According to a study by TUC, the average commute to work took 59 minutes in 2018 – then the Covid-19 pandemic hit us like a meteor and journeying to day jobs ground to a halt for almost half of us. With many of us now working from home for part of our week after the introduction of hybrid working, how can we best spend the extra time we get?
“Our morning routine sets the tone for the rest of the day, so spending the time we would normally be travelling to work on self-care – rather than sleeping in and then reaching for a strong coffee – means we’ll have more energy and continue to reap the benefits right up until bedtime,” says holistic wellness and mindset expert Naomi Buff. Perhaps it’s time to reset the alarm and spend those 59 minutes boosting your body …
Take a ‘sound bath’
Instead of immediately grabbing your phone when you wake up, try a sound bath – a form of meditation using the vibrations of instruments – to ease you into the day. “Plugging yourself into a recorded sound bath before you’ve got out of bed helps to decrease tension and fatigue and increase focus and clarity,” says Buff, who has a Facebook page that’s dedicated to sound healing. “Immersing ourselves in calmness and positive vibes can help us achieve a deeper connection to ourselves.”
At night we lose water through sweating and breathing out moisture and by our kidneys making urine, so when we wake up after eight hours our bodies are parched. “Drinking a large glass of water first thing takes little time but is vital for our mental and physical wellbeing,” says Buff. “When we’re dehydrated we feel tired and sluggish, so a simple glass of water can immediately boost energy levels and fire up our bodies.”
Have a ‘brain dump’
Writing – or having a brain dump – in the morning is a concept from The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron’s 1992 bestselling book on creativity. In the book she claims that writing “three pages of whatever crosses your mind” first thing in the morning will awaken your senses and make you more productive due to a connection between the inner and the physical self when we write.
Lift something heavy
“Just 10 minutes of lifting some heavy weights is enough to get the blood pumping around your body and make you feel mentally fierce,” says fitness and strength trainer Nicole Prasad. “Lifting weights can boost energy, build confidence and help manage depression, anxiety and stress – which are good intentions to set for the day.” Just one weight plate (or dumbbell or kettlebell) could transform simple bodyweight squats or sit-ups into something more powerful.
Have a good stretch
“A morning stretch can reverse tightness caused from sitting, reduce aches and pains and make us more alert,” says Prasad. YouTube is full of quick, free stretching routines which, when done regularly, should put more of a spring in your step.
Turn down the heat in the shower
Blasting your body with cold water can reduce stress, build resilience, raise levels of alertness, increase willpower and improve your circulation and immune system. “Start by turning the temperature to cold at the end of your normal shower for 20 seconds and increase the time a little each day,” says Prasad. “I suggest that my clients use this exhilarating burst as a daily reset button. Telling yourself that whatever has gone before will get reset by the cold water is mentally liberating.” Check out wimhofmethod.com for more details on the benefits of a cold shower.
Make a nutritious breakfast
They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and “they” would be correct. “The ideal breakfast should contain some protein and some fat, ideally with optional complex carbohydrates, combined with a variety of colours from fruit or veg,” says Jenny Tschiesche, nutritionist and founder of lunchboxdoctor.com. “This combination slowly releases energy, allows you to concentrate better and focus more on the day ahead.” Use your extra time to make some porridge with fruit, cook some poached eggs or mix greek yoghurt with fruit and seeds.
Clean up daily hygiene habits
Brushing alone only cleans 60% of your teeth, but using a TePe interdental brush after brushing will help keep even more of your mouth healthy and help to prevent gum inflammation and cavities, leaving you feeling fresher. And cleaning ourselves isn’t just beneficial for our physical wellbeing – “you can piggyback on these good hygiene habits,” says Buff. “For example, spend longer cleaning your teeth but also use this as mindful time. Making eye contact with yourself in the mirror as you’re cleaning in-between each tooth, while repeating some positive affirmations, will leave you with a fresher mouth and a fresher mind.”
Play some music
“Music is an immediate mood booster that can completely shift your energy,” says Buff. “Listening to a piece of music that you enjoy can cause the brain to increase pleasure-causing substances such as melatonin and decrease stress.” Get into the habit of popping on some music that makes you feel really alive before zoning into work.
Sniff some essential oils
Having a sniff of something uplifting literally takes seconds and can add immediate oomph to your morning. “Add a few drops of a citrus oil – like wild orange or lemon – to cupped hands and take three big slow inhalations,” says Nicola Burnett, founder of Oil Things Natural. “Studies show that the molecules present in citrus oils cross the blood-brain barrier when inhaled, having a direct impact on the areas that control feelings of anxiety and stress, creating a happy start to the day and stopping any stresses in their tracks.”
For more information, visit tepe.com/uk/sustainable-idb