11 "Healthy" Morning Habits That May Not Be As Good As You Thought
If you've landed on the ideal morning routine, and are thriving throughout the day, then keep doing your thing. But if you've been feeling sluggish, tired, or stressed, it may be time to reassess the situation and make a few changes. Because even though some morning habits may seem healthy, many do more harm than good.
What you eat, what you think, and even the way you get out of bed can impact the rest of your day. So before we talk about what you may not want to do, let's talk about what you can do. To start, many experts recommend moving in some way. "If you don't have time for a full workout [...] don't worry," Melissa Rae Lopez, certified nutritional therapist and personal trainer, tells Bustle. "If possible, take a short five minute walk around the block for fresh air, or just take a few minutes to stretch out your body before tackling the day's tasks."
You might also want to spend time checking in with yourself, to help keep stress at bay. One way to do so, Lopez says, is by writing down three things you're grateful for, and focusing on them for a few minutes. If you'd like to kickstart a good day, consider avoiding some of the "healthy" habits listed below, which experts say can actually do more harm than good.
1. Jumping Right Out Of Bed
If you leap out of bed the moment the alarm sounds, it may seem like you're getting a healthy jump on the day. But, as Dr. Catherine Jackson, licensed psychologist and board-certified neurotherapist tells Bustle, rushing around can actually put unnecessary stress on your body, and even increase anxiety.
So, if you're prone to throwing the covers off and racing headlong into the day, see how it feels to slow down and lay in bed for a minute or two as you meditate or check in with yourself. "Doing this," Dr. Jackson says "will help reduce anxiety in the morning and throughout your day."
2. Hitting Snooze 17 Times
On the opposite side of the spectrum, hitting the snooze button multiple times may feel good, as you snag a few more moments of sleep. But it can actually do more harm than good.
In fact, hitting snooze can even impact your brain. "This is because a sleep cycle is approximately 75 to 90 minutes," psychotherapists Lin Anderson, LMHC, M.A., Ed.M and Aaron Sternlicht, LMHC, CASAC, tell Bustle. "In a given night, an average individual will go through [three to five] sleep cycles. If you hit snooze, your brain goes into a sleep cycle, which is then interrupted and suddenly woken up by the snooze alarm nine minutes later."
This can lead to an issue known as sleep inertia, they say, leaving you feeling groggier, and even more sluggish for the remainder of the day.
3. Checking Your Phone
While it's good to stay informed and catch up with friends, consider how scrolling through your phone first thing in the morning truly makes you feel.
"Oftentimes, seeing the missed notifications, emails, and updates can trigger stress and anxiety, turning your mindset from calm to frazzled," Dr. Kristamarie Collman, MD, tells Bustle. "Instead, after waking up, take a few minutes to enjoy your morning by choosing another activity [that's] more aligned with your needs."
Whether it's going for a walk, meditating, listening to music, or brewing a cup of tea, Dr. Kristamarie says, you might notice it puts you in a much healthier frame of mind.
4. Having A Glass Of Juice
You might consider juice to be a part of a healthy breakfast. But if you tend to get tired by late morning, you may want to have something else, instead.
"The problem with juice is that, in the juicing process, you lose pretty much all the fiber from the fruit, leaving you with nothing to buffer against the sugar that's in it," certified health coach Marissa Szabo, tells Bustle. "Fiber helps slow down the absorption of sugar from fruits so that they don't have a dramatic effect on your blood sugar."
Actual fruit is fine, but "without that fiber, the sugar from that fruit spikes your blood sugar levels very quickly," Szabo says, causing you to crash and feel tired a few hours later.
5. Taking A Really Hot Shower
"Hot showers feel relaxing and can help increase your alertness but can also be damaging to your skin," Dr. Thanu Jey, clinic director at Yorkville Sports Medicine Clinic, tells Bustle. And this is especially true if you have dry skin to begin with, as the hot water will only make it worse.
But that's not the only reason to take a cooler shower. As Dr. Jey says, "If you have recent injuries, showers that are too hot can increase the local inflammatory response and slow down your healing."
6. Skipping Breakfast
It's important to listen to your body and do whatever feels right for you first thing in the morning. And if that means holding off on breakfast for a few hours, or having something light, that's perfectly fine.
You should, however, reconsider the idea that skipping breakfast is healthy. After all, "when you sleep your body is on a fast," Dr. Jackson says. "It's called 'breakfast' because you are breaking the fast of not eating while you slept. So skipping breakfast is not recommended."
It's important to replenish your body, Dr. Jackson says, especially with foods that are high in nutrients. "Skipping any meal is not a good practice," she says, "as your brain needs fuel throughout the day."
7. Having Lots Of Carbs
That said, you don't necessarily want to reach for traditional "healthy" breakfast foods, like cereals, toast, or muffins. While carbohydrates are good for you, having them first thing in the morning can leave you feeling tired before lunch — again, due to that blood sugar crash.
"Instead try eating a protein-based breakfast such as eggs or a smoothie with nuts or seeds," Dr. Kristamarie says. "Or if you want carbs, try a complex carbohydrate such as oatmeal with added protein and fiber. These combinations can help to slow digestion, making you feel full and satisfied for a longer period of time."
8. Thinking About Your To-Do List
Of course it's healthy to consider what you have to do each day, and be aware of your to-do list. But that doesn't mean you necessarily want to start checking things off early in the morning, especially if it causes you stress.
"This starts off the day with you feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed," Anderson and Sternlicht say. So consider giving yourself some work-free time, before actually heading to work.
"Engage in a healthy morning routine that can comprise of things such as meditation, manifesting gratitude, journaling, listening to calming music, and preparing a nutritious breakfast," they say. Or whatever else puts you in a good frame of mind.
9. Washing Your Hair
While everyone's hair is different, you may want to assess whether or not your strands really need to be washed every morning, as part of your getting-ready routine.
"Washing [your] hair every day has the potential to wash away the natural oils that hair needs to be healthy," Rob Danoff, DO, MS, FACOFP, tells Bustle. "A sign that [you] may be washing [your] hair too much is dry and brittle hair."
Switching to every other day or every couple of days, depending on your hair type, can make all the difference.
10. Cleaning Out Your Ears
It can feel so good to clean out your ears with a swab, and remove all the extra wax. But the reality is, this habit can actually do more harm than good.
"The reason: we can actually jam more wax in our ear canals, or potentially put a hole in [the] eardrum if the cotton swab tip goes in too far," Dr. Danoff says. "This can lead to infections and potentially, hearing loss."
That doesn't mean you have to have dirty ears, though. As Dr. Danoff says, the water from the shower is usually enough to clean out extra wax. But you can also use a towel on the outside, as well.
11. Drinking A Cup Of Coffee
"Having caffeine once in a while is OK," Dr. Danoff says. But relying on it for energy — instead of getting better sleep — can lead to a vicious cycle of fatigue. Not to mention, needing caffeine in order to get through the day can actually be a sign you're already sleep deprived.
Many common morning habits can actually do more harm than good, so it may be worth it to check in and assess how yours make you feel. You may find that it's time to make a change, and replace them with ones that actually help you feel good.