Are you stuck in a rut? Feeling like you are losing the daily battles with work, life, love and everything in between? Already gave up on your New Year’s resolutions?
Well you are not alone.
The ‘New Normal’ for me tends to look sprint – burnout – sprint. And I HATE IT! Not only do I never feel successful, I also very rarely feel motivated or excited. I tend to feel overwhelmed a lot and that just creates this immense snowball effect.
The other day, whilst feeling sorry for myself, mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, I came across a post of an acquaintance that made me stop and think. She posed the question: WHAT DOES YOUR MORNING ROUTINE LOOK LIKE? In all caps! Just like that.
Now one, the first thing I thought was, woman why are you shouting? And two, why are you shouting about mornings? But it made me stop and read. Here entire post was dedicated to putting down your to do list (gasp!) and ‘just breathe’. How morning meditation helped her and had a positive influence on her life. And that made me think. Why am I struggling to make room to breathe?
She also carried on to point out that we all function differently, and to operate effectively you need your own personalized morning routine. So I have decided to try and find mine. Now this post is just the initial stages of this process, and I will definitely keep you updated on how it’s going, but I am very excited (and determined) to find a work-life balance this year.
How do you start your day?
Alarm goes off, hubby brings the coffee, I reach for my phone and check Instagram, Facebook, Emails, Blogs, Orders, (and games) Hubby watches an episode or two of Parks and Rec / The Office / Friends / Gilmore Girls. We talk about what our day will look like, we talk about what we dreamt. He gets up and get ready (this is all before 6 am) I grab a book and try – emphasis on try – to read a chapter or two and wind up staring blankly at my page for about 10 min before giving up. (Does any of this sound familiar?)
I set myself up to fail, every morning.
Why do I say this? the first 10-15 min of my day I spend comparing myself to other, feel inadequate and move to over compensate by overplanning. I have adapted this mindset that if I overload myself daily, I might be able to take 1 day off in a month. A ‘do -nothing’ day. But the reality is that my job will never allow that. I need to budget a bit of me time every day.
The second part of my failing morning routine lies in overloading in coffee – just coffee – and not sticking to healthy consumption plans. The more stressed I am the more coffee I drink, the more anxious I become. A while back I would start my morning with a glass of room temperature water. (I gnash my teeth so cold water is out of the question first thing) And it made such a huge difference in how I felt and how my body functioned. Why did I then stop? Because of the bad cycle my mind creates and then using caffeine as a crutch to justify bad time management.
So in an effort to generate a better morning routine, I have compiled this list of ‘tips’ for myself, and I thought I’d share them with you. Maybe there is something on here that helps you have a fantastic morning, every morning.
Tips for a more mindful, energetic start
In no particular order, I share with you the things I want to try, the things I’ve done in the past and want to do again.
Disclaimer: These are in no way a reflection of any form of medical advice and you should always consult your doctor before changing your dietary or medical routines.
Don’t pick up your phone for at least 30 min
We live in an online world. And therefore it is important to consciously make a decision to live in the offline world as well. We cannot avoid social media or emails or messages, but we can control the time we spent on them in a day. Not only do you take back control when you don’t reach for your phone first thing, but you get to set your own priorities and intentions for your day. Without being influenced by Ninety-nine Nancy’s and their lack of planning.
“Being bombarded by images of everyone looking happy and successful leads to unhealthy and inaccurate comparisons and decreased feelings of self-worth,”Debra Kissen, Ph.D., clinical director of Light on Anxiety Treatment Center in Chicago.
Unless it’s an emergency, your day can start without your phone in your hand.
Take a breath
Deep breathing has been proved to help calm the nerves and clear the mind. As someone who battles anxiety on a daily basis, I was quite surprised that this wasn’t more obvious to me. But 5 min of deep breathing, without distractions actually does make a significant difference. I am actually going to try and schedule more of these ‘breathing breaks’ throughout my day. Especially when I feel overwhelmed.
It’s the most important meal of the day. And by making a point of eating breakfast, you are giving yourself the gift of time. Set the alarm a bit earlier and ease into your day. Not only will your body thank you for it, but you’ll find that you enjoy your meal without the stresses of the day being a factor. My husband and I take this time (or use to – and want to get back to it) to talk about our dreams for the future, both realistic and unrealistic. We reflect on things we’ve personally been struggling with and help each other with problems we struggle to solve on our own. We have meaningful conversation. Quality time over quantity time.
If you have affirmations, this would be a great way to start your day. Remind yourself of what is important to you. Affirmations help you to set your intentions for the day. To help you focus on what you wish to achieve or conquer today. They are a great tool to help deal with self confidence issues and overcoming over mental blocks.
Don’t have an idea where to start? Here are a few affirmations to help you kick off your journey
Plan your day
Red, Orange and Green. Color coding can help you prioritize your day before you feel overwhelmed. Red= Most Important / Crucial (Has to be done first thing/ Deadline day) . Orange = Medium Importance (Can be done later in the day or early tomorrow). Green = Bonus if you finish this today.
Everything on your list CANNOT BE RED! If you see that much red, it’ll feel like you are failing. So take a serious look at your day and structure your tasks. It also helps to give smaller tasks time limits. Especially if you have certain tasks that need to be done daily. It will help you use your time more efficient.
Before kicking off your to do list, get some control of your workspace. I have found that the days where I sit down and just get to work I get about 50% less done than the days where I take 10 minutes and get my things in order.
There are several approaches you can take here, but what works for me is putting my documents in the same order as my to do list, setting up my desk and workspace in the order the tasks need to be completed and clearing out everything else. This way I have an immediate overview of what needs my attention today and an easy way to track my progress.
Have a glass of water
A glass of water first thing in the morning is great for your metabolism. But that is not why I recommend it. Okay, it’s one of the reasons, mostly because that first glass just helps you to wake up. I mean fully wake up. It washes away all the linger sleep and gives your body a clean start. You’ll also find that your coffee taste better (I believe it’s because, like the rest of my body, my taste buds also had the chance to wake up)
I have also found that drinking at least one glass of water between coffees helps me limit my caffeine intake. If you are drinking good quality coffee, you shouldn’t feel the need to drink more than 2 cups a day. But I have a full blown coffee addiction. And I literally ask for a prize if I managed to limit myself to 2 cups a day.
So for me – water helps. A LOT!
Set your timer
The other day, husband took a day off and was hanging about the house when he realised my alarm keeps going off. He came in saw I was busy and kept looking at me weirdly. Eventually he asked me why do I keep snoozing my alarm. I don’t seem like I am taking power naps at my desk?! (I truly wish this was a thing, but alas I spent that time making coffee.)
I kindly showed me my nearly 15 Alarms that I have set daily. I have recently disabled them, because I have fallen out of routine and they just made me feel like I was failing. But for a few months they actually helped me manage my time better.
I would do work sprints. Take a quick break. And then sprint again.
My alarms reflected this. I had even gone as far as to label them. This helped me to balance some of the household chores as well. By giving certain tasks dedicated time slots, it became easier to get them done. It also helped me focus on my tasks and eliminate mindless social media scrolling.
Other apps that can be used in a similar manner is Forest – the app that grows trees while you work. You can set the time you want to spend, and whilst you remain off your phone working, your tree grows. The more trees you grow, the lusher your forest.
Get your blood flowing
Whether you do yoga, go for a walk or simply do a few stretches, you will feel the difference. Getting your blood flowing is not only healthy but it also helps for clarity of mind. Increased blood circulation helps to get Oxygen to your brain.
I know, 5 more minutes of snooze time just sounds better, but I do really want to start doing this daily. Sitting at a desk all day has begun to affect my posture, my muscles and my overall energy levels. And I kinda want to see if the exercise hype is really worth it. So I will be doing light stretches twice a day and work my way up from there.
I hope you found this helpful. And if you have any tips you’d like to add or share, feel free to do so in the comment section.