Do you have a hard time choosing what to do for self-care in the morning?
Or just simply feel like you don’t have the time?
I know I can end up doing nothing and just walk out the door, no self-care in my account and a whole day asking for my energy ahead of me.
At 5:45 in the morning with about an hour till I have to leave for work, I could potentially read, stretch, journal, spend time in prayer, go to the gym, go for a run, a walk, or just gently wake up with a nice steaming cup of freshly brewed coffee.
If you have small children, scratch everything I shared above! …even then, there are still options.
We all have limited time, especially in the morning, and for some of us it may be extra challenging. If you are in any way sleep deprived or dealing with a physical or mental health challenge, choosing what to do to prepare yourself for the day ahead may feel like a daunting task.
No wonder many of us end up using the precious morning minutes getting caught up on the latest news, or sucked into social media.
Yet, how you start your day matters so much.
Take a moment to imagine what your typical Monday would be like if you did have the time to do some movement, meditate, journal, and be intentional about your day? If you made the physical and mental space to have the vast and peaceful awareness that you know you are capable of.
How creative, generous, happy, fulfilled and energized would you be?
How much less anxious, overwhelmed, worried when faced with the routine tasks at work and at home, and how much less reactive when real life difficulties strike? Just imagine…
Yes, but… we all have so little time.
The reality is that we have whatever time we have been given, no more or less.
Maybe you have 5 minutes, or 10, or 30. Maybe 45 …our best attempt at honoring what little time we have been gifted, today, is to fill it with what is meaningful, what prepares us for our day and what helps us nourish our bodies, hearts, and minds.
How you relate to yourself matters.
Many of our readers and clients share that they feel profound changes in how they relate to themselves and how happy they feel, day to day, when they start the morning with a self-care routine.
I have noticed in my own body that whether I choose to stretch, run, or lift weights, meditate, journal, or pray, my day ends up feeling different, more spacious, happier.
I end up feeling more fulfilled – and in the long run that is reflected in my mental and physical health.
Meditation can set the stage.
Several of my clients at the studio share that if they meditate in the morning, they end up choosing healthier options for lunch and dinner – and they go to bed on time. My morning meditators are more aware of how their actions throughout the day relate to their sensations, moods, symptoms, relationships.
See, it’s really hard to both be present to your life in the morning and then continue to treat yourself poorly during the day – nurture begets nurture, care grows care, kindness produces more kindness.
Does it matter what you choose to do in the morning? It depends on what you need and what you love!
There are powerful biochemical and neurobiological changes that occur when we move or exercise first thing in the morning – but the same is true of journaling, prayer, or meditation, walking the dog… And you won’t find your fit till you try several activities and choose what works for your life, today.
Common self-talk that gets in the way of a morning self-care routine:
- I have no time to go to the gym
- Everyone at home needs something from me
- I just don’t know what to do
- I don’t have energy for exercise
- I start a plan and can’t stick to it
- I wish I could just roll out of bed and go
- (insert your own barrier here)
Let’s break these down.
Going to the gym may indeed take a bit more time, and if you aren’t able to wake up extra early, you may want to choose a home routine, instead. It takes 10-20 minutes to do a fast-paced bodyweight training session at home, maybe even less for a few rounds of sun salutations, or one of my 5 Minute Movement Breaks. Compare these options to a drive to the gym, a workout, and a drive back. …not to mention that you can exercise in your PJs if you stay home!
Everyone needs me
Everyone needs you in the a.m.? While it’s true that kids and partners may need our attention in the morning (and in reality, maybe all the time) being a good parent to ourselves means creating the space to meet our own needs, too. Sometimes just being there means they need you, when the reality is that they often do fine when you step outside for a bit. I have a client who is a busy dad of three small kids, and he takes 30 minutes to ride his bike in the neighborhood before everyone wakes up. One of my moms calls her best friend at 5:30 a.m., and they talk on the phone, each in their own neighborhood parks in completely different parts of the country.
I don’t know what to do
Not knowing what to do for your morning routine is a huge perceived barrier, but in my experience thinking that you have to do something big and significant is an even bigger one. If you don’t believe that a 10-minute yoga session or some time spent journaling will help you have a great day, then it will be very hard to be motivated to block out that time. You may indeed prefer an hour for your morning exercise (I sure would!), but if all you have is 10 minutes, use it, knowing that minutes add up to hours. Over the course of a week you will get your hour. If you skip it, you get nothing at all…
My advice for people who don’t know what to do is to try a couple of different options.
Want something active? Walk, jog, bike, do yoga or tai chi, try a short you-tube video of a dancing class. But try and do something, so you know how it makes you feel. You’ll always have it as an option in a rich menu of choices for your morning.
And if you’d rather tune in to what your body wants to communicate from its deeper levels of wisdom, then journaling, prayer time, or meditation may be just the right direction for you.
The mornings when I can split my time between movement and meditation are my favorites. Those are the days I feel really empowered in my work and in my personal life – I feel like I can really respond in the moment, rather than react (aka running around like a chicken with my head cut-off). I feel better in my skin, feel less susceptible to emotional eating and needing to “cope” with circumstances.
Lack of energy
Not having energy is a significant reason not to do anything active in the morning, but even my more limited chronic fatigue and chronic pain clients can do some gentle somatic meditation or movement, and report feeling better.
It’s all about knowing how much you can do that day, and really giving yourself permission to not be the perfect picture of self-care you have been sold by the media.
Honor that you are taking time for yourself, even if it’s just a few deep conscious breaths.
Take your first step toward morning self-care.
If you are just starting to create a morning self-care routine or have fallen out of the habit and would like to develop it again, here are the steps I normally go through with my personal clients:
1. Choose something you are likely to do. Can you do a 10 minute morning movement session? Would you use a meditation App like Headspace to sit and practice focused attention? Can you sip your coffee on a morning walk? Take the dog out? Choose one activity that you are most likely to do. Choose something that is of the nature and duration you can actually do. A 90 minute bike ride sounds good, but it is not likely to happen on a Wednesday morning.
2. The night before, make sure you have what you need. Is the app loaded on your phone? Do you know what movements you will practice in your morning routine? Is the video lesson accessible? Is your meditation cushion or morning journal out? Prepare and set the stage so you can just get up and do it. The fewer decisions you have to make, the more likely you are to complete your intention.
3. Notice how you feel as your morning routine ends. While you are showering or getting dressed for work, notice how you feel, physically, mentally, emotionally. Are you glad? Pleased? More energized? Relaxed? Focused? Hopeful? Motivated? Notice how it makes you feel to have that morning ritual in your day. Continue to note that throughout the day – tapping into the mental and physical energy you have stocked up on.
4. Give yourself permission to change and experiment with your morning routine. Just don’t fall into the trap of stopping your self-care routine because of one activity you find is not working for you. As with anything, a rich morning routine, like a rich and varied diet, may take some time to design, try out, and fine-tune. Stay open to your needs and keep checking in with yourself – Your needs may vary day to day, week to week, season to season.
5. Respect your efforts by noticing the drive and energy you put into your morning routine. Congratulate yourself on any small or medium gains you notice. In a society where only the loud, bright, big and extraordinary are celebrated, you may easily forget the energy and courage it takes to go against the pull of old habits! Self-care is no small thing!
What first step toward morning self-care will you take today?
I hope I’ve given you plenty of ideas where to start and plenty of reasons to start right now.
Even better, if you want to start together, with a group of like-minded people, you can join our 5 Days to More Peace free online course!
Roland and I run free, fun, low stress 5 day challenges and programs regularly, featuring recipes, movement breaks, snack ideas, mindset, and motivation.
Why not join us to see how simple changes and the right frame of mind can put you on the road to great self-care, today!
Click here or the button below to see what it’s all about and to reserve your spot!
I hope to see you soon,
PS. Want to get to know us better?
Why not join me in our Facebook Group and see what we’re doing for our morning self-care?
I’d love to have you!