5 steps to cultivate mornings into happier days

by Ryan B. Hunter, FMCHC, Functional Medicine Certified

Health Coach (Edited by Tina Renee D'Souza of Primrose Web)

August 22, 2019 


How did you feel when you awoke today? Like millions of others in our busy world,

you possibly felt groggy or sluggish. You might have taken a stimulant like coffee to

get you moving. As a society we have created some unhealthy habits such as

staying up late, staring at screens, and operating with divided attention during our

days. These habits demand much from our bodies. I’m now a Functional Medicine

Health Coach, but that wasn’t always the case. I’ve had my share of sluggish

mornings and using stimulants to wake up my body and mind. As I searched for

answers to help myself, I discovered that mornings provide an incredible

opportunity to improve my health and well-being. I enjoy sharing this information

with my clients and, in this article, I will give you the tips that I offer them to

creating a happy morning routine.

Properly managing the first hours of our day can result in a more joyful day, which

can lead to a joyful life. When we focus our attention and view the new day from

the perspective of possibility and gratitude, it motivates. The road to robust

wellness begins in the morning when we are given the opportunity to start anew

and set our intention for the day ahead. It is during the morning time that the dull

roar of civilization is quieted and there is an aspect of stillness permeating the air.

If you can give this time to yourself, your health and vitality will give time to you.

An improved morning ritual can assist you in awakening alert and with more

energy. This not only creates happier days, but quality nights, as well.

Use these steps to start exploring your morning. Tailor a morning routine

that empowers you to live not just today, but all days better. You may need to

adjust your alarm, but waking up just 20 minutes earlier could be the key to your

healthy start which gives your mind and body permission to have time for itself.

Experiment and discover what works best for you from these simple self-care tips:

  • Step 1. Do a body scan. When waking up, practice a body scan meditation and

resist the urge to look at your phone. When your eyes pop open, close them again

and mentally scan your body from your toes to the top of your head, keeping an

awareness of your breath. Breathe in, feeling the air move into your nostrils and

exhale out of your mouth. Scan your body with the spotlight of your mind, moving

upward from your feet. Notice the potency of your attention as it brings each inch

of your body into awareness. Slowly focus on each area, gradually moving towards

the top of your skull. If you notice any discomfort or tension, focus on them and

mentally breathe into the area of tension. Imagine the tension evaporating with

each exhale. You can also rub your hands vigorously together and lay your hands on

the tense area, giving it some warm energy. Come into your body during this quiet

meditation, while lying still in your bed. Appreciate your body by giving it focus

before the demands of the day begin. Finish your scan with thoughts of gratitude by

naming something you are grateful for today. 1

Step 2. Stretch. Before leaving your bed, warm up your energy for the day with

stretching. Raise your arms to the ceiling, clasp your fingers together and push your

shoulders upward. While lying down with your arms and head still facing up, stretch

your arms up again, forming a 90-degree angle with your body. Turn your right leg

over onto your left leg, and turn your face to the right without moving your chest.

Hold for five seconds. Do this stretch gently and repeat it in the opposite direction.

This works the lower back. Now, wake up your legs with a hamstring stretch. Lay

flat on your back and look up to the ceiling. Lift your right leg with the bottom of

your foot facing upwards. Hold your right leg at the back of the knee with both

hands for about 10 to 20 seconds. Circle your ankles a few times and repeat for the

left leg. Reach your arms up one last time towards the ceiling, then inhale and lift

your torso, as you sit upright. Next, slowly tilt your neck to the left ear towards

your left shoulder and hold for a few seconds. Repeat the stretch for right neck and

shoulder. Place your feet on the floor and stand looking up, with head back and

chin up. Reach your hands to the sky, palms up, and arms in a “V” shape with your

chest up. Hold this position and then drop your hands to your sides, resting your

fists on your hips in a “power pose” like Superman or Wonder Woman.

Step 3. Make your bed. Now that you’re up, if possible, make the bed. A little

accomplishment is a great start to the day and leads to more accomplishments. As

Admiral McRaven, a 36 year veteran of the Navy Seals says, “ If you have a bad day,

at least you come home to a bed that is made.”

Step 4. Drink lemon water. Drink water with a slice of squeezed lemon in the

morning to kickstart your energy and begin your detox. Water with lemon will raise

your alkalinity, as well as, boost your metabolism, giving the body clean energy

through both hydration and oxygenation. When added to water, fresh lemon helps

oxygenate the body and optimize enzyme function, which provides many benefits,

including mental clarity. This fruit is known to stimulate the liver’s natural enzymes

and assist the liver by eliminating toxins such as uric acid. 2

Step 5. Get morning sun. Begin with a mindful walk outside. If that is not possible,

sit on your porch, read, and drink a beverage. Or do yoga outside. Whatever you

choose, just get morning sun exposure with as much skin as possible. It’s estimated

that more than 1 billion people worldwide have a vitamin D deficiency. 3 Between

8am and 10 am the sun’s rays are less potent to bare skin, which makes it the safest

time to get those healthful rays. For the fair skinned, just 10 minutes in the morning

sun synthesizes vitamin D and positively affects mood.4 Sunshine is the most

natural way to get Vitamin D and what better way than taking a morning walk to

boost our mood and manufacture Vitamin D! “We each have vitamin D receptor

cells that, through a chain of reactions starting with conversion of cholesterol in the

skin, produce vitamin D3 when they’re exposed to ultraviolet B (UVB) from the sun,”

says Yale Medicine dermatologist David J. Leffell , MD.6 Getting morning sun also

helps to reset our circadian rhythm and bring us back in tune with our natural sleep

pattern. Modern life’s artificial light from TVs, cell phones, tablets and computers

disrupts our natural circadian rhythms. Artificial light from these screens can

dampen our moods and confuse our bodily sense of night and day. 5 I find while

getting my morning sun, it’s a nice time to envision my day ahead going well, to

anticipate challenges, and to visualize managing them well. I imagine when I lie

down that evening that I will feel good and be satisfied with this day.

Using these five simple steps in whatever combination works for you can

change your mornings from a sluggish struggle to an energizing experience.

Experiment, enjoy, and repeat.


1. Simon, Harvey B. (n.d). Giving thanks can make you happier. Retrieved from

2. Romilly E. Hodges . Deanna M. Minich. (2015). Modulation of Metabolic

Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific

Review with Clinical Application. Retrieved from

3. American Osteopathic Association. (2017, May 1). Widespread vitamin D

deficiency likely due to sunscreen use, increase of chronic diseases, review finds.

ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2019 from

4. Bedrosian TA. Nelson RJ. (2017). Timing of light exposure affects mood and brain

circuits. Retrieved from

5. Bedrosian TA. Nelson RJ. (2013). Influence of the modern light environment on mood.

Retrieved from

6. Colleen Moriarty. (2018). Vitamin D Myths ‘D’-bunked. Retrieved from