Waking up on the wrong side of the bed was something very natural for me. The line ‘I’m not a morning person’ defined me. I’ve since learned that my miserable mornings are a direct result of my own bad habits and they can be changed.
I’ve gone through a transition you’ll hear me mention a lot on this blog. I call it ‘taking back my life’. My counsellor asked me a simple question that set me on this path. ‘If you know that life is truly more important to you than work, why do you feel so guilty taking any time for yourself?’ I can always tell when I question has really impacted me because I stare back blankly without a single word to say.
The more I tried to ‘take back my life’ the better I felt, and I became hooked on feeling great. Within weeks I realized that my ‘wrong side of the bed’ mentality could finally be squashed. With a few small changes, my mornings became something I looked forward too.
You might look at this list and think ‘mornings are so rushed I don’t have time for all of this’. I hear you! I used to get up with just enough time to get ready and go to work. It was a struggle to add one new thing, let alone six. But as I slowly added more and my entire mood towards mornings shifted, I found that it was easier and easier to get up early. It’s not about cramming more into your morning, it’s about realizing that your morning isn’t just there to be a flurry of mundane activities before work. It’s part of the day you can spend time on you.
If you’re starting from the beginning, don’t add everything at once. Take it slow. I started just with step one. One ten minute activity after I got up. The other steps came naturally as I started feeling better.
Meditate: If you hate the idea of meditation, don’t worry! Not everyone likes it. Think of it more as a time for quiet and calm. Take a few minutes to sit and breath slowly. I have this amazing app on my phone called ‘Insight Timer’ that I use. Sometimes I pick a long guided meditation, and sometimes I pick a ten minute one that’s very simple. One of the most important lessons I ever learned about meditation is not to try and be good at it. If you do that, you’re missing the point completely. When you notice your mind has wandered, smile and bring yourself back. If you tend to nod off, maybe wash your face or brush your teeth first so you are a little more alert.
Add an Addition Beauty Routine: I use the term ‘Beauty Routine’ to mean those extra things you do, like face masks, pedicures or milk baths. Most of my beauty routines I do at night because that’s when I have time. My mornings were reserved to ‘scrub and go’ in my flurry to get ready for work. But after I started meditating, I found that my time washing my face became slower. I would take extra time to exfoliate or slowly massage in my moisturizer. I spent more time brushing and flossing my teeth to keep them white. Every once in awhile I would moisturize my entire body after a shower, taking time to massage it into my skin. It’s not really about trying to be more beautiful, it’s about setting the tone for how you treat your body throughout the day. When I take this time to do something that makes me feel and look better, I usually remember to continue that trend for the rest of the day. I’ll drink more water to keep my skin hydrated. I’ll remember to moisturize my hands so they don’t crack around the nails. I’ll even go for a walk at lunch because my mind is already telling me to spend time on myself.
Get Ready for the Day: This isn’t an extra step. What’s important is where it goes in your morning. When I first started changing my mornings, I would push all the necessary things like dressing and makeup until last. But I felt like they were rushed, and while I was meditating or taking time for myself, I would constantly be wondering if I had enough time for all the necessary stuff. So before I do anything else, I stop and get ready now. This allows anything I do afterwards to be free from the worry of running out of time.
Sit and have breakfast: I bet you’ve never heard this one before! I used to roll my eyes at anyone who told me sitting down to have breakfast would change my life. But in changing my morning routine I realized that what really stopped me from doing this was not the actual eating, but the work it takes to make breakfast. It seemed like another chore in an already chore filled morning. Discovering overnight oats was what changed things! This is prepared the night before. I like to stir oats, chia seeds, Kefir, Coconut Milk, Water, and Berries together in a bowl and then put it in the fridge. Before I start getting ready in the morning, I’ll put it on the counter so it’s not too cold. All I have to do in the morning is eat it! I’m not good at focusing on eating, so I normally combine breakfast with step 5 below. If you make sure only to give yourself one serving, you don’t have to worry about unconscious eating.
Read: If you don’t enjoy reading then put something else here you enjoy. The idea is to do something not related to work or getting ready. When I first started this step my mom had leant me the book ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’. Taking this time to read it, my day started with me considering my relationship with food and setting me up to make good food choices for the rest of the day. Sometimes I read PORTER magazine. I find that it’s usually full of very inspirational women, and I’m empowered by it. If I have nothing to read, I might browse on Pinterest and look up motivational or inspirational pictures. Normally I stay away from the news. I care about what’s going on in the world, but I reserve it for the afternoon. If the first thing I see in the morning is destruction, stress and sadness then that’s what I carry with me.
Get dressed: Notice this step is separated from the ‘get ready’ step? I used to get soooooo frustrated when I couldn’t figure out what to wear in the morning. Maybe you know which shirt you want but you can’t find it. Or you just realized you’re out of clean undies. That frustration builds and you walk out of your home a little annoyed. Changed this morning stress by picking out your clothes the night before. I choose everything right down to my underclothes and accessories and hang it together on a hanger. If something needs to be ironed I do it then! By dressing last, you don’t have to worry about breakfast spills or hot sweaty mornings. You slip on your already prepared outfit, and then you’re ready to go with no fuss!
If you haven’t noticed yet, what I’ve done is taken away every single decision I have to make in the morning. My clothes are picked out, my breakfast is made, I know my routine and I just have to spend some time with myself and focus on my day. What do I want my day to be like? I like calm and happiness. When I leave my apartment I’ve already spent time creating that atmosphere and I take it out in the world.
There are lots of other things you can do that didn’t make my list. Listen to your favourite songs. Stretch. Call a friend specifically to get excited about the day. I’m not much of a ‘noise’ person in the morning, so my activities are calmer and quieter. Think about what kind of day you want to have and set yourself up for that energy.
You’ll also notice that I don’t exercise in the morning. I’ve never been good at that. I think it’s my years of soccer growing up that taught me to expect activity at 3:00 in the afternoon. Practices were almost always after school. I like to walk at lunch or go out right after dinner. We’re all different so our routines are going to be different.
I’d love to hear what works for you in the morning!
Photo: Taken by Jayne