I was once told by a therapist that the reason my anxiety was high was largely because my morning was a mess. My morning? I was flabbergasted! How was my morning making me anxious? At the time, I didn’t even have a morning; I just woke up with the alarm (several times), threw on some clothes, and ran out the door with a coffee in-hand. How was that not a normal morning?
When you go through therapy, you learn a lot about yourself. For me, it was very much a healing and forgiveness process; the eureka moments came from the small stuff. It was this small stuff that had a huge impact on my day and the rest of my life. As the saying goes, “small changes lead to big transformations”. In my experience, this was exactly the case, and it all started with my mornings.
Here are the changes I made to my morning routine:
1. My alarm
I used to wake up several times to my phone alarm each morning, hitting snooze, until I literally woke the whole house up! Now, I wake up straight away, to either one alarm or the vibration of my Fitbit.
2. My phone
I used to check Instagram, messenger and mails on my phone, last thing before I went to sleep and when I woke up. Now, I turn my phone off an hour before bed and I keep it off for at least 30 mins after I wake up.
3. Meditation, movement and gratitude
I now meditate for around 15-20 minutes every morning. I practice a type of meditation called,’Transcendental Meditation’ (TM), which focuses on a mantra. I find that meditation slows everything down and it acts like a reset button for my mind. It gives me clearance and clarity. If you are new to meditation, try to begin with a guided meditation in the morning for 10 minutes (there are plenty of different ones available online). I also make my bed first thing and I have a gratitude list that I say to myself. Every day, I list three things I am grateful for, three positive affirmations, and three things that would make the day ahead great. This sets the tone for my day. I am a yoga teacher, so I love to move my body with some yoga each morning; I do 5-10 repetitions of a yoga sequence or two full yoga sun salutations.
The results have been incredible. I now control my day, it doesn’t control me. I start the day in such a beautiful, zen-like state and, most of the time, the rest of my day follows suit. Thinking back, it makes perfect sense that starting the day in a stressed state (alarms, caffeine, rushing) would induce a manic day. Simply put – it’s a bad start. Beginning your day in a calm and collected state will have a similar effect on your day. It’s that simple.
Realistically, if I do even just half of the things I have listed above, I consider myself as having won the morning, and if you win the morning, you win the day! My morning routine looks a lot longer on paper than it actually is. This routine takes me no longer than 30 minutes every day, and the beauty of it is that I look forward to the mornings now. Life will sometimes intervene, and you will have emergencies to deal with, but you can always do at least one thing for yourself, and if you do all three, the likelihood of your day being a slam dunk is infinitely greater!
Your morning routine can be whatever you want it to be, you don’t have to do exactly what I do. Do some research and choose a couple of things that stand out to you; as long as it’s not looking at Instagram and drinking 5 espressos first thing, you’re on the right track! I have a friend that just likes to prepare and drink a mint tea for 30 minutes each morning and nothing else. No phone, no TV, no nothing. He just sits outside and listens to the birds with his mint tea. What a perfect way to start the day! No matter what you choose to do, spend the first 30 minutes of your day with yourself and nothing else, and watch the positive impact it has on your mental well-being.