articles)

My Smooth-Skin Secrets

With spring in full swing and summertime just around the corner, I’m very excited to break out my skirts, dresses, and sandals. My skin, however, needs a bit of coaxing out of ‘winter’ mode. You may be in the same boat, and if so, hopefully this post will give you a few suggestions to help get rid of dry skin and leave you ready for some sunshine.

I suppose the best way to break down this post is by category. I’ll touch on one or two tricks I use for my face, but this will primarily be about ways to smooth legs, knees, elbows, etc.

Face:

•  Exfoliation is key, but the trick, especially with more sunshine, is not to overly-exfoliate and leave skin dry. To gently remove any dullness left over from winter I like to use a mix of baking soda and coconut oil. Mixing about 1/2 tsp coconut oil and about an equal amount of boring soda, I mix the two into a sort of paste and gently apply to my face (except the area around my eyes) and let it sit for about five minutes. To remove, use lukewarm water, and very gently remove with a washcloth. I follow up with a super hydrating moisturiser, usually Cosmetic Lad from Lush, which I know is technically for guys, but works wonders to soothe and hydrate my skin post-face mask, and is a great night-cream.

• As well as gentle exfoliating a few times a week, I’ve found that keeping my skin hydrated is a key factor not only in minimising any dullness, but in staying smooth and breakout-free. A favourite week-night face mask of mine also happens to be wonderfully simple. For this I combine 1tbs coconut oil and 1tbs raw honey (as local as I can find), mix , and apply gently to clean skin. While it sits for 10-15 minutes be sure to have a towel somewhere under your chin because it is very likely to drip a bit. When it’s time to remove use warm water and a washcloth to gently wipe it away, and follow with your favourite moisturiser.

Body: 

• One thing I do every morning, no matter the season, and which makes a surprising difference, is dry brushing. It has a whole host of other benefits like detoxing, and increasing circulation (read more here). I’ve done it on and off for a few years now, and I can definitely notice positive change when I consistently dry brush in the morning.

•The winter always seems to be the hardest on my legs and knees, making my skin at best a bit dry, and at worst a bit scaly. To help with this I use a pair of exfoliating gloves on my legs every other day, with let me really concentrate on areas like my knees and ankles that tend to get extra dry. Before drying my skin off post-shower I apply either coconut oil (warming it in my hands a bit to make it easier to apply), or the miracle-working Tata Harper Revitalising Body Oil. I’m not exaggerating when I say that it has transformed my dry, scaly skin into something from a women’s razor commercial.

•If I’m in a hurry, taking the time to let the coconut oil ‘set’ isn’t always in the cards, but no matter what I always make it a priority to moisturise as soon as I exit the shower. This is the simplest, and yet most effective thing you can do. You could even multi-task this step  by using it to check your skin for any new freckles or marks that could be suspicious.

Feet:

• I run a lot, and do yoga every morning, both of which can bit a bit hard on my feet. To remedy some of the dry skin I use a good-old-fashioned pumice stone to remove any rough patches before giving them a bit of a soak, and then slathering on some moisturiser mixed with coconut oil, and a thick pair of socks before heading to bed.

 

While these will all help your skin look its best for extra exposure on these longer, sunnier days, the last thing to do to make sure it stays that way is to apply sunscreen. Seriously, every day– especially on your face, and even if your moisturiser/makeup already has some spa packed in as well.

I’d love to hear your skin-saving secrets in the comments below, and if you give any of these a try!

 

Super-Simple Kiwi Face Mask

I’ll cut to the chase and begin by saying that I’ve had ‘problem skin’ for the last few years. Developing breakouts as your entering and well-into your twenties is no fun. That being said, I when I do get a breakout its usually pretty mild (thankfully).

Over the years I’ve tried all sorts of cleansers, toners, and masks. For a while I tried what I now refer to as the ‘blowtorch approach’ of using as many shine-reducing and impurity-removing things on my face as I could, which just left my skin dry and prone to irritation. A few years ago I realised that maybe being nice to my skin would get the results I wanted. I started using coconut oil to remove any makeup, and as a gentle face wash and noticed a significant improvement. While this may not be the best thing for everyone, it definitely made me reevaluate my skincare routine, and put more focus on simple, natural ingredients, which leads me into the subject of this post..

Finding gentle ways to exfoliate my skin is always a bit difficult. I have sensitive skin, and too much scrubbing causes some serious redness, and usually to a breakout as well. Rather than going the abrasive route, I prefer to use the gentler exfoliation of AHAs, which are used in skincare products to gently exfoliate, and are found naturally in fruits like strawberries, pineapple and, you guessed it– kiwi. It also has a high level of Vitamin-C, which helps to neutralise free-radicals and reduce signs of ageing, improving skin quality.

IMG_7323

To make one mask mash 1/2 of a kiwi with about 1/2tsp coconut or olive oil. You may need to use a blender, or a mortar and pestle if you have one, but some time and a fork should also get you the results you need. When you’re ready to apply, gently cleanse your face, and apply a thin layer of the mask. Relax for 10-15 minutes and then gently wash off with lukewarm water.

Be sure to do a test patch of the mask on your wrist before using it on your face in case your skin reacts poorly. After removing the mask, apply a generous amount of your favourite moisturiser (I like Lush’s Cosmetic Lad – I know it’s for guys, but it’s a really nice night cream) and bask in the glow of brighter, smoother skin.

 

Three Ways to Improve Your Morning

While some of us are naturally inclined to be ‘morning people’ and others are not, everyone likes a little boost in the morning to get things off to a good start. The three tips detailed below have been rigorously tested (by me) and I really have found they make a huge difference. On days where one of them gets skipped over I definitely feel a bit out of sync the rest of the day.

I have always been a morning person– as soon as the sun starts to fill my room with light I am up and ready to go (this made the darker months this winter really tough, but my Lumie alarm clock was a lifesaver!). That being said, awake doesn’t necessarily mean I’m feeling ready to start my day. These morning rituals help me to feel more alert and ready to take on the challenges the day may bring. If you’re not a morning person, don’t feel bad. Some people have different cycles of naturally occurring melatonin that don’t stop making you sleepy until much later. Unfortunately there’s nothing you can do about this one, but giving these tips a try may at least make your body feel a bit more awake.

1. Have a Glass of Water.

I know it seems incredibly simple, but having a full glass of room temperature water as soon as I wake up is incredibly helpful. Not only does it help to rehydrate me after 7+ hours without any, I’ve found that it sets me up for success in drinking more water throughout my day. Starting the day hydrated helps me notice when I’m beginning to feel a bit less hydrated, and reach for a glass of water far more often. Plus, if you start your day with 1-2 glasses of water, your already in a great place to get your recommended amount for the day. If you’re not sure how much that is, take your weight in lbs, then divide by two– for example if you weigh 125 lbs, you should be getting about 62oz of water per day.

2. Practice a Short Yoga/Meditation.

You might be a bit wary of this one, but I’ve found it to be an amazing way to prime myself for a positive day. I’m not saying you need to spend an hour on this– I started waking up just fifteen minutes earlier to do a short practice of a few gentle sun salutations, stretches, and brief meditation and immediately noticed a difference (here is a nice one). Getting my blood flowing, even just a little bit has gotten rid of the fog that usually doesn’t lift until I’ve been awake for at least an hour. Doing a short seated meditation at the end, whether it’s just observing my breath, or setting an intention for the day ( “I am grateful for this day”) helps me to start the day in a positive place. I’ve also found that another benefit of this short practice is that it makes me far more likely to make my workout later in the day.

3.  Don’t Forget Breakfast.

This may be the most obvious one here, but so often it gets skipped, or thought of last, only to be grabbed on the way out the door, or not balanced enough to keep your body going until lunch. One way I combat this is to make a point about planning what I will have for breakfast the night before, and thinking about how long it will take to make/eat. Once the morning comes its so much easier to just carry out this plan, rather than having to think about it while I’m trying to plan my day. Another way I make it easy for myself is by making something the night before (like overnight oats or a chia pudding) so there is  no effort required in the morning.

 

Creating a morning routine that involves all three of these steps has been so helpful for me, and I hope it will be for you as well. When adding something to my morning routine I find that giving it a try for at least one week, and ideally two is the best way to know for sure how it affects me.

So, let me know in the comments if you give this a try and how it works for you, or a part of your morning routine that helps set you up for success.