Which of these two scenarios do you relate to most?
Scenario One: Your mornings are spent relaxed, focused and thoughtful. You take time for a nourishing breakfast, some quiet reflection or exercise, and you start your day primed and ready for what ever it is you'll be doing.
Scenario Two: Your mornings are... definitely not that. You're lucky if you have more than a few minutes to shower, breakfast is on the run (or not at all), and you start your day rushing.
The first one sounds amazing, doesn't it? It sounds like pure indulgence... imagine if your mornings were quiet, relaxed and thoughtful. Imagine starting your day feeling focused, energized, ready, and with a clear idea of what you want to accomplish.
Make it happen: Try a 20 minute morning* routine.
This might mean getting out of bed 20 minutes earlier, but trust me -- it will be worth it.
*Little ones might make achieving this in the morning tough. If you prefer, you might like to shift this routine to the evening -- after baths and bedtime!
Create your routine by choosing some ideas that appeal to you from the list below. You might need to try a few different things before you get a routine that you like, and that's fine. Find the combination that suits you best.
1. Morning Pages
Julia Cameron suggests this practice in The Artist's Way. The idea is to pick up a pen as soon as you wake, and write three pages of anything. Anything that comes to mind, even if it's, "This is weird and I don't really know what to say, but I have to fill three pages with words, so I guess these words will do." You don't need to think about it. Just write. This exercise helps to rid yourself of random thoughts, worries, questions and anything else you may have on your mind.
You get a beautiful, whole body stretch. It's gentle and relaxing but challenging too -- your muscles are stiff and tight in the morning... you may struggle to touch your knees, let alone your toes! It doesn't take long to loosen up, though. You'll find your flexibility will progress much faster by doing yoga in the morning. YouTube is a great resource to find yoga routines that you can do at home.
If you haven't meditated before, the "sit in silence and think of nothing" style can be difficult. Alternatives such as gratitude (or empathy, or love, or another similar emotion) meditation may be more enjoyable when you're starting out. This involves sitting comfortably in a quiet space, closing your eyes and concentrating on emitting gratitude out toward the world. Visually, this can look however you want. Conjure the feeling of gratitude, and let it flow out of you. Imagine gratitude beaming out, flowing out, or you giving it to people.
Create a playlist that makes you feel great in the morning -- whether it's relaxing, upbeat or mentally stimulating. What you listen comes down to personal taste, of course, but I would avoid anything too heavy first thing. Choose something that reflects how you want to feel throughout the day.
8. Herbal Tea
You can make your own fresh blend by picking homegrown herbs and steeping in hot water, or stock up on your favorite blend. There's something ceremonial about tea -- it slows you down, but in a good way. Everything about tea is relaxing, it's a moment to be savored and enjoyed. Coffee, on the other hand, is fast -- could you imagine ordering a herbal tea to takeaway? Although, if coffee is more your thing, go for it. Turn it into a ceremony in itself -- quality coffee, a special mug, a drop of honey.
A motivating podcast playing in the background while you're making breakfast, running or even having a shower is a great way to motivate you for the day ahead.
6. Online #Inspiration
If you do jump online in the morning, keep it positive. Avoid emails, Facebook, news -- anything that distracts you or alters your frame of mind. The exception to going online in the mornings is for a little inspiration. This might be for a uplifting blog or video, or a hashtag and Instagram account. I put this in my morning routine if I'm getting up earlier than I usually do, as the light from the phone and mental stimulation wakes me up instantly... and this is why you should avoid your phone or iPad before you go to bed! There is a fine line with this, of course -- you don't want your time online to dominate your morning.
Jumping out of bed, tying your shoes up, and hitting the pavement can give you a powerful and invigorating start to your day. Make it easy for yourself by having your running gear ready to put on as soon as you get up. You'll find it easier to stick to if you practically roll out of bed and into your shoes!
9. Lemon and Water
Try fresh lemon squeezed into a glass of warm water to kick start your metabolism and get your digestive system working.
10. Prayers or Mantra
Create your own ritual and incorporate stretching, any sort of mantra, chanting, poetry, prayers or singing, any type of meditation or relaxation you like. This can all be done within five to ten minutes -- longer if you wish.
11. Walk or Sit Outside
You can't beat crisp, fresh air in the morning. Go for a short walk, or just spend a few minutes sitting outside and relaxing. You might like to combine your outside time with yoga, your morning pages, your tea, coffee, or breakfast, or meditation. If you have a beautiful view or garden, this step is almost mandatory!
12. Wake With the Sun
If you're lucky enough to have your bedroom window positioned away from street lights, try sleeping with your curtains open. The natural light will wake you in the morning (use an alarm as a back up to start!) and leave you feeling refreshed. It's a beautiful way to be woken each morning.
You're busy. You're active. You're getting it done. And to pull this off, you need fuel. Even if you find it difficult to eat early in the morning, increased activity in the morning will usually work up your appetite. At the very least, try a fresh fruit salad. At the most - pretend you are serving up a special and fancy breakfast for close friends who have come to stay. Set the table, use silverware, have a flower in a vase and enjoy. Even something as simple as eggs, toast, fruit and tea can look like a Sunday treat.
14. Daily Planning
Breakfast can be a great time to plan out your day. Take a moment to jot down your daily tasks, any phone calls or appointments you have, and any simple To Dos you need to check off. You can also highlight the three most important things you need to get done that day -- even if nothing else gets done, you want to at least to check off those three things.
What would you like to try?
Combine the ones you like the sound of, and trial your routine for at least a month. See what changes you enjoy. Hopefully, you'll find yourself more relaxed, focused and positive throughout your day.
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