A Swedish tradition of getting up at sunrise to take advantage of nature’s bounty could put a spring in your step.
PARIS: You’ve probably already heard that getting up late every day is a bad habit that can have harmful effects on both mental and physical health. Stress, irritability, increased risk of illness – the list goes on.
However, the Swedish have a tradition called “gökotta”. This ritual, which could be translated as “getting up early to hear birdsong”, involves rising at dawn to enjoy a quiet, peaceful moment in nature.
Gökotta is traditionally practised the first day of Ascension (in May) through to June, but there’s no reason why it can’t inspire you for mornings during other seasons.
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The concept is simple: ideally, you get up with the birds at the crack of dawn. In Malaysia, this is at around 7am.
Gökotta can be practised in a variety of ways, depending on individual tastes. A 10-minute walk in a park, a jog along a forest path, meditation at sunrise, or sitting in your garden with a cup of coffee in hand.
These are several good ways to connect with nature, in a calm environment, in order to absorb its benefits before a day’s work.
So what are these benefits? Johan Verbraecken, sleep specialist at Antwerp Hospital, explained: “Being active early in the morning has many benefits as the day progresses. Your blood pressure rises and your fat burning begins.
“In addition, your cortisol levels peak in the morning and you have more energy for the rest of the day.”
Furthermore, outdoor sounds and natural light are known to stimulate wellbeing and promote a positive mood. For example, researchers have shown that morning light helps people concentrate better in the morning and sleep better at night.
Natural light is also a vector for the production of serotonin, an important mood-regulating hormone. Plus, visiting green spaces – an essential part of gökotta – also helps improve cognitive abilities.
If you’re a night owl, you can still incorporate some form of gökotta into your daily routine. You could spend some time meditating in nature, for instance.
No birdsong in your environment? You can always fall back on the sounds of nature via apps on your smartphone.
You can also practise the Swedish ritual at work by taking advantage of breaks to go for a walk in a nearby park.