There’s a lot of information out there about self-care. Taking care of yourself so you can take care of others is important. But let’s look at why having a morning routine can be considered self-care. Then we’ll look at how to make your morning routine better.
If you’re thinking that you’re too old to start a new morning routine, think again. I didn’t start getting up early until I was in my forties. Before that I’d stay up late, reading into the early morning hours. But I was also exhausted. Gradually, by changing a little at a time, I slowly started to go to bed earlier and get up earlier. Now I consider myself a morning person which allows me more time to ease myself into the day instead of a full out panic to get out of the house.
Why You Should Have a Morning Routine
Are you the kind of person who hits the snooze button until the last moment, jumping up when you realize you’re going to be late and running out of the house with a coffee and a danish as you speed your way through rush-hour traffic? You finally end up at work disheveled, with coffee stains and feeling like you just want to go home and go to bed?
The thing about self-care is it helps if you have a daily, weekly, and monthly routine. You don’t want to slap on self-care whenever you get too stressed out. You want to have a regular routine so that it helps to keep you even and not stressed and better able to handle moments of real or perceived crisis.
The weekly and monthly routines are where you’ll find those bigger things often associated with self-care such as check-ups, massages, spa days or mani-pedi’s, fitness, and yoga classes, etc. But it’s the daily routine, how you start your mornings, that will sustain your self-care by creating less stress in your day. Since stress is the biggest factor that drives the need for self-care, having a way to reduce that stress is very important.
Your Best Morning Routine Starts at Night
No, I’m not crazy. The best way to have a successful morning routine is to start at night. First, start by checking in on your goals and what you need to accomplish the next day. Then write it down, create your To-Do list. Having a plan for what you need to accomplish will help set you on the right path and then keep you on track when you need it.
Then you need to sleep. Which means going to bed early enough to get 7 to 9 hours of sleep. Yes, a minimum of 7. Some people think they can get by on less, but studies have shown that regularly sleeping only 5 to 6 hours impairs your cognitive thinking. Really. It’s been shown that just two weeks of sleeping only 6 hours reduces cognitive thinking to that of someone who didn’t sleep for two nights in a row.
When Your Alarm Goes Off
Now it’s time to plan what to do first thing in the morning. These are my suggestions, you can do them in any order you like but you should include all of them or a variation.
Don’t Hit Snooze. Seriously. When the alarm goes off, it’s time to wake up. The only time I think it’s a good idea to hit the 10 or 15-minute snooze button is if you want to put a timer to the below step.
Work out the kinks. As we get older, it does get a little harder to jump out of bed. Better to ease yourself into the day by working out some kinks while you’re still in bed. Some light stretching, a couple of modified yoga poses and you’ll be ready to start your morning.
First, make fists and roll your wrists around by circling your firsts in and then out. Then you can flex and point your feet and then making circles with them. Pull your knees into your chest and squeeze and release a couple of times. Roll over in bed and make your way to your hands and knees to complete some Cat/Cow poses. This link will give you instructions on Cat/Cow and a couple of additional poses to do in bed.
Once you’re ready to stand up, there’s one more stretchy pose to practice. At the side of your bed or a chair, do a modified Down Dog pose. It will help to stretch out your entire body, especially your back.
Meditate. While it’s still quiet and calm, use the time to meditate. You should try for a minimum of 10 minutes. Although, if you’re just starting out, 5 minutes is a good gateway to longer meditations. If you use the Insight Timer app, you can set it up to use chimes or other sounds to take you into and out of meditation.
Journal. It’s time to write. Take out a journal and write down your thoughts and plans for the day. You can write out any dreams you had, any aha moments. If journaling isn’t really your style, then you can write out some affirmations or take time to write out a daily gratitude list. Another alternative is to follow Julie Cameron’s guidance from The Artist’s Way and write out Morning Pages.
Writing it out is a great way to shake out the cobwebs so you can focus on your current project.
Look at your Vision Board. Looking at your Vision Board in the morning is a great way to start the day. Reviewing your goals and dreams is a reminder of what you’re working towards. Knowing your goals and plans, which ties back to the To-Do List you created the night before, keeps you on track and also helps to reduce stress because you’re not agonizing over something you might have forgotten to do or because you think you not heading in the direction of your goals.
Put It All Together
You can add or detract from this list in any manner you choose. Perhaps you love to hit the gym first thing in the morning, then keep doing that. You can add some or all of the above suggestions before or after your gym visit.
The key is to find a routine that works for you and stick with it. But if it’s not working, if it’s not helping to reduce your stress, then it’s time to modify your routine. If your routine includes something different, please share it. If you’ve never had a morning routine and try this one, let me know how it works for you.