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Health & Wellness

The Best 3 Ways to Start the Day

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Are your mornings different than they used to be? Maybe you're an empty-nester and have more time to yourself, or perhaps you've recently retired and you simply need a little more oomph to feel fantastic when you rise.

No matter where you are with your a.m. ritual (or lack thereof), mornings set the tone for your whole day, and we've got three ways to help you clear the cobwebs and rev up for a great day for body, mind and spirit.

Make Lemonade

Okay, not actual lemonade, but a tasty prep for the day. Even sipping a plain, room temperature glass of water before eating or drinking anything else can feel delicious and cleansing, putting your system on gentle alert that it's a new day. Staying hydrated can also perk you up and help avoid mild morning headaches.

Stretch Into the Day

As a certified yoga instructor, I often share one of my favorite wake-me-up stretches: Empty Coat Sleeves. Assuming you're cleared by your doc to engage in exercise, stand up nice and straight, with your feet open slightly, directly below your hips. Make sure you have plenty of space around you on all sides, and then slowly begin twisting, swinging your arms so they gently wrap around your torso. Imagine your arms are light as empty sleeves, and take your head with you, looking over each shoulder as you swing right to left, left to right, rising onto the balls of your feet as you turn, if that feels good. Yogis say this helps get blood flowing to your organs. I say it feels invigorating and fun, and wakes the body from head to toe. Do it for a minute at first, working your way up to five minutes.

Turn on Your Gratitude Attitude

According to the Emmons Lab at UC Davis, which is focused on creating and disseminating a large body of scientific data on the nature of gratitude, studies show that the simple act of counting blessings makes people happier.

Take advantage of this by writing down—every morning—three things for which you feel grateful. They can be general ("my health") or specific ("the way the wind felt on my skin as I looked at the lake"). You can even make it a communal, connected activity by exchanging your morning list with a friend over email or phone.

Taking a few positive steps immediately after waking up can send a powerful message to your whole being: Today is going to be great!

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