How did your morning unfold today? Did it go the way you planned? If not…why not? Perhaps because we often do mornings on autopilot, using rituals and patterns we established when our lives looked quite different than they might today. We forget that when our lives change, our rituals need to change too.
When was the last time you consciously assessed your morning routine to see if it was serving you and your well-being?
I’m exploring this question in my own life right now. I’ve discovered that what happens first thing in the morning sets the tone for the whole day. If I establish a plan, a series of rituals, and follow that plan, I start my day in a way that makes me feel healthy, calm, productive and accomplished. And that seems to enable me to stay in that zone throughout the day.
On the other hand, if I fumble my way through the morning – skipping a workout, changing clothes three times, scrambling to make lunches or unearth a matching pair of shoes, dashing out the door late for a meeting – well, that sets the day on a very different course.
First of all, if I’m being honest, my ideal morning would unfold with me landing in this photo.
Or this one.
Or maybe this one.
Hey, a girl can dream! But since that’s not exactly my daily life, I’m focused for now on identifying the elements that separate a bad morning from a good one…and a good one from a great one. And as you might imagine, I’m prioritizing the things that feed my well-being as I craft my morning rituals.
Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:
– A good morning starts the night before. If I get myself to bed on time and wake up rested, I’m 80% of the way there before I even start.
– After waking, I drink a glass of water before I do anything else. I’ve made this non-negotiable. I was really struggling with dehydration for a bit and this is helping immensely. Starting the day with water seems to remind me to drink water throughout the day, too.
– Five whole minutes of quiet. I’m not sure I can even call this meditation, but the fact remains that my tendency is to swing into action immediately after I open my eyes. So instead, I’m forcing myself into stillness for just 5 minutes (I use an alarm so I’m not checking the clock constantly). Quiet. Listening. Clearing the mental decks. Often, my biggest ideas surface during or immediately following these few minutes.
– I’m experimenting with adding 10 minutes of journaling here to capture those ideas. Not always happening though…
– Brush and floss, ice cold water on my face, contacts in. I am fully awake at this point. Does flossing not wake you up? I mean, really! Plus, super healthy. Look it up. (PS – I really want to do these steps before the quiet time above but somehow the quiet time works better if I’m not fully awake. Still tweaking this part because unbrushed teeth in the morning = gross…even for 5 minutes.)
– Into workout clothes and out the door (or down the stairs). Even if I only do 10 minutes of yoga and some strength work, I’m making this a daily practice. On the best days it’s a full workout but I’ve discovered that for me something is better than nothing. Moving reconnects me with my body and gets the energy flowing.
– Shower – ideally with no children awake yet! I invested in an Aveda shampoo and conditioner because the smell makes me SO happy. I’m serious about this morning stuff right now!
– Wake kids – begin the dance of getting the three of them dressed for their day and me dressed for mine. In our house, this works best if they take baths at night and ALL of our clothes (including mine) are chosen and laid out. Choices in the morning = delays, tears, and frustration. Not good for my well-being.
– Doublecheck that kids and I have hair done, teeth brushed, and all clothing parts on. Avoiding public embarrassment apparently feeds my well-being. Go figure.
– Make all 4 beds and put away anything in the bedrooms that is creating clutter. I really, really, really hate clutter and being surrounded by it in the morning can throw my day off balance. On the other hand, creating order gives me a feeling of peace that is astonishing. Plus, we’re building good habits for the kiddos here.
– Breakfast. A healthy one with protein and some kind of produce and some fiber. And more water. This meal sets the stage for the day – healthy choices beget healthy choices. Coffee comes into the picture later in the morning for me because I don’t enjoy it unless I can sit with that cup and savor it.
– Out the door, ideally 5 minutes earlier than necessary (which almost NEVER happens), because I’ve noticed I’m chronically running late and I hate it. It’s a side effect of trying to cram in one more thing before I leave. I need to kick this habit. Work in progress.
Please notice what’s not happening – email, Facebook, TV, newspapers. I’m trying to keep these things OUT of my morning (not always successfully). I mention this because what you take out of your morning may be as important as what you put in. If I come downstairs and start checking email or Facebook I may as well kiss my morning wellness rituals goodbye. The news can wait.
I’m going to continue to experiment with this set of morning rituals and I’d love to learn from you as I do so! What’s key to a wellness-filled morning for you? Please share!