I am a big believer in a morning routine. And it can start with making your bed. Naval Admiral William McRaven spoke of this practice in a 2015 commencement speech and Charles Duhigg, author of the Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, calls it a keystone habit. These are habits (exercising each day is another) that lead to other good habits. Making your bed, for example, is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being and stronger skills when it comes to sticking to your budget.
To live the life you want to live, while some auto-piloting is a good thing (brushing your teeth), it’s useful to examine other routines. Your habits play a sovereign role and thus what habits you choose determine much of your fate. Consider this common morning routine. I’ve included some things you might want to consider to win your morning and, over time – this isn’t a stretch – your life.
- Wake up groggy. A typical night of sleep for adults is 7.5 hours. If you need to wake at 6:30am that means lights out at 11pm. Try this experiment for a week. Do you wake naturally 5-10 minutes before the alarm? If you find yourself sleeping through your alarm, plan for lights out earlier. Test this in 15 minute increments. If you are facing more challenging sleep problems, consider booking a Yoga Therapy session. The importance of sleep is critical to your well-being on every level.
- Drink caffeine to further waken. I get it, it’s taken me years to procure my favorite loose leaf white jasmine tea but I don’t use it to wake up. For one, I am very disciplined about getting 7.5-8 hours of sleep so I almost always wake energized. I make my bed, drink a glass of warm water, brush my teeth and, to keep me energized throughout the day, I move in this order of frequency: yoga, walking/hiking, spinning/cycling, swimming and every once in a while, trail jogging (trying to reintroduce this). I also try to do something new as often as I can like taking an exercise class I’ve never tried. This week it’s hip hop. I drink my tea with breakfast and, or on the way into work. I realize that even after a good night’s rest some simply can’t get moving first thing but even a few minutes of mobilizing the joints and getting the blood flowing after being supine in bed for so many hours can provide tremendous benefits not only for the body but also, the mind.
- Eat an unsatisfying bar or smoothie. These are not foods in their natural form. I may have thought my daily green smoothie habit with pure grass fed beef collagen and no sugar was so tasty and green (and it was!) but by mid-afternoon, my belly was in protest with bloating. Instead, I have eggs with sautéed vegetables, pumpkin porridge or other hot cereal with hemp/flax/chia and a good helping of nut butter. Nutzo is my favorite – buying it at Costco is your best bet.
- …While listening to the news. Negativity sells! We humans have a proclivity for it given how important it was way back when to remember that you were almost killed by the predator that lived in that dark cave down by your favorite fishing spot. Instead, read something inspirational. Or journal for ten minutes. I love day books. My first was Mark Nepo’s Book of Awakening.
- Then you sit – in traffic – on the way to work where you will likely sit for several more hours which is another good reason to move in the morning. When I commuted from Denver to Boulder before the express lane, it was my practice to download books from the Denver Public Library. One of my favorites of late is the Untethered Soul by Michael Singer and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. For a short guided practice after prolonged computer work, click here.
I am going to take the liberty of adding one more common autopilot routine that falls outside of your morning routine. Do you eat an unsatisfying lunch on the go? If you haven’t given your body the nutrition it needs and, or if you aren’t satiated, try ~2T of good fat like olive oil or 1/4-1/2 an avocado, 4-6oz of high quality protein, 2c of fiber-rich vegetables* and even a square of dark chocolate. Otherwise, by 3pm you’re craving that cookie or other highly processed “food.” Then you get home and the first thing you reach for is sugar, often in the form of alcohol. Consult with a nutritionist and at the very least, plan your meals and actually sitting down at a table to eat without distraction. You won’t believe how powerful it will be to actually sit down and do nothing but eat.
Isn’t meditation part of your morning routine you ask? Don’t you practice 108 sun salutations? You might be surprised to learn that my asana (the postures of Yoga) practice is very short…and that whatever I practice, it is functional for me on that particular day. Sun salutations are rarely a part of my practice! Whaaaat you say? Stay tuned for next month’s blog…
I’d love to hear what your morning routine is. Start the conversation below!
* Options for fiber-rich veggies: 1) 2c low starch veggies 2) 1/2c starchy veggies and 1 1/2c low starch or 3) 1/2c gluten free grain and 1 1/2 cup low starch veggies. Source: Stephanie Morish, Certified Holistic Nutrition Consultant. She also recommends 1T of fermented vegetables like sauerkraut or kimchi.