I’m one of those people who always needs to be doing something. I need to feel productive, I need to be checking things off both the real and proverbial lists, I need to be getting stuff done. From the moment I wake up, to the moment I fall asleep, I am usually go go go.
I work from home and have a corporate job that I love, but demands a lot of my attention. For years, my morning commute consisted of exiting my bedroom, entering the kitchen to grab a cup of coffee and breakfast, and walking into my office to begin my day. From about 10 minutes after I woke up until the moment I went to bed, my mind was constantly working and ON.
I worked this way for years, until I slowly started to feel like I was sacrificing myself for the demands of my job, home, family, bills, etc. This is when I completely burnt out. I was too exhausted to want to do anything and slowly found myself in a depressive funk.
It’s sad that I had to find myself in an unhappy place before I questioned: How did I get here? Why did I let this happen?
Thankfully, my A-type personality and my “if-there’s-a-problem-find-a-solution mentality” didn’t let me bask in my sorrow for too long. I quickly decided to make a change and started analyzing my life.
One of the biggest changes I made was to wake up an hour earlier on my work days so that I could have some alone time. Now, before my husband wakes up, before I take my daily commute (from the master bedroom to the office across the hallway), and before I turn on any kind of electronic, I focus on being alone.
This consists of cozying up on the couch under a warm blanket with a cup of coffee in hand while enjoying the views of our backyard. Since this is my only guaranteed quiet time for the day, I spend it silently. I allow myself about 45 minutes to focus on meditating, silently giving thanks, and reading.
“Having a morning routine can increase your energy, productivity and positivity. It also generates momentum, building up to the brain’s peak time for cognitive work (late morning).”
As my mind and body slowly wake up, I enjoy my coffee and try to keep a silent mind. I listen to the birds outside, the sounds of my home, and try my best to be present in the moment--something I find very hard to do since I’m always thinking about the next task on my to-do list. But I’m getting better, and I love allowing my mind and body the chance to sit in peace before the demands of the day take over.
I also like to silently give thanks for everything that I’m grateful for. I recently read a sign that said, “What if you woke up today with only the things you expressed gratitude for yesterday?”
This really gets me.
Since reading that quote, my mornings consist of giving thanks for the people and things I value most. And this includes my mind and body. I thank my feet and legs for supporting me through the day and getting me to/from. My hands and arms for allowing me to touch, hold, grab, write. My sight, hearing, taste buds, heart, etc. You catch my drift, right?
Sadly, I’m not sure I ever truly thanked my body until I started this ritual.
I finish my time by reading, starting with a daily passage from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach--a book that I have been reading since friends of mine gave it to me for my birthday in 2011.
I then transition over to a professional development book (I prefer this term over “self-help book”), which tends to motivate me to conquer the world, which by the way, is a great way to kick start a work day. I’m a total book nerd and get excited and pumped whenever I read an empowering and inspiring book. In fact, I can get so motivated that I had to stop reading these types of books at night—otherwise my adrenaline would get going and I’d find myself with a case of insomnia: me lying on the bed wide awake creating my next plan of action. See, I’m a total geek.
“A morning routine helps you to feel more grounded and embodied. It helps you to slow down and tune into your intuition. Enables you to batch your energy sources and self-care in a defined amount of time. Makes you less reactive and more intentional as you start your workday. Helps you feel more productive without feeling fragmented. Promotes more space and pause to make choices that nourish you. It syncs with your natural rhythms and those of nature. It optimizes your decision-making power for creative and productive work.”
Even though my days are still just as busy and even though I’m still constantly on the go, these 45 minutes make a big impact on how I start my day: peacefully and motivated to take on the world. And regardless of how the day progresses, especially on those days when all hell seems to break loose, I love knowing that at the very least my day started on a very positive note.
“There is a reason that most successful people have routines. It's not because they're OCD or eccentric. Successful people develop routines for a simple reason: they want to reduce friction in their lives, so they can focus on what they do best. As you become successful, whether it's financially or in mastering a craft, you realize that time is your most precious commodity. There is simply never enough time. There is always too much to think about. So you come up with routines, rituals, and habits that simplify your life and save you time.
xx - Jen
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