It has been just over four months since I started practicing a morning routine. Prior to this period in May, despite not having the Facebook App installed on my phone, I was still one of those addicted people who would check all socials before bed and first thing in the morning. So what, it's not hurting anyone, right? Wrong. It was hurting me, big time.
Even though checking morning and night was on the surface not harming me, when I really delved deeper and thought about what the affects could be I realised that this addiction was messing with my brain, affecting my anxiety levels, stopping my natural thoughts from rolling, and eroding my basic capacity to focus and concentrate. In all it was taking me out of my natural state of existing and telling me that I need a distraction from the moment. And let's not forget the time I will never get back, as it takes a while until you realise “damn, how long have I been scrolling and why? There is nothing worthwhile on here!'
Then you stop. For a while.
Before I travelled to Berlin (where i stayed for three weeks) my husband had ordered The Five Minute Journal, one each. As we both anticipated the arrival of the journal we started to spend time in the morning writing down all the things that come to mind as soon as we wake up. We would put on some hot water, make tea and coffee and sit together in silence and frantically jot down whatever came to mind. Each day both of us had three pages of brain spew on the paper. At night we followed up with things we were grateful for, we each made a list.
The Five Minute Journal arrived in time, just before Berlin and I started to write in it everyday, morning and night and it’s as simple as following the prompts shown in this image below.
While in Berlin, along with this journal, I set up a morning routine which went like this:
Wake up, drink a glass of water
Make a cup of hot tea
Write in The Five Minute Journal
Sip my tea
Meditate using the Insight Timer app (it's free) for 5-10 mins depending on mood or day schedule
Finish my tea
Do some yoga stretches
Read a few pages of a fiction book over breakfast
Shower and commence my day
Developing and sticking to this routine was easy in Berlin as I was there for a film related workshop so I had the time to do this each day before my hot yoga classes. Lucky for me my AirBnb room was also big, light-filled, and decorated to induce calm with a mediation corner featuring mats and crystals, mirrors, and a big window looking over a garden. I had a quiet sanctuary. Each morning I looked forward to waking up and doing my routine and after a few days, I felt good. Then, after a week, I started to feel different, not just good, but more relaxed and focused.
This was my first attempt at a morning routine in my life. Not counting when I was a gym junkie and I would hit the gym at 6am before work 3 days a week in my 20's or when I would run at 6am with an outdoor fitness group I used to wake up at 5am for and drive 30mins to be part of. So you can imagine how proud I was when I thought I nailed it. I was reborn as a calm and focused person.
Until I got back home to Malta and my lifestyle and the calm environment that I had become accustomed to over three weeks was undone.
The noise in my apartment in Malta had me on edge, the heat was unbearable inside, and I had no garden to retreat too, my couch is old and it hurts my back to sit on it, and I was woken each day to traffic on my street from my neighbours and the adjacent factory. I struggled big time. But after a week of frustration, failing and skipping days due to annoyance, I started again and this time, I persisted. I got back into a morning routine and managed to make it work despite the environmental factors. So from my external adjustment came the adjustment to my daily routine.
It varies these days but the last month my morning routines goes like this:
Wake up, drink a glass of water
Make a pot of tea
Write in my Five Minute Journal while listening to chanting music on the Insight Timer App.
Read a few pages of a marketing book (or so something that will stimulate my business mind like listen to a TED Talk or film-related podcast) while I drink my tea.
Go to my room and meditate for 10 minutes on Insight Timer.
I have now been practicing a morning routine, which includes writing in the Five Minute Journal each morning and each bedtime, for a few months. It even goes travelling with me and I write in the corner of the journal which country I am in at the time and add a mood face emoji.
Of course I am not perfect, sometimes I forget to do the diary completely for a string of days, but I just pick up and keep going when I get the chance to breathe and the routine starts again. When I am working full-time temp jobs that start at 8am, I still sit at my desk and take five minutes to sip tea and do my diary, while people around me in the office are playing on their phones. Sometimes I wake up and realise I forgot to do it the night before. But it's all good, I just reflect on the previous night and fill it in, it is actually nice to look back and think what was amazing yesterday. No need to beat yourself up about it. The only person you have to stay accountable to is yourself.
So be as persistent as you can with whatever you do as your morning routine. Be it a walk, a run, some yoga, listening to a podcast while hydrating, doing a smiling mediation. Whatever sets you in the mood for a phenomenal day ahead. Do that.
We all have work, family, and other things that need our attention in the morning, I get it, but waking up ten minutes earlier, hiding away and writing a list of grateful and daily intentions can change your world or how you see the world, and your place in it.
Fill your journal in while sitting on in the toilet if you must, or make your gratitude list internal and tell yourself three things you are grateful for if that is the only five minutes you get to yourself in the morning away from your kids, write a grateful list on the bus even if the writing looks like a 3 year olds, or during your first morning break, or as I did at work while my computer at work loads or you are waiting for someone to get back to you with some files or tasks that need to be completed.
Trust me, taking time to look inside even just five minutes a day make a difference. Instead of jumping into life unprepared for the busy day, instead of plugging yourself into social media while still in bed, instead of reacting to other external environmental factors as soon as you rise, taking time for yourself each morning can do wonders for the rest of your day.
You will find, like I did, that positive things happen, or if the day does go pear-shaped, you are calmer and more prepared to handle it with a clear mind. Music, dance, reading to learn new things, meditation, writing only for you, it is medicine for the soul. It lifts your mood, makes you realise that you are special, gives you clarity, makes you smile and makes your energy more positive. Your body and mind get a stimulating work out.
It's much better than plugging straight into Facebook and seeing what other people are doing, which makes you either worry about something in the news you saw posted, or makes you think about and measure yourself against another person before your day has even started. Who whats that within the first 5 minutes of their day when there is so much you can do to start your day right?
Be it a 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 30 minutes or a 1 hour morning routine, I promise you will face the day as the best possible person you can be and honestly, the world needs more clear thinkers, and positive vibes radiating from people like you and me slaying our dreams with productivity and passion.
For some extra motivation, go to this site and read about business people, politicians, famous people and artists who have morning routines - http://morning-routine.com/
And here are the links to the items I use in my routine that you may want to incorporate into yours:
Email us back if you have a morning routine, we would love to know.
Written by Sarah Jayne