I'm not making any New Years resolutions this year. I usually enjoy looking back on the year that was and coming up with a couple of achievable-but-stretchy goals for the next 12 months but I’m not all that interested this year. Instead, I thought a change of routine would make for a welcome shift in gear.
I'm a firm believer that how you spend the first few hours of the morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. A few simple morning rituals before the day gets underway can help us slow down, tune in and take positive action. It's been a while since I shook up my mourning routine so I thought I’d share a few of my morning essentials that I’m revisiting.
Get your 8 hours
I’m convinced that getting to bed on time is the secret sauce to a smooth morning routine (though admittedly I’m not the best at this). My morning routine definitely hinges on whether or not I get to bed on time, which for me is at around 10:30pm. The morning routine is a real struggle if you keep hitting snooze because you don’t feel refreshed and watched episodes of Suits until the early hours. NEVER search Netflix for boxsets before bedtime.
Rise a little earlier
I know, we’ve all tried to be the early bird. Maybe it suits some of us better than others but I’ve always been a morning person. I find that I need a full hour to get ready for the day and avoid the stress of rushing.
Get some headspace
Meditation is the first thing I do or it just doesn’t happen. I’m not evangelical about it but I feel better and less anxious the more often I practice. 15 minutes feels just-right for me but even 5 minutes will do if you’re short on time or new to meditation. Top recommendation for meditation newbies: Headspace app.
Set an intention
I end my meditation by setting an intention for the day. It takes just a few seconds to tune in to how you feel and how you’d like the day to go. Maybe you want to focus on eating mindfully, doing one thing at time or not letting your sibling piss you off.
I also like to use a small token - these interchangeable chakra necklaces - to remind myself throughout the day of my intention.
Make time for breakfast
As soon as I’m out of bed I make a cup of tea to wake up my senses. I’m a bit ritualistic about this. I make it first thing to give it time to cool and drink while I wash my face and put my make up on. Then, depending on what I fancy eating, I’ll start to put together my breakfast. I do my best to sit down and enjoy my breakfast slowly, but there are definitely mornings when my porridge bowl is empty before I’ve registered the satisfying thud of its contents hitting the bottom of my stomach.
The last thing I do before I leave the house is check my phone for texts, emails and social media updates. I switch my iPhone out of sleep mode after breakfast as I find that this vortex of information is best avoided on an empty stomach.
Is it just me or is commuting one of the most stressful parts of the day? Between half running to the station, the inevitable tube overcrowding and fellow commuters that have body odour issues, a dark cloud has formed above my head up by the time I’ve reached work.
Nowadays I bring my book to read on the tube, and if I forget I’ll try to close my eyes for a few minutes to meditate (which is safer than realising that you’ve zoned out and been staring at someone’s crotch for too long). I also walk a slightly longer route at the other end to get a little extra fresh air before I sit down at my desk.
I treat the first few hours of the morning like gold so even if I’m running late and my morning goes to shit, these are the things that I’ll prioritise. I takes me just over an hour to get ready in the morning so it’s not your average 20 minute dress-and-dash routine but it’s time well spent if I leave the house feeling slightly more human than when I woke up.