Everyone’s journey to health and wellness is different, but there are several things we can all do on a daily basis that will directly affect how you feel today.
These tried, tested, and backed by science tips will influence your mood, energy levels, weight and feelings of wellness.
See how many of them you can incorporate into your daily routine. If you’re not currently doing any of them, choose 2 or 3 that you can start working on. Once you’ve nailed those, you can add some more.
1. Don’t touch the snooze button
How you wake up is just as important as how you sleep. Have you ever wondered why sometimes you wake up feeling really spaced out? Does it often take 3-4 hours to feel properly awake? Well, here’s why.
Your body knows when it’s supposed to wake up, so it starts doing so in the hour beforehand. If you wake up, hit the snooze button and fall back to sleep, you’re starting another sleep cycle. So when your alarm goes off 10 minutes later, you’re interrupting that new sleep cycle. Physically you’re awake and out of bed, but mentally you’re still asleep. This is called sleep inertia, and can last 3-4 hours into your day. If you really struggle to leave the snooze button alone, leave your phone with it’s alarm somewhere that requires you to get out of bed to turn it off.
You don’t have to be a morning person, and you don’t have to like it, but take charge of the way you start your day. If you’re a snooze button person, give it a try. I promise you you’ll never go back! :)
2. Water before caffeine
Even if your brain screams ‘coffee!’ as soon as you're up, it’s definitely craving something else – and that’s water! Even if you don’t feel thirsty. Your body hasn’t had any fluids for several hours because you’ve been sleeping, so most people wake in a state of dehydration.
So, besides eliminating the fatigue that comes with being dehydrated, how else will postponing your morning caffeine hit make you feel great?
Getting fluids into your body right after you wake up will help flush out toxins and leave you feeling on top of the world.
Your brain tissue is 75% water, so when you’re not properly hydrated you are going to suffer from a lack of focus, experience mood fluctuations, or generally feel drained.
You’ll eat less. We know that drinking water helps us feel full, so drinking water when you wake up, coupled with a balanced breakfast, should help avoid the need for snacking before lunch. Don’t drink lots of water 30 minutes either side of eating though, as it may interrupt the digestive process.
So, you can still have your coffee, just wait until you’re rehydrated.
3. Move every hour
If you work in a job that requires you to sit all day, you’re probably no stranger to tired, achy or stiff joints. And that’s on top of the feelings of lethargy that sitting all day brings. The saying ‘if you don’t use it you’ll lose it’ certainly rings true here! So, get up every hour and move. Even if it’s just for 2 minutes around the office floor and back to your desk. You’ll not only be giving your legs a stretch and workout, and increasing feelings of energy, but you’ll feel more productive and you’ll be helping to prevent the negative health effects from prolonged sitting.
Set an alarm on your phone if you need to, and if getting up every hour is a massive stretch for you at the moment, start with every 90 minutes or 2 hours.
4. Eat a breakfast that suits your day
You’ve heard the old saying that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. As research into nutrition gets further ahead, some of what we thought was true a few decades ago has been disproved, but this still rings true.
If you eat breakfast, what you eat is so important. You want your breakfast to set you up successfully for your day.
A high calorie/high sugar or carbohydrate breakfast (such as white or wholemeal bread, jam, most breakfast cereal, pastry, coffee with sugar and syrup etc.) will leave you feeling lethargic and foggy and will probably have you searching for a mid morning snack. Done more than a couple of days a week and it will likely cause you to put on weight, especially if you spend much of the day sitting.
Instead, choose eggs on wholegrain bread or an omelette, a smoothie with plain Greek yoghurt (full fat) fruit, nuts and seeds or natural oats or soaked chia seeds with nuts, fruit and cinnamon.
You’ll be full of physical and mental energy, and won’t be thinking about food until lunchtime!
5. Look at what carbs you eat for lunch
With the exception of boredom and stress, the main reason we reach for treats mid afternoon is because we’re still hungry or dissatisfied in some way with the lunch we ate.
Make sure you don’t leave out the carbs at lunchtime otherwise you'll definitely be reaching for that chocolate bar. To set yourself up for a more focused and productive afternoon, balance out your lunch with some ‘good’ carbs, lean protein and lots of veggies.
On the flip side, don’t eat an oversized or heavy meal made up predominantly of carbs like rice or pasta. You’ll feel lethargic and tired for the rest of the afternoon.
6. Walk after eating
Depending on what you eat, we often see a spike in blood sugar after a meal. This is one of the main reasons we feel tired and unmotivated after eating and it can also promote fat storage. If you get yourself up for a walk (at least 10 minutes) before getting stuck back into work, the circulating blood sugar will be used up by the working muscles. It will also aid your digestion. People who go for a walk after eating are often the most successful at losing weight. Either way, you’ll feel great!
In an ideal world we would move after every meal, but start with breaking up you day with a walk after lunch. If you absolutely can’t leave your desk at lunchtime, go after dinner.
7. Take some time to further a project that’s important to you
We are generally happier if we feel we’re achieving something. Most of us have goals or things we’d like to achieve, whether it's a new hobby, a change in career or just planning time for you.
The thing is, work or family or just life in general gets in the way and it's easy for this goal to go by the way side. Spend at least 10 minutes every day (or as often as you can) to think about or execute something that furthers that goal.
I do my best thinking during my morning shower so I use this time to think about what task I can do today to further my journey towards that goal, and then make that task a priority on that days ‘to do’ list.
8. Have an unwind routine
How you feel tomorrow is heavily dictated by how well you sleep tonight. Poor sleep is increasingly common amongst Australians, with one in three people really struggling with their sleep, and it’s affecting how we live our lives.
For those struggling to get a good night’s sleep, it’s important to allow yourself at least an hour of unwind time before attempting to sleep. That includes not doing any work and not using any devices. Take a hard look at what activities you participate in, in the hour before you hop into bed. Define/create your unwind routine and make getting a good night’s sleep a priority.
I work a lot on balancing meals and sleep management with my clients so get in touch if you need assistance in these or any of the other areas.
Good luck and let me know how you get on!