My Morning Routine
I mentioned in my post about my nighttime routine how I never actually imagined I'd be the kind of person with any routine. Sure, I've always been a Type A-perfectionist type, but I fell into the busyness trap - and all the chaos and stress that comes with it - for many years before I realized that a) the state of my life was a reflection of the state of my mind and b) I was totally burned out.
I knew I had to do something differently. Actually, a lot of things, really: learning to say no, prioritizing joy and peace, making time to care for myself...the list goes on and on. Creating a nighttime routine was easier, since it didn't really require much discipline. I could take an epsom salt bath at 11, or I could take one at 3 AM. It really didn't matter.
But I knew I needed some more gentle boundaries in my life. Nothing too stringent, since it would only cause more stress and anxiety (followed by the guilt that comes from not sticking to an hourly schedule), but some personal guidelines that would help me relax, stay present, and accomplish a reasonable amount of tasks in a day's time.
The good thing is that, in making a morning routine, you can try different things, and if something doesn't work for you, toss it, and try something else. There isn't a one-size-fits-all, step-by-step morning routine that's going to transform your life completely. But by implementing a few small things every day, you can focus your mind and heart, show yourself some love, and MAYBE even turn into a morning person. Maybe.
Read on for my morning routine!
1. Wake Up!
I mean...obvious much? Ha! But waking up and going to bed at a regular time every day has played a huge part in regulating stress, increasing my productivity, and improving sleep. I use the iPhone Bedtime App to track my sleeping schedule and see how well I'm doing. It definitely requires discipline, because there are nights when I'd rather stay up binging on The Office or Parks and Rec, but after a few weeks of it, I found that the benefits of a regular sleeping schedule far outweigh watching that extra episode (or five).
I always set my alarm thirty minutes early, and spend that half hour in prayer, meditation, and gratitude, usually while snuggling a pup! I've never liked to be in a hurry in the mornings, so this extra time allows me to wake slowly and set my intention for the day.
I also leave my phone plugged in and on the nightstand during this time, rather than scrolling through Instagram or Facebook.
Just like in the Ayurvedic Morning Routine I wrote about, the first thing I do when I get out of bed is drink a glass of water. I'm always thirsty in the morning, and I learned that by putting a small pinch of pink Himalayan salt in my water, I'm better able to hydrate my body. Plus, the natural minerals help regulate your blood pressure, which means that my adrenals don't have to work so hard to get my chronically low blood pressure up to a normal range.
3. Move It
I talk about moving your body a lot, but only because it's so important. Trust me when I say this though: I do not go for five mile jogs in the morning. I don't do pushups, squats, or crunches. I don't do an athletic yoga flow. Most of the time, I don't even reach for my mat.
My favorite thing to do is to grab a blanket, sit down on the rug next to my bed, and breathe deeply for at least five minutes. I focus on my intention for the day - today's, for example, was grace - and when I feel ready, I begin to move mindfully. Sometimes I'll follow a gentle yoga video (like this sweet 15 Minute Morning Yoga to Wake Up flow by Yoga by Candace), and sometimes I'll just listen to my body: what feels stiff, what feels strong, what feels like it could use some strength?
There's not a set length or routine; just listen to your body. If a brisk, five mile jog makes you feel centered, alive, and at peace, go for it. If not, find something that does!
They weren't kidding when they said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and as much as I love breakfast food, a plate full of pancakes and bacon doesn't cut it for me. Instead, try something that's gentle and nourishing for the body.
One of my favorite meals (which is also AIP and Vata-pacifying) is pan-fried sweet potatoes in coconut oil with ginger and cinnamon.
5. Spread the Love
In all likelihood, I've already seen at least one of my loved ones by now, but in the event that you haven't, go find someone - your mom, your boyfriend, or your dog - give them a hug, and tell them you love them.
6. Get to Work
After yoga, meditation, breakfast, and spending some time with the people (or dogs!) I love, I grab my laptop and get to work. Sometimes, this involves answering emails or pitching bands to publications. Other times, I listen to the music I'm reviewing, work on a premiere, or research and write a few blog posts.
I generally work until lunch time, then take a break to eat with my mom or my boyfriend. After lunch, I work for a few more hours, then run any errands that are on my list, play with the dogs, or rest, if that's what my body needs.
However, this part of my morning routine changes based on how I'm feeling, which is a lesson that was very hard for me to learn when I was diagnosed with a chronic illness. Some mornings, I wake up feeling rested and ready to take on the day. Other mornings, I feel foggy, weak, and exhausted. On those mornings, I slow down even more, taking care to check in with my body and examine my priorities, as well as any internal or external triggers that may be causing inflammation (read: stress) in my body. Sometimes that means that, after yoga, meditation, and breakfast, I take a hot shower or an Epsom salt soak, and sometimes that means I go back to bed for a while.
More than anything, I make it a routine to take care of myself as well as I possibly can! If that means that I need to sleep longer, rest in the afternoon, ignore my emails for another hour, or ask for help, I do. After years of pushing through and taking the Nike approach, I'm finally figuring out that the only way to heal my body and be productive is to check in throughout the day and see how I'm feeling, and honor that.
Do you have a morning routine? What is it? Let me know in the comments below!