by The Mind Faculty
In our fast paced culture, our morning routine usually consist of snoozing our alarm until it is time to gulp down our coffee and rush to work. Rushing through our mornings can contribute to us feeling overwhelmed and overworked: this can have a negative impact on our mental health for the rest of the day, as well as affect our sleeping patterns.
Natural Cortisol Rhythm
When we first open our eyes, our body starts to produce cortisol and our cortisol levels will increase by 50%. It will continue to rise within the first hour of waking up. Cortisol is a stress hormone that primes us for action. We need it to maintain steady levels throughout the day. In a healthy cycle, our cortisol levels taper off during the evenings and it are naturally lowest before bed to help us wind down.
When our natural cortisol cycle is disrupted, we can experience:
Anxiety and depression.
Sleep problems such as insomnia, waking up tired in the morning and disrupted sleep cycles.
Decreased memory, focus and will power.
The Importance of a Morning Routine
The choices we make in the morning can set the tone for the rest of our day. By looking at our morning routine, we can look to incorporate habits that can support our ability or rather reduced ability to produce cortisol in the first hour upon waking.
Here are some healthy habits you can incorporate into your morning routine:
Move Your Body
Whether it's a HIIT routine of 10 minutes of light stretching, an exercise routine can help you to wake up your body and feel more alert during the day.
Avoid Snoozing Your Alarm
It can be tempting to sleep in for another 10 minutes. However, every time your alarm goes off, you get an increase in cortisol which causes you to wake up abruptly and send your body into 'fight or flight' mode.
List three things you are grateful for as you get out of bed. Scientists have found that our Cortisol Awakening Response can help us with coping stress during the day.Your brain rehearses coping mechanisms by anticipating the demands of the day. When you express gratitude, you hardwire your brain to focus on the things that you are grateful for. This makes you happier, and can help you prepare for the day ahead.
Take a few deep belly breaths
When our alarms interrupt our sleep cycle, we can wake up feeling anxious, cranky or disoriented. Taking a few deep belly breaths upon waking can help to calm the body and switch off our fight or flight response. Think of it as a reset button for your nervous system.
Drink a glass of water upon waking up
By drinking a glass of water upon waking up is an easy step to add to your morning routine. Dehydration leads to higher levels of cortisol. Water helps us to flush cortisol from our systems, helping us to regulate our cortisol production in the morning.
The Mind Faculty is a private mental health therapy clinic in Solaris Mont Kiara. Our multidisciplinary team of practitioners include psychiatrists, psychologists, counsellors, art therapist, nutritionist and other complementary therapists. We are offering face to face sessions and online sessions during the MCO.