On my journey to make my own life simpler and less stressful, as well as my work with supporting others in doing the same, I have identified a healthy morning routine as one of the most important aspects of leading a slow, yet productive lifestyle.
This claim shouldn’t be a surprise to most of us, since parents, teachers & productivity gurus have most likely been telling you this for years. But if you’re like me chances are that you didn’t bring real awareness to this essential step.
I used to create my morning routine according to the least amount of time I needed to get from bed to work. At my best/worst I used to set my alarm 40 minutes before I started work. In that time I barely had time for the bare minimum. I skipped breakfast, threw myself in the shower and was out the door while my brain was still half asleep and I often needed the first hour of work just to land in reality.
Recently I started experimenting with my mornings, taking enough time for everything that I need to feel awake and ready for the day. In this post I would like to share my morning routine and explain the thinking behind some of the steps.
I suppose this goes without saying. We all know the difference a good night sleep can make for our wellness and productivity. The use of a sleep tracker has helped me establish that I need between 6-8 hours of sleep to feel rested. I try to not eat or drink anything for the last hour of the evening before so that my body can get the rest it needs.
I can also recommend having 3-5 air-filtering plants in your bedroom to make sure you get enough oxygen and less airborne toxins. I use Sansevieria Trifasciata since it specifically produces oxygen during the night.
During the night our bodies often become dehydrated and it is important to rebalance your liquid levels as soon as possible. I start the day drinking 2-3 big glasses of water before I do anything else. This will help kickstart your body and replenish fluids lost during the night. If you want to give your body a further boost squeeze half a lemon in each glass of water. Lemon Water helps to cleanse your body and gives you a healthy dose of vitamin C to boost your immune system. Keep in mind that after drinking a large amount of water, refrain from eating for 30 minutes. The water will dilute your stomach acid and make it more difficult to digest food.
If I start my day with stillness that serene feeling stays with me all day. I find it much easier to deal with challenges coming my way and I can keep an even mood and energy level throughout the day.
How you do this is up to you. Yoga, Pilates, Meditation or Contemplation are all practices that help you slow down and center yourself in being. In my experience 15-20 minutes of meditation is all I need to feel calm. Please don’t be concerned with different dogmas of meditation.
Everyone can do it! You don’t have to sit a specific way, do it for a specific amount of time or think of absolutely nothing. Just make yourself comfortable, with a straight spine if possible, relax your body and focus on your breathing. Thoughts might come, and that’s ok. Look at them with kindness and refocus on your breathing. Even 5 minutes will help!
I have found that doing some form of body work every morning not only helps me wake up, but keeps my mind clear and focused throughout the day. I try to mix things up so I don’t get bored. I go for morning walks, lift weights, exercise on my fitness ball or do a couple of rounds on the 7-minute workout app. You have to adjust this to your own level of fitness, energy and commitment, but even a little goes a long way.
There are many claims that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and probably as many sources claiming the opposite. You have to feel for yourself what works for you. I can only speak from my own experience. I try to eat a light meal packed with good energy to keep me awake and focused until lunch. A healthy smoothie of Kale, Fruits, Nuts & Seeds is part of my standard morning and depending on how hungry I am I might also have a bowl of muesli with fruit & yoghurt or a couple of slices of wholegrain bread. I try to not consume refined sugar in the morning as this is likely to produce a dip in my energy levels.
I like a good cup of green tea for breakfast since it also helps to rehydrate and gives me a much more stable energy than coffee. However, I find coffee a delicious treat so I try to feel each morning which will work for me.
After taking care of my body, I also like to give the brain a good workout to start the day. I might take a moment to write in my journal or read a book/article. I find that 15-20 minutes help me think fresh and get new ideas. If you are not used to writing or don’t know what to write, try stream-of-consciousness writing. Basically this means you start writing and just keep writing everything that pops into your head without worrying about making sense or progress. It really helps with finishing your thinking and getting out of mental loops & recurring thoughts.
When reading I try to read longer articles or from a book I find interesting and I avoid news-feeds since consuming small bits of information makes my thinking unclear & unfocused.
In order to feel ready for the day ahead I take a moment to check my calendar and to-do’s every morning and pick 3-5 items from the list that I want to get done that day. I also check my email to see if anything urgent came in since last night. Whenever possible I start working on these MIT’s (Most important tasks) right away. When I manage to get them all done in the morning the little victories give me more energy and I feel like everything else that happens that day is a bonus.
I wish you good luck in establishing your own morning routine and I’m sure you will find what works best for you. Perhaps some of my tips can be of help. If you have other tips please leave a comment below so others can take part of your wisdom as well.