It was the lack of awareness and calmness in my mornings that really used to bother me during my years working in the child welfare field. I remember rushing from the moment I was up to the moment I arrived at the office and somehow, always making it a few minutes late. There was a common feeling of urgency in my mornings and at the same time, there was a constant feeling of unawareness. I often felt my morning routine was like a blur. I knew it started and I knew it happened every morning, but I had no real awareness of my behaviours and sometimes, of my own actions on a moment-to-moment. It was like I was on “autopilot”.
When I first wrote “my ideal” morning routine as an exercise to help me visualize the job of my dreams, I noticed how stressful my mornings were. I also had a moment of self-reflection and quickly noticed that much of my “autopilot” actions were taking joy out of my routine.
As a life coach, I help many of my clients gain power back over their morning routines because morning routines will set the tone for the rest of your day and it will impact your mood significantly. I find many have the struggles I used to have and feel rushed and unaware of how their time is used during their morning routines. In this blog post I will share with you my Mindful Morning Routine and hope this gives you ideas to create your own.
#1 A pleasant wake up alarm: First things first. If you have a high pitch, fast paced alarm sound waking you up, there is no need to investigate any further why your first feeling in the morning might be “not again” or panicky. The first step towards having a more mindful and calm morning routine is to make your first interaction with the morning, pleasant. Yes, I said interaction WITH the morning. I am referring to your first awareness that you are awake. One thing I did long ago, and never looked back, was making sure that the sounds of my alarms were either a calming but energetic song or, one of my favourite songs. I am pretty sure that with any type of phone, you can now set it so that it plays a song from your playlist instead of a generic sound. When I am awakened by ‘You can call me Al’ by Paul Simon, I feel a smile forming, my head starts moving following the rhythm and I begin singing along almost immediately with the same joy that this song brings each time I hear it. It is a happy way to start my day and it makes it very easy to toss the warm blankets to the side.
#2 Breathe: Before getting up and starting my movements, I lay in bed with my eyes open, take a few inhales followed by a few exhales. I turn around, kiss or a gentle gesture toward my husband (while in my mind I give thanks for his existence) and I try to take in this moment even before I open my social media and view my phone. I have to say, the days I missed this step, I feel it. Perhaps it does not sound like much or, as impactful, but try it for a while and see how peaceful and pleasant it is to start the morning focusing on the breath and greeting those in your immediate proximity.
#3 Phone check: Even as I am writing this point I think to myself “there is something wrong with this habit” but, we would all be foolish not to admit that it happens. We are attached to the hip to our phones and they are a part of our morning routine. So, if you would rather have your first phone check while in bed, do that but do it mindfully. Notice where your awareness is, do it for a short period of time and do not allow it to steal your valuable short morning time. Sometimes, I have found myself staying in the social media “black whole” far longer than needed because I have lost track. So, before you give up shower time or breakfast time, think how important it is to check on what updates Jillian or Ellen have done overnight.
#4 Meditate: I am not one to meditate for an hour in the morning. I do not have time for that nor do I enjoy it. But I do enjoy meditating each day because it centres me and it gives me a sense of calmness that nothing else does. While I have a designated meditation area in my home and some mornings I make it all the way there to practice, a lot of mornings I just get out of bed and sit on the ground next to my bed, close my eyes and listen to a short-guided meditation. If you check my site, I have several morning meditations that are short and free. I take anywhere from 3 to 15 minutes depending on how much time I’ve got. Just remember that the benefits of meditation come from a regular practice more so than the length of the practice. So, repetition is better than duration.
#5 The shower: Do you all love going to the spa and being pampered while letting your mind relax with the nice essential oils diffused in the background? I think YES! I love feeling pampered, I really do. Well, girls, I brought the spa to my shower. I really did. Shower is my mindful activity in the mornings. It is when I decided to use all my scents in full awareness of the activity (aka; showering). I have personally selected natural hypoallergenic soaps that smell amazing and that are kind to my skin, same goes for my shampoo and exfoliant. I let the hot water run before I jump into the shower, and in the meantime, I set up my diffuser with an oil of choice. The steam coming from the hot shower plus the nice diffuser gives me memories of being in a sauna. I jump into the shower already excited and just pay attention for the duration of my shower to the scents around me, to the feeling of the water running on my body, the temperature of it, the colours of my shampoo, the sounds in the shower, etc. I use all my senses to help me stay present during my shower. You do not need to have a fancy shower to make it exciting by having your favourite body products to pamper yourself. Even on hectic short mornings you can treat yourself to a shower! I try to limit my showers to 5 minutes, during busy days.
#6 Coffee: One thing that really messes up my morning routine is not having my coffee. It feels as though I have been robbed from the best part of my day. I guess being Colombian makes me have a special connection to coffee, but honestly, the little routine I have with coffee is an entire ritual and it makes me hugely happy. I have an awesome French press at home and I obviously have high quality Colombia coffee, so part of my mindful morning is to slowly walk down my kitchen, open my bag of freshly ground coffee, warming up the water and smelling the amazing drink I am about to have. Once my coffee is ready, I sit down in my favourite living-room chair, where the sunshine comes in, and I sip my coffee in full awareness. Yes, this ritual does get interrupted by dogs asking to be fed, by husband asking where his clean shirt is, etc., but I make sure I get in at least a moment or two to savour my hot drink. Maybe coffee isn’t your drink of choice, so do this with your favourite morning drink. Psss: sometimes is it best to do this at work as soon as you arrive -less distractions and more YOU alone time.
#7 The commute: So, remember how I said my mornings used to be a blur? Well, I mostly meant my commute. Want to know the scarier part? I was referring to my driving!! I am sure you cannot judge me because the same has happened to you. How many times have you driven or commuted from point A to point B and have very little recollection of the cars you saw, the people around you, the amount of stop signs you drove by etc. It happens, right?
I found the commute is another wonderful moment to practice mindfulness. Bring awareness to your senses: the things you can see, the things you can feel, the things you can smell and the things you can hear during your commute. Pay attention to your surroundings, notice in detail what is going on and I promise you the commute will no longer be a blur but a moment of peacefulness and awareness. Just the other day, one of my students taking my “Take the Right Steps to Reduce Stress” program emailed to tell me that after having a mindful commute to work, she couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude to the point that she had tears in her eyes when she arrived to work. It really is amazing what can happen when we are mindful!
You may read this blog and not feel that your mornings relate to mine. That’s very possible, but remember one thing, no matter what your responsibilities look like, we can all take a moment to enjoy the things we do every day. Having the willingness and the dedication is all it takes!
I would love to know what your mindful mornings look like, so please do not hesitate to comment below and of course, if you found this helpful, give us a like and share it!