5 Sure Ways to Overcome the Morning Zombie Syndrome

By

Manfred Tham

Let’s be real, you either wake up every day drowsy and groggy or you’re lying. For mothers they’ve got it especially hard, having to juggle between waking early for the kids, prepping them for school and making sure you are all ready for the pitch at 9am. Here are some tips and tricks for the busy mums and regular Joes, so that you can wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the world.

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Stop Hitting Snooze

This is going to be a hard one for anyone who uses their phone as an alarm clock. Snoozing after your alarm jolts you awake is actually going to have you get up more tired. Plus you’ll be extra pissed off because your alarm went off multiple times in your ear.

According to Dr Jodi Mindell, your brain won’t fully go back to restful sleep in the 5 minutes between the alarm, so you might as well set your alarm for exactly when you have to be up.

Throw open the blinds

Bright light might some like anathema to your sleepy brain but sunlight upon your skin will wake you up far better than any amount of coffee. Seeing and exposing yourself to sunlight will let your body’s internal clock know that it’s time to energise the body (that’s you) and to kill all the sleepiness.

So don’t squint and shut the blinds, crack open the window and eat your breakfast with morning’s glow.

Shocking Shower

Probably the most unpleasant but undeniably effective, you could start your morning by jumping right into a cold shower instead of waiting for the water to come up to temperature. It’s cheap, fast and simple: perfect if you’re in a rush because you woke up late.

Morning Sweating

That’s sweating, not swearing, though they might both be equally invigorating. Chase away the drowsiness with some light exercise in the morning to get blood pumping around your body. For the more extreme, you can opt to jump right into a morning workout instead.

Sweet Tunes

No one on Earth can say they hate all music: everyone has some music they absolutely adore. The next time you shuffle out of bed as a zombie, play some of your favourite songs and your brain will send a rush of dopamine (the feel-good chemical), easing you awake.

Bonus points if your songs of choice are upbeat as high tempo songs will energise you. The best bit is that you can combine music with any of the above 4!

Try it all

We can’t guarantee that all of these will be painless but it’s better to try some instead of starting every day groaning and walking into things.

Of course, the best way to wake up energised is to get sufficient sleep (around 7 to 8 hours for adults) but if your work (or social life) is in the way of sweet sweet rest, you know what to do.

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Here’s How To Host A Queen-Approved Tea Party

The afternoon tea - a quintessential English social phenomenon that is thought to be a chichi gathering for the upper class. To the uninitiated, there is a whole science behind the delicate nature of tea making. From doilies to loose leaves, here’s all you need to know about hosting an English afternoon tea. But first, stop sticking your pinky out.

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History

Story goes that Anna Russell, the Duchess of Bedford and lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, was the creator of the English “Afternoon Tea”. She wanted a light meal to curb her hunger between lunch and dinner. Soon after, she began inviting her companions to socialise over tea and pastries. And thus, the Afternoon tea tradition caught on and gave the the English people a legitimate reason to snack. And boy do they take it seriously!

High Tea, Low Tea?

In today’s terms, high tea and afternoon tea are used interchangeably. In actuality, high tea refers to a heavier meal, more specifically, dinner. Despite so, many restaurants and upscale cafes still label it as  “High Tea”. Afternoon tea is also called “Low Tea”, mostly because it takes place in sitting rooms with low tables.

The Wares

The tea wares are the backbone to recreating the most authentic afternoon tea experience. These wares are intricately designed with some fetching upwards of $50,000 to a few Mils. When planning to host a tea party, don’t forget the following or you might be thrown into the dungeons for crime against the English national pastime.

  1. Teapot, cup and saucer: A formal tea would use matching teapots and cups while an eclectic mix for an informal tea would do just fine.
  2. Milk jug: Milk before or after the pouring of tea is debatable, but entirely to one’s preference.
  3. Sugar bowl and tongs: Use cubes for a more refined tea session.
  4. Hot water pitcher: Used for weakening a strong brew.
  5. Tea strainer: To catch loose leaves
  6. Napkins: For spills, cleanups and signalling the end of the tea session.
  7. Silver Tray: Serving tray that is reserved for the most formal afternoon tea.
  8. Tiered cake stand: An essential in formal and informal tea sessions.
  9. Plate: To place lemon slices or food.

The Fares

Afternoon tea served are often less robust than the morning brews. Black tea like Darjeeling and Lapsang Souchong or blends like Earl Grey are the go-to staples.

When it comes to nibbles, the menu traditionally consist of 3 courses: scones, savoury sandwiches and sweet pastries or cakes. These snacks are served on tiered stands in this particular order: top layer for scones, middle for savoury and the bottom for sweets. Etiquette dictates that it should also be consumed in that order. But to be honest, nothing can stop a sweet tooth from reaching for that piece of macaron.

All poised with the basics of hosting your first proper tea party, now you’ll be all ready to entertain whenever the kettle’s whistles. Of course, with the Queen’s seal of approval.

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Weirdest Coffee Bean Facts That You Need To Know

Coffee, arguably the world’s most consumed beverage. In the last 20 years, there has been a major shift in the coffee culture across continents. Countless coffee joints have started popping up to cater to the increasing demand. Apart from the usual Americano and Java Chip Frappes, how much do people actually know about the source of all these caffeinated wonders? In the grande scheme of things, it’s probably time to have the first crack into its origins, the most interesting and the downright grossest coffee beans trivia that one needs to know.

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Expensive Piece of Bean

Starting off with the most expensive, coffee drinkers may be familiar with this cash wrenching cuppa – the kopi luwak. At about $35 – $100 per cup, it is produced from coffee beans found in the byproduct of the Indonesian Civet cats. During the digestive process, the beans are processed by the enzymes in the Civet’s intestines, making it less acidic, less bitter and ironically, with a better aroma.

Shrivelled Up

Excavating the oldest coffee bean in the world probably bring you back to the time you first taste coffee and how much it would change the course of your waking life. This discovery pushed the origins of coffee back to the early 12th century. This changed what we thought we knew about coffee, that these beans might have already been a staple trading commodity 250 years before it was spread to the Middle East. The tiny magic bean was unearthed in the Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah, near Dubai.

Monkey Business

With a recurring obsession with animals being a part of the coffee preparation process, it comes to little surprise when the Taiwanese produced the monkey spit coffee. Farmers would harvest and roast these half chewed seed regurgitated from the Formosan Rock Macaques. For the curious, it reportedly yields a sweet brew, topped with vanilla-scent.

None shall sleep tonight

Aptly named the Death Wish Coffee, a serving of these Robusta coffee beans hold up to 651mg of caffeine. That is almost 200% more than the average cup of joe. This lethal brew is said to be the strongest coffee in the world, with many caffeine addicts citing that this elixir bestows an endless supply of energy and a feeling that sleep is for the weak.

 

Coffee beans has been through multiple testing to get to the wide varieties that we grew to love. Whether you like your coffee deathly strong, or prefer to have it processed by animals, before you take a sip of your next cuppa, perhaps take some time to appreciate the weird and wonderful world of the coffee bean.

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Finding Zen at work? We’ve got the dips.

“Meditation is good for you,” says every pretentious co-worker who thinks they’re too zen to be angry at the little things. “Thanks for the advice, John,” you’d usually say. But after your client requested another revision (the 23rd to be exact), you decide to give this whole meditation thing a go. Does it really help?

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Yes, John is right, it does. Meditation creates mindfulness – the state of being fully aware of the present, allowing to calmly assess your thoughts and emotions thereafter. Whilst you can still practice mindfulness anywhere, it’s best for those just starting out to have lesser distractions to contend with, so find a quiet and comfortable place away from the hustle and bustle to meditate.

In the words of Matthieu Ricard, the Buddhist monk who resides at the Shechen Monastery in Nepal: “You don’t learn the basics of navigation in the thick of a storm”.

Here are a few techniques gathered from experienced meditators that you can try while you’re taking a break from work:


Meditation of Breathing

Sit down comfortably while maintaining a balanced posture with your back straight (hands on your lap is fine, you don’t have to do the Buddha pose). Focus on breathing in calmly and naturally, imagine the air flowing your abdomen and slowly filling up to your chest, before breathing it out. You don’t have to specifically alter the pace of your breathing. Simply be aware of the rhythm, and have all your attention be on the process of the breath.

Even if you find yourself distracted halfway through, don’t worry, notice it and turn your attention back to breathing. Instead of attempting to block external thoughts, allow it to pass you by as if it were the wind.


Visualisation Meditation

This type of meditation involves visualising something in your mind that makes you feel relaxed. Picture a nice waterfall, or a large spacious cornfield with birds chirping away in the distance. Recall a place from your childhood or a moment in time in which you feel truly at peace. Whichever surroundings you find yourself seeing, be present in that scene and focus solely on admiring the beauty that is in front of you (sort of). Refine the image and allow it to be as precise as possible.

Then, when your mind achieves stability and peacefulness, realise that what you are seeing is but a mere projection of your mind – whose objective is to help improve your concentration. You are not your thoughts, but the one who is aware that you are thinking. Mind = Blown.


Mindfulness of the Body
You can open your eyes for this one. Instead of focusing on your breathing, turn your attention to the various parts of your body, once at a time. Start by focusing on the sensations present in your feet. Be fully in your feet. They are the only things in your body that exist right now. Move a toe, and notice how sensitive it really is, and appreciate its existence wholly. You will experience sensations that usually pass you by on a daily basis.

After a minute or so, move up to your calves, then your thighs, then your stomach. Same thing – only they exist now. Then move up your fingers, arms, mouth, nose, jaw, forehead and so on. Remember, you’re not limited to any body part. Be entirely present with your butt if you wish to.


Observation Without Grasping
This exercise doesn’t require you to be in a sitting position – in fact, you can attempt this form of meditation anywhere and anytime. The concept is to observe anything in your surroundings or your experiences without imposing anything on it. For instance, if you see a tree in front of you, don’t impose upon it as a tree. Look at it as it is – its coarse texture, tall structure, bright coloured greens protruding at its ends.

Smell fragrances and odours as they are, taste a taste as it tastes. You could be doing anything; the action doesn’t matter. This form of meditation focuses on experiencing what you deem as ordinary things without your predisposed knowledge of what it is. Then, you realise, how wonderfully amazing everything is in itself, free of any judgement.


It’s important to practice meditation in a busy world where everything passes us by in a snap. We gain a deeper understanding of how we view the world as it is, appreciate the finer things, and are less quick to judge another’s actions. Remember to drop John a thank-you note; it’ll make his day.

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