5 Things to do in the Morning in 5 Minutes to Wake Up your Brain for the Day
Some mornings it just feels hard to wake up. Your foggy brain is somewhere between dreamland and reality. You know you want to get up, but your brain just wants to drift through la-la land.
Well, here is a 5-minute routine that will have your brain crowing like a rooster at sunrise.
1. Drink a full glass of water
During the night our body and brain become dehydrated. We lose fluid through our skin, through our breathing and of course if we go to the bathroom. So all that fluid needs to be replaced.
Extreme dehydration will cause our brain to become delirious and to start hallucinating. Clearly not an ideal state. However even mild dehydration can cause impaired thinking or brain fog. Since our brain is about 75% water, having a tall glass of water first thing restores those lost fluids and washes away the brain fog. If you don’t usually drink water in the morning, or rarely drink any water at all, start with a quarter of cup and work up to a large glass of water every morning over a few weeks.
2. Deep Breathing
Trained singers and athletes understand the importance of deep breathing. But for many of the rest of us we fall into the habit of shallow breathing. Lack of oxygen to our brain will cause us to black out within minutes. Then in a few more minutes we start to suffer from irreversible brain damage. So like water, a reduced supply of oxygen to the brain will impede its ability to think clearly.
Here is one method of doing deep breathing. Start by sitting up straight. Put one hand on your chest and the other hand on your belly button. Now with your mouth closed take a deep breath in through your nose to a count of two, hold that for a count of one, then exhale through your mouth to a count of four. You want to notice that the hand on your belly goes out when you inhale and then in when you exhale. The hand on your chest needs to remain still. You also don’t want to see your shoulder rise and fall either. You want to be breathing deep into the bottom of your lungs. Three or four, properly done deep breaths will be enough. The goal is to bring air right down to the bottom of your lungs.
Sleeping is rightfully a time for our brain and our body to rest. For our body, sleep means very little movement. For our brain, whose primary purpose is to direct our body’s movements, it means a break from that job.
Now that it is morning it is time to get things back in gear. Stretching activates our brain and our body and reminds our brain where all our body parts are and how it feels to move them. Here is a simple routine for stretching.
- Sitting down, start with your toes and curl them under as tightly as you can. Hold that for 2 or 3 seconds, then pull just your toes up as high as you can and hold that for 2 or 3 seconds.
- Now, straighten your ankle and point your toes. Hold that. Next pull your foot up, feeling the stretching in the back of your ankle and calf. Hold that.
- Then do the same with your hands. Stretch your fingers wide apart and pull them back as far as they go. Hold. Then bend your hand back at the wrist. Hold. Now make fists, squeezing tightly. Hold. Roll your wrists forward and hold.
- Stand up now to continue your stretching. First, squeeze your buttocks together and hold.
- Now with your hands over your head stand on your tip toes and reach for the sky. Hold. With your hands still over your head, bend at your waist dropping the upper half of your body forward. Feel the stretch in your back. Then swivel at your hips to the right, then toward the back and then to the left.
- Stand up tall and drop your arms to your sides and shrug your shoulders toward your ears. Hold.
- Put your elbows out to the side like you are mimicking a bird and then push them back and hold for 2 or 3 seconds. Then pull them forward and hold.
- Now let your body relax.
Those are very simple stretches but only do what is comfortable for you without causing pain.
4. Express Gratitude
Our brain is drawn to the negative. This, like so many other evolutionary traits was intended to protect us from harm. For example, if my cave ancestor went down a path and encountered deadly snakes, my cave ancestor would not go that way again. Although our brain is drawn to the negative for survival, continual negative thoughts are depressing.
In contrast to that, having thoughts of gratitude provides us with a happier more optimistic outlook. Research has shown that showing gratitude stimulates a part of our brain that regulates stress and another area of our brain that produces the sensation of pleasure.
There are many ways to express gratitude. Here are two different ways for you to try. The first is to say, out loud, ‘This morning I am grateful for ________.’ And complete the sentence. Or, if you prefer, have a notebook and pen beside your bed and write this statement down each day. Expressing this statement of gratitude, either through our voice or through the written word takes the thought out of our head and releases it to the world where it becomes real.
It is OK to express gratitude for the same thing each day, but it’s even better if you have a variety of things for which to be thankful.
5. Make Your Bed
Our days are filled with responsibilities and to-do lists. Some days we feel overwhelmed by the number of things left undone.
An unmade bed can add to our mental list of unfinished tasks. It can also feel like clutter and appears unorderly to our brain. In contrast, our brain seeks order. The simple act of making our bed in the morning allows our brain to tick that off the task list and create a sense of order, both of which our brain loves.
There you have it! Five things to do in five minutes in the morning to Wake up Your Brain. Who knows, over time, you may find that you and the early morning rooster become best of friends.