I am a morning person. When I wake up early in the morning doing activities that I want to do, I am always more prepared to face the world. I am more settled in my emotions and my intentions. I am facing the rest of my day with this amazing secret: No matter what happens today, I’m already at peace because I chose to do something for myself.
I am more powerful when I am able to slow down and take control of my own emotions, my health, and my happiness.
Earlier in my career, I started making my morning rituals a priority in order to better deal with my work as a traveling event planner. When you travel 3-5 times a month living out of a suitcase coupled with implementing events in cities you may have never visited until the day of the party, it can be a perfect storm for anxiety. The constant boarding planes, figuring if I hopped on the right subway, and determining where I am in an unknown city can begin to make me feel really unsettled.
So, what have been the most powerful rituals in my morning routine?
I now have almost 10 years worth of journals. This morning ritual is so simple, and is taken from Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way.” Each morning I commit to journaling three pages in a stream of conscious manner. It has been the most effective tool for me.
It has helped me face days when my thoughts are overwhelming , when I need some clarity on an issue or when I am overly excited about something unfolding in my life. It’s a way for me to clear my mind, reflect on what’s happening, and disregard things that are no longer important to me. This typically takes 15-25 minutes for me. I have noticed that it is best for me to do them within the first hour of waking up. If I can’t do that because of an early morning commitment, I dedicate the next immediate time I can do it.
If I put off this activity and don’t make this a consistent habit, I start to notice that I don’t feel as stable with my emotions and my thoughts. Without the luxury of spilling out all my random thoughts in a journal, I notice these thoughts end up coming out in my conversations with people or in unnecessary and uncalled outbursts to colleagues or friends. Eventually, I start to adopt non-essential language in my communication.
I crave the ritual of slowing down my time by savoring a cup of coffee in the morning. Usually, this is done with my morning pages in bed or oftentimes consistently going to the same cafe in my neighborhood. The jolt of one good quality cup of coffee is good for me, and I notice that I no longer need to mindlessly sip coffee all throughout my day anymore.
I know that a lot of Americans enjoy drinking their coffee while driving or while working or while walking. But, I think that you miss out on a really effective mindfulness tool when you quickly consume your coffee. I have learned I prefer to just take the 5-10 minutes needed to just sit down and drink my one cup of coffee.
When you are focused on your one cup, you can treat this as a miniature and modified meditation. To fend off feeling overwhelmed or getting carried away in thought, I firmly place my two feet on the ground or intentionally sit with my legs crossed if in bed. I slowly sip my drink and engage in all five physical senses. I just let the experience settle me and feel more empowered when I am not in a rush.
I discovered yoga during my first year out of college because I realized that going to happy hour and complaining with my co-workers was probably not the most sustainable way to manage my stress. No longer permitted to participate in triathlons and half marathons (due to the competitive nature and intensity), I was advised to only practice yoga while getting treated for PTSD, anxiety, and depression one summer.
Years later, I still consider yoga such a useful tool for me because of its convenience. In my hotel room, in studio, or on a beach, I can practice yoga no matter where I am in the world and no matter how busy my life gets.
Because the only two things I have to focus on is breathing and moving, I give myself the luxury of escaping overwhelming thoughts and disregarding necessary criticisms. As a form of self care, engaging in an early morning yoga practice gives me another way of telling myself that I am the most important priority over any other work project, colleague, friend, client, or loved one. I also have noticed that yoga gives me two contrasting things: the much-needed jolt of energy and the relaxing calmness I crave when I face the day.
Luckily, having a morning routine has oftentimes help me feel grounded whenever life circumstances are constantly changing and coming at me at a rapid pace. There are situations that occur that we can’t change. Environments and people around you may change because of job switches, living in a foreign country, starting a small business or ending relationships.
I encourage you to start your day slowly and intentional before you engage in our fast-paced world.