Routine! What a strange word for me. I'm more a fly by the seat of my pants type of person, so having a morning routine was not something I ever even considered until I started getting serious about finding more balance in my life. I've now found, and stuck to, a great morning routine for a little over 6 months now and woah man- let me just tell you, it's made a HUGE difference in my life.
My mornings before
As what could be considered a work-a-holic maniac, I'd go to bed thinking about work, wake up thinking about work. I'd check my emails from bed right when I woke up or jump onto the computer first thing and immediately become engrossed in the internets.
I'd forget to eat, go all day without a sip of water, never felt like I had the time to exercise or take care of myself and all the while, I felt so stressed, always overwhelmed and like I was working working working but not really getting anywhere, still not getting it all done- being busy, but not being productive, ya know?
Earlier this year after taking on too much all at once, and not taking care of myself, I started to wake up with a horrible anxious feeling in my gut, nervous butterflies as soon as I opened my eyes. From the moment I woke, I'd start worrying about what the day was to bring and "how can I possibly get it all done?!" and the to-dos would start piling up and piling up in my head until all I wanted to do, and this is being really honest, was crawl in a hole and die. Or at least go back to sleep.
I'd pull the covers over my head wishing I could hide all day, wishing all my obligations could just disappear... but then the deadlines and to-dos would keep tap tapping at my brain and kick my bootie outta bed. I'd slog over to the computer, with a weary and cluttered mind, and try to just make it thru the end of day, so I could start the cycle all over again.
It got to the point where I was feeling totally burdened by the day before it even started.
The weight of just getting out of bed each morning was becoming too heavy to bear and that's when I realized, I needed a serious change.
My mornings now
The difference between how I felt earlier this year and now is like night and day, polar opposite. It's incredible really how taking time to take care of oneself can make your life better in every aspect, including work. I think much of my new perspective comes from my new found, stress-busting morning routine.
NO WORK BRAIN ALLOWED
I've given myself permission to take some distance from work related thoughts. I don't let myself worry about what needs to get done each day right when I wake up, I don't read email from bed or jump straight to the computer. Instead, I have my little morning routine to look forward to, something fun to get up for and look forward to. So instead of getting trapped inside my brain first thing in the morning, I do things that help me reconnect with my body, get grounded and get focused.
The first thing I do now when I get up is drink a big ol' cup of cold water. I started doing this when I found these "brain on" pills made with blue-green algae and PEA, which I take everyday to help focus. (I was up for trying anything that could help that's not a prescription and they seriously, seriously make a difference) The water itself is also super effective in helping me start my day- it wakes up your nervous system, gets your digestion started and hydrates you after 8+ hours of not having any liquid. And, I tend to drink more water throughout the day if I start right in the morning- bonus!
Next, I exercise from 10-60 minutes, depending how much time I have. I figure 10 minutes is still better than nothing, right? Because hey, I don't like exercising either, let's just get that straight. It really was a struggle for me to add exercise into my every day, but the more I did it, the better I felt and now I actually kinda look forward to it each morning because I know how good it makes me feel afterward.
I usually do workouts on demand thru my cable because they have a range of stuff I can choose- I get really bored doing the same thing over and over and am more inclined to work out if I can do something different everyday. If I'm feeling strong and awake, I'll do yoga. If I'm feeling lazy, I'll do something low impact, like pilates. If I'm kinda grumpy, I'll do kickboxing and get my aggression out. If I'm really tired, I'll do some cardio or hip-hop or bellydancing, something fun. As long as I move my body, I'm happy.
I used to not shower or get dressed until the afternoon when I'd run out of energy and need a pick-me-up, or after the Mr. got home from work, if we had something to do... but since I started working out, now I like to shower right afterward and get ready for the day (and act like a functional member of the human society.) It helps wake me up and makes me feel better. I don't always get dressed in clothes that I would actually wear in public, but hey- baby steps.
By far, the biggest shift that has occurred in my life has come from meditating daily. I light some incense, sit in my comfy chair and usually listen to a guided meditation of some sort- they help you focus and get out of your head, especially helpful when you're first getting started with meditation.
Taking time to breathe, slow down, connect with my body, feel my feet on the ground- it reminds me that this task-oriented, worrisome world that exists in my mind is not all there is. It reminds me that right here, in this moment, I'm alive, I'm breathing and things are pretty darn great. It's helped my confidence in myself and has changed my reaction to situations. I've found my mentality in general has been shifting more towards the positive, and I naturally tend to be pretty negative, so that's a big change. If I do nothing else in my routine to start the day, I will at least, always, meditate.
I used to kind of deprive myself of food, getting so involved with work right away that I'd go well into the afternoon before I even ate anything. Now, after I meditate, I go start some coffee and eat at least a little something- yogurt, oatmeal, toast or a smoothie. I've noticed it makes a huge difference in my energy levels throughout the whole day if I eat in the morning.
And the last thing I do before I get started with work is sit down with my coffee and plan my schedule for the day.
I get up as early as I can to give myself a full hour and a half or so each morning to not think and just BE. And as woo-woo as that sounds, starting each day from a more centered, calm place makes all the little stresses that pop up during the day feel so much easier to handle, it's amazing.
And the best part of it is? I look forward to waking up each morning and getting to start my day. I feel healthier, happier and that anxious feeling is gone, gone, gone.
Do you start your day stressed out, or from a place of calm? How can you fit in more time for yourself in the morning to start each day on a good foot?