For me, getting out of bed is by far the hardest part of any morning.
Of course, I am nine months pregnant with a toddler who likes to wake up at the crack of dawn – but still, I don’t think this problem is unique to my situation. In fact, I’m pretty sure it is a universal truth. Waking up early in the morning is the worst.
Wouldn’t it be great if there were a way to awaken more fully before having to leave the coziness of our comforter?
Stretching is one of the most underrated ways to engage in a daily routine of self-care. It strengthens and energizes the body, improves mental energy levels, and has even been shown to promote optimism.
When we choose to begin our day with a series of stretches, we send a message to our body and our mind that we are ready for whatever life throws at us.
Here are four stretches you can do from the comfort of your own bed each morning:
1. Full Body Stretch
– As you inhale, reach up for your headboard and extend your legs to the foot of the bed. Clasp your fingers together, flip your palms upward, and lengthen your body as much as possible. Hold for a count of five, then exhale as you release. Repeat until all bodily tension is gone. Many people find themselves doing this one unintentionally – it just feels good. (Really, all of these do!)
2. Seated Bend Stretch
– Lift your upper body into a seated position. Use pillows if you must – there’s no judgement here. Straighten your legs, and inhale as you reach your chin, chest, and head as high as they will go. Make yourself tall and long. Then, as you exhale, reach for your feet with your fingertips. Lengthen your spine as you inhale, and reach farther with your fingers as you exhale. Repeat for seven long, slow cycles of breath.
3. Figure Four Stretch
– Begin in your newly seated position. Extend your left leg and place your right ankle on your left knee to form a number four. Bend your left knee into your chest, keeping your right knee pointed towards the right. Take three deep breaths, release, and switch sides. Repeat as necessary. This will open up your hips and thighs, making the walk to the coffee maker seem much less intimidating.
4. Bed-to-Floor Stretch
– This is the one that will trick you into actually leaving your bed. Sit up on the bed with your feet over the edge, touching the floor. Reach for your toes, hanging your head down and rounding your back over your knees. Let your head and fingertips hang towards the floor, and rest this way for ten seconds. This supplies more oxygen to the brain, and should more fully complete your awakening process. Stand up and head straight for the coffee maker. Don’t look back!
As you may have noticed, these stretches are progressive and most easily done in order.
The first is basically an extension of sleep itself. The second and third encourage you to sit up, and the fourth one, miraculously, ends with your feet actually touching the floor. That’s what makes this routine such a winner. Its easy, it’s natural, and it just feels good. Give it a try when you wake up tomorrow, and see if your morning feels more pleasant than usual. What have you got to lose?