32 Ways To Liven Up Your Day – Part 1/4

I am a slow riser. When the alarm goes off in the morning I let my husband take the lead and get our son out of bed and into gear. I follow suit in about 15 minutes. That’s why I was excited to read Your Renewable Energy Plan by Amy Paturel and Sara Reistad-Long in a recent issue of Real Simple magazine.

Slow hazy start at 7am? Reaching for coffee and sugar at 3pm? Restless at night? Here are 32 ways to get the most out of your daily cycle. Part 1/4, The Morning Rush.

“It can take up to two hours to get the brain fully alert,” writes Matthew Edlund, M.D., director of the Gulf Coast Sleep Institute in Sarasota, FL. Here are 8 things you can do every day to put a little spruce in your step.

1. Simplify Your Closet. It is said that Einstein kept multiple identical outfits in his closet so he didn’t have to spend energy choosing clothes. I like to do this as well. New research confirms that picking an outfit can be exhausting. In a 2008 study led by the University of Minnesota, students faced with many choices were more likely to procrastinate and had less physical stamina. So when it comes to choosing what to wear, among other countless choices we make on a daily basis, try to limit yourself to 10 options, says Barry Schwartz, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Swarthmore, PA. You will look good and feel better. (Suggested paired reading, I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!: Daily Affirmations With Stuart Smalley. lol :)

2. Raise The Blinds. Light stimulates your brain to stop the production of melatonin, the hormone that creates sleepiness. Light also triggers your brain’s suprachiasmatic nucleus, a tiny area about the size of a grain of rice which controls your body’s circadian (daily) rhythms. Edlund also stresses, “the first physical activity of the day raises the body temperature and increases blood flow to your brain.” So go ahead and open those blinds and do some light stretches in front of your window to jump start the process.

3. Behold Beauty. Place something you love to look at next to your bed, like flowers, a favorite photo or anything else you love to look at. Author Jim Loehr, Ed.D., a co-founder of the Human Performance Institute in Orlando, FL, says the reason this helps is because we are in survival mode in the morning with the need to meet basic needs like hunger and thirst. To the body this feels like a threat which drains our energy. To counteract the message that we’re under threat, positive emotions like hope and gratitude go a long way. We can kick start those emotions by looking at something we cherish.

4. Create Olfactory Delight. Nothing gets the body going faster than a nice hot shower. Try adding some vigorous scents to it to make the sensation even more awakening. Mint, citrus and eucalyptus are all good for boosting energy. “When you smell these scents, a surge of energy flows through the body, which clears the mind of clutter and gives you a quick lift,” states Ann Marie Chiasson, who practices integrative-medicine in Tucson, AZ. (Maybe there was something to that old commercial, “When I bite into a York peppermint patty, I get the sensation of… :)” Chiasson says she used to put a few drops of peppermint oil on a Kleenex to sniff for a boost of energy during her mid-school exam season.

5. Shake Your Body. The benefits of  those good feeling endorphins released during exercise can last six to eight hours, according to Gregory Florez, spokesperson for the American Council on Exercise in Salt Lake City, UT. “Morning exercisers tend not to have mid-morning slumps and are sharper mentally than if they hadn’t exercised,” states Florez. If you can fit in a workout that includes both cardio an strength training, you’ll get the biggest energy reward.

6. Novel Novel. Your brain releases a rush of neurotransmitters when presented with novel experiences. Such neurotransmitters, like dopamine, make you more alert. There’s no need to write novel instead of reading the morning paper, however. Just take something ordinary and make it different, like brushing your teeth with your left hand if you’re right handed, or vice-versa.

7. Breakfast Picasso. Stack your breakfast plate with 80% colorful, unprocessed foods. Los Angeles, CA based clinical nutritionist Kim Walls suggests the rest of the meal should be a combination of lean protein and fiber rich carbs which will keep your blood sugar steady and are digested slowly.

8. Vitameatavegamins.  Unlike Vitameatavegamin, a fictional nutritional elixir featured on the I Love Lucy show which contained 23% alcohol, vitamins are important to your personal energy. “A lack of vitamins can cause fatigue–especially B vitamins, which convert energy from food into energy your body can use,” says Sara Ryba Matty, a registered dietitian in Scarsdale, NY. A vitamin pill can help if you’re not getting enough nutrient power in your diet, but be sure to take it with a meal, says Matty. “Food in the stomach triggers digestive juices that will help break down the vitamins.”

Be sure to check in next week for part 2/4 of this blog feature as we shine the light on the seven things to help kick start your first hours at the office, on the job or taking care of the kids. Until then, here’s a fun Parents With Angst song called “Mommy’s Gotta Hop In The Shower” and if you haven’t already checked out the official “Mac & Cheese” music video, here it is.  – xo Amelia