For a lot of people, mornings are a chore. As if getting out of bed isn’t difficult enough, the days can be packed with meetings, errands, conferences, presentations and all kinds of other adult responsibilities. Mornings can be the most stressful time of the day because if one little thing goes wrong – the alarm doesn’t go off, you run out of milk, the car won’t start – then the rest of the day follows suit.
Keeping a clear head in the morning is ideal so that you can stay organised and focussed. But it doesn’t always work out that way, especially when you realise you’ve forgotten stuff halfway to the office. That’s why having a routine can make your mornings a lot more manageable, even when life gets in the way. You can personalise this routine to suit your lifestyle and schedule. Here are some self-care tips for your morning routine.
1. Sleep as well as possible
This is so much easier said than done, but stay tuned for an upcoming blog all about how to get a better night’s sleep!
Sleep is the foundation on which we build our day, and it determines everything: our mood, our health, attitude, productivity, socialisation, and so the list goes on. We’ve all had at least one day where we’ve slept so poorly – or maybe not even at all – that the next day the world just seems like it’s out to get us. We know it isn’t. There’s still some rational part of the mind that knows we’re being a bit too catty and a bit too dramatic, but the office needs to know you slept badly.
Some simple ways to sleep better include going to bed a bit earlier, not eating right before you go to bed, drinking a cold glass of water, reading, or other tasks that relax you, but don’t distract you.
2. Meditate, meditate, meditate
Meditation is not difficult and it’s not silly. Giving yourself just 10 minutes in the morning to sit still and reflect on your thoughts is healthy. You don’t have to isolate yourself on a hill somewhere in picturesque China to reap the benefits of the internal filing cabinet. Just sit up in bed, or at the table with coffee, or on the back porch, or literally anywhere you like, and be still. It’s called mindfulness, and we’ve touch on it before.
It doesn’t matter if the TV is going, or the kids are yelling, or the dog is barking – you just need to be still and have a few minutes to yourself. You’re allowed to hear things and respond to them, but don’t let them distract you too much. Just collect all your thoughts in one place, blow away the negative ones as you exhale, and lock the good and necessary ones in place with every breath in.
3. Stretch the strain away
Stretching in the morning can really help us to wake up. You don’t have to get up at 5am for a beachside yoga session – but if you can do that, more power to you! Sit up in bed and raise your arms up to stretch them. Roll your shoulders, tilt your head. If your hands are cramped, numb or stiff, here’s a quick reflexology routine for your hands that Savanna has demoed.
Waking up the body is just as important as waking up the mind. Whichever one wakes up first, the other will follow. Stretching makes getting up and moving around a bit easier, and feeling your muscles limber up is motivating when you need to tackle the day.
4. Shower the worries away
Some people are morning shower-ers, and others prefer showering in the evening. A morning shower is a great way to feel fresher right out of bed, not to mention a cold one works wonders at waking you up. Whether you’re only under the stream for a couple of minutes to peel your eyes open, or you have a full body scrub ready to go, a shower is definitely worth adding into your morning routine.
5. Know what’s going on
There are some people in the world who absolutely preach about to-do lists. There are all kinds of ways to stay organised and a lot of these niche ideas have made their way into the mainstream. Bullet journaling is all over Instagram and is great for those people who love taking time to write out their daily tasks. If that’s a little too pedantic for you, then just write out a normal to-do list. Keep it on your phone or write it on paper, but do this the previous night or the in the morning before you go to work so that you know exactly what the day holds for you.
Writing a to-do list will encourage organisation and makes managing your schedule a lot easier. You’ll find that the more you sit and think of what needs to be done, the more you’ll actually remember along the way. No more going up and down the stairs 3 times to retrieve things you keep forgetting – just refer to your list.
6. Eat something
The breakfast debate will wage forever. Some people are adamant that breakfast is The Most Important Meal Of The Day. Others don’t give it a chance to begin with. While nourishing your body right from the start will definitely help give your body and brain some energy to use (rather than burning through whatever is left from the night before), you don’t have to curate a chef’s platter. If you are going to eat breakfast, always try to steer clear of processed things. You can usually determine what that includes by what it’s wrapped in. Plastic is bad for the environment, and whatever is inside it usually isn’t great you your body’s environment either.
Fruits like blueberries, kiwis and bananas contain vitamin C, antioxidants, B6, B12 and other vitamins and minerals that will give your body a burst of energy. Whole grains, like cereals, muesli and oats (provided they don’t have any added sugar) are a great source of long-burning energy. You could also have toast, or make yourself a bigger breakfast with eggs, beans and grilled veggies if you have time. And if all of this sounds exhausting, then remember that you can put pretty much anything in a smoothie.
7. Take some breaths
This is kind of like meditation, but less structured. We breathe 24 hours of the day, 7 days of the week, but nearly all of those breaths are unconscious. Sitting at a desk, standing in a meeting, carrying shopping, or other mundane activities can actually restrict our breath. We use only a fraction of our lungs’ potential capacity every day – unless you play the flute. A lot of the breaths we take are shallow so we need to take lots of them every day.
Taking some time to concentrate on your breaths is great. Deepening and slowing the breaths has a grounding effect and makes us feel calm and at ease. When you’re in a panic, the off-the-cuff advice is always breathe. Even when you’re not feeling flustered, remember to take some slow, focussed breaths. If you need some help finding those breaths, book a massage with Blys and have a trained professional help you tap into your potential.
8. Set those boundaries
This is probably the most important step in any self-care routine, mornings or otherwise. Setting boundaries and limitations is critical when it comes to looking after yourself and applies to everything – work, family, friends. If you wake up to a dozen emails, missed calls and frantic messages, you need to set some boundaries. Others needs to know that you’re a person with your own needs. You shouldn’t have to be at their beck and call at 2am.
An easy boundary to place can be in your email settings, where you can arrange automated replies for when you’re out of office hours. You can do the same with your voicemail system. If you’d prefer to switch off altogether, turn your phone off when you go to bed. Or, use airplane mode if you need to use it as your alarm. You’re allowed to have a life outside of your commitments, so don’t let other people run your life.
So in no particular order, there we have it: a self-care guided morning routine. We hope this helps some of those morning haters to hate mornings a little bit less. Remember to take each morning as a fresh start full of new opportunities and possibilities. Check out this blog for more self-care tips.