Some context for you; These positive routines evolved because I am NOT a morning person but decided to become one. My boyfriend wakes up 5.45am to get ready for his daily yoga practice, and needless to say I cannot help but be woken by his alarm or his tip-toeing (or should I say crashing?) around. I would fall back to sleep only for my alarm to go off at 7am and wake up feeling I’d been shot with a tranquiliser gun. This 1 hour snooze totally messed with my sleeping pattern and I really struggled to get out of bed, falling into the terrible habit of hitting snooze for what seemed like forever just to catch another 9 minutes. When I did eventually wake up I was groggy for hours after and consequently my mood was rapidly declining. After a couple of months of this torture I realised something had to change and that I had two options… 1) Sleep in separate bedrooms (never gonna happen) 2) Wake up when he does and own the day. So, I chose the latter. What follows is the routine I devloped after reading and listening to lots of material on the common daily habits of successful people and trialling it myself. I believe it to be a great foundation for instilling positive practices into your life, that will invariably lead to you creating your very own perfect routine.
Living Life on Your Terms, the basics…
We’d all like to feel like we have life sorted, no matter how busy we get or what it throws at us. We often have great intentions for wellbeing – such as healthier food choices, regular yoga or just more ‘me time’. Most of us don't lack motivation to do this but we do often lack discipline, which is why despite best intentions we can ‘fail’ at our attempts to instil positive practices.
By bookending your day with a positive conscious beginning and ending you are living those moments on your terms. Creating simple routines that are performed consistently will not only make you feel more positive but they’ll give you the confidence to take on (and stick to) more healthy practices.
You can scale it up as you become more consistent and it becomes habitual, but your routine should be simple, quick and non –negotiable (i.e you can apply it anywhere without any special equipment or environment)!
Here are my tried and tested recommendations for your daily routine:
First make sure set your alarm at least 5 minutes earlier to incorporate this routine. Once you’ve nailed the basics you can increase the time and start to add in extras,
1. BREATHE …. Connect your breath to your mind and body.
This is a lovely gentle way to start the day and is always do-able no matter how tired you are. On awakening, sit up and keeping eyes closed breath a round of 12 deep conscious inhales and exhales without forcing the breath. As you inhale raise the right hand up and has you exhale lower it gently. On the inhale, really feel the lungs expanding on the inhale and the breath pushing into every part of your body with the exhale. This will help connect your brain, breath and body. If your mind wanders simply pop the thought like a balloon and come back to the count of the breath. Always inhale and exhale through the nose. On the last out breath you may like to open your mouth and exhale deeply.
Blink your eyes open and greet the morning with a smile. YOU ARE PRESENT.
(After a good few weeks of consistent conscious breathing you may like to introduce 10 mins meditation at this point – Headspace is a great app to start with if you need some guidance)
2. STRETCH…Awaken the spine.
The spine houses your central nervous system which is basically the operating system for your entire being. We often jump out of bed and immediately get on our day without giving our body a second thought. On a cold day would you start a car and immediarely put your foot on the accelerator to speed away? No, you’d allow the engine to warm up and the oil to pump through first. Your spine deserves to be treated like an expensive sports car. Just a few minutes of gentle stretching to warm it up will equate to higher performance.
Perform your own personal practice to stretch, we love yoga for this as it further deepens the connection between mind, body and breath. Try Pip’s 6 sided spinal stretches or a few rounds of sun salutations. Breathe consciously throughout . Remember the purpose of this routine is not for a work out but to allow the body and the spine to elongate and the joint to lubricate. Start with a simple 3 minutes and build on this as it suits you. Enjoy it!
3. HYDRATE – moisten your brain!
The human body perspires a vast amount of mositure during the night (especially if you snore) which means we are all at risk of waking up dehydrated. Our big moist brains need to be properly hydrated in order to function and the 6-8 hour period we are asleep is usually the longest we go without a drink. I asked a dozen friends what they drank first thing and nearly all of them said coffee! I like to start my day with a large glass still water BEFORE consuming any other drinks and start the day as I mean to go on. Feel free to add a sprinkling of sea salt (to replace lost minerals) and a squeeze of lemon to make it more palatable.
START THE DAY WITH A SMILE, KNOWING IT’S ON YOUR TERMS!
TIP: Decide on your bedtime and start this routine 1 hour before.
1. NO ELECTRONICS - YOU ALL KNOW YOU SHOULD BE DOING THIS, SO DO IT. Turn all blue light devices OFF and switch off the television. Relaxing music is fine in the background and paperweight kindles are allowed for bedtime reading
2. MENTAL (UN) LOAD - Allow your brain to start to relax by committing any loose thoughts and random tasks to paper. This is all the stuff you’ve been trying to retain throughout the day. If you have a particularly busy morning you may like to jot down the first few tasks and a timeframe. If you refer to it in the morning great, but if not it’s already done its job to give you peace of mind.
3. PREPARE FOR TOMORROW – starting in the kitchen and making you way into the bedtime, prepare for the next day. Things to do might include;
a. Making breakfast/lunch for you or others
b. Tidying your bedroom
c. Picking out the mornings clothes
d. LAY OUT YOUR YOGA MAT
e. Pour yourself a glass of water for the morning
4. BEDTIME – pick and mix to create your choice of bedtime routine
a. If you have a bath/shower before bed this is the time to do it.
b. Perform some evening stretches
c. Write a few lines in a gratitude journal
d. Enjoy a mug of soothing bedtime tea (such as valerian, camomile, or Pukka Sleep )
e. Spray your pillow with a soothing sleep spray
f. Allow yourself some time to read if you find this relaxing (no blue light electronics though)
5. BREATHE & DECOMPRESS
Sitting up in bed perform another round of 12 conscious breaths, with the upward and downward hand motions. Focus on lengthening the inhale and exhale, filling your belly and lungs with clean air and exhaling the day. As you exhale your last counted breath, smile and ‘thank the day’. Lay down to sleep knowing that your morning is sorted!