It’s officially that time of year where I hate mornings. I hate waking up when it’s dark, and the thought of my feet hitting the cold floor is actually giving me chills right now. No. Thank you.
Not sure about you, but rather than waking up refreshed and ready to start my day, I usually hit snooze three times, which leads to a headache, which leads to me rushing around just trying to get myself pretty before speed-walking to work. I start off my day feeling about three steps behind and with my adrenaline up to here.
So much of my morning routine had become just that — routine — and with the added ugh of darkness, something needed to change. Rather than making my morning more productive or doing all those things CEOs swear by (if that’s your jam, awesome!), I decided to put all of my favorite make-me-smile self-care practices into my morning. It’s now just an hour and a half of me-time that’s literally only about making me feel good. Nothing that serves me professionally (emails are banned until I get to the office), nothing that will make me look better to anyone (looking at you, Instagram stories), but just the good stuff I really love doing. Here’s what lots of my mornings look like now:
Actually Get Up When My Alarm Goes Off
You knew this was coming — when you felt as rushed as I did, waking up a few minutes earlier was a necessity. My alarm goes off at 6:30am (I actually leave at 8:15) and I used to hit snooze a few times, but that would just leave me lying in my (super warm) bed dreading getting up when I heard the alarm a mere nine minutes later. So now I just sit up, take five deep breaths, and put my slippers on to get up. I promise, it’s easier once you do it for a week!
Meditation and Yoga
My counselor mom has been trying to get me to meditate for actual years and I’ve finally gotten on the train, and I must admit, mom was right (isn’t she always?). My mind races all the time, I’m super sensitive to sounds and illness, and I often find my thoughts to be out of control — and while meditation isn’t a cure-all, it does give me an awareness of myself that allows me to take control again. If you haven’t tried it, give it a shot! I use the Calm app for 15 minutes while sitting on my yoga mat, or you can try one of these videos.
When it comes to fitness, I’m not the most active person, and workouts make me more stressed than endorphin-high, so I swapped out my (very occasional) morning workout for some (pretty frequent) easy yoga. I’ve been doing yoga for years, and especially paired with meditation, it gives me a mental and physical refresh that sets my day off right. I carry lots of tension in my body, so it’s really nice to stretch out first thing in the morning and get new blood and oxygen circulating. I may have mentioned once or twice that I love Adriene Mishler’s Youtube channel Yoga with Adriene for an at-home yoga practice any yoga newbie or pro can get into.
Drink a Ton of Water
A person should drink half their body weight in ounces every day in water — for me, that’s 10 cups of water! I fill up my water bottle right when I get out of bed and make sure it’s empty by the time I get to work a few hours later.
Tea and Reading
I’m a huge book nerd. The very first thing I did when I moved to my new apartment was to get a library card. Every other week, I check out a few books, so I’m always reading something new. In the mornings, I choose a book that’s just for the fun of it (right now it’s Rachel Dratch’s Girl Walks Into a Bar) and plop into my comfy armchair, and read a few chapters with my tea.
Tend to My Love Language
Okay, you’ve definitely heard of love languages by now, but as a quick refresh, most people feel most cared for and appreciated in one of five ways: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, or physical touch. While these are important in relationships so you can make sure you’re loving your partner the way they receive love, it’s also so important to know your own and keep a good check of how often you’re receiving love that way!
Words of affirmation are the way I feel most loved, so to fill up my cup in the mornings, I’ll call my mom, take a peek at the folder I have of positive things coworkers have said about my work, or text with my friends. A good conversation with someone I know loves me does wonders to lift my spirit and remind me of the support I’m lucky to have.
Bonus — as great as receiving love feels, giving love has just as deep an impact on us. Give someone some extra love in the morning. Roommate a quality-time person? Plan to eat breakfast with her just to talk for 20 minutes. Live with your physical touch-loving partner? They might love some early morning cuddles. You are caring for yourself when you care for others, especially if those “others” are people you love.
This is my favorite part of my morning, I swear. If you’ve never given yourself a facial massage, you are seriously missing out. You can use a roller if you’d like, but I like to use my plain ole fingers. Here’s a video that walks you through it, but I’m basically just gently brushing my skin with my fingers while I watch Gilmore Girls, and I don’t think life gets better than that this side of heaven.
Actually Get Ready for the Day
I only take 15 minutes or less in the mornings to make myself presentable to society. I’m a night shower person (tangent: dry brushing before you shower is an amazing self-care move that can be made better with editorial assistant Josie’s playlist that she describes as, “My sexy playlist, except I only use it to dry brush”), so after brushing my teeth and face, I do my five-minute makeup, brush out my hair, and toss on the outfit I laid out the night before. Are there days when I need to spend more time straightening my hair or putting on a full face of makeup? For sure, but I try to keep it minimal, which also minimizes my time to stress over how others are perceiving me.
I do some combination of these things every morning, and it’s made such a difference in how I feel and behave throughout the day! Is it magical every time? Nope, there are still some headaches and rushed days. But it’s pretty cool watching how the simple act of choosing to care for myself before attending to anything else has affected me. Most mornings, I feel rested, cared for, filled up, and ready to give the best of myself to the day ahead.