Article Thumbnail

Rise and Unwind: The People Who Start Their Days By Relaxing

They don’t need coffee, they need a hot bath and a cup of tea

Raanan Hershberg takes a bath everyday. But the comedian, who recently appeared on The Tonight Show, likes to get in the tub right when he wakes up in the morning. “You know you’re lazy when you begin the day by winding down,” Hershberg joked on Instagram in a recent bit. “I wake up, and I’m like, ‘I need a break.’”

Although this may indeed sound lazy to some, according to mindfulness experts like meditation practitioner Dipal Shah, taking a bath first thing in the morning is one of the saner things a person can do. “Starting your day relaxed keeps the adrenaline and cortisol levels down throughout the day, making your day go smoother,” Shah tells me. Most of us have been taught that it’s best to start the day by getting jacked up by doing some sort of exercise or chugging coffee, but when we do that, it’s much easier to burn out before dinner. “A general rule of thumb is, the less stress in the morning, the better your day,” Shay says.

While it can be difficult to shift from a rise-and-grind mindset into more of a zen one, the following activities, typically reserved for evening relaxation, may be worth trying as soon as you get out of bed instead. 

Sitting in Silence 

Meditation can seem intimidating for beginners, so if you’re not up for guided meditation apps or YouTube videos, Shah recommends taking a few minutes “to sit quietly in a dimly lit room, before everyone wakes up and chaos ensues.” At first it may feel like the kind of zoning out you’d do after a long day, but after a couple of weeks, you will have accidentally developed a meditation practice. “You’ll notice a difference on the days you spend those five minutes quieting your mind as compared to the days when you rush out the door,” Shah explains. 

Journaling and Writing Gratitude Lists 

Journaling and compiling gratitude lists at the end of the day was always helpful for entrepreneur Ian Sells’ mental health, but after long days, he’d often be too tired to pick up his notebook. “I’d either fall asleep while recalling my gratitude list, or rush into it, which offered me little to no benefit. Or I was too disoriented to focus or think about things to be grateful for,” Sells tells me.

And so, Sells moved his journaling to the morning, which has helped him go to bed earlier, sleep better and have more energy to acknowledge (and remember) what he’s grateful for. As he puts it, “Taking your time and respecting your need to regulate and prepare gives you a sense of autonomy and control over yourself — and your day.” 

Cozying Up to Read 

As much as it sounds like an evening activity, actress Kate Chapman says that every morning, she has “a cup of relaxing tea” as she sits on the couch and reads a book or magazine. She prefers this to a cup of coffee and watching the news on TV, specifically because it’s a quieter start to the day. “I’ve been doing this for several years now, and when I don’t start my day this way, I truly miss it,” she explains.

Hitting the Sauna 

Whenever possible, Tom Ingrassia likes to start his day with a sauna, a practice he picked up from traveling to Sweden in the 1990s. Though he admits even his Swedish friends found it to be a strange morning ritual, he ironically considered it a great cool down after a morning run. The soothing dry heat “allowed me to clear my head, relax and approach my day without the stress so often associated with facing a hectic day,” he says. 

Without a sauna in his home, Ingrassia makes sure to take advantage of hotel saunas when he travels, and notes that in a pinch, a “hot, steamy shower works if you don’t have access to a sauna.”

Getting a Massage

Ingrassia doesn’t get a massage every day by any means, but when he does schedule them on special occasions, he makes his appointments early in the morning. “As with the sauna, during a massage, my whole body relaxes and I achieve a sense of calm,” he says. When he can’t see a professional, Ingrassia likes to start the day with some light stretching, yoga and self-massage of his shoulders, feet and hands, all of which leaves him feeling similarly “relaxed and refreshed.”

Masturbating and Morning Sex

Back when Reiki teacher and OnlyFans creator Reverend Rucifer worked in the corporate world, she’d start the day by grabbing her phone and scrolling through emails. Now she grabs a sex toy, and does a different type of scrolling. “I love to start my day with masturbation as it’s an amazing way to connect with, and naturally awaken, my body,” Rucifer says. “Once I learned my masturbation trick, by the time I reached for my phone, I was more relaxed, awake and already in a pleasurable space, which just makes life a little easier.” 

Netflix & Chill 

When marketing executive Clayburn Griffin was a kid, mornings were such a hectic rush that, to slow things down, he started watching The Daily Show from the previous night as part of his morning routine. “Sort of like how a lot of people read the morning paper,” Griffin describes, noting that, akin to Chapman’s breakfast book club, it was lighter and more fun than watching the actual news. 

After recently becoming a dad, Griffin pivoted to shows that require less of his attention, like Impractical Jokers, because they’re easy to watch while he takes care of his baby. Either way, he still likes to get one or two episodes in before the day truly begins. “It’s like a cushion between waking up and hitting the grind,” Griffin says. “I know it’s just TV and there’s work to be done, but I don’t feel as productive if I can’t ease into it. Breakfast and TV is my morning coffee. I need to do both before I can switch into productivity mode.”