I will be the first to admit that early morning is not my favorite time of day. Oscar the Grouch ain’t have shit on me before 10:00 AM. I would have my alarm set to go off in 10 minute increments for an entire hour on my iPhone and still hit snooze, lol!
“I’m a single parent that doesn’t have a lot of time in the mornings,” is the excuse I kept giving myself. Then I started thinking ‘If I can hit snooze on my alarm for a WHOLE HOUR, I wonder what I could actually accomplish if stopped hitting snooze?!
In order to see some improvement in my mood throughout the day, I had to be willing to make some changes first thing in the morning. As tempting as it can be, I rarely hit the snooze button anymore. Aimlessly scrolling through social media before I get out of bed is also huge ‘no, no’. Why look at others portraying to be living their best lives on Instagram when I can focus on improving mine, in real life?
I have been intentional about following this routine for the past three weeks and I can never go back to the way my mornings were before. I'm able to check off quite a few boxes on my self-care list before 8:00 AM and I'm sure the people that deal with me on a daily basis benefit from it too, LOL. So, let’s get into it.
- Check in with My Body and My Emotions – Before I do anything else, I lie in bed and take about 30 seconds to do a mental scan from head to toe and make note of any part of my body that aches (I’m over 30 now ya’ll, lol!) or just feels off. Then, I think about how I’m feeling. As someone that suffers from anxiety, this has been a total game changer. Giving myself the space to let whatever thoughts and feelings come without judgment first thing in the morning, keeps me from getting consumed by them later in the day which would cause me to be less productive. If I experience a negative, low vibrational emotion, I acknowledge it and ask myself why feel that way. If it stems from a situation I have some control over, I think of ways I can change it. If it’s something that is beyond my control, I know I have to work on letting the situation and the emotion go. This also a time for me to prepare my responses and reactions if I know that I will be dealing with a difficult person or situation that particular day.
- Express Gratitude – Then I find to be grateful for. Sometimes I can rattle off 3 to 5 splendid things that are super sentimental. At other times, I come up with one simplistic thing like having the ability to put gas in my car to go work. Expressing gratitude right after acknowledging negative emotions helps to improve my mood.
- Hydrate – Before I go to bed at night, I put my alkaline water on my nightstand for the next morning. You water doesn’t have to be alkaline; that’s just my personal preference. Drinking water first thing in the morning is the perfect way to wake your organs up and get them going. Google it.
- Meditate – I found this amazing meditation app I had never heard of. The cool thing about this app is I can check in with my emotions as part of my meditation. When you open up the app, it asks, “How are you?” It gives you the option to select the emotions you’re experiencing and then recommends meditations based off of that. The app keeps track of your emotions before and after meditating. This is why I love this particular meditation app. Or, you can skip that altogether and go straight to the list of meditations. They offer a wide variety of meditations, including kid-friendly options, all of which are no longer than 10 minutes. Some mornings, Spencer and I meditate together.
- Make My Bed – Making your bed first thing in the morning is said to give you an instant sense of accomplishment. I definitely feel proud after making mine. Also, Google it.
- Move – Most mornings I have to choose between meditation and doing a quick workout due to time constraints. Most times, meditation wins out because the way this mouth and mind are set up, meditation is necessary. However, at least two times a week I take a brisk walk/jog for 10-15 minutes before I begin getting ready for my day. If I know that I’ll have to skip an evening of physical activity for something else, I’ll try to make up for it by adding an extra morning jog.
- Set an intention – I think about the day that’s ahead of me, what the most important things are for me to accomplish, how I want to accomplish it and the type of environment I’m going to put myself in to get those things done. I do this either during my walk/jog or riding in the car in silence after dropping Spencer off at school.
- Eat Breakfast – As cliché as it sounds, breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. I didn’t become a big advocate of breakfast until I became a teacher. There was a HUGE distinction between my students that came to school on an empty stomach and the ones that had breakfast. Those poor babies struggled to concentrate and one in particular literally could not sit still from the moment he came into my classroom first thing in the morning. I started keeping snacks in my classroom just for those kiddos because I knew they wouldn’t retain anything I taught that morning otherwise. If missing breakfast has such an effect on children, just imagine how you might function better throughout the morning simply because you chose not to skip a meal. Some days, breakfast just doesn’t happen and then I regret it because by lunch time I’m so hungry I more than likely make a poor eating decision. Right now, Spencer and I both are LOVING avocado toast with arugula; a mixture of fruit and cottage cheese; a breakfast skillet I make ahead on Sundays with red potatoes, bacon, scrambled eggs and cheese; and when we’re running late Trader Joe’s cereal bars, pop tarts or trail mix and a banana.
Both self-care and developing a morning routine are totally subjective. My morning routine is what makes me feel good, makes me feel grounded and has helped me become more patient. Also, being able to reflect back on how I felt right after my morning routine and the intention I set for the day keeps me from allowing people’s energy or other outside influences to affect my mood.
That’s what self-care is all about! Finding the things that make you feel good and creating more and more of those good feelings for yourself.
If you have a morning routine you already follow, especially if it involves some sort of quick workout routine, please share it with me in the comments below. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the burst of energy I get from doing physical activity first thing in the morning, but don’t have the time to devote to a full workout every day.
If you struggle through the mornings like I did, make a conscious effort to develop your own self-care morning routine. I promise you’ll love yourself for it.
Love you, mean it.