Lifestyle and Wellness Tips To-Go!

How to Become a Morning Person

People who wake up earlier tend to feel more optimistic and proactive, and can even be healthier and less stressed than those who stay under the covers. So if you hate the morning alarm clock, here are some tips to wake up on the right side of the bed every morning!

SLEEP LIKE A PRO: The obvious solution to waking up earlier and easier? Getting enough sleep in the first place. When we’re sleep deprived our reaction times slow down, our blood pressure rises, and we tend to eat more.

  • Keep the electronics out: remove all reminders of work-related stress from the bedroom, including laptops, smart phones, and even briefcases. It’s also best to stop using electronic devices 45-60 minutes before bedtime.
  • Position it right: Many doctors agree that sleeping on your back can prevent back pain, while sleeping on your side is best to prevent heartburn and acid reflux. Sleeping on your stomach may reduce snoring, but may also cause back and neck pain.
  • Watch out for danger foods: spicy foods can cause heartburn or indigestion, chocolate has sneaky caffeine that could keep you up, and alcohol can cause way too many trips to the bathroom.
  • Grab a book: Kick back with a novel or some nonfiction before bed to help tire out your eyes. Or, write out stressful thoughts in a journal.
  • Take a warm shower: stepping out of a warm shower into a cooler bedroom will cause a light decrease in body temperature, which triggers a tranquil, drowsy feeling.
  • Listen up: from white noise, to nature sounds, to mellow folk music, listening to tunes can help lull you to sleep in no time.
  • Get a good mattress: seek out a mattress that supports the spine and importantly- feels comfortable.

HOW TO WAKE UP RIGHT: One of the best ways to become a morning person is getting used to waking up at the same time every morning- which includes the weekends. If you start going to sleep and waking up at the same time, your body will naturally begin to feel tired and awake around those times.

  • Start slowly: pick a new wakeup time and gradually work towards it. Want to wake up at 8am but can’t get up until 9? Start by setting the alarm clock for 8:45am and move it down in 15-minute increments every few days.
  • Set some happy sounds: Skip the beeps and blares and set the alarm to something fun or soothing.
  • Don’t lounge: Make sure to get some movement in soon after waking up- this will naturally make the body feel more energetic. Just a few jumping jacks should do the trick.
  • Get accountable: Tell a friend or family member when you want to wake up and commit to a “text date”.
  • Establish a routine: shower, breakfast, read the morning paper. Creating and maintaining a morning routine will make getting up easier because it can just happen mechanically.
  • Skip the snooze: bopping the button can actually disrupt our sleep cycles, which leads to less restful sleep. It might also affect cognition, and can leave us feeling more tired when we get up.

GET MOVING: Sometimes a little movement goes a long way. A morning workout can really get those energy levels going. And research suggests that we get in a better workout—burning more fat and building more muscle—before a morning meal rather than after.

  • Do what you love: pick and activity you can actually look forward to, whether that’s Zumba, weight lifting, or yoga.
  • Pay for it: consider hiring a personal trainer, paying for a gym membership, or coughing up a fee for a fitness class.
  • Pick a pal: it’s harder to bail when there’s a buddy waiting for you by the dumbbells. Plus, studies suggest we get in a better workout when there’s someone else around.
  • Pencil it in: schedule exercise into your calendar beforehand and remind yourself it’s an unbreakable commitment as soon as you wake up.
  • Get prepped: the night before the gym session, pack a bag with all the essentials and lay out your workout gear so there’s one less hurdle to jump over in the morning.
  • Taste the reward: it’s best to chow down between 30-60 minutes after working out. So know that if you actually get up and go work out, you can return to a deliciously gratifying, but healthy, treat.

BREAKFAST BITES: Not only does breakfast provide energy for all those morning activities, it can also help prevent the mid-morning slump, boost concentration, and provide necessary vitamins and minerals. A healthy breakfast has also been shown to help maintain a healthy body weight.

  • Ricotta and Tomato Breakfast Sandwich on whole grain bread
  • Egg White breakfast Burrito- black beans, shredded cheese, salsa, and egg whites!
  • Breakfast Quinoa Bites- quinoa, 2 eggs, 1 cup veggies, shredded cheese and salt and pepper, bake into muffins.

MORNING REWARDS: For those whose mornings feel more like a race to shower, dress, and maybe scarf down a piece of toast before bursting out the door, a little more motivation to wake up might be necessary. Plan out pleasurable morning activities so there’s something to look forward to each time you wake up.

  • Tune in: snag a fancy radio/ alarm clock and set the alarm to a favorite station. There’s nothing like hearing your favorite song first thing in the morning to set the mood for a great day!
  • Take a hike: sometimes a little jaunt around the block is all we need to boost our spirits and jumpstart the day (as well as grabbing some Vitamin D!).
  • Chill out: designate a special place and time every morning for a few minutes of meditation.

Energize Your Work Day with an Active Commute

Interested in exercise, but not sure how to squeeze it into your busy schedule? Build it into your work day by making your commute more physically active. Besides saving on fuel costs and reducing environmental pollutants, creating a habit of active commuting boosts fitness and could protect you from heart disease, obesity, and excessive stress.

Step Away from the Car

The average American driver may spend over 450 hours each year behind the wheel. That comes out to nearly 11 work weeks behind the wheel, according to the Center for Transportation Excellence. Driving-related inactivity combined with stress contributes to a host of health problems.
One study of 2,364 working adults showed that individuals who walked or bicycled to work on a regular basis reaped significant health benefits. Men and women who actively commuted were more fit compared to those who didn’t commute. The study found that male commuters also had reduced body mass index, obesity, blood pressure, insulin, and triglyceride levels.
A review of eight studies found a significant reduction in cardiac risk with active commuting for both men and women, but this effect was stronger for women.
Similarly, a Swedish study of more than 16,000 workers found that men and women who walked to work and men who used public transportation were much less likely to be overweight and obese than those who drove to work.

Go Public

Taking the train may not sound like an active way to commute, but one study found that train commuters walked on average 30% more a day and were four times more likely to achieve the recommended 10,000 steps a day than drivers. Public transit users also walk more to get to the bus stop, bus platform and their final destination.
In addition to the physical benefits from walking more, public transportation users also enjoy mental health benefits, including reduced stress and increased social interactions.

Getting Started

Many employers support active commuting by offering bicycle parking and storage, onsite showers, and subsidized public transportation passes. Some even offer a guaranteed emergency ride home for alternative transportation users.  Check with your human resources office or benefits team to find out what resources are available. If they’re not available, ask your employer to consider adding them.
Whether or not you have workplace support for an active commute, you can take steps toward making your commute a healthier one. Here is how:

  • Ask around. Chances are, someone in your workplace already bikes, walks, runs or rides the bus to work. Get first-hand advice on routes and other practical matters.
  • Check online. Join a community of bicycle commuters to share tips and arrange riding together.
  • Brush up. Learn about bicycle road use laws in your state before hitting the pavement and make sure you know how to change a flat tire, fix a chain and perform other minor repairs en route.
  • If walking or bicycling all the way to work isn’t practical, do it part of the way. Many public transit services offer bike racks. You could also get off the train or bus one stop early to increase your daily walking time. Or bicycle to work one way and ride the bus home and do the opposite the next day.
  • Some health clubs offer shower-only memberships for active commuters. Depending on how much you sweat, you could also keep a spare set of clothing, washrag and towel, baby wipes, and deodorant at your work station for a quick clean-up.

Source: ACE FitFacts

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