We live in a fast-paced world. One filled with jobs, deadlines, carpools, meals to cook, children to feed…..the list is never-ending. So with this in mind, it’s clear that self-care has become not only a necessity but a MUST. How else are we supposed to recharge our batteries? If we want the opportunity to become the best version of ourselves, then taking a time-out is the only way to go. At the end of the day, you can’t pour from an empty cup! This is the reason why I decided enough was enough, and I introduced a self-care morning routine into my daily life.
IT BECAME A LOVE-HATE RELATIONSHIP
All of my life I have enjoyed a love-hate relationship with my alarm clock. The snooze button was my ally. I believed that waking up with enough time to make myself look human, get the kids ready and then rush out the door was me being efficient. I mean, I was rarely late, but I was always stressed out, and always tired.
Fast forward to the current version of ME. My bedtime is at 10 pm, and I wake up at 6 am. And guess what? I have never been happier or more productive in my life. My mornings have become my favourite part of the day. By the time the hand on the clock hits 8 am, I have already had two hours of just me time. Two precious hours just for myself. There is no worrying about anyone else’s schedule, there is no cooking or ironing. It’s me and the quiet. A time to nourish my soul and ground myself. A time to practice gratitude for my blessed life. Simply put, it’s time for me and only me.
AN OPPORTUNITY TO SET MY INTENTION FOR THE DAY
As I write this blog post I find myself in a privileged position and not one that every mother is fortunate to be in. I only work two hours a day, and I don’t have to be at work until 11:30 am. However, I still have a teenager at home who needs to be monitored so that he doesn’t end up going to school late every day. Realistically I could sleep in every day, but the beauty of it is that I choose not to.
My mornings are peaceful. It allows me to set my intention for the day ahead. Most of the time, when I start my mornings on the right foot, the day just keeps getting better.
Having said that, this hasn’t always been my reality. At one point I was a single mum of two with a full-time job, so I do know a little bit about feeling overwhelmed with the stressors of life.
GIVE SELF-CARE A TRY
Practising self-care adds quality of life and you won’t know how you feel about it until you give it a try. Let me share with you my morning routine. Take into account that what works for me, might not work for you, but at the end of the day, you can customise your routine to adapt to your needs.
1. Wake Up at 6 am
2. Drink Water
The moment I set my feet on the ground, I grab the bottle of water that sits on my bedside table and I drink. Almost half a litre before I even stand up. Not only will the intake of water help me to wake up, but it is also a great way to help boost the immune system. Drinking water first thing in the morning will help you flush out the stomach and balance the lymphatic system.
By 6:10 am I am sitting on my sofa, headphones on and about to start a guided meditation.
Meditating never came easy to me. My mind is a whirlwind of thoughts, one doesn’t end before another one starts. Most of the time, these thoughts are negative. It can be about life, health, my kids, my marriage, you name it, my thoughts have it covered. Then again I am also as stubborn as a mule, which is why I can proudly say I have almost perfected the art of meditation. Don’t get me wrong, some days are hard. And yet, most days I am able to quiet my mind and feel my body go into a state of total relaxation. I can guarantee you there is no better way to start your morning than with a calm mind and ready to face whatever the day throws my way.
Meditating has helped me build my self-awareness. Now when a bad thought starts nipping away at my mind, I stop it almost immediately before it can take root and cause mayhem.
4. Stretch My Body
I meditate for around 20 mins, which means that by 6:30 am I am ready to stretch my body.
We bought a yoga mat a few years back so when I finish my meditation, I lay it out on the living room floor, put on some relaxing music in the background and stretch. Nothing too strenuous, just light stretches.
It feels great to release the tension accumulated in my body after 8 hours of lying down in bed. I normally concentrate on stretching my calves, hamstrings and hip flexors along with my shoulders, neck and lower back. This usually takes around 20 minutes.
Anyone who knows me well enough knows that I love journaling. I see it as therapy. In fact, recent studies suggest that journaling is a type of therapy for those suffering from anxiety.
Normally I don’t know what I’m going to write, I just put pen to paper and whatever pops into my mind, is good enough. It really helps when I am particularly anxious about a situation. Writing it down helps me reflect on the problem at hand. Sometimes (or rather more often than not) the problem is just my thoughts or my perception of the world and those around me. Journaling helps me break down those thoughts into two sections. The logical thoughts and those unfounded negative thoughts.
6. Practice Gratitude
Every day, instead of hitting the snooze button, as I sit up in bed and drink my water, I’m already giving thanks for another day.
Once I finish journaling I pick up my gratitude journal and I list 5 things I am grateful for. I started this practice after reading Jay Shetty’s book – Think Like A Monk. Most of the time I list more than 5 things, but 5 is all you need.
When we live in a state of gratitude there is no space for anything else. We cannot be miserable when we are grateful, and as you look around you and observe the state of the world, there are so many things to be grateful for.
The first thing on my list is, ‘I am grateful for another day, another chance to learn and live’ The last thing on my list is always ‘I am grateful for my perfect health’
By now it’s around 7.20 am. This is the time I will pick up a self-improvement book and read for 30 minutes. The rest of the day I will read whatever tickles my fancy, but first thing in the morning I make it a point to read something that will enlighten me, will help me grow and will provide me with the tools to be a better person, a better parent. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a spiritual book, at times I have enjoyed reading a health book. I am currently reading ‘Fast Like A Girl’ by Dr Mindy Pelz. (amazing book, I highly recommend it).
8. Cold Shower
It’s 7:50 am and I’ve had almost two hours of me time. I finish my morning routine with a cold shower. Not for the faint-hearted I must admit, but I feel amazing afterwards.
Cold showers not only help me regulate my nervous system, but it’s also a great way to boost my immune system. Apparently, the shock of cold water can stimulate the blood cells that fight off infection.
IT’S 8 AM
So just like that, I have practised self-care first thing in the morning and I am now ready to face the day.
The rest of my day plays out differently depending on the day. I will normally start getting ready to go out after my shower. Whilst I apply my makeup I will listen to a podcast and sip on a cuppa of green tea.
Recommended podcasts to boost your productivity and well-being:
- Jay Shetty – On Purpose
- Dr. Rangan Chatterjee – Feel Better, Live More
- Ed Mylett
- Mel Robbins Podcast
- Tom Bilyeu – Impact Theory
- Lewis Howes – The School Of Greatness
Some days I stay home and work on the blog (like today), other days I will get some cleaning done and around two days a week I will go out and meet friends before heading off to work at 11:30 am.
Not everyone has as much free time in the mornings as I do, but whatever your schedule is, I urge you to find some time to practice self-care. You matter, you are important. Practice compassion with yourself by taking the time to nourish your soul and mind. Your body will thank you for it, and so will your family.