“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.” ~ Marcus Aurelius
Good morning! Technically it is now late afternoon, but why quibble over a technicality? Besides depending on where you are in the world, it just might be YOUR morning. I might be in the minority, but I love mornings. If I am not up by six, I feel like half of my day has fallen by the wayside. The (albeit kinda disgusting) saying “Early bird catches the worm” is very accurate, especially in New York where if you don’t get to a coffee shop early enough, you will miss out on prime seating (i.e. outlets) or worse, be waiting in line for half the morning just to get your wake me up juice.
There is also a peacefulness to being up before most of the population awakens. In a city of millions, I was always amazed at how quiet my old neighborhood was at six in the morning. There is something so decadent about being the only one walking down the street or being on a beach that is usually packed with people, watching a beautiful sunrise, few people witness.
While people are slumbering, I feel much more productive when I rise with the sun. I am not as distracted, nor do I feel the pressure to reach for my phone to check messages, because I know everyone else is asleep. It is the calm before the hectic start to my day.
This isn’t to say, I don’t like to sleep in, I do love my beauty sleep, especially on rainy days, but I never feel as effective as when I get up early. It is why having a routine not only ensures I get up, but also starts my day off on a positive, constructive note. And yes, I do this ALL before coffee.
The Night Before
Being incredibly type A, my morning routine unofficially begins the night before. I strongly feel that laying a strong foundation, regardless of how big, will lead to success. That means no matter how late I am going to bed (which let’s face it, I am old and go to bed at nine) or rushing to go out some where, I still find time to gather everything I need for the next day, so I won’t feel frazzled in the morning.
Anything I might need from books to notes, to computer cords I gather in the bag I will be using for the next day. I also make sure everything is charged, or ready to be charged for when I get home.
For me styling an outfit, especially the morning of can be incredibly time consuming and stressful, so I always try to lay clothes out the night before. I look at the weather, especially if it is a time of year where temperatures fluctuate drastically and go from there. I also gather any outerwear, I might need, which most chances are I am going to want some sort of jacket. Elsa I am not.
First Thing in The Morning
The first thing I do in the morning shockingly is not to make myself coffee, or go for a run, or even put my eyes in as my niece calls my contacts. While they are all necessary parts of functioning day to day, especially the coffee, they are not the first things I do.
Though, if I am being super literal, the very first thing I do, would be to turn off my alarm clock. While my internal clock tends to wake me up on my own, being obsessively Type A, I do set an alarm, (and yes I do hit snooze) on the off chance I don’t wake up, or have my adorable alarm clocks, aka my nephews and niece, there to jump on my bed.
But I try not to rely on that, as being woken up is not necessarily a positive, unless it is the aforementioned human alarm clocks.
Make My Bed
Nope, the very first thing I do is make my bed. Every. Single. Morning.
I remember seeing a commencement address by Admiral William H. McRaven a few years ago, where he stated that if you wanted to change the world you needed to make your bed. I wholeheartedly concur with that statement.
Living in a studio apartment, my bedroom was my living space. If my bed wasn’t made, the whole room felt cluttered and unkempt. On the off chance, I was working from home it did not lend itself to a productive environment so I always made it. Yes. Every. Single. Morning. Even if I was going to sit on it for the rest of the day, I still would pull the blankets up and fluff the pillows.
It seems like such a simple mundane task, but even the most mundane tasks can create big ripples. I may not be able to clean my room in that moment, but my sleep space is at least neat and tidy. Making my bed gives order and focus when mornings can be hectic and crazy.
Meditation and breathing
As ironic as it sounds, after I make my bed, I usually do end up sitting back on it. Having gone through yoga teacher training, I learned how important meditation and breathing are even more so then the asana or poses. Breathing and meditation not only clear and focuses the mind, but it is exercise your lungs desperately need, especially after laying dormant all night.
Depending on the stresses of the day before and even any crazy dreams I might have had (which does happen), I spend about five to ten minutes meditating and breathing. I will scan my body to see if anything is tight, blocked, or even hurting, (usually something is) and bring awareness and breath to those areas. There are various breathing techniques and I will pick one based on what I need whether it is a more calming breath like three part breathing or a more energetic practice like lion’s breath. I will also pick a mantra or a phrase that I will use through out my day.
Gratitude and Scripting
I have always kept some form of a journal or a diary from the time I knew how to write, I would document my thoughts and life. It comes as no surprise that one of my favorite exercises when I was in therapy was to script, and it is something I have kept up with.
Scripting varies depending on the therapist and the person. Sometimes it is just writing a few sentences or even pages, other times it is more structured. I do the five/five/five: Five things I am grateful for, Five things I am proud of myself for, and Five goals I have for the day. I will then write about a page of where my life will be next year, not what I wish, but as it has happened.
Gratitude, confidence, success are all mind sets we constantly have to work on and towards. We aren’t just born successful, happy, confident, people. It comes from each goal we set and achieve, each milestone no matter how big, we gain, and the words we ourselves use to speak to us internally. It takes work and some days are easier then others. By writing down what I am grateful for, what I am proud of, and what my goals are I am setting into motion and reinforcing the success and positivity, I want out of this life.
Starting my day with these three things might seem so mundane, but as I wrote earlier, even the smallest actions can cause the biggest ripples. It takes about twenty minutes to do and yet it brings so much focus and positivity into my life. We all have to wake up in the morning, it is our choice as to whether we will fight it or embrace it.
Are you a morning person How do you spend your mornings? Do you have a routine to jumpstart your day?