How I’m making mornings work for me
I live for cuddly moments in bed, especially on dark winter mornings. And when it comes to crawling out of bed before 7am…well, #thestruggleisreal. I have made a sport out of calculating the least amount of time needed to get from bed to door. Anyone else fall into this category?!
As I began to think about how I could make 2018 more purposeful, I realized that my lack of a morning routine was doing more harm than good. Over the holidays I started reading Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferriss. A common thread amongst all the gurus interviewed was the importance of how they start their day.
Continuing my theme of self love in this shiny new year, I decided my morning routine needed a serious revamping. Rather than ease into it, I decided to rip the bandaid off. My first day back to work after a glorious 18 days of staying up late and sleeping in, I woke up 20 minutes earlier than normal. When the alarm went off, I literally just got up. That was a first. As the month continued, I realized that laying in bed for a few minutes to stretch before crawling out of bed works better for me than immediately opening my eyes and going. Figure out what works, then do that.
Another change was making the bed. Sometimes I did this, sometimes I didn’t. But Tim Ferriss says if you make your bed you’ve accomplished the first task of the day. No matter how the rest of your day goes, the bed is made. James shared this with me from one of Tim’s other books, Tools of the Titans. I was a non-believer and a chronic no-bed maker until I tried doing this consistently. It’s true- even if the rest of the day got away from me, when looking at my bed at night I could feel accomplished that at least it got made. Small wins, people!
Here are a few other changes that have made my mornings feel more peaceful; setting me up for a productive day.
- Airplane mode. Putting my phone on airplane mode at night before bed and taking it off when I leave for work has been a game changer. I still have access to my alarm clock, but I’m not tempted to grab and check for notifications, emails, etc. first thing in the morning. Starting the first hour of my day without the glow of my phone has definitely been a major plus.
- Journaling. If you read my journaling post, you know that this has been an important addition to my day. Writing out my feelings, intentions, and lists for the day helps me process and leaves me with a clear and focused mind.
- Green tea. I have to thank James for this one. While I love my espresso and still have a cappuccino or 2 or 3 😉 later in the morning; starting my day with green tea makes me feel like I’m doing something good for my body.
- A glass of cold water. I also started drinking one full glass of cold water each morning. I’m trying to drink more water, and jump starting my body with a cool glass each morning also makes me feel good.
- Set the alarm a few minutes earlier. Is an extra five, ten, or 15 minutes of sleep going to make that much of an impact? I find that having the extra time in the morning is more impactful than a few minutes of extra sleep as I wait for the third snooze button to go off.
- Movement. For me, this is a few sun salutations, side stretches, or holding a plank. Something to get the blood moving. I feel more alert and less zombie-ish after a just two or three minutes of movement. For some people, getting their workout in first thing is the best way to start the day. I tried that in the fall, and it wasn’t for me. I’m definitely a mid-morning or early evening workout kinda gal, so small movements are just perfect.
- Meditation. While I haven’t incorporated this into my routine yet, it’s something I’d like to start doing this month. This Ted Talk has me inspired to really put the effort in. I’ll reflect on this journey next month!
- Productivity. A small chore in the morning (in addition to making the bed) helps me to feel so darn productive! Some mornings it’s emptying the dishwasher, or putting a load of laundry away, or straightening up the couch pillows and throws. Coming home to an empty sink and a clean environment is one of those warm and fuzzy feelings no one ever talks about! I used to leave the dishes until the afternoon “when I have more time” but I LOVE coming home to a fresh space.
Play with your morning routine until it feels right. I loved my slow mornings on Saturdays and Sunday, so why not bring that into every day? Do you have a morning routine? I’d love to hear what works for you!
Let’s talk about journaling
As we approach the end of January, it can be hard to keep the beginning of the year high vibes flowing. To start 2018, I made self love a priority. My friends and mentors from my old yoga studio created a January program, #mindfulreboot, centering around meditation, movement, and journaling. It was the perfect outlet that I needed for my personal creativity; helping me to develop clear intentions for my future, and allowing me to recognize areas that I would like to grow. Here we are at the end of January, and the vibes are still high!
Journaling through the month of January had more of an impact than I anticipated. As part of my fresh morning routine (I’ve got a post on this coming soon!) I journaled as I ate breakfast. What I wrote about varied daily. It could have been in response to a prompt or just a general brain dump. I often did a self-check in with how I’m feeling, jotted down my anxieties for the day, or what I’d like to manifest in the next 12 to 16 hours. I would typically pick up the pen again before bed and spend some time reflecting on my day or writing about tomorrow.
The results of my new journaling practice were impressive and unexpected. I was sleeping deeper and throughout the night. I used to wake up around 2:30 or 3:00 am and toss and turn for an hour or more, with random thoughts swirling around and making it impossible to relax back into a deep sleep. Writing out whatever is on my brain before bed allowed me to let. it. go.
Journaling also created such a beautiful space for personal growth. I’m in my late twenties and still trying to figure it all out. One powerful lesson was realizing the direct correlation between my happiness and my space in the day for independent creative freedom. Writing opened up that space on even the busiest of days. The peace of mind that came with that rippled into the rest of my day and I could feel myself living with more joy.
It’s hard to find a way to turn off, especially with constant notifications, alerts, and likes. Journaling can give you that precious time with yourself to open up and let go. Here are four ways to bring journaling into your daily routine.
- Get a new journal/pen and pick a place to keep it. This can make all the difference in the world! I got a fresh journal and a pen that is my “journaling pen”. I don’t use it for anything else. I keep my journal on the edge of the kitchen table where I eat breakfast. I leave it there all day, then take it with me to the bedroom when I’m ready to turn down for the night. I store it on my nightstand next to my phone, so when I grab my phone in the morning, the journal comes too.
- Decide a dedicated time for journaling. Schedule it based on when works for you. For me, that was as I eat breakfast and before I go to bed. I typically spent those times scrolling through Instagram and this is arguably a much better use of my time. Now my phone goes on airplane mode before bed and comes off only after I finish my morning journaling. Not being bombarded with notifications first thing in the morning or last thing before bed also probably played a role in how I’m sleeping.
- Use a guide. The guide my friends created for January was so helpful and inspiring. It literally changed my life. I feel a sense of calm and joy that I associate as a result of my journaling routine. Because I find this so important, I felt a calling to create my own journaling guide, and so I did (with my thought partner/hubs!) World, here is the first in what I hope to be a series called Elevating Joy. If you download and use it this month, I’d love to hear your opinion.
- …or just write! No one is reading your writing. There is no pressure for the perfect caption, no feedback from a boss, no grade from a professor. There are literally no requirements other than write what comes to mind from your heart. Maybe you list. Maybe you doodle. Do you. And feel the joy that comes along with it! 🙂