I understand the appeal of continuously hitting the snooze button and hauling yourself out of bed fifteen minutes before you’re supposed to leave. I understand the appeal of skipping breakfast (but at the same time I don’t, because honestly, the first thing I think about when I wake up is food #noshame). However, given that you’re able to fall asleep at a reasonable time, allowing yourself plenty of space each morning to pursue a routine can help with emotional wellbeing enormously, given how much you can adapt and tailor this to your own personality and preferences.
The routine aspect is important. I’ve been an early riser for many years, and a lover of mornings, but as of recent I’ve managed to create a list of things to fill those extra hours that are much more mindful, more energising than an aimless scroll through Instagram. Okay, the Instagramming is still there, but I try to make it constructive&controlled.
Honesty is important to this blog, so I am not going to sit here and say that I run half a marathon, get in my five a day, exfoliate my entire body and write a best-selling novel all before the clock strikes 7. The routine outlined below is realistic and works well for me, helping establish the foundations for a successful day without burning me out: a balance I worked hard on finding. Mornings do not have to be intense. However, a structure can bring many benefits, such as mental clarity and a productive approach to the day’s endeavours.
As a little disclaimer, I do not follow these steps every day. I adjust them in accordance with how I feel as flexibility is a value I will always abide to. However, an outline helps enormously in saving me from a feeling of disarray, a cluelessness regarding what to do with myself upon awakening, which carries a risk of spilling into the succeeding hours.
So, here is an overview of a typical morning in the life of Maria:
I wake up anywhere between 5 and 6:30, depending on when I must leave. The next five to ten minutes are dedicated to something which grounds me in the external world, ready to meet whatever challenges may arise. I avoid all technology and social media during this time, because stepping into the digital realm as soon as I open my eyes can disconnect me from my surroundings and lead to a sense of ‘drifting’ through the rest of the day, as opposed to engaging with it. If you haven’t tried it yet, I would recommend practicing mindfulness in the early hours: just pay attention to how your body is feeling, what signals its sending you, what emotions you’re experiencing. Sometimes, I do some reading, or sit with my cat and watch the skies lighten.
After these moments, I am close to full wakefulness, and consequently sit down to update/overview my to do list and write a few gratitude reminders. If you struggle with positive thinking, I’d recommend noting down at least five things you’re grateful for each morning. Mornings are the best time to remind yourself of your purpose and why you’re grateful to be in this particular moment, at this stage in your life.
Next, I go downstairs and make breakfast and a cup of coffee. Because Breakfast is Bae (I have a feeling I will be seeing this quote on a T-shirt in H&M over the upcoming months). Parfaits with soya yoghurt is a current favourite, and of course, massive amounts of fruit for extra hydration. Speaking of hydration, while I make and eat my breakfast I drink 0.5-1L of cucumber water which I prepare the night before.
As I eat, I allow my self some access to technology, taking this time to answer comments and emails: doing this in the morning, rather than sporadically throughout the day, is much more efficient. If I have more time, I read the news and catch up with my favourite blogs.
After this, it is time for a 15-30 minute walk. Nothing crazy, just a stroll around my neighbourhood to some gentle music which gives me space to think about the upcoming day and form a ‘layout’ in my head. This step is important when I know I will be sedentary and won’t be able to move much until the gym in the evening. I don’t see this as exercise, but a way to aid circulation and get fresh air into my system. If you struggle with morning grogginess, I’d recommend including a short walk into your routine: five minutes outdoors can be of better help than caffeine as a way of energising yourself as well as boosting your metabolism.
I follow this up with a quick shower – I save washing my hair for after I workout in the evening – and a brief skincare routine. A longer post about skincare is coming soon, including reviews of the products seen here, but recently I’ve been loving the Aloe Vera range from the Body Shop. It’s refreshing, great for sensitive skin and doesn’t have an overwhelming smell. The last point is of great importance because I struggle with odour-induced migraines, hence finding products which do not act as a trigger can be challenging and put me off from investing in skincare for a long time. Yet, these bad boys, being alcohol and fragrance free, are perfect.
As using too many products at once doesn’t do my skin any favours, I limit this stage to a cleanser and a couple of sprays of toner water. If I need some extra hydration, I’ll apply a bit of moisturiser. As well as, of course, being good for your skin, there’s something about skincare that seems to symbolise and bring about productivity. Does anyone else feel like this? Maybe the government are infusing these products with a powder which makes people more productive and hence induces greater economic growth (that was probably my worst ever attempt at humour).
Given that I would’ve prepared my outfit/packed my bag the night before, and do not wear a lot of makeup, getting changed and getting ready doesn’t take much time: perhaps 15-20 minutes. As I’m writing this I noticed I totally forgot any mention of brushing teeth, but I’m assuming that goes without saying. Anyway, as I’m in the last stages of pulling myself together, I either listen to podcasts or watch some YouTube videos, usually of a motivating nature, but sometimes I used this as an opportunity to catch up with some of my favourite vegan channels and acquire meal ideas for the day.
That essentially summarises the main stages of each morning. Of course, through the process, I remind myself to breathe properly, while keeping up a pace that’s a nice balance of leisurely and productive.
Let me know in the comments: do you have a morning routine? What’s your favourite thing to do as soon as you wake up?
If you liked this, you might enjoy my post about sleep anxiety and insomnia, or this hash brown recipe because who doesn’t love hash browns especially as a way to make yourself look forward to leaping out of bed!