August 09, 2022
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Photo Credit: Delmaine Donson
Spending a few minutes on “me time” in the a.m. helps me overcome some of my IBD-related fatigue.
I have never been a morning person. I’ve always been more of a “roll out of bed begrudgingly” type person.
After I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis (UC) 14 years ago, fatigue hit me hard. I could hardly wake up in the morning. I was constantly dragging throughout the day and never felt alert.
But I began to notice that my energy improved whenever I took a few minutes for myself in the morning before rushing out the door to the office. Now I work from home and still really enjoy my morning routine. I use it as a way to feel more energized, grounded, and positive.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which includes Crohn’s disease and UC, is challenging enough with the acute symptoms affecting the digestive tract.
However, fatigue is a side effect of IBD that affects 80% of people experiencing active disease and 50% of those in remission.
As a way to counteract this fatigue, I have created a morning routine that helps me jumpstart my day.
I don’t always accomplish every aspect of my routine every single day, but I do all of the following activities at least a few times per week.
Feel free to take whichever pieces of my routine fit in your life and make it your own to give yourself a boost of energy!
I love drinking a cup of hot matcha — a type of green tea — to get a boost of caffeine without the jitters, thanks to the amino acid L-theanine. Caffeine and L-theanine have been shown to work together to increase alertness while reducing stress. The bonus is that I never feel a caffeine crash once it wears off.
To make the perfect homemade matcha latte:
After I make my matcha, I love reading a chapter of a nonfiction book. Learning something new first thing in the morning gets me in the right headspace to start the day.
I feel more motivated and inspired to dive headfirst into my to-do list. On top of that, reading with my matcha in hand gives me 20–30 minutes of quiet “me” time that I may not get for the rest of the day.
I love journaling in the morning, even if it’s only for a few minutes. Writing before I begin my day allows me to clear my mind and boost my creativity, as well as start the day with a positive and grateful mindset.
Here are a few ways I journal:
Meditation is a habit that has changed my physical energy — and my life. Living with a chronic illness like IBD can induce stress and anxiety, as well as never-ending ruminations about my health.
Having nonstop thoughts of fear and worry in turn causes major fatigue — both mental and physical — before I’ve even started my day.
When I meditate after journaling in the morning, I am able to rest my brain, clear my thoughts, and swap out my negative thoughts for positive ones. It gives me a sense of calm, which allows me to tackle the day.
If you are new to meditation, begin meditating for just 5 minutes and consider using one of the many meditation apps available to guide you.
After I have my “me” time and feel re-centered, I take my dog for a walk in the morning sun. (I am grateful to live in Los Angeles, where we almost always have early sunshine.)
Research suggests that vitamin D can help increase energy levels. I try to get at least 10–15 minutes of sunlight first thing in the morning to boost my energy for the day. It also seems to help me sleep better at night.
You could enjoy your matcha in your backyard, go for a walk around your neighborhood, or take your dog for a walk like me.
I love a morning workout! Years ago, you could’ve never gotten me to exercise first thing in the morning. However, I recently discovered how much more energy I had and how much better I felt after I exercised in the morning.
The great thing about this part of my morning routine is that it can look different every day depending on how I feel. It could be a full-body workout, a walk with a friend, or a gentle yoga video.
Creating a solid morning routine filled with mindfulness, movement, and a dose of vitamin D can positively affect your energy levels for the day. I recommend finding a routine that you enjoy as a way to start your day.
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