Today I want to talk about the power of a morning routine for mental health. Let’s start by imagining this scenario… you wake up at 7.45am, 15 minutes before you need to start work, you rush to have a shower and get dressed, switch the TV onto the news channel, make yourself a coffee then turn your laptop on and start working through the 200 new emails in your inbox.
Or maybe you wake up, lie in bed for half an hour scrolling social media then jump into your car and join the hour long traffic jam via the Starbucks drive through. By 10am you are feeling ravenous so you grab a chocolate bar or pastry that you can eat at your desk and maybe another coffee to keep you going for a couple of hours. How do you think you will feel by the time your lunch break arrives? Probably frazzled, ravenous and irritable! How we start our morning can set the tone for our entire day.
Now think about an alternative scenario… you set your alarm for 7am so you have an hour to spare until you start work. You take a few deep breaths before getting out of bed then go and brew your coffee or tea, pour it into your favourite mug and take 15 minutes to sit and enjoy it slowly, taking some time to tune into your body and how you are feeling, maybe making a to do list or writing in your journal or chatting with your partner or kids.
You have your shower, playing some music in the background, and get dressed for the day. You still have a bit of time before work to prepare yourself a healthy, filling breakfast before switching on your laptop or heading out to work. At 10am you are ready for a break, so you go outside for some fresh air or a 10-minute walk and grab a piece of fruit for a little boost on the way. How do you think you would feel after a morning like that? Probably much more energetic and positive!
Ok I’ll stop with the Bridget Jones references now, but you get the idea. I know it might seem idealistic, but I’m not talking about creating a picture-perfect Instagram worthy artsy morning routine every day. I am talking about some really simple changes that you can implement into your life which have huge results. If taking an hour for yourself in the morning is unrealistic, even half an hour or 20 minutes can be enough to totally shift your mindset for the day ahead.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of the first scenario. We lead such busy lives these days that we can feel like we don’t have time for a slow morning routine, or we are so exhausted that even getting up 20 minutes early feels impossible. The reason I am writing this post today is because this morning I was in such a rush to go out for an appointment I totally skipped my morning routine and now I am feeling it!
The morning is such a precious time of the day for you to start building your energy. You wake up after a nights’ sleep replenishing your “energy credit” for the day. From there on it’s your choice how you prioritise where and how you spend that energy. Every action you take either depletes or builds on your energy reserves. There are some things we can’t avoid but why not preserve our energy where we can?
Slowing down, being mindful and avoiding information overload from the TV, phone and the internet during the first part of our day can help to reduce some of the “mini-stresses” which deplete our energy before the day has even begun. And adding in activities that boost your energy reserves like yoga, meditation and breathing exercises can help us to feel energised and motivated for the day ahead.
I’ve used the idea of creating an energy bubble with my health coaching clients and it really works. If you have a busy and stressful day ahead, you hate your job or you are dealing with difficult people, taking time for yourself in the morning can really help you to raise your energy and mood and things become much easier to handle. It might seem selfish to put your own needs and self-care at the top of your to-do list for the day, but I am telling you now that if you want to be your most energetic and happy self, you need to do just that.
I’m not saying to focus on yourself at the expense of everyone and everything else. But I am saying that you need to prioritise a few things that keep you feeling good in order to show up at your best for the other demands of your life.
Today’s challenge: Design your morning routine for mental health
So, today’s challenge is to spend some time designing your morning routine for mental health. Think about the things that you genuinely enjoy that leave you feeling energised and alive. I’ve listed some examples below that fall into 4 categories: physical, sensual, creative and spiritual. Feel free to use these as inspiration to create your own list.
Try to fit at least one thing from your list into your morning routine each day and notice the impact on your energy and mood and you never know, once that becomes a habit you might be tempted to add more!
Over to you…
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