Your eyelids squint slightly in order to locate the incessant beeping that signifies the start of another day.
It's 6am, you've already hit snooze twice, and it's about the time for you to slink reluctantly out from under those incredibly warm blankets to grab your phone and spend the next 10-12 minutes scrolling through your social media. Then, before you know it, you only have thirty minutes to get ready, grab a coffee, and make it to work on time. Sound familiar?
Mornings can set the tone for your entire day and developing a successful morning routine really requires some trial and error, which can be frustrating when you're trying to figure out what works for you. So, I did some homework and I'm here to share what worked for me, in hopes it can provide some insight for you.
Some general guidelines to keep in mind...
No matter what your morning routine looks like, continuously making it a priority will automatically make you feel more in control of your days. By honoring the commitment that you have made to yourself, you'll set the tone for further behavior down the road and create a system of accountability for yourself.
B) Slow and Steady
Choose one thing that you're looking to improve on where your mornings are concerned and make it your top priority for seven mornings. There's no deadline here, so take your time to really be honest with yourself and see if that one thing is a realistic element to keep in your routine. If it's not, toss it out and move on.
Finding your perfect morning isn't something that occurs overnight (ironically enough). Grant yourself the grace to accept the inevitability that you're going to accidentally oversleep, or spend a wonderful night with your girlfriends sipping wine and chatting, and you might not want to get up at 6am to work out the next morning. It happens to the best of us, and every once in a while, it's important to prioritize those things differently. It's just a bad morning, not a bad life.
how i made over my morning
1. There's comfort in a routine
Growing up, I remember my father going to bed by 10:30pm every night and waking up at 5am every single morning, whether he had to work or not - yes, even on a Saturday. While I, personally, am not there yet, I've recently come to the conclusion that he was up to something.
By watching my dad stick to his own schedule, it taught me to prioritize your own time in the morning to take care of yourself, before you can take care of others. My parents were a little more unconventional that your typical household roles were back then, and I'm so grateful for that. That meant that my Dad was usually the one making the lunches and keeping things moving downstairs, while my Mom made sure I was getting ready with enough time to eat breakfast and get to school.
As it turns out, my Dad was up to something. I challenge you to have a look at your week and set one consistent wake up time for each of the five weekdays. Then, (here's where Dad and I differ) have a look at your weekend and pick another wake up time that is close but the same to the one you chose for during the week. For example: During the week, wake up at 6am. On the weekend, wake up at 7am. Easy enough, right?
2. A technology-free table
Blue wavelengths (like the ones found on your phone's screen) are actually really beneficial for attention-span, reaction times, and overall general mood during the day. (Source) That's the good news. The bad news, is that those benefits don't transfer to the evening. In fact, looking at that light directly before you fall asleep is completely counterproductive to getting a good night's sleep. It would be like needing to take a take a flight that departs in two hours and instead of driving 30 minutes to the airport, trying to walk there. Exposure to light slows the release of melatonin from the brain, which can influence your circadian rhythm.
This can be so challenging because, as a society, we've developed the unhealthy habit of feeling the need to be clicked into what's happening around us at all times. I know I can definitely be guilty of not putting my phone down enough.
In an effort to force myself to place my phone across the room, I've found that I sleep better and I was able to pick up that book I've been meaning to finish. Some folks can put their device in another room all together - I'm not there yet, but I salute you. I've found that by making this small change before I go to sleep, I eliminate my need to scroll through Instagram before falling asleep. Another benefit of placing your phone across the room is having to physically leave your bed to get it in the morning. I think a pretty large amount of us use our phones as an alarm too. If your alarm is across the room, you're much less likely to hit the snooze button three times, because you'll already be up. When you sleep better, you wake up more easily. (I love the bird chirping sound option!)
In Japan, it's a common practice to consume two full glasses of water immediately following waking up. If that's too much for you, I understand - it is for me - but placing a bottle of water on your nightstand (perhaps where your phone used to be) will help remind you to drink up!
Remember, your body just completed six to eight hours of total rest without any fluid intake. It's important to jumpstart your metabolism and replenish your body's systems - especially your neurological and your digestive systems. One of the most frequent cause of inflammation or constipation (that's right, we're going there) is dehydration. I recommend drinking out of a container using a reusable straw (steel or silicone) - I find it expedites the process if you're like me and you don't love to drink water.
4. Feed your soul
So you've picked up your phone, you're sipping water through your straw, what next? Now is the perfect time to feed your soul - whatever that means to you. For me, that means sitting at my kitchen table with a cup of coffee and my dogs at my feet reading The Skimm.
This is where the trial and error portion comes in. For you, maybe that means drinking a smoothie with your headphones on listening to a podcast, or maybe that means sitting in a chair with the headspace app and meditating for ten minutes (another favorite practice of mine). Whatever it is, open up your brain to something more than your Instagram feed.
5. a tailored breakfast
If there is one thing I have learned, it's that one breakfast does not fit all. For example, in the early hours of the morning, I can't stomach much except water or coffee before I work out around 7am. On the other hand, if I'm working out that evening because I have an audition earlier that morning, I can handle some eggs and avocado or a smoothie - in fact, I need it.
Tailor your breakfast to your schedule and your own personal digestive habits. It also helps to keep your diet varied, so you won't get bored!
6. Get To Church
I don't mean actual church - although if attending daily mass gives you a personal sense of fulfillment, you should absolutely keep doing it.
I mean get moving. Even if you can't do it in the morning, working out 4-6 days a week are a must. Whether it's spin, pilates, barre, kickboxing, HIIT, strength training, or just a good morning run on the beach, do something each morning that will turn your brain off from the stresses of the upcoming day, and allow you to just focus on your body + how it feels.
Ensure that you're doing something each and every morning that forces your mind and body to connect. I truly believe that your daily workout practice should be that level of an experience because I believe it is so vital to your physical and mental health. You only get one beautiful body in this life, and it's your job to make it last as long as you can.
Above all, find something to integrate into your mornings that help you feel more confident about tackling the day ahead.