Moving and Smoothing Out the Blue Monday Blues (and any other morning)
Get Moving and Start your Day as you mean to go on before you even get out of bed!
Ever feel 'old and creaky' or 'stiff and achey' (or just plain tired and uninspired) when you wake, or get, up in the morning?
Perhaps that slight (or heavy) drag of an internal struggle and a thought that goes something along the lines of, 'Ok (....sigh...) here we go again,' are things that are becoming all too familiar, especially during this wintery part of year and at this particular time in our history?
It doesn't have to be 'Blue Monday', the name given to the third Monday of January (Monday January, 18 in 2021) in the UK that's purported to be the most depressing day of the year!
Given the reluctance we know many people are facing about even getting out of bed on these darker winter mornings (we're considering amending our primary business objective to that of a simple alarm service, rather than helping people move more easily and get more active, as 2021 has rolled in and several of our members have started telling us that one of the major roles our online classes are actually providing - along with all the other benefits of getting together for group movement practice - is that they give them a reason to get up in the morning!), and knowing some of the benefits of movement, how about setting up a new Morning Movement Habit any day to help?
Getting your body moving a little before you get out of bed with some In-Bed Morning Movement might be the answer!
Well, firstly 'stacking' habits together can make them easier to stick with as our brains like to lump different behaviours together to make things more 'automated' (e.g. 'I'm doing...., so therefore I will do......' or 'I'm going to do...., so first I'll do.....').
Secondly, the movement can help to ease out aches and stiffness to make your body feel better and make you feel mentally more positive and energised. This might not only help you get up and out of bed but could also serve to set you up with a more proactive and enthusiastic mindset for the rest of your day.
2 minutes is all it needs to take (though you might find it feels so good you want to do more!)
Start by choosing just three of the following (one from each section, lower, upper, whole body).
You should be able to do these in 2 minutes or less, which according to many is a good rule for starting and setting a new habit effectively. More than this and it begins to feel like a chore which definitely dampens motivation. After time, if the habit sticks then the chances are your 3 exercises may lead to 6, your 2 minutes may lead to 5 etc.
Any of these movements will start to get circulation going, ease movement through your joints, get muscles firing, stretch you out a little and help you become more 'connected' to, and in touch with, how your body feels today....before you get out of bed and ask it to 'carry load' (i.e. lug your body weight around) or do any work (i.e. normal everyday movements...and maybe more).
Wriggle, scrunch and spread out your toes (all together, one foot at a time or each toe separately). Spend 30 secs or more with your feet this way, they often get forgotten!
Alternately point your toes away from you then press your heels away (both feet together, one at a time, or each going in the opposite direction to the other i.e. one foot pointing whilst opposite heel presses away). Repeat x 5 (both feet in both directions)
'Wave' your toes from side to side pivoting at the ankles (as if your feet were windscreen wipers). Repeat x 5 (each direction)
Slowly tilt your pelvis first one way (towards your belly by 'tucking your tail' under) then the other (away from your belly as if sticking out your 'duck tail'). Repeat 3 to 5 times
Bring one knee up towards your chest and your hands behind your thigh (of the lifted leg) and gently hug your thigh in towards your chest for 3 to 5 secs. Repeat with other leg and/or both together. Do each leg 2 or 3 times each
Lying on your back, legs out long and 'hip hike' by drawing first one, then your other, hip closer to your ribs by pulling it up and in to your body as if you're trying to shorten your leg (knees stay straight and pelvis moves like a steering wheel turning towards and away from your chin). Repeat x 5 (each side) in a sedate 'walking rhythm'
Clench and squeeze your fingers and hands to make a fist then stretch fingers, thumbs and palms out wide. Repeat x 5 (clench and stretch)
Interlace your fingers (i.e. both hands together), turn hands away from you and press palms outwards. Unlace your fingers, shake out your hands and wrists for 5 secs then repeat (palm press and shake out)
Open your mouth wide and stick your tongue out and down as far as it will go. Close your mouth then repeat twice more
Lying on your back, wrap your arms around your chest and give yourself a hug (can you touch your shoulder blades with your hands?). Relax out then repeat two more hugs
Lying on your back, with your arms by your sides, bend your elbows so they rest on the bed and your forearms and fingers point up towards the ceiling. Now press your elbows down in to the bed and squeeze your shoulder blades towards each other. Relax and repeat a couple more times
Roll on to your side, knees bent (legs relaxed down on to your bed) with both arms out straight along the bed in front of you, palms together. Now reach your top hand away from your body as if you're trying to push something away from you (feel a stretch across the top of your back). Now bring your hand back the other way (towards you) by drawing your fingers lightly back over your lower palm, along the inside edge of your lower arm (bending your elbow as you go) all the way over your chest and the front of your shoulders, then open your arm out behind you to stretch across the chest and twist the upper torso (take it easy and support yourself with a pillow under your shoulder as you 'open' out if you need to, as this can create quite a strong stretch around your chest and shoulder). Repeat and then turn over and repeat on your other side
Lying on your back, with both knees held up towards chest (as above), or feet flat on bed with knees up, gently rock your legs from side to side creating a small and easy twisting motion through your back (gently turn your head in the opposite direction if it feels good). Do as many as feels good
Lie on your back, make a star shape and take a full body stretch (stretching out as wide and as far as you can with each limb). Relax and repeat
In any position briefly (just two or three seconds is enough) tense as much of your body as you can, then relax as fully as you're able to. Repeat twice more
Pandiculate: that delicious, sleepy, yawny sort of stretching that seems to happen all by itself (think cats and dogs when they wake from a nap). If it's not happening, encourage it by just stretching your body out in a way that feels good. Like both yawns and laughter, with pandiculation, it's possible to fake it until you make it!
One Final Exercise
Regardless of which three movements you've chosen from all the above: Now get out of bed!
....to breathe (it's common to hold our breath when we're concentrating on things) and only move within your comfort zone. Plus a few deeper breaths can really help us feel better and ready for our day.
....And this is designed as a simple Wake Up, not a Work Out! Enter in to your movement in the spirit of ease, comfort and enjoyment (you might even see it as a celebration of being in a body that wakes up each morning!), rather than a challenge or a chore.
If you're the kind of person who likes routine, create your own routine by making your own list from any (or all) of the above, keep it by your bed until you know if by heart, and do it before you get out of bed each morning.
Or if you err more on the side of spontaneity just pick and choose from what feels best for a new list, or routine, each morning.
Either way, if you can make in-bed morning movement a habit, and put 'getting your body out of bed' as the last exercise on your list, it should become easier and easier to get up and out of bed in the mornings. Even when it's dark. And even when it's cold.
Of course you do have to wake up in the first place and you do need to put a little effort into creating the new habit!
Setting your intentions the night before can help.
Either just by thinking 'Tomorrow I'll wake up ready to do my In-Bed Morning Movement', or by saying it out loud - to yourself or another - before you go to sleep.
Or by placing something next to your bed which, when you see it, will remind you of your intentions on going to bed at night and when you wake up in the morning. This could be anything: a picture of feet, a stretchy cat, or happy smiling person. Or some kind of object that holds meaning for you. Or set a morning alarm with a particular song or voice recording that will remind you that you want to wake up, get moving and feel good.
Another way of motivating yourself, if you share your bed with a partner or child is to ask them to join you. It's often easier to establish and maintain a habit together with someone else. It's fun to do things together. Plus you'll be doing them a favour by helping them feel better too.
Have nice day!
(And then a good sleep and another great morning.)
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