by Marni Fogelson
If the first thing you reach for in the morning, besides the snooze button, is a cup of coffee (followed by several more throughout the day), you’re in good company. You can’t walk down the street in the morning without spying nearly everyone clutching that familiar cup and sipping away. A cup of coffee here or there isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but if you want to break the habit and still be able to function, we have 10 recommendations for how to wake up without it. Substitute some or all of these alternatives for a few weeks, and you may find you don’t even miss your old caffeine fix.
Exercising first thing in the morning is a great way to check an item off your daily to-do list. A brisk jog or run will get your blood going, but if leaving your cocoon of a bed for the gym is less than appealing, put a yoga DVD in the night before and press play in the morning. Yoga—or even some light stretching—is a gentle way to wake the body up, relieve soreness, and boost your mood.
Tea might seem like just a coffee imitation to skeptics, but this globally beloved beverage provides a variety of health benefits. Drink up to hydrate, make bones stronger, and get easy cancer-fighting antioxidants. Many teas still contain caffeine, which makes for an less painful switch. And with so many different kinds (black, green, white, red, and herbal tisanes, to name a few), you’ll never run out of new types to try. Because sometimes you just need something warm to sip in the morning! Another healthful option: hot water with a squeeze of lemon. This simple drink helps promote digestion and detoxification.
The skin is our largest organ, and while most of us are preoccupied with hair removal and moisturizing, there are other ways to show your body some love. Dry brushing helps increase circulation to the skin and stimulates the nervous system, making it a quick and easy morning routine addition that will wake the body up. Not ready to invest in a dry brush? Many macrobiotic followers do a twist on this ritual by dipping a towel into warm to hot water and then giving the body a rubdown, usually before a shower or bath.
Follow up your dry brushing with an invigorating shower. If a warm or scalding hot shower makes you feel tempted to stay in there forever (a high likelihood in the chilly winter months), end your shower with a cold blast of water. It can increase circulation, give you shinier hair, and will no doubt make you feel more alert.
So many people skip breakfast in order to save time in the morning—big mistake! Having a healthy breakfast gets you and your digestive system on the right track and makes you less likely to grab donuts at the office or a sugary coffee beverage mid-morning. One of our favorite breakfasts is a smoothie made with fruit (think frozen bananas and berries), greens, and some sort of non-dairy milk. Boost your smoothie with some protein powder, and you’ll start your day winning the breakfast game.
Walking to work is a great way to get your circulation going, especially if you spend a large portion of your day in front of a screen sitting down. You’ll benefit from the fresh air—even if you live in a concrete jungle. Your walk will also give you some time to think or listen to your favorite music without cursing the traffic and will dial you in to what’s going on in your neighborhood. If your commute is too long to consider going by foot, take a stroll before you go with your pooch. Dogs are great motivators for a walk since they LOVE and need their outdoor time. Seeing their excitement and enthusiasm each new day will instantly get you psyched for your own day.
If getting up to exercise or add an extra element to your morning routine seems completely impossible, considering gradually pushing your bedtime forward in 15 or 20 minute increments. Skipping caffeine late in the day, cutting back on social media and screens before bed, and even taking a relaxing bath may help with hitting the sack earlier. Even if you don’t get up earlier, going to sleep earlier will allow you to feel more refreshed after logging a few extra zzzzzs. Some people even find themselves waking up without an alarm once their sleep cycle naturally resets.
Lying or sitting with your eyes closed might seem like a surefire way to fall back to sleep, but meditation can be surprisingly energizing. Focusing on your breathing is calming and is also a great way to wind down at the end of the day. Benefits of meditating includes a clear head and an increased ability to focus, even if you practice for just 5 minutes each morning. If you do find yourself dozing, try meditating with your eyes open or opening a window to let the fresh air invigorate you.
If facing a monochromatic closet in basic black adds to the morning blahs, inject your wardrobe with some color. You may be surprised to find this change will have a positive effect on your mood. Bright colors like red are known for being invigorating and empowering. Try yellow to cheer you up and inspire you. If you have the freedom to do so in your workplace, ad brightly colored and eye-catching decorating details such as picture frames, a small rug, or even a cheerful computer mouse to give you a little visual boost!
Magic in a bottle? You may think so after experiencing aromatherapy, which uses essential oils to gently give your mood a nudge. These plant-based oils (which are often blended with a carrier oil such as jojoba or almond) have been used for thousands of years—and you probably have products at home such as cosmetics or cleaning products that incorporate them already. Citrus-based oils like lemon and grapefruit are known for being stimulating, as are mint, rosemary, thyme, and eucalyptus. Peppermint has especially won favor in traditional medical research for increasing and sustaining concentration. Aromatherapy oils are super concentrated so you just need a drop or two under your nose or on pulse points (like your wrist or neck). You can also use a diffuser in your home or room to spread the good vibes around more subtly.