Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Your child’s smile
The aroma of tea/coffee
Giving or receiving a hug from a loved one
The smell of flowers on your morning run
The hidden costs of living life on autopilot
However, for many of us, without realising it, we can start and end our day on autopilot merely reacting to circumstances and people, fulfilling their agendas and not ours. As soon as the alarm wakes us up, our habitual thoughts take over and our mental playlist of activities, worries and to-do list fill our every waking moment.
If we are not aware of this way of living, each day can turn into a month, then months turn into years, and pretty soon we have lost decades of our lives simply by remaining on autopilot. We may also feel that because of our circumstances- financial, personal, professional we do not really have any choice but to live like this on autopilot.
BUT what you need to keep in mind is that this power to choose resides only in this present moment. In time, it is what we do every single day that matters much more than the profound decisions that we may make once in a while.
Morning routines can set the tone for your day
One of the best things that we can do to increase productivity and get things done is to have a well thought out morning routine. Having a consistent morning routine is infact a common and recurring theme amongst many successful people. It helps to counteract the pull of distractions and overcome daily obstacles that can and do pop up.
You can and should harness the power of an empowering morning routine as it can also support your self care in a most effective manner. An empowering morning can set you up for ‘wins’ and motivate you to keep going with a calm and productive frame of mind in spite of all the challenges that come your way.
What is a morning routine?
It is a set of activities that you do upon waking up in the morning. It can and does vary from person to person and includes activities like exercise, meditation, brushing teeth, prayer, journaling, writing, and reading.
Take some time today and think about how you usually start your day.
Simply start by making a list of all the things that you do upon waking up.
Given below are 5 simple ways in which you can shape your morning routine so that it can contribute to your self care routine and make your more productive, calm and resilient throughout the day
Set the tone for the day by finding out what your intention is. The questions below can help you bring some clarity as you think about your activities for the day and set an intention-
Prayer, meditation and journaling are all beautiful ways that you can use to ground and connect with yourself. There is no one right way to meditate or write in a journal, you simply need to find what works for you.
If writing free form is difficult, you can use the prompts given below (from the book “The Mindful Day by Laurie Cameron“)
Even if you do not have a formal meditation practice, the simple act of paying attention or being more mindful in how you start your day can have a profound effect. The beauty is that you can be more mindful with regards to any activity that you do already. The simple act of paying attention while having a cup of tea, brushing your teeth, showering, exercise will help you to bring awareness to that particular moment and replenish and rejuvenate you.
Another way of connecting with yourself and the world in the morning is to read a book (and I don’t mean the news). This will be different for each of us as we choose to read something that inspires and motivates us. I find that I prefer to read about other people whom I respect and who inspire me to grow and live a better life. If this is not something that you enjoy a lot, you can also listen to audio books or even podcasts to inspire and motivate you.
Spending time with your family is one of the best ways to start your day. It helps to connect with what is truly important for each of us on a daily basis. Whether it is 10 minutes or an hour, it is the quality of the time spent that matters more than how much time you actually get to spend with your family in the morning. Even if you live away from your family, it has become really easy to connect via video calls.
Since there is always a rush in the morning during school days (I have two school going children), I try and wake my children up around 10 minutes earlier and spend some time with them, giving them a hug or a cuddle and sometimes switching on their favourite music to get them started on the right note. My husband and I also make sure that we savour our quiet time together over our cup of tea and newspaper before we start preparing for our day.
Research shows us that moving our bodies first thing in the morning whether it is through exercise (cardio, aerobic, strength training etc) or mindful movements like tai chi and yoga has a profound beneficial and positive effect on our health and how we deal with the rest of our day. By doing this first thing in the morning we have the opportunity to harness the benefits of exercise and movement throughout the remainder of our day. Schedule a workout or activity that you like doing already and then stick to it.
A few things that ensure that I stick to my routine are
- preparing the night before by keeping my journal, workout clothes ready; preferably somewhere I can see them immediately as I wake up
- using an app to make sure that I cannot access my emails and social media first thing in the morning (I will be covering this topic in details in one of my later posts)
- having a simple structure that I can follow in terms of activities and time for the first couple of hours
- setting an intention for the day; sometimes I set one for the entire week
- complete my workout in the morning so that unexpected work or family issues do not come in the way later during the day
- lastly, creating an environment that is conducive to self reflection and gives a peaceful start to my day; I love playing music and lighting incense to awaken my senses
My own routine is very much a work-in-progress and is not something that you need to emulate as is. The whole point is to find what works for YOU and then stick to it. It should be something that you enjoy doing and feel good about doing on a regular basis.