Katie Maycock | Anxiety and Digestive Health Specialist
The Importance Of A Morning Routine!
Mornings should be filled with relaxation, meditation, exercise and gently easing into the day. Sounds nice right? This is what every single morning looks like for the average person…
Yeah right! For a lot of people, it’s sleeping in as late as they can without being late for work. Getting kids ready for school. Waking up reading text messages, replying to emails, guzzling down coffee. Sound familiar?
Not only is this creating a foundation for stress and anxiety. It is ruining productivity for the day.
Having a morning routine is essential to start your day. It helps sets the tone for the day and can reduce stress dramatically.
Those are just a few benefits from having a morning routine!
You might be thinking, I want all of those benefits! But how?
I have developed a strong and foolproof morning routine!
1. The routine starts the night before. Go to bed at a reasonable time to get seven to nine hours of sleep. In the morning, you’re going to give yourself at least an hour and fifteen minutes.
2. When you wake up, DON’T check your phone. For the first few minutes, just simply lay there and properly wake up. Stretch, gently get moving. (If your phone is your alarm clock that is fine, turn it off and put it away).
3. For the first thirty to sixty minutes DON’T check emails, messages, social media, news.. ANYTHING that is going to bombard you with information. Trust me, those emails and messages will be there when you’re ready to check them. I want you to start to think about your brain as having a limited amount of storage.
According to a study done in 2011, we are now taking in five times the amount of information then we were in just 1986.
This is leaving our brains at a mental deficit with increasing stress, reduction in productivity and less able to make effective decisions.
4. Spend at least 10 minutes meditating. Technology has made this simple! You can download a really good app called Headspace. Headspace is designed for guided meditation and really good for people who have never meditated.
5. Drink water! Sounds simple and it is. Here’s the thing, during the night you lose a lot of fluid. Drinking a glass of water helps to re-hydrate you and as an added bonus helps to start your digestive tract.
6. Start getting ready for your day. Whether that’s having a coffee and breakfast or simply showering. At this stage, you should have at least 45 minutes to get ready for work.
7. If you want to have a superstar day, incorporate some exercise in the morning. Whether it’s a 10-20 minute HIIT, walk or gym session. This can increase focus, metabolism, energy and so many more reasons.
This routine seems simple, but a lot of people struggle putting it into practice. We are habitual. To set yourself up for a successful morning, start off slowly. Start with going to bed earlier. And slowly incorporate the other points.
Within a few weeks you’ll be waking up refreshed and less stressed!
Hold on a minute…next time you look at your phone just check your posture. You might find that you are putting an extra 27 kg of stress on your neck muscles and cervical vertebra.
New research has revealed that a 60-degree downward tilt of the head exerts 27kg of stress on the neck. A mere 15-degree downward tilt of the head already exerts 12kg of stress on the neck. You can almost compare it to hanging two and a half 5 litre water bottles from your neck!
What is ‘Text Neck’?
‘Text Neck’ is a new tech-induced neck syndrome. It is used to describe sustained and repetitive stress on the neck as a result of sustained watching or texting on hand held devices over a long period of time.
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms can include the following; neck stiffness and decreased ability to move and pain that can range from a general ache to a sharp pain in a specific spot. The pain may radiate down to the arm or stay localised to the neck region. The shoulder and upper back muscles could be tight and painful. Often, tension type headaches can also be due to a ‘Text Neck’ syndrome.
How to avoid or manage a ‘Text Neck’?
Be aware of your posture at all times
Make sure your neck is not tilted forward while using your device. Roll back your shoulders, straighten your spine, re-align your head so that your ears are in line with your shoulders and reposition your device so that it is at eye level.
Take frequent breaks
Move every 20 minutes. Stand up, stretch, take a deep breath and reset your posture.
Moderate exercise helps to strengthen muscles that help with good posture. It also relieves stress and tension that builds up in your body.
Seek medical advice and treatment
If your neck pain does not resolve in a few days, see a doctor and obtain a referral for treatment such as physiotherapy. In most cases conservative treatment and management is all that is needed to resolve the pain. The therapist will look at the causative factors, help you to change habits, do physical treatment to relieve the muscle spasm and pain and give you tools to help manage the condition.
Don’t delay management
It is better to get you neck pain and stiffness resolved sooner than later.
Feeling a little sedentary? Time to take care of your body even when you are in the office all day.
As I sit at the computer and start to write, it becomes apparent that all that eating and partying during the holidays definitely took its toll this year. Now, of course, it’s time to get back on track. I know I am not alone in making the commitment for better health this year. The problem is that while people might try healthy habits at home, they struggle to transfer them over to the place they spend most of their waking hours: the office.
I recently discussed the issue of staying healthy in the office with CEO and co-founder of SnackNation, Sean Kelly. Kelly, a member of YPO, is literally in the business of creating healthier, more productive workplaces. SnackNation provides thousands of offices across America with a curated selection of the newest, most innovative healthy snacks on a recurring membership basis.
In our conversation, Kelly broken everything down into what he considers the five most important focus areas when it comes to healthy offices:
· Physical well-being
· Diet and nutrition
· Mental performance
· Immunity and sickness prevention
· Relationships and connection.
Here are his tips for living a healthier lifestyle in the office.
1. Stop sitting.
“Sitting is our generation’s smoking,” he insists, “The average person sits 9.3 hours per day compared to 7.7 hours per day of sleep, which wreaks havoc on our health, wellness and state of mind. After just one hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat decrease by as much as 90%.” Kelly recommends trading the traditional office chair for a standing desk. If you’re not ready to stand for that long, try an ergonomic chair that requires you to sit with good posture. He also recommends standing meetings, too: “You’ll find people are more engaged, energized, and also, you’ll waste less time.”
2. Take walking meetings and phone calls.
Any meeting where you are not required to face a computer screen is the chance for a stroll and to get some fresh air. “Especially if there’s just one other person involved, walking side-by-side and in parallel with someone allows for problems to be discussed more openly and allows both people to have a go-forward mentality.” Kelly believes that walking meetings are less combative, more open and collaborative, while also burning some calories and increasing blood oxygenation. Phone calls too can be done while walking, freeing creativity, and putting you in a more dynamic and positive state of mind.
3. Work out with co-workers.
Exercising together not only will deepen bonds and allow you to get to know the people you work with better, it’ll also make you accountable for getting the activity you know you should. This can be before work, at lunch, or at the end of the day. The key is to get a group together that can rally around each other. “I’ve found that end-of-day commitments are easiest for most co-workers to keep,” he advises.
4. Knock out a three-minute workout.
An interval as short as three minutes boosts metabolism, energy and positivity. Kelly suggests, “Bring in some exercise bands or skip equipment. Stick to bodyweight exercises such as squats, push-ups and jumping jacks. Short workouts will help fuel you through the day, reduce stress, and also won’t leave you sweaty and fearful of interacting with other co-workers.”
5. Stretch & Release Emotions.
Anger often shows up as tension in the shoulders and upper back and neck. Fear is typically felt in the pit of your stomach. “Don’t avoid these emotions,” warns Kelly. “Recognize them, feel them, and release them through some basic stretching and deep breaths. The problem isn’t experiencing these normal emotions. It’s in holding onto them for too long.”
Diet & Nutrition
6. Plan your lunches.
Either the day before, or better yet, at the beginning of the week, prepare and pack food. “Even just determining what you’re going to order instead of choosing something in the moment will ensure you make healthier eating choices,” he states.
7. Change lunch meetings to breakfast meetings.
Not only does this lead to increased productivity through less interruption, it’s also easier for most to choose a healthy breakfast. Ego depletion often makes it tougher to do the same at lunch. “Stick with a high healthy fat and high protein breakfast that is low in carbohydrates to power you through the day with sustained and balanced energy.”
8. Limit access to sodas and junk food.
“Instead,” says Kelly, “make it super easy to access healthy snacks and wholesome foods that help enhance productivity, not grind it to a halt. Keep healthy snacks in your desk and/or encourage your office to sign-up for a service like SnackNation.” This is especially important with Millennials, who are a snacking generation — each day they have at least one meal made up of just snacks and typically snack 2.5 times as much as their parents.
9. Eat a lunch high in vegetables, proteins and fats.
“Sure you can have carbs, but I wouldn’t recommend more than a handful, and they should be complex in nature (sweet potatoes, beans, lentils, etc). Eating a bunch of carbs mid-day will slow you down and encourage an early afternoon crash. Opt for a salad with a bunch of vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins and show the afternoon who is boss.”
10. Make it home with enough time between dinner and bed.
“This might not sound like an at-office tip, but it is,” he insists. “You should leave at least 2.5 hours between when you finish dinner and when you go to bed. If you don’t, it’ll interfere with your sleep and make you feel worse and groggy the next morning.” Create a plan for when you’re going to leave the office and stick to it. This will also encourage you to work as efficiently as possible.
11. Put your phone away.
According to Kelly, the worst drug we deal with today is distraction. “Our phones are the biggest culprits. We’re literally addicted to our mobile screens and it’s causing us more harm than we realize. Turn off all notifications on your phone and never place it face-up on your desk. Even better, put it away in your desk drawer. Only check your phone at set, pre-planned times of the day. And definitely don’t bring it into meetings. Nothing says ‘I don’t care about you or this’ like continually checking your phone.”
12. Pre-plan social media visits.
Being intentional with your social media forays will have an immediate positive impact on your mentality. Impulse social media visits not only distract from doing the meaningful work that have a positive impact on life, it also typically makes most people feel worse rather than better.
13. Get going with gratitude.
“Set a calendar reminder to consider — what are you grateful for in this moment? The fact that you’re employed, the sun outside, your five senses, the feel of wind in your hair, your kids…it doesn’t matter what you think about, it just matters that you give yourself 60 seconds of pure appreciation.” Kelly believes that it is impossible to be angry or fearful when you are concentrating on gratitude. While all are normal emotions, they should not rule your day. Moderate them by checking-in on all that’s good in life.
14. Zone out and meditate for five minutes.
No one has to be a Zen master! Just five minutes of meditation can give you increased energy, increased tranquility, and the ability to more effectively deal with your surroundings. Download a meditation app on your phone and allow it to guide you through some simple breath and thought work.
15. Keep track of both personal and professional goals.
Burn-out isn’t healthy for anyone, and it’s usually caused by focusing too much on one area of life while other areas of your life suffer. “You can help prevent this by having daily reminders of your personal goals at your desk and reviewing them frequently. If you achieve your personal goals, you’ll feel better about yourself and will experience a better life, leading to a better you at the office too.”
Immunity & Sickness Prevention
16. Re-think your caffeination strategy.
Instead of sugar in your morning coffee, use coconut or MCT oil. Both are brain boostersthat will yield better focus and mental stamina. Instead of that second cup of coffee in the afternoon, opt for green tea (or water) instead. It will dehydrate you less while giving your body some valuable antioxidants not found in java.
17. Keep a water bottle at your desk and fill it up frequently.
“I like to keep a 24oz water bottle at my desk and aim to consume at least three full bottles every day.” Few things are more important to your health than staying hydrated. This will prevent you from eating too much (overeating is often due to dehydration). Kelly suggests making it a game that you play with yourself: “I take a trip to the water cooler every 90 minutes or so when I need to get up, walk around for a bit, rejuvenate, and get ready to focus on crushing my next task.”
18. Combat germ transmission.
“Always wash hands for 30 seconds. If you can, use paper towels to open doors. If you have to touch handles and door knobs that everyone else uses too, always wash your hands after. And an added note — coffee pots are killers!”
19. Avoid open bags of food at the office.
Not only is the food likely not very healthy, it’s also likely caked with germs.
20. Keep some immunity boosters at your desk.
“When I feel something coming on, I tap into my supply of immune boosters. That includes vitamin C, L-lysine, Astragalus, Apple Cider Vinegar, Grapefruit Seed Extract, and Zinc.” Hit the feeling hard and fast and you’ll have a much better shot of preventing sickness.
Relationships & Connection
21. See everyone around you as an ally.
Kelly believes in a positive approach: “If you think the universe and all of those around you are conspiring in your favor, you might just be amazed when it actually happens. People and the world have a great way of meeting our negative expectations. Instead, give people an unreasonable benefit of the doubt and watch the quality of your relationships, and the positive performance of those around you, sky rocket.”
22. Eat lunch away from your desk.
Use your mid-day break as a time to forge deeper relationships with others. According to Kelly, job satisfaction is directly correlated with the quality of friendships you have with others at work. “Use your lunch break as a time to build friendships. Don’t talk about work–share about personal issues and show them you care about who they are both outside and inside the office.”
23. Take a tour.
Kelly recommends that, once per day (preferably in the afternoon), you set a reminder to go and check in with co-workers. “See how they’re doing and just say hello. Let them know you care. Not only will this make you feel better, it’ll help you develop better relationships. Yes, you need to be careful not to interrupt people, but you can selectively choose who to interact with based on their current level of focus.”
24. Recognize the awesome around you.
“This one is simple, but boy is it powerful,” he enthuses. Write one handwritten note per week to someone around the office that you saw do something awesome. This gift of recognition will create serotonin release in both the giver and receiver, leading to greater respect and trust between the parties.
25. Love yourself.
“Remember that your perspective of the world says a lot more about you than it does about the world. If you don’t think highly of yourself, you simply won’t think highly of others. Appreciating ourselves and those around us is the number one key to experiencing a happy, fulfilled life, so don’t neglect this essential, everyday task.”
Each week Kevin explores exclusive stories inside YPO, the world’s premiere peer-to-peer organization for chief executives, eligible at age 45 or younger.
There are lots of studies that show if you do some exercise in the morning, you will be in a better mood all day long. You will have more energy and you will certainly be a better colleague, friend or partner.
One psychologist at Duke University has researched the effects of exercise on depressed patients and he has come to the conclusion that exercise has a definite role in treating this condition and has an important role in preventing people from relapsing. According to the New York Times, scientists have now established that exercise also boosts your brain power.
In addition, there are studies from the Appalachian State University which show that blood pressure can be reduced by doing regular morning exercise.
So, what is holding you back?
Here are 10 simple morning exercises that will help you feel great the whole day long. You can include some of them in your morning exercise routine or do them all at home without having to enrol in a gym. Consult your doctor before starting any form of exercise routine if you are new to this.
1. Cat Camel Stretch
Stretching exercises are useful for muscle toning and also preventing arthritis. They can either be dynamic or static.
Dynamic ones such as the cat camel stretch, are particularly useful for doing other exercises in the morning. They are also beneficial at other times of the day, especially after long periods of sedentary work. This one is great for spinal flexibility and is a good warm up exercise.
Kneel down on all fours. Start by rounding your back just like a camel so that your head will try to meet your pelvis. This is the camel position. Then lower and lift your head so that your lower back is arched. This is the cat position. Do these movements slowly and smoothly. About 4 or 5 times.
Here’s a video to guide you through:
2. Go for a walk or a run
This is better done outside so that you can connect with nature but running inside on a treadmill is almost as good. You can time yourself and increase length and time according to your fitness program.
Always have new goals to reach. Start with brisk walking and work up to running. At my age, I am still walking!
The health benefits are considerable. You can build stronger bones and you can help to maintain your weight.
Also, you are helping your heart to stay healthy and keeping your blood pressure low.
3. Jumping Jacks
Michelle Obama is a great fan of this exercise and has become “Jumper in Chief.” They are great for cardiovascular health and also for toning muscles especially the calves and the deltoids.
Stand with feet together. Jump while spreading your arms and legs. Return to first position and keep going! You can start with doing these for 1 minute and then gradually build up to the number you are comfortable with. Here’s how:
4. Abductor Side Lifts
Watch the video below to see how to do this exercise. These muscles are important because you use them everyday to run, get into the car or onto and off a bicycle. They are very important also for your core stability and prevent the pelvis from tilting.
Do about 10–15 raises for each side like this:
5. Balancing Table Pose
This is a classic yoga pose. It benefits the spine, balance, memory and concentration.
Start with the table pose (hands and knees). Breathe in before starting each movement. As you exhale, raise your left leg parallel to the floor as you raise the right arm, also parallel to the floor. Breathe in as you lower arm and leg. Repeat for the other side. 10 repetitions on each side is a good starting point.
6. Leg Squats
Not just legs are involved but also hips and knees. Stand with your feet a bit further out from your hips. Arms are out in front of you. Then lower yourself as if you wanted to sit down until you reach a 90 degree angle. You can go down further if you want to. Then return to the starting position. Repeat 15 times for 2 sets for beginners.
The benefits are that these exercises help with knee stability and can benefit the leg muscles such as quadriceps, hamstrings and calves.
7. Push Ups
You start lying down (face down) but with your body held up at arm’s length. Your hands should be in line with your shoulders. Breathe in as you lower your body. That is fairly easy. Now, as you exhale, you have to get back up to the starting position.
An easier version to start with is to bend your legs at the knees so you do not have to lift your whole body.
Beginners may take up to a month to be able to do 100 push ups so you will have to start with a very small number and gradually increase it.
This exercise is great for strengthening the chest, shoulders and the triceps. It is a great strengthening exercise for many muscle groups. In fact, most muscles from the toes to the shoulders are being used.
8. Bicycle Crunches
There are numerous crunch exercises for targetting the abs. The bicycle crunch is a variation where you work more muscle groups.
Aim for 15 to 20 reps to start off with.
Watch the video to see how this is done correctly:
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Place your hand on your hips. Take one giant step forward with the right leg. Make sure the knee does not go too far forward, that is, past your toes. The left knee will go down to almost floor level. Alternate the legs as you go on.
Try to do a set of between 8 and 12 reps for each leg. It is important to allow for a day of rest, so this exercise should be done on alternate days, especially if you are using weights.
This exercise is great for strengthening and toning the quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings.
10. Bicep Curls
You can do this sitting down so if you spend a lot of time on the phone, this is a great exercise to do.
Choose suitable dumbbells or another household object that you can easily hold. Sit down with the dumbbell in your hand. You need to sit forward a bit so that your triceps can lean on your thigh to give you support.
Then bring the weighted arm up to shoulder length and then down again. Exhale as you lift the weight and inhale as you lower it.
Try to do one or two sets of about ten repetitions for each arm and then switch arms.
These exercises are really useful for toning the arm muscles. In addition, they can strengthen and tone the brachioradialis muscle located in the forearm. These are the muscles we use to pick up things when we flex the arm at the elbow so we use these muscles countless times a day.
You may have to build in a rest day for the heavier exercises, numbers 6–10. On the rest days, you can do gentler stretching exercises and also some walking or running.
Morning exercise is not only a great mood booster, but will help you keep your weight down and also sleep better.
Getting enough sleep (about seven and a half to eight hours per night) is important for mental and physical health. The article presents some tips for improving sleep.
How important is sleep?
Sleep is very important. Without an adequate amount of sleep, mental and physical health can suffer.
There are more than 100 million Americans of all ages who are not getting an adequate amount of sleep. Not getting enough sleep can have untoward consequences on school and work performance, interpersonal relationships, health, and safety.
How much sleep is necessary?
Experts generally recommend that adults sleep at least 7½ to 8 hours per night, although some people require more and some less.
A recent National Sleep Foundation Sleep in America poll found that adults (age 18-54) sleep an average of 6.4 hours per night on weekdays and 7.7 hours on weekends. The poll showed a downward trend in sleep time over the past several years. People sleeping less hours use the internet at night or bring work home from the office. Sleep loss can lead to daytime sleepiness that adversely affects performance.
The National Sleep Foundation also reported that older adults (age 55-84) average 7 hours of sleep on weekdays and 7.1 hours on weekends. Sleep is most often disturbed by the need to use the bathroom and physical pain or discomfort in older adults.
A downward trend in sleep time has also been observed in children. Optimal sleep time varies by age. An earlier Sleep in America poll found a discrepancy between recommended and actual sleep time in children, with actual sleep time 1.5 to 2 hours less than recommended. Caffeine consumption caused a loss of 3 to 5 hours of sleep and having a television in the bedroom contributed to a loss of 2 hours of sleep each week in children.
What happens when a person does not get enough sleep?
Not getting the proper amount or quality of sleep leads to more than just feeling tired. Sleepiness interferes with cognitive function, which can lead to learning disabilities in children, memory impairment in people of all ages, personality changes, and depression.
People who are deprived of sleep experience difficulty making decisions, irritability, have problems with performance, and slower reaction times, placing them at risk for automobile and work-related accidents. Sleep loss can also adversely affect life by contributing to the development of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
If you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep or if you feel sleepy or unrefreshed despite a seemingly adequate night of sleep, you may have a sleep disorder. There are over 80 disorders of sleep and wakefulness.
What are some tips for getting a good night’s sleep?
Create an optimal sleep environment by making sure that your bedroom is comfortable, cool, quiet, and dark. If noise keeps you awake, try using background sounds like “white noise” or earplugs. If light interferes with your sleep, try a sleep mask or blackout curtains.
Think positive. Avoid going to bed with a negative mind set, such as “If I don’t get enough sleep tonight, how will I ever get through the day tomorrow?”
Avoid using your bed for anything other than sleep and intimate relations. Do not watch television, eat, work, or use computers in your bedroom.
Try to clear your mind before bed time by writing things down or making a to-do list earlier in the evening. This is helpful if you tend to worry and think too much in bed at night.
Establish a regular bedtime and a relaxing routine each night by taking a warm bath, listening to soothing music, or reading. Try relaxation exercises, meditation, biofeedback, or hypnosis. Wake up at the same time each morning, including days off and vacations.
Stop clock watching. Turn the clock around and use only the alarm for waking up. Leave your bedroom if you can not fall asleep in 20 minutes. Read or engage in a relaxing activity in another room.
Avoid naps. If you are extremely sleepy, take a nap. But limit naps to less than 30 minutes and no later than 3 pm.
Avoid stimulants (coffee, teas, cola, cocoa and chocolate) and heavy meals for at least 4 hours before bedtime. Light carbohydrate snacks such as milk, yogurt, or crackers may help you fall asleep easier.
Avoid alcohol and tobacco for at least 4 hours before bedtime and during the night.
Exercise regularly, but not within 4 hours of bedtime if you have trouble sleeping.
We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but just how important is it for your productivity?
By the time you wake up you likely haven’t eaten for 10 or 12 hours, which is where breakfast got its name — it means “breaking the fast,” Lisa De Fazio, a healthy-lifestyle expert and registered dietitian, tells Business Insider.
Your first meal of the day is what kick-starts your metabolism and replenishes blood-sugar levels so you can focus and be productive throughout the day. When blood-sugar levels are low, she explains, it’s much harder to focus and you’re more likely to feel tired, irritable, and impatient.
Starting your day off on the right foot is all about balancing high-fiber carbohydrates with lean protein, De Fazio says. While all carbohydrates raise your blood-sugar levels, high-fiber carbs like fruits and whole-grain products do so at a steadier pace than sugar and low-fiber carbs like processed grain.
While you may be tempted to grab something quick and sweet like a doughnut or double-chocolate muffin, De Fazio says these baked treats tend to be full of processed flour and sugar, which will spike your blood-sugar levels and lead you to crash by mid-morning. “It’s like injecting sugar straight into your bloodstream,” she says.
Luckily, whether you make your breakfast at home, buy it, or keep something in the office kitchen, there are plenty of healthy and tasty options that will keep you from passing out at your desk.
“Oatmeal is the ideal carb in the morning because the fiber will fill you up and keep blood sugars steady, since the fiber takes longer to breakdown and digest,” De Fazio says.
Thanks to instant oatmeal, you can enjoy the benefits by simply adding hot water. And if you don’t want to make it at home or in the office kitchen, many fast-food retailers like McDonald’s offer oatmeal as a power-packed breakfast option.