Written by Ella Glover
As the days get longer and the sun starts to come out, Stylist asks top wellness experts how we can get ourselves out of bed and reap the benefits of those extra hours of daylight.
There’s a reason Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is most common in the colder months: the winter months are also the darkest months. A lack of sunlight in autumn and winter can do a number on our mental health, leaving us lethargic, disinterested and, for many people, depressed.
But there’s good news. After what feels like a lifetime, those short, dark days are coming to an end. Don’t believe us? The sun comes up at around 6am right now – that’s a whole two hours earlier than in the depths of January.
Better still, vitamin D – the main benefit we get from spending more time in the sun – has been proven to lessen symptoms of depression in many people, and is known to help regulate our happy hormone and main mood regulator, serotonin.
After hibernating during the lockdown months, waking up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed might not necessarily come naturally. But the longest day of the year is less than three months away now, and we don’t want to let those extra hours of sunshine go to waste – even if it means an extra coffee before lunch.
Stylist asked 10 brilliant women in health, wellness and psychology for their number one tips to make the most of the brighter mornings.
The key to a good morning is to prep the night before. Get everything ready: lay out your clothes for the next day, plan your jobs, write your to-do-list and, if you plan to exercise, make sure to give yourself enough time to do so.
Anji McGrandles, mental wellbeing expert
It sounds obvious but you should go to bed before you’re exhausted and too tired for sleep. Don’t work late into the evening and keep off your phone before bed. A good night’s sleep is essential if you want to get the best start to your day.
Lorraine McReight, clinical hypnotherapist
Get some natural light
It’s super important to engage your senses fully from the moment you wake up. So, first thing in the morning, you should head outside for that morning sunlight. We always hear about how bad blue light is for us, and while that is true in the evenings, it’s essential in the mornings. And that morning light (before midday) helps make you more alert, boosts overall mood and actually helps you sleep better at night too.
Farzana Ali , sound therapist
Stay off your phone
Don’t go on your phone first thing in the morning – or any other screen for that matter! Our eyes, mind and brain need screen-free time for the first 20 minutes of the day so that our circadian rhythm can function properly.
Lou Campbell, mental health specialist
Show yourself some love
As soon as you wake up, before you pick up your phone, tell yourself three things you love about yourself. A bit of self-love in the morning is the perfect way to start your day with confidence and ready to take on the world.
Bex Spiller, mindfulness practitioner and founder of The Anti-Burnout Club
I would recommend you meditate pretty much as soon as you wake up. It sometimes sounds bizarre to put yourself back into a “sleepy” state of mind as soon as you wake up but it can help to ease you into the new day and keep you calm, too.
Jo Howarth, hypontherpaist and mindfulness expert
Move your body
Make a habit of getting moving in the morning. That could be going for a walk; it could be yoga; it could be dancing around the kitchen while making your decaf coffee. The neurochemical effects are profound: dopamine and endorphins are released, making you feel upbeat and happy for the day ahead.
Natasha Tiwari, psychologist and founder of The Veda Group
Try a mindful shower
When you shower, try to visualise the water rinsing off all of the stagnant energy from the night before and all the anxiety, stress and worry that you may have for the day ahead, and try to start every day with a clear headspace.
Chloë Webster, meditation teacher
Make your first meal of the day (no matter what time) your most filling and nutritious. Oats are a great start, in porridge or soaked overnight, with berries, seeds and nuts or yoghurt. Or eggs and dense filling rye bread. Starting the day with a more fibre-filled, protein-rich meal will keep your blood sugar stable for the rest of the day.
Mel Brown, nutritionist
Give yourself time just for you
Especially if you’re a busy person, getting time to yourself, even just to read a magazine, can feel impossible – unless you make the time. Getting up an hour earlier, before everyone else in your house, and giving yourself time to relax and indulge in your favourite activities can be a perfect start to any busy day.
Clementine Pellew-Harvey nutritional therapist
Image: Getty/ Jackie Bale
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