6 Expert Tips + 3 Healthy Recipes

The start of a new year is the perfect time to take a closer look at our habits and how we can show our minds and bodies more love. Aside from daily practices like meditation, movement, prioritizing sleep and nutrition, and cutting back on alcohol, you might be considering a new morning routine. We’re taking cues in that department from Certified Holistic Chef Laura Lea, who offers up six “daily essentials” for self-care along with three easy, nutritious breakfast recipes to start your day!

Waking up in the morning, starting the day right. Sunrise by the beach
Are you looking to boost your morning routine in 2024? Exercise isn’t the only way. Here’s how to start your day with habits that are positive, productive, and self-nurturing.

1. Practice parasympathetic breathing.

“Practice parasympathetic breathing immediately upon waking,” Laura advises. This breathing technique encourages more oxygen into your brain and activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which reduces feelings of anxiety and allows you to think more clearly. Here’s how Laura does it: “I sit up in bed and inhale slowly and deeply through my nose. I hold for four seconds, then I exhale slowly. I repeat two more times, or as many as you like.”

2. Open the curtains and make the bed.

Go ahead and let the sunlight in. Literally and figuratively! Opening your blinds or curtains allows some vitamin D and natural light to filter into your space. It not only helps your body adjust to the daylight, but it can assist in combating depression and reducing stress. Your mental health will thank you!

Additionally, there are numerous positive impacts from making your bed each day — particularly if you work from home. So pull up those covers and fluff those pillows — you’ll set the tone for your daily productivity and give yourself a sense of accomplishment before you’ve even had your first cup of coffee.

3. Sip plenty of water.

This one may come as no surprise, but the benefits of hydration can’t be overstated. Water is fantastic for everything from hydrating your skin and lubricating your joints after sleep to helping regulate body temperature and increasing your energy levels. “I drink around 32 ounces,” says Laura of her morning routine, “and I like to add some Stevia-sweetened flavor drop or lemon juice.”

4. Journal.

Jumpstarting your brain and your emotional investment in the day, journaling can be an excellent addition to your morning. “Take 20 minutes or so for free-flow journaling or making a gratitude list (whatever writing modality suits you best),” explains Laura. “I also practice shifting from self-critical to self-compassionate thoughts, which I teach my clients.”

5. Connect with a trusted loved one.

Starting your day by making a connection — perhaps by checking in on friends and family, or simply wishing them a good morning — may be more valuable than you realize. This can help to reinforce your support network, no matter how grand or small the connection. “Sometimes that’s asking for words for encouragement; sometimes that’s asking to meet in person and receive a hug; sometimes it’s to listen about their lives and turn focus away from your own,” suggests Laura.

6. Pay attention to your hunger cues. If you’re hungry first thing, be thoughtful about your first meal of the day.

“While it is important to listen to your hunger cues, starting your day — once those cues kick in — with a health-supportive breakfast has multiple benefits,” she explains. “Firstly, it’s an opportunity to get some nutrients into our bodies before the busy schedule ramps up and we have less time for self-care. Secondly, it can prevent a cortisol spike, aka ’stress hormone’ spike, which is especially important when we’re already in a difficult season of overwhelm. A breakfast focused on sources of fat, fiber, and especially protein especially may also help reduce cravings later in the day.” Read on for a few ideas …

RECIPES

Need a little breakfast inspo to help kickstart your new morning routine? Here are three recipes from Laura Lea’s latest cookbook that are simple, straightforward, and delicious.

3-Minute Nutella Oats

If you crave a hint of sweetness in your breakfast but don’t want to go overboard, these three-minute oats are just the ticket. “The fiber from oats and healthy fats from hazelnuts will help you stay satiated until you can muster the energy to throw something else together,” says Laura. The result is a breakfast that doubles as comfort food. Get the recipe HERE.

White bowl of oats with hazelnuts
These easy oats offer a cozy morning treat. Get the full recipe HERE. Image: Laura Lea

Italian Egg Cups

These little egg cups are savory, satisfying, and perfectly portable. You can also make them in advance and freeze them for mornings when you’re running behind. “When I’m having an off day, I love to treat myself to an iced coffee and some sous-vide egg bites from Starbucks,” explains Laura. “While the cooking method is different for these Italian Egg Cups, the result is similar: a savory, fluffy, and portable breakfast that will cheer you up and help balance blood sugar at the same time!” Get the recipe HERE.

Blue plate of egg cups with prosciutto
These delicious breakfast bites are savory and convenient. You can find the full recipe HERE. Image: Laura Lea

High School Yogurt Bowl

Perfect for those on-the-go mornings when there’s hardly a moment to think, this breakfast bowl is filling enough to satiate and boost your energy without weighing you down. Laura made this her go-to breakfast in high school when she was feeling stressed and slammed. “The key is using grapes instead of the traditional berries or bananas,” she says. “You can enjoy this bowl immediately, or take it to go and allow the oats to soften a bit.” Get the recipe HERE.

Bowl of oats, yogurt, and grapes
This yogurt bowl provides an easy, on-the-go energy boost. You can find the full recipe HERE. Image: Laura Lea

Cheers to good mornings!

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Jenna Bratcher
About the Author

Jenna Bratcher

Jenna Bratcher is StyleBlueprint Nashville’s Associate Editor and Lead Writer. The East Coast native moved to Nashville 16 years ago, by way of Los Angeles. She is a lover of dogs, strong coffee, traveling, and exploring the local restaurant scene bite by bite.