In 2014, my goal is to be more mindful in a few aspects of my life: relationships, health (mental and physical), money and consumption. I’ll go into more detail about why I’m focusing on each of these areas and how in later posts. This post focuses on how creating a morning (and evening) routine will boost my overall wellness.
Over the past few years, I have become lazy when it comes to mornings. I sleep as long as humanly possible before having to rise and get ready for the work day. This means that I rush out of bed (usually at 7:30, sometimes not getting in the shower until 7:45 because I’ve wasted 15 minutes browsing my Facebook and Instagram feeds) and arrive at work already stressed and more likely to grab a bagel or sugar-laden coffee. I’m ready to say goodbye to these stressful starts by creating a morning routine that adds joy to my day. A routine that I can’t wait to jump out of bed and start!
Morning routines are a habit of many highly successful people for good reason. There’s no specific formula, and the routine can vary from day to day. But the most important factor is to avoid use of social media until you’ve completed your routine, because it’s a time suck. So I’m ditching the alarm on my iPhone in favor of the vibrating alarm on my new Jawbone UP wristband (more about that later). It’s a much gentler way to rise in the morning compared to a screeching ringtone, plus anyone who shares a room with you and does not care to be woken up as early will be extra grateful.
To create your routine, write down all that you’d like to accomplish and estimate how long you will need to dedicate to each component. Then work backwards to calculate what time you need to wake up to fit in your new morning routine. You’ll likely find that you need to go to bed earlier to also get 7-8 hours of sleep, but the extra time gained in the morning being productive and energized is far superior to staying up late watching TV or mindlessly surfing the Internet. My morning routine will start at 5 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and 6 am on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the mornings after I have my evening MBA classes and don’t get home until 10:15.
A few things in my morning routine will stay the same daily, and a few will happen only once a week.
- After rising, I will drink a warm glass of water with lemon and take my supplements (a food-based Multi that’s available at most natural food stores and professional grade probiotic and fish oil capsules).
- I will use my Day Designer and Things app to outline my goals for the day (pick your three most important tasks or MIT’s) and do some creative journaling to get any ideas out of my head and onto paper.
- I will go through my affirmations and visualizations for the day, because I strongly believe that thoughts become reality. I once read that worrying is like praying for what you don’t want, so setting your intentions is exactly the opposite. Here’s a good summary of why this is a good ritual to incorporate, though it may sound “new agey” to many of you.
- Finally, enjoy breakfast and get ready for the day without feeling rushed. For quick breakfast options, I alternate between a smoothie (usually a banana, 1 TBSP peanut butter, almond milk and 1/2 scoop Vega Sport chocolate protein powder), hot Super Oats from Love Grown Foods or avocado toast (just mash avocado onto Ezekiel bread and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Life changing!).
So what will differ in my morning routines?
- On Mondays, I will cook a leisurely hot breakfast like bacon and eggs (I still don’t love them but I’m trying because they’re so nutritious) with veggies while listening to music or podcast. No negativity of the news for me! I will also attend a morning yoga class.
- On Wednesdays, I will attend a 6am workout class at my gym.
- On Fridays, I will drink hot tea, put on a rejuvenating face mask and blog! I’m already most excited about Fridays. I will also create my meal plan and grocery list for the upcoming week so I can head into the weekend prepared.
No one’s morning routine will look exactly like mine. Choose items that sound great to you for a mixture of productivity-boosting and relaxation techniques to make you want to jump out of bed in the morning.
It’s equally important to create an evening routine that will prepare you for the next day and help you wind down for a better night’s sleep. You should turn off technology at least an hour before you go to bed or the lights will stimulate your brain to stay awake longer. For me, my evening routine will be about half prep and half unwind for (ideally) a full hour before falling asleep.
- PREP: Pack lunch for the next day and pick out clothes (pack my gym bag if needed). Wash face, etc.
- UNWIND: Brew a cup of tea and light candles. I will probably use our guest room as my “zen den” though it’s not very zen right now! Read one chapter of a good book. My sister recommended the site Goodreads to keep track of the books I want to read and also receive personalized recommendations based on my reading history. Can’t wait to try it! Then, end the night with at least five minutes of quiet meditation to clear my mind. You can just sit in silence or do something guided (there are tons of free ones online). Finally, do the 5 minute bedtime yoga routine from my new Tara Stiles DVD’s. Technically, that’s using technology but hopefully I will memorize the flow and not need the DVD’s after some repetition.
And there you have it! My method for heading into the new year with better intentions and more mindfulness. Once I put my ideas into practice, some tweaks will likely occur and I’m totally okay with that. It’s a work in progress.
Do you have a morning or evening routine? I would love to hear about it in the comments!