I love my mornings! It’s my favorite time of the day! I love its quietness, peace, and the possibilities inherent in the beginning of a new day. Mornings for me represent an opportunity, a new chance to hope, plan, reflect, and create intention about the day ahead of me.
This wasn’t always the case.
Over the course of the years, when my life was unpredictable and directionless, I was always rushed, mindlessly going through the motions, daydreaming of being in a different life, while doing the same thing over and over again. The last thing I wanted to do is to be present and allow myself to acknowledge my anxiety and fear about the future. It was easier to push those experiences down and not feel any of the feelings.
When I worked on cruise ship, I lived in a tiny room with two bunkbeds. Of course, this meant having to engage with another person as soon as you open your eyes (introvert’s worst nightmare!). At that time, my morning routine included smoking a cigarette while feeling anxious about the day ahead. It set the tone for the entire day and my life at the time.
It’s not to say I did not have a lot of wonderful experiences and fun memories during that time in my life. I had an opportunity to travel to the most beautiful places in the world and work with people from around the world. But I rarely noticed and cherished them as they happened, never slowed down enough to appreciate and be grateful for those moments, experiences, and people.
The big shift for me happened during my undergrad studies during my mindfulness course.
I learned about the power of being present and intentional. Over time I developed a morning routine and having a quiet time for myself was a game changer. Currently, my mornings include meditation, journaling, setting my intention for the day, spending time on visualization, and after that, a workout. And of course, I drink my coffee for a looooooong time… However, I do not like to be rigid with my routine, so if there is something that is needing my attention, like a creative idea, I try to go with it and give it my time.
Why is this important, you may ask?
When we quiet down and tune out the noise around us, we have no choice but to hear what is going on inside. When we are sad, hopeless, plagued by pain, resentment, anxiety, self-criticism, shame, or any other painful experiences and thoughts, slowing down and being quiet is going to be difficult because it amplifies those experiences. It is like a mirror in front of you reflecting everything as it is, with no distortion. We will want to push it away and ignore it; we will want to be busy, and we may find comfort in the noise, chaos, and constant doing. We will desperately want to pretend that what we don’t like about ourselves and about our life isn’t real, and we will want to silence that inner voice and feeling that comes up to tell us that something isn’t right.
Can you benefit from having a morning routine?
If you’re rushing from one thing to the next most of the time and not feeling like you choose how you spend your time, if it frequently feels like you’re not in charge of your life, if you feel like you’re constantly avoiding problems and it feels as if things are out of your control, then having alone time is essential. Setting your intention and creating purpose early in the day will make a big difference in how you show up in your life.
This is a great way to start creating a healthy sense of responsibility for your life.
You will be able to decide where to focus your time, you will be able engage in tasks, people, and thoughts that will propel you to have a sense of control over your life, one day at a time. Over time you will realize you are not merely a bystander in your life watching things unfold. Maybe at some point this was the case, but now, you get to decide what role you want to play in your life.
Fully lived life is not free of pain and difficulty.
You will experience events that are out of your control. But you will have the opportunity to choose how you respond to the things coming your way (the things you CAN control) instead of reacting on autopilot.
Things you can spend time in the morning to connect to yourself and be still:
You might think “Who has time for that?!” or “I’m not a morning person,” or “I have kids that I need to keep alive.” Sure, those are valid reasons, but see if there is even one small thing you can do differently to make your mornings start on a positive note.
Here are few suggestions to start with:
1.If your mornings are chaotic with people and noise while everyone is trying to get ready, try waking up before everyone just early enough to sneak away for a few minutes for yourself in peace and quiet.
2.If you work such hours that you wake up later, you can still do this at the time when it is best for you.
3.If the circumstances don’t allow you for any “me-time,” try to engage in positive thoughts right after waking up while you’re still in bed, before starting your day.
4.Reflect on what could get in a way of you creating a more peaceful, intentional morning routine, and why it would be difficult to be quiet for a bit and tune out all the noise.
Setting aside quiet time for self-reflection or journaling can be a wonderful self-care routine. Additionally, it can create a deeper self-understanding towards how your emotions affect your thoughts and behavior.
What most of us do when we experience uncomfortable feelings in our body, is either do something to change, avoid, or ignore them, instead of trying to identify and understand what we’re feeling.
For example, too much drinking, eating, working, exercising, spending time on social media, are some of the familiar behaviors that we all engage in from time to time, and all of them can be used as strategies for either disconnecting from our bodies or changing how we feel.
Increasing emotional awareness allows you to slow down and become aware of what it is that you are feeling. Once this is in your awareness, you don’t just react automatically, but you have a chance and the freedom to choose how you want to respond to the world around you.
This takes a lot of practice, so be gentle with yourself. It is like any other skill; you need to do it over and over again until it becomes something that is effortless and automatic.
The following questions can serve as your guide. You can journal about your reflections or simply take some quiet time to be curious about your inner experience. Notice any sensations, images, feelings, and thoughts that may be arising, without judgment or trying to change them.
1. Name the predominant feeling(s) you’ve experienced in the last few days/weeks?
2. Is this emotion(s) familiar to you? In what situations have you experienced the same emotion?
3. What “positive” or “negative” strategies have you been using to manage these feelings?
4. Is there an emotion you are trying to avoid? What is most frightening about this emotion?
5. If there is a message in that emotion? What is it trying to communicate to you?
Once you have a sense of what it is that you tend to experience during stressful times and the way you are dealing with it, ask yourself if there is a better way to manage your feelings? When I say better, I mean in a sense that it is not simply a strategy that brings relief in the moment, (but actually adds to your stress over time). If you were able to utilize a different coping strategy, could this minimize your stress?
*DISCLAMER* Blog posts are created with a goal of sharing my personal reflections as well as practical tools and tips to create relief and increase your wellbeing. Please note that, while I hope that information I share is going to be helpful, it is not meant to be a substitute for therapy.