How having a morning routine has changed my life

& OTHER STORIES

I don’t think I’d even heard the words ‘morning routine’ until about a year ago.  And now my morning routine is something I can’t shut up about! I’m always talking about it, always trying to pass on the word and I’m evangelical about it … I might not have heard the phrase though but I certainly knew I needed one.

Coming out of a very unhappy time at work at a place I wasn’t suited to be working at and that sucked all my energy (and then some) and seemed to take all my time … oh and not just all my WORK time! Even out of work time I was preoccupied, worried, stressed and scared – snapping at the people closest to me and acting basically like I was in ‘24’ and on the edge of the precipice of international disaster – rather than project managing a few magazines.  ANYWAYS … that’s not the point.

The point IS (and the other one is a point, just not a point today) that I did make a move … I handed in my notice and I got another job. Another job nearer to my house (in fact, pretty incredibly for London, within easy walking distance) and a job I felt wasn’t going almost to kill me in trying to do it well. It was somewhere I felt I could do a good job, with good people, for good clients. And wow – well that felt amazing just on its own.

But then .. aha .. then. So, I can now walk to work. In ten minutes.

And I made a decision – before I even knew how beneficial to sanity and happiness a morning routine was – NOT to continue to stay in bed until the last possible minute.

I believe this is certainly what most Londoners do at least. Here’s what my ‘morning routine’ used to look like.  Hmm.

First, set the alarm to a time about half an hour before you actually HAVE to get up (or you’ll be late). Then when it goes off, press snooze several times until you really do HAVE to get up (or you’ll be late). If you’re especially tired or hungover, press it again (and now you are going to be late). Skip corners – I’m sure my hair will be FINE another day if I tie it up! Even if you didn’t skip corners and even if you DID get up (almost) as soon as the alarm went off .. well, you’re up against it! Drink a big glass of water, maybe with lemon squeezed in. Shower or bath. Wash hair, dry hair, possibly straighten or style hair. Drink another glass of water. Feed cat or dog or let them out. Put on make up.  Dress. Because you didn’t sort out last night what to wear this morning now somehow none of it is right. Pull most things out of wardrobe and try all of it on in five minutes flat. Leave all clothes on bed. Iron the top you wear all the time. Dress and leave, a little hot and sweaty (pull hair up – so what was the point of straightening it?). Run – I mean walk fast – to the tube. At the other end, stop at coffee shop and buy coffee and toast (with marmite). Drink coffee on fast walk to office. Eat toast at desk while changing from trainers into heels and looking at emails.

NOT FUN. Oh also there’s a bed full of all your clothes to hang up when you get home!

OK, this maybe your idea of an exaggeration. But this was my reality for, ooh, about best part of 20 years!

So … when I got my  new job with a new ten-minute-walk-commute I DID realize I wasn’t going to waste it on extra time in bed and then the same old race for the door and for work. I was going to do SO MUCH in this extra time!

So I was going to do ALL this. Every day.

Walk the dog.

Journal in the mornings.

Pilates DVD or maybe even go to the gym.

Have breakfast at home.

Do all the housework before work.

Iron.

Write a book.

Meditate.

Stretch.

Do affirmations.

Make fresh coffee.

Oh  I was going to do EVERYTHING.

But, you know, I have stuck to it mostly. I’ve stuck to the underlying feelings in this and I do now have a morning. A proper morning.

I actually now wish I had even MORE time in the morning I love it so much. I don’t cram everything in that I wish I could but mostly my mornings do now include:

  • ONE hit of the snooze button (I want to get up and get doing my own stuff! I’m not just in a hurry – this is stuff I want to do!)
  • Up and take the dog out for his morning toilet.
  • Shower or bath.
  • Journal – I use 750words.com and it takes me about 15 minutes and gets my head on straight and clear. I manage it maybe 3-4 days out of 7. I use it to set my goals and work through anything I’m worrying about.
  • Make coffee, make toast, make tea, make green smoothies. – whatever I choose.
  • Be a nice person! Make my boyfriend tea and toast – I like to get up earlier than he does. I run him a bath as well.
  • Feed the dog.
  • Do any washing up.
  • Dry my hair.
  • Tidy up a little so it’s nice when I get home – and hang up any clothes I’ve been trying on.

That’s about it to be honest … but I’m relaxed, we’ve chatted, I’ve had fresh coffee and toast at home and checked my personal email and done my journaling.

At weekends, I walk further and go to the park with the dog, and then make bigger breakfasts, .. but the thing for me is now being conscious of a morning routine I can see how totally non care-giving mine used to be – it wasn’t nourishing me and setting me up for the day.

My work might soon be moving offices into town and I’ll no longer have a walk through the park for a commute. But I have learnt to slow down and that I love this time for me, and I’ll be getting up earlier to allow the same sort of start to the day. I’ll add some stretching too.

Earlier up, time to wake up, get outside, journaling, coffee, breakfast, no hurry. No hurry is the biggest change.

It’s honestly changed my life. And my blood pressure. Seriously.

What’s your morning routine now, and what would you like it to be?

If you don’t yet have one, maybe start small.  Maybe just make time for a cup of tea before you race out the door, thinking you’ll grab something on the way.  Maybe just standing still and stretching and taking three deep breaths.

Whatever it is … keep it simple .

Rachel x

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