Do you struggle with waking up in the mornings? Feel exhausted, anxious, or even panicked?
You’re not alone if you find yourself longing for the resources to face the day. Even the healthiest of people often appreciate the notion of just 5 more minutes!
There was a period some years ago when I’d wake at 4 a.m. startled with a sense of urgency and internal jitteriness. There were numerous factors including major life changes, past traumas, and developing health complications that led my central nervous system to overdrive. Since trauma strips away the most basic right to feel safe in our bodies, my well-intentioned but hypervigilant amygdala needed to be soothed and assured I was safe.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly a fan of the a.m., but even if your relationship with morning is not quite as dramatic, rituals are incredibly helpful for not only establishing a sense of safety but also grounding and centering that enables you to thrive. When you feel safe, you’re satisfying a basic human need and you’re preparing yourself to optimize your health and productivity. I found that morning routines became incredibly important for reprogramming my waking state and creating a sense of safety in my body.
Early bird gets the worm, right? Maybe not…
From my personal and professional experience, I know that taking time to care for your mind, body, and spirit upon waking is a serious game changer. (See tips to nourish your whole self and the mind-body-nature connection as a personal gps if you missed them!)
Good sleep is an integral part of health and wellness so waking up slowly allowed me to develop a new relationship with the morning hours.
To move past previous morning dread, I had to let go of the notion that I SHOULD be jumping up to tackle the day.
Trying to fit into the cultural expectation, I was like a night owl trying to shove my way into a morning bird suit. My preferences wouldn’t fit into the routine of the modern family where mornings are a pressure cooker of too much to do in too little time:
Dad is yelling to get the kids up. Mom is hitting snooze for the fifth time. The dog still needs to be fed, so breakfast for you will have to be a yogurt to go. There’s no time for a walk before the bus is honking the horn.
Repeat this experience over and over and you can begin to associate fear and stress with mornings. Granted coritsol levels are higher in the a.m. so it’s good to use your energy for the most important tasks you’d like to accomplish, but taking time to center and nourish is vital for resetting the central nervous system.
Eventually, I relinquished the “common sense” approach to greeting the day bright and early and full of energy. I granted myself compassion to embrace my slow start and accept those years of crazy rushed mornings. This fueled my design of nurturing morning rituals to ground in trust that I would be more effective after caring for my needs. In time, mornings would actually become something to look forward to.
As I granted myself permission to wake naturally and start my work day a little later to prioritize my own natural rhythm, the reduced pressure allowed me to make friends with the morning. Now, I can associate the start of my day with creativity and self care. Free from all that habitual pressure, I actually found myself wanting to wake earlier to enjoy the routines I had set in place.
You can still get to your priority tasks while taking care of your needs…this is not an Either/Or game but rather a Both/And strategy.
Here are five elements you might consider adding to your morning routine:
- Breathe: Consider a body scan while still in bed or step outside for fresh air (Continue to follow your breath throughout the day to calm and center)
- Move: Stretch and/or exercise (indoors or out)…music is also great!
- Make a smoothie or other yummy breakfast. Make sure you get protein, fiber, and plenty of water throughout the day to stay full longer.
- Journal: free write or use a quote as a prompt. You can set a timer or predetermine the number of pages, i.e. one full page up to 3 or more
- Read a daily positive inspiration or more from a self-help book to center and set an intention for your day.
- Create something…consider a blank book or an art journal for a quickie or take it outside with you for a mindful sketch of what you see.
Know that you don’t NEED to do all of these or find a perfect routine. Gently begin experimenting with one or more and notice what feels good to you. Let that be the focus. From improving your focus and productivity to calming your central nervous system and enhancing your creativity, morning rituals help set the tone for your entire day.
If you struggle with waking, find yourself anxious, exhausted, or lacking motivation to face the day and would like support in shifting out of this draining experience, we can help. We have a team of creative therapists available for a complimentary call to see which service might be best for you.
Already have a morning routine? We’d love to hear what it is and I’m sure our readers would too! Leave us a comment below.