We all have our "routines," right? Alarm goes off, snooze until the last possible second, get up with just enough time to get dressed, tame our hair and run out the door. Grab a coffee and a bagel on the way to work. Work, sit in traffic, think about all the stuff you wish you had time to do, realize how tired you are, get home, eat dinner, watch TV, stay up too late. pass out, repeat. I'm sure for you guys it's not always so monotonous and reminiscent of a miserable sitcom character, but it's the clearest example I can give!
This routine is a collection of habits that have been developed. Habits are often triggered by cues, and the habit itself is our response. Example - the alarm going off and the annoying sound it makes is the cue, and the response (habit) is to slam the snooze button. The cue is to pass by the good deli and the habit is to stop for coffee and a bagel. In other words, our routine is the collection of actions we take that help "get us through the day." We don't really think about them and a lot of the time they don't do much to serve us and our truest desires. All habits can be changed if we want them to!
Many people have a morning routine without even realizing they have one. If you are a chronic over-sleeper and start every day stressed because you are now late - that is your morning routine. Frankly, that sucks.
If you've ever read any literature on self-help, you have probably seen something like The Morning Routines of 5 Successful People," or "Oprah's Morning Routine for Success!" It seems corny but I LOVE THAT SHIT. I really do, there's just something so interesting to me about the way people start their day.
The word 'routine' in and of itself doesn't always carry a positive connotation. "Stuck in my old routine." Who wants to feel stuck? The word itself, when used like that is pretty much the exact opposite of mindfulness.
The morning is WHEN we start our day (duh), and the way we approach and treat it can dictate or set a tone for HOW we start the day AND CONTINUE the day. The way you start your day can impact your mood for the whole day, your productivity, and your enthusiasm toward any goals you may be working towards.
I know, I know - you're "not a morning person." I challenge that! I think anyone can become a morning person and more importantly should. BUT HOW?!
Rituals are not necessarily religious or spiritual practices (although I'll always encourage you to find your own form of spirituality). Rituals simply take some of the necessary tasks of your routine, and allow you to be mindful as you perform them. For example, while brushing your teeth, use that time to think of all the abundance in your life. While you are drinking your coffee, take the time to enjoy it - the smell,the taste.
That is the difference between routine and rituals. Routines are performed mindlessly, and rituals are intentional. If you are on a journey to becoming a morning person, I highly recommend you adopt a few morning rituals.
Morning rituals can allow you to take some time for yourself in the morning. But here's the hardest part for most people - YOU WILL NEED TO WAKE UP EARLIER! Once you get the hang of that, you can use that time on anything that is going to fulfill you and allow you to take energy in before giving energy out. Many of us have guilt or fear surrounding putting ourselves first, but let me tell you when you take ONE HOUR each morning, it makes such a huge difference and actually helps you to take better care of yourself and others.
Waking up early can be so beneficial for your overall wellness. Being able to start your day without hurry or rush or stress and having that little bit of alone time that may be hard to find later in the day can completely shift your mood and your perspective. Not just on the day, but on you life. Sounds dramatic, but it's true.
WHERE TO START
If you're a late sleeper with no time for some morning rituals, here are my tips for preparing to wake up earlier and set time aside for yourself:
- Think about what you wish you had time for Reading, writing, journaling, exercising, drinking your coffee slowly and silently, listening to a podcast, making your to-do list, watching a show - anything that makes you happy. Get excited for it.
-Go to sleep earlier. One hour, that's it. Sleep is SO important and highly undervalued, so don't lose out. It will help you feel more rested when you wake up.
-Set a precise alarm and wake up with it. Use the old trick of putting it across the room so you have to get up to get it.
-Clean up the night before. Sounds weird, but waking up to a messy kitchen, for example, is stressful. To me, at least.
-Write in a journal. This can help you clear your mind and fall asleep more peacefully, which will help you get more restful sleep and have an easier time waking up earlier.
OK I'M UP, WHAT DO I DO NOW?
This is the fun part - whatever you want! If you're not sure where to start, this may help:
Do something that ignites your 5 senses (or at least a few of them!): TASTE something good like coffee or tea, for example. SMELL something good like essential oils, candles, incense, etc. FEEL something good, so even if you are wrapped in your softest blanket. LOOK AT something you enjoy - the sunrise, art, your own reflection, anything. HEAR something or listen to something you enjoy - music, a podcast, birds, etc.
Do your gratitude journaling first thing in the morning, while your head and heart are at their purest and calmest (hopefully!). If you don't practice gratitude, I HIGHLY recommend it. Writing things down just...helps. Even if you write down one thing.
Stretch. You may wake up a little stiff sometimes and say "ah I'll stretch later or something." Well, we all know that probably won't happen. SO do it first thing in the morning, with your favorite song on, coffee brewing, birds chirping, candles burning. Take 5-10 minutes to work the kinks out.
Be creative. Don't underestimate the importance and the power of creativity. My recent blog talks all about creativity and you can read up on that HERE.
Meditate - whatever that is for your you. I personally love visualization. I envision my ideal day and my ideal life. It helps me keep my goals in mind throughout the day.You can do breathwork or any form of meditation that works for you. There are lots of apps that offer guided meditations and breathwork practices if you're just getting started.
Work out if you have been putting it off for lack of time. Even just taking a walk to get your body moving.
Make your to-do list and cross off everything that is not important.
Do ANY OTHER THING that is important TO YOU - anything you put off because you believe you don't have the time, or shouldn't take the time to do.
BE CONSISTENT. Commit to one week and take it from there.
These are rituals because you are taking the time to enjoy and appreciate what you are doing. You are doing these things for a reason and with intention. You are mindful. You are not just "going through the motions" because you have somewhere to be.
I'll share with you my current rituals that I do every morning.
These have become my habits and I enjoy every single one. I look forward to them because I know every day will start out with peace and calmness that would be hard to achieve other wise. It's a little time for myself that is nearly impossible to get later in the day.
-Wake up between 5:00-6:00. Or earlier, depends on my daughter. She is 11 months old and currently hates sleep. Luckily, I've always been an early riser.
-Change baby, put her down to play and immediately write in my gratitude journal. I like to do this in the morning. Some prefer night journaling, which is great too. Either way, I can't recommend it enough.
-Brush my teeth, get dressed for a workout, wash my face. It makes me feel ready and more awake.
-Water plants and burn incense. I love tending to my plants and little indoor garden, it's awesome to see things grow and thrive. I also am obsessed with incense. I try to choose a scent that aligns with my intention for that day or even that moment.
-Make Charley a bottle, feed her and read to her. Sometimes she sits still while I read, sometimes she doesn't. I go with the flow and do my best.
-COFFEE. Probably my favorite part. I love the smell and the taste of coffee. I may have had a cup before this point, it depends on how I feel when I first wake up.
-If Charley is chill, I write. I love getting a task done early that I would have had to do later. I am also the freshest in the morning in terms of my thoughts and creativity. I credit this to my rituals - they ground me and allow me to reflect inward with the energy I've taken in.
After this, Joe and I will have back-to-back virtual personal training sessions so we trade off with the baby, feedings, naps etc. I work out at some point in between. I put that workout in our shared calendar. The rest of the day unfolds as it will, but I know that I've taken in energy, ignited my senses, (hopefully) read to my daughter, and got some work done.
Some of these practices didn't just happen overnight, but they are important to me, so I found ways to get them in there in the morning.
Taking the time to assess your current routine can help you determine if your actions are serving you and your desires - if they are contributing to you being your best or being stressed. It can help your discover the purpose of all your routine activities, how you feel during each one and if you can adjust those tasks to meet your needs. A lot of us have some more time right now. We don't need to leave the house at a certain time so that eliminates some stressors such as getting out of the house on time and trying to beat traffic.
Anyone can implement an effective morning routine that is filled with purposeful rituals. These rituals become your habits and become ingrained into your lifestyle. With stress being higher than ever and a key component to so many health issues, I think it's more important than ever take really learn how to take care of ourselves, mind body and spirit.
I would love to hear from you - what are you currently up to in the morning? Have you been able to get a good routine going in the morning and do you implement mindful rituals? Comment, message me or tag me in Instagram with pics of your favorite rituals!
Wishing you all the best and good health always!