June 1, 2023
Looking to start your day off on the right foot, but don’t have the time for a long, drawn-out routine? My quick daily routine for busy people will have you feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to tackle whatever the day throws your way. With just a few simple steps, you’ll be able to maximize your productivity and get the most out of your busy schedule, while maintaining health and mind-body balance.
If only there were enough time in my day to fit in all the beautiful daily self-care rituals Ayurveda teaches us. The ancient Ayurvedic texts recommend daily self-care practices for every aspect of one’s being, from the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep: morning cleansing practices, oil massage, yoga, meditation, eating freshly cooked meals, daily movement, a bedtime routine, and getting a good night’s sleep. Self-care can feel like a job in itself, and with all that information one can easily feel overwhelmed and not do any of it at all. However, having a daily routine is the cornerstone to living a healthy lifestyle. Our bodies like routine and rhythm, so we must find ways to make it work for our busy lives. So, I’ve created a kind of cheat sheet with what I believe to be some of the most important Ayurvedic practices that take very little time, but make a huge impact on our health when done consistently overtime.
Start each morning by sitting on the toilet. Morning is a natural time to urinate and have a bowel movement, and is important to empty before we start adding in more nourishment throughout the day.
Brush your teeth and scrape your tongue. If you’ve ever looked at your tongue in the morning it’s probably a little gross, and has a little white coating on it. This is normal, and after the body’s process of overnight detoxification a little coating will accumulate, but it needs some help to be removed. To use, just stick out your tongue, hold the two ends and scrape from the back to the front 5-7 times until most of the coating is gone. Once you are done, rinse the tongue scraper with water and that’s it! This routine cleans and freshens the mouth, helps to rid the body of toxins, and kick starts digestion.
Have a cup of warm water. Hot water cleanses the digestive tract and kick starts digestion. It can also stimulate a bowel movement, which is a much more natural way to do so than having a cup of coffee. It’s important to have this before anything else, including a cup of coffee, as coffee is acidic, causes loose stools, and weakens digestion, as does a cold smoothie. So best not to start with either of those as the first thing you put into your stomach.
Eat lunch. Making lunch a priority and eating at the right time of day (not at 4pm when you’re starving and grazing on anything you can get your hands on) will create routine in your day and help to strengthen your digestive system. Midday, between 10am-2pm, is when our body can digest and metabolize the most nourishment. This means that lunch is the most important meal of the day to have, and skipping it can lead to all sorts of imbalances that we might assume are unrelated, like headaches, acidity, inflammation, joint pain, anxiety, anger, and much more. Try to have lunch around the same time each day, sometime between 12pm and 2pm. Avoid meetings and appointments during this time, so that you can sit down, and eat your food without distraction.
Take a midday pause. Midday is when the sun is the hottest, our digestion is strongest, and it is often the busiest time of the day. Working without taking a little break midday can leave us feeling exhausted, fatigued, experience burnout, or getting more easily stressed or agitated. After lunch, take anywhere from 5-20 minutes to calm the mind and nervous system. You could do this by going for a short walk after lunch, or sitting in the shade. One of my favorite self-care practices for the mind is breathwork. The nervous system and the breath are so closely related that by simply slowing down the breath, we can calm the fight-or-flight sympathetic nervous system and allow the rest-and-digest parasympathetic nervous system to kick in. For those new to practicing breathwork, belly breathing is a great option. Sitting tall or laying on the back, take slow, deep breaths in, feeling the belly expand. Breathe out slowly and feel the belly draw in towards the spine, relax, and let go. Even just a few rounds of breathing slowly can make a big impact on the rest of your day.
Eat a light dinner. You might be tempted to have a big dinner as you are finally home from your day and have time to cook and connect with family or friends while eating, but instead consider having a meal of roasted veggies and a grain, soup, rice, tofu, and veggies, or some spiced lentils which is not only delicious, but easy to digest. During sleep, the body repairs, heals, and restores while the mind digests thoughts, emotions, and experiences from the day. If the body’s energy is diverted into physical digestion because we ate too much before bed, the physical healing and mental digestive processes are halted. Instead of waste leaving the body properly, it will accumulate into what we consider to be undigested food, or toxins. These toxins and poor digestion are considered the root cause of many imbalances and diseases in Ayurveda. A light dinner leaves your body unburdened as you rest.
Create a wind down routine 1-2 hours before bed. The hours from 6pm-10pm are when your body will naturally feel inclined to wrap things and up. Commit to leaving work at work, or finishing up by a certain time if you work from home, and use the evening hours to wind down to restfulness. After dinner, you might go for a short walk to connect with nature, yourself, family, a pet, or a friend. Avoid vigorous exercise, as it will signal to your body that it’s not time to slow down, and you will not sleep as deeply. Try a 1 or 2 hour technology detox before bed to avoid the extra blue-light and allow your melatonin levels to rise. One of my favorite self-care practices that I recommend to clients is to massage the feet with a warm oil. Too much movement from your day can cause overthinking and anxious thoughts, so using oil on the feet instantly grounds us by bringing the energy downward. I recommend using sesame oil, with an optional drop of lavender essential oil.
Looking to dive deeper into building a healthy routine for optimal mind-body balance? My digital guide, Ayurveda Daily Routine, will teach you everything you need to know to organize your day and create a daily routine you can actually sustain in order to maintain health. Check out the guide HERE!