This one has been on my mind for a while now, and it’s time to share. Mornings are lovely and exciting times for everyone; the sun opens its warm shiny rays upon us, birds are singing, animals frolicking- the world is waking and YOU get to witness it! Unless you are not a Morning Person…in which case mornings are your sworn enemy- a time when you are rudely robbed of your right to bask in the glorious cloud of dreamland. If you hit snooze multiple times on your several alarms, rush out the door, and hope to someone there is coffee in the office, READ ON. We’re going to take this slow, and we’re going to do this together.
Daily Disclaimer: I am not naturally a Morning Person, so I (absolutely) do not do all of these things every day. Some days it is difficult to drag myself out of bed and I have to eat my words for breakfast. One thing is for sure, on the mornings that I hit the most of these targets, I have the very best days. Think of this as a menu of options for your own daily dose. And then expand. Grow. Brush your Teeth. Call your mom. Okay, I’m done.
1. Stop Pressing Snooze
This may seem obvious, but it is important to be honest with yourself the night before. A good morning routine starts before you even get into bed. Take a moment at the end of the day to rehash your experience. Do this OUT of bed so that you don’t carry along as an obstacle to sleep. Set your alarm clock for a reasonable (and achievable) time to wake up, not a reasonable time to start pressing snooze. Give yourself a little pep talk about that time, and mentally set your body clock for the same time. By eliminating the unpredictability of when you will wake, you increase your chances of a more meaningful sleep. The simple act of anticipating a good night’s sleep actually increases the chances of it occurring.
An important first step to your morning routine is simply taking one. Or maybe a few. Go for a walk until your eyes open. Focus on open-chain movements and calisthenics, finding rhythm in your mind, body, and breath. Yes, I know that you don’t have time to exercise/go to yoga/run 5 miles…save the excuses and make time for just five minutes of movement. Although I love to work my way through 30 minutes of the Ashtanga Primary Series followed by a solid savasana, there are (many) days when I don’t have time. My favorite alternative is to take a walk while shuffling my legs like a Olympic hurdler and moving my arms like a crazy person pretending to swim along the sidewalk. Bonus points if it’s raining.
The same way you did last night before bed, take a moment to set an intention for your day. That Morning Person I mentioned in the intro loves mornings because they serve as one a beautiful backdrop emanating a delicate balance of peace and energy that is marvelous in the truest sense of the word. So do it; marvel at it. Sit and listen to your body and the way your breath naturally dances with the nature around you. Things are coming to life, and you are lucky enough to bear witness to it. Let it inspire you to be just as amazing throughout the day.
Don’t forget to hydrate for your day. You’ve been sleeping for the last few hours and your body has been working hard. Fill that gas tank! Schlepping down some agua first thing in the morning will do wonders for the cells in your body and leave you feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. Personally, I think it helps fend off the impending coffee jitters though I have no scientific proof of the relationship. I’m chronically on the verge of dehydration because I get too distracted to listen to my thirst siren, but starting my day with a big Spring water has helped me stay privy to my needs.
5. Cold Showers
This one took me a long time to embrace, but I promise it is worth it- especially on those days that I only have time for one or two morning activities. There are plenty of gnarly dudes in the Cold Thermogenesis field worth giving a look and listen, and finding your own way to incorporate it into your routine is key. My quick tips? Pay attention to your breath and your shoulders, make plenty of noises. If you are holding your breath, your shoulders are raised- both no no’s in the stress-release world. Once you mentally prepare yourself to hop in, continue breathing controlled, smooth breaths. You’ll never need coffee again (stay tuned).
6. Stay Naked
Who says you have to put clothes on the moment you dry off? One of my favorite taboos on my To Tackle List is Nakedness. The only way to get over your own aversion to it is to practice it. Stay naked for as long as you can, wherever you can. If you are lucky enough to get some sun on those buns, do it! Pay attention to the way being naked makes you feel. Does it feel wrong? Sexual? Embarrassing? Do you feel that your body is connected to your mind at all? The art of being naked in non-sexual situations is incredibly energizing and equally intriguing if you take the time to analyze your feelings about it.
Notice the punctuation here. There is no question mark, and no room for ‘unless’es and ‘until’s. Put the phone down. If you are in a profession that requires you to be accessible, keep the volume on but seriously just put it down. Emails can wait. Texts can wait. Facebook can absolutely wait. If someone needs you as badly as you think they do, they can call you. The only person able to enforce the work-life balance is one that makes a promise to their self about boundaries and enforces it. No one else is going to do it for you. If you want to fully dedicate yourself to your profession, make sure you have the best self to give. Take your naked morning coffee moment and savor that shit.
Make something. Let your inherent ingenuity out of its cage. You don’t have to paint a masterpiece or make a spectacularly crafted meal (but if you do, c’mon over to my house). It can be as simple as making your bed. Do anything that is a small accomplishment that you can take a bit of pride in. It’s the proverbial “step in the right direction” that can set the tone for the rest of your day.
Spend a little time educating yourself about something you are interested in. Read a book or newspaper. Get those neurons firing about something that excites you. Start thinking critically and write down ideas that pop up. Clearing the fog in your brain before you get to work is an essential ingredient to the “How is she always so on?!” reaction. Plus, you get to learn stuff! Stuff and things (ie: passions) are good for keeping in touch with your youness and the world you plan to interact with today.
This one is admittedly general, but make your morning your thing and guard that bubble of gold to the death. Stop telling yourself that you don’t have time for you. I get it; I’m not a mother, I’m not an executive, I’m not responsible for your typically defined “high stakes” anything, but I am happy. I work hard in an emotionally demanding industry, and I’m able to give myself to my work each and every day…Just don’t expect me to drop my morning for you (okay well once and a while, sure…but I’ll be sure to accomplish at least a few things first). I’ve made this clear to those that depend on me, and I set that alarm early enough to be ready to answer their calls when they need me. So yes, this may sound naive, but what if it’s not? I dare you to try.