Why you need to establish a morning routine
I’ll be honest with you, once upon a time, mornings were NOT my favorite thing in the world. I think it’s safe to say the majority of people are not morning people, and I definitely counted myself in that demographic once.
When I started committing myself to a daily writing practice however (with the end goal of having a publishable manuscript on hand), something changed.
I started to love mornings! I started to look forward to waking up early and basking in the daylight hours as I championed my tasks and intentions for the day.
I also noticed another difference. I wasn’t as stressed as I used to be throughout the day. I felt lighter, happier, more optimistic about my future. I felt stronger, healthier, and more energetic!
Gone were the days when I was physically drained, mentally bankrupt, and emotionally spent by 5PM. It was like my engine was finally operating at full capacity! And it’s been like that for a long time now.
How did I manage this? With my morning routine.
You see, the way you start your morning determines the tone for the rest of your day. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that you begin your mornings on the right note! Here’s a glimpse into my own personal routine:
1) Wake up – A restful sleep is a key to a positive morning. Everyone’s different, so you have to test out how many hours your body needs. I’m typically good on 7-8 hours. Sometimes, my body may need 9 – just follow your internal rhythms. When you’re able to rise from bed without feeling groggy or heavy, you’re on the right track. Once I wake up, I feed my dogs and let them out. Then I wash up (a good face scrub with exfoliating crystals can help you feel refreshed – you can even make your own).
2) Yoga – Next, I roll out the yoga mat and get to stretching. The benefits of a regular yoga routine are mind-blowing. In addition to helping you to stretch, strengthen, and realign your body, yoga also increases lymph flow (a fluid in your body rich in immune cells), drops your blood pressure, increases serotonin levels (happiness!), and more! Yoga isn’t hard either. You can buy a mat for about $10, and there are tons of videos on YouTube demonstrating all kinds of poses. I’ve practiced yoga daily for almost three years now and the stress relief it provides is unbeatable, and that’s with only spending about 30 minutes on it.
3) Mindfulness – Immediately after yoga, I get into meditation mode. My meditation practice is threefold. First, I begin with mindfulness, which is simply to say that I focus on every inhale and exhale that I take. I do this for a few minutes, and little by little, I relax every muscle in my body. I let go of anything I don’t want to carry into my new day (worries from yesterday, fears, anxieties, etc) and I feel it leaving my body. Then I feel whatever I do want entering my body (power, wisdom, love, etc).
4) Gratitude – The second part of my meditative practice is gratitude. I think about all the things I’m grateful for, but I take it a step further and consider WHY I’m thankful for it. So for instance… ‘I’m grateful for my dogs.’ Why? ‘Because they offer companionship.’ Another example: ‘I’m grateful for my car.’ Why? ‘Because it allows me to get from one place to another easily.’ And no item is too big or too small to be thankful for! I’m repeatedly thankful for my computer, for instance, because it allows me to connect with the world. With every item you think about, feel the warmth radiate in your heart.
5) Creative Visualization – Part three of my meditative practice is creative visualization. This is a really fun part for me. This is a practice that a lot of athletes even use. Basically, it’s envisioning what you want to accomplish. So for an athlete, that means picturing the basketball going through the hoop for example. For me, I picture my published novels on the shelves of bookstores (and what it would feel like to see them there), I picture people sending me emails about how much they loved my books (and how it feels to receive those words), I picture myself speaking on international stages about the power of storytelling (and, as you may have guessed, how it feels to be there!). Creative visualization is like daydreaming to a whole new level. What’s awesome about it is that it actually empowers you to take steps toward your dreams because you’re reminded of how much you want them!
6) Prayer – After my meditation, I count down from 10 and become mindful of the sounds in my house, the way my body feels, etc. This way, when I finally open my eyes after all that, I’m not ‘startled awake’, so to speak. It’s not an abrupt shift. Once I finish that practice, I then go into prayer. This is where you express gratitude to your higher power and make your requests known.
7) Positive Affirmations – Finally, the positive affirmations! These are encouraging declarations you speak over yourself. It’s kind of like a mini-pep rally for your soul! You can say whatever you want! “Today’s going to be a great day!” “Circumstances are changing in my favor!” “People are going to go out of their way to help me today.” “The resources I need are materializing for me.” “I’m enthusiastic, excited, happy, and hopeful about my future.” I speak a TON of positive affirmations over myself every morning. I’ve got dozens at this point and I love firing them off because they get me pumped up for the day ahead!
8) Intention – Then, I set an intention for my day! It can be anything. Sometimes, it’s as simple as “laugh.” This way, I have a goal I’m working toward for my whole day, which is simply to do/read/watch things that make me laugh! Other times, it can be something like ‘take a big step toward a dream’, and so I’m able to shift all my energy for that day to doing just one thing that will bring me closer to a dream. The awesome thing about intentions is that you’re able to put all your focus on it, helping you to feel more accomplished by the end of the day!
9) Fruit Smoothie – Finally, the morning routine culminates in a delicious fruit smoothie. I combine fresh fruits (usually strawberries and bananas) with whey protein (which is a protein source that provides all the amino acids you need to support lean muscles, strength, and energy) and blend it up in my juicer. And I’ll tell you what! There’s definitely a noticeable difference. In fact, I began drinking fruit smoothies in April 2014. It is now August 2015, and I haven’t caught a major cold or illness ONCE! I used to get the flu or a virus at least 3 times a year. But now with the boost to my immune system that this smoothie gives me, I’m healthier and stronger than ever!
If you’re wondering how long this morning routine takes me, it’s about an hour and a half in duration. Since I work from home, it’s not a problem for me, but I know it can be hard to squeeze in time in the morning for those who work outside of their home.
My advice would be to simply start small. Maybe meditate for just 5 minutes each morning and go from there. Do 1-3 yoga poses that you love and add as time allows. When I worked outside of my home, sometimes I used my commute as a container of time during which I did my prayer and positive affirmations. There are pockets of time everywhere in your day! Think about how you can use them toward self-care!
The key is to find what works best for you! Your mind, body, and soul will thank you for it! Let’s start reclaiming our mornings!