Mornings have become a thing for me over the last few weeks. I mean, it’s a ‘thing’ for us all really, but I never made mornings a productive part of my day until the end of last year. Like a lot of you, I enjoy not moving on my days off, if I can help it. I covet my time off in a way I never did in my youth. I am extremely particular about how I spend my time and who I spend that time with. That being said, I don’t see the people I love as often as I’d like because of our schedule, but that’s another issue entirely. What I’m trying to say, is that my mornings have become more intentional and more focused on my emotional and mental health. I have noticed the mental shift that comes along with that kind of thinking and it’s beautiful to watch unfold in your own life, if you get the chance to experience it. These few changes that I’ve made have helped reduce some of the stress I feel on a day-to-day basis. I am a huge stress-ball on the inside (you’d never know it if I didn’t say a word) and anything that helps alleviate some of that pressure is always greatly appreciated.
My Morning Routine:
- Wake up when your body WANTS to get up.
- Lay quietly and breathe for 10 minutes, don’t let your brain trick you into making important decisions first thing in the morning.
- Make a mental (or physical) list of things I need to do that day.
- Drink a glass of cold water.
- Wash face and moisturize skin.
- Make coffee and relax in the kitchen as it brews.
- Eat a REAL breakfast.
- Read a chapter or two of my favorite book (or the one you happen to be reading at the moment).
- Get showered and dressed.
- Start my day.
I was a slave to an alarm clock for years, mostly out of necessity. I had to work in the mornings and if I didn’t set an alarm, I didn’t get out of bed in time. I’m not really a huge fan of alarms in the first place. I always wake up startled and immediately I feel like I’ve got little to no time to give to myself because, let’s face it, we always set an alarm for the last possible minute to get as much sleep as possible. I know I am 100% guilty of this. When I worked late nights, the time I spent in bed was crucial. Now that I have mornings off, I let my body decide when it’s ready to begin the day. This small change has had a huge effect on my mental health. I am more relaxed in the mornings now, knowing I have given my body the rest it needed and I didn’t have to wake up to a loud sound blaring in my ears as I sleep. As a child, I had a Mickey Mouse alarm clock that would short-circuit and go off at random times of the night/day. Mickey would yell “Time to wake up!” as horns blared and music chimed in. I am fairly sure that gave me some kind of PTSD. It’s also a running joke in our family. That blasted clock.
Once my body has decided to finally rouse itself from much-needed sleep, I don’t get right out of bed. for me, that falls into that inner anxiety I get, so I prefer to lay there for a bit in silence as my mind wakes up. I spend this time reflecting on the days events and focusing on what I am personally grateful for. Starting my day off with positive thoughts sets my course for the day. Reminding myself of what I have to be grateful for is a wonderful lesson in humility. As I’ve said before, it is very easy to focus on the negative, but it’s even more difficult to remain thankful for the little things. I focus on that every single day. I pay attention to what drives me and I use that to fuel my endeavors throughout the day, every day. Keeping a positive outlook is extremely important to me. I find over negativity to be very unattractive in people, so the less I personify that, the better. This is my time to focus on the good in my life and to give thanks for those things. Try this every day and you will be pleasantly surprised at how it affects every aspect of the day. You should always start anything with your best foot forward, so why not your day?
My coffee intact is astronomical, as of late. My best friend and I throw back a couple of pots a day (not FULL pots) and trying to keep up with my water intake is something that I still struggle with. Between the weather and the heater, I am always at some level of dehydration. It has become imperative that I fit as much water in my day as possible, and I still find myself falling short. Drinking a glass of cold water jump starts your body in the morning and when you think about it, is truly needed after sleep. If you sleep for 6-8 hours, that’s 6-8 hours that your body didn’t consume any liquids, so you’re starting your day off in the negative if you aren’t keeping up with it. Outside of hydration, drinking water first thing boosts your metabolism, can help in fighting off colds and generally helps your mind become more alert. With these benefits, it seems silly to NOT start your morning like this. In conjunction with all of this, I’ve taken my skin care routine more seriously than I have in my entire life. I have nice skin and I would like to keep it, especially as I get older (I’m 33). Cleaning my skin and slapping on a thick layer of my favorite moisturizer (which is currently anything from Bare Minerals because wow) helps me face my day. Plus, no one likes feeling self-conscious about their skin. No one. Small changes, like making sure your skin is well maintained, go a long way in making you feel more put together and, well, better about yourself as a whole. And when you feel good, you look good. They just go hand-in-hand.
Heading back to coffee, the smell of it brewing is its own kind of alarm clock. I know a lot of you remember those old Folgers commercials where everyone hops right out of bed to the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the kitchen. There is some validity to that! Something about the smell of coffee alone can help me wake right up, however I prefer to drink my coffee, not just inhale its intoxicating aroma. I’ll usually plop down at the kitchen table and listen to it brewing, quietly anticipating my first sip. The cats enjoy this time as well because they climb on the table and get some much-needed affection. If no one has told you, listening to a cat purr is actually beneficial to people and has been shown to reduce stress dramatically. Cats purr at a very specific frequency (18-20 Hz) and it’s been shown to help with everything from stress relief to mending broken bones. I’ve always found the sound to be very soothing and it’s pretty amazing that something so simple is also so beneficial. Plus, I get to snuggle them a ton while reaping the benefits, so I’m completely okay with that.
Breakfast is the easiest meal in the day for me to skip. Sometimes, it isn’t even intentional. I can get so caught up in what I’m doing that I’ll forget I was even hungry in the first place. Eating a well-rounded meal fuels your body for the day ahead; it’s just that simple. I noticed a marked difference in my energy level and overall demeanor when I take the time to eat a good meal. Eating breakfast can seem so trivial, but it makes a huge difference in the quality of energy you posses, let alone the kind of day you have. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, either. I will throw together some pancakes or a bagel with avocado, it’s better than an empty stomach. Plus, what kind of machine runs without fuel? None of them. Remember that the next time you’re too lazy to make yourself something. I’ll usually read a little with breakfast, too. It seems to be one of the few times I can actually commit to a book, either then or right before bed. I don’t slow down enough during my day to read without wanting to fall asleep and I try to avoid naps because they make me groggy. I’ve always loved books, they transport you to so many different worlds, both real and fictional. Losing myself in between the pages for a while is very relaxing for me. If you’re a student, morning reading/studying is imperative. You’ll retain more of the information you read because your mind is fresh and active. Outside of that, it qualifies as ‘me time’ and you can never have too much of that. I know I need more, so pick up a book and do your body and mind a favor.
My final step, every morning, is to get dressed. It seems like such a silly notion for me to highlight, but being put together helps you feel more confident and ready to tackle your day. Not only that, but there’s nothing keeping me from going out when I choose. I don’t feel like I’m wasting the majority of my day getting ready when I do it first thing in the morning. I feel like I can do anything when I spend a little time on myself. I am not talking about putting together these glamorous outfits, but you know you don’t always feel as good as you could when you throw on some nasty sweats and an oversized tee. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with comfortable and sporty clothing, but I am less likely to go out and about when I throw just anything on. There’s always this lingering idea in the back of my head that I’ve got to go home and ‘get ready’ before I can truly start my day. So, by knocking that out in my morning routine, I can nurture a feeling of having my stuff together, which in turn makes me more productive.
The whole point of my routine is to set myself up for success, as anything in life should be, really. It took me thirty-three years to figure out how to function in the morning, let me help you not make the same mistakes! It’s only January 2nd of 2018, join me in making this year not only great, but meaningful. The only way to do this is to put one foot in front of the other and to silently push on. Self-care is important and the more you practice it, the easier it will become. I used to feel so silly for telling myself what I’m proud of or for taking more ‘me’ time but now it is imperative for me to function in the most healthy way that I can. The world is a scary place, so do yourself a favor and be your best friend. You will thank yourself for it in the long-run.