Cheers to a long weekend. A new month and a new season are (almost) upon us. Anyone else feel like it's a good time to hit the refresh button?
Don't worry, I'm not talking about a juice cleanse or crazy diet - I'm talking about a routine refresh. Crafting a morning routine around relaxation is a great way to refresh your body and mind.
What are your mornings like? For most of us they include a string of hectic, rushed tasks. What do you think of when you think "ideal morning routine"? A lot of us envision meditation, journaling, maybe a walk or a long hot shower - typically tasks we consider unobtainable. We believe slow mornings are reserved for those who are less busy than us. News flash, everyone is busy...regardless of their personal or professional situation, and everyone can develop their own unique morning routine. If you can let go of the expectations of what a good morning routine looks like then you can make small changes to embrace one that works for you.
Why have a morning routine?
It forces you to slow down. You have less stress. You feel less frantic. Creates you time. Find mental focus. Feel more happiness. You begin the day with a chill mood... Just to name a few. I am going to share how I created (and continue to create) a morning routine and give you tips to start yours.
my morning routine: then and now
For well over 8 years my morning routine was anything but relaxing. Alarm went off after too little sleep (stress). I went straight to the gym or for a run (stress). I watched the clock (stress), while pushing my body thru a fairly tough workout (stress). Then I would rush home to get dressed, leave for work/school, and eat in the car, while walking, or at my desk (stress on stress on stress). I had no idea I was creating a giant pile of stress - all before 9AM. I hid my stress behind the curtain of productivity, discipline, and a "better than" mentality. Even on the days I wasn't at the gym I never gave myself calm time. This led to chronically poor digestion. Plus, the frantic anxiety lingered all day and worsened my job/school stress.
Just over a year ago, I started to consider if perhaps I had more control over my GI issues than I thought. I knew I held stress in my stomach - for instance even being stuck in traffic I would realize my stomach muscles and back muscles were extremely tense and clenched. I wondered if exercise was worsening it. I started by switching to an evening workout. This worked to a point. Next, I decided to start my day at the usual gym time, but instead fill it with me time. My morning routine is nothing special or spiritual, just some activities that help me start my day on the right foot.
5:30am alarm. Shower. 6:00am. Couch + coffee. I blog, do business work, journal, or read. 7:00am. Make-up or pack food if I didn't do that the night before. 7:15am. Breakfast. I get dressed last and then leave the house. Sometimes I get up a bit earlier for yoga in the living room and once a week I try to check out a local barre class. I don't do these activities if I think they will add stress on any given day.
You can do it. I promise. For 2-5 days jot down what your morning looks like (after the fact). Did you hit snooze too many times? Did you struggle to get lunch packed? Pick the activities you can move to the evening such as packing lunches, picking your outfit, ironing, etc, and do it! Then set your alarm 15 minutes earlier, or if you're a snoozer, place your alarm across the room. Getting up earlier is so much easier when you don't feel like you have to do it. Knowing you can get up and practice some self care, maybe read a book, is much more motivating than thinking about getting to work. Start with 15 minutes extra and do something slow: sit, meditate, read, stretch, whatever feels right. After two weeks of consistent mornings it will feel much easier and your mindset throughout the day should start to shift. You may even start to crave that alone time. At that point, you let it morph into whatever feels good. Maybe you want to get up even earlier. Embrace it and don't stop. Any step towards slowing down is the right step.
Seriously. No routine is wrong so there is no need to compare. I love hearing about other's morning routines because I get inspired to try new things in my time. Right now I am struggling with meditating - hearing about new approaches has been so helpful.
Need more tips for feeling good? Check out my recent post on seven days to a happier you!