FLIPPING MY MORNING ROUTINE
My boyfriend has a book on his bedside locker called My Morning Routine: How Successful People Start Every Day Inspired. I remember flicking through it at one point and wondering what it would be like to be that on top of your life that you’d set your alarm for 5am every day – out of choice – just to get ahead of yourself before the day officially begins.
The people featured within the pages are all highly accomplished beings so while I didn’t completely discredit their bonkers routine, I did roll my eyes at their almost army-like schedule because surely those extra few hours of sleep are much more beneficial than waking up to squeeze lemons into hot water at such unfriendly hours? How wrong was I.
I first began to eat my words a few weeks ago when the darker evenings started to creep in. Every year around this time I find myself dragging myself from A to B and chore to chore, the lack of daylight really suppressing my energy levels and stealing the pep in my step.
Come 6pm it feels like bedtime and often, I’m guilty of slipping into my PJ’s, grabbing my hot water bottle and curling up on the couch only to fall fast asleep by 8pm. With lockdown in full swing, it’s not like there’s much else to do, right? The problem is that I’m one of those people that always likes to keep busy. I like to have ‘projects’ on the go, I like to read, I like to write, I like to get out for walks, I like to watch documentaries and movies and cook and run around the living room chasing my adorable puppy Charlie.
Except now not only do I not have the hours in the day to do these things – a little thing called work takes priority – I’m also completely sucked of all energy by late afternoon, the darker evenings leaving me overwhelmingly fatigued and uninspired. Add to that the feeling of guilt and feeling unfulfilled because ‘I should be doing more and I want to do more… but I’m so tired!’
After weeks of giving into these feelings, I decided it was time to make a change because winter is long and hard enough as it is without it taking a toll on my mental health. Catching a glimpse of the aforementioned book, I entertained the idea of flipping my day around. If I’m feeling lethargic by the time evening comes to the point where I’m ridiculously unproductive, why not wake up early and embrace my mornings to the max?
I’m one of the lucky ones. My work day begins at 10am. While on one hand you’d think this would lend itself to waking up earlier naturally, the temptation to sleep in is a great one because what with working from home, I can. For months I was guilty of rolling out of bed anywhere between 9am and 9:30am, something that wasn’t a problem for a long time because of the bright days and longer evenings when I could squeeze in a walk once I clocked off or attempt a snail-paced run if I so pleased.
Excited, I decided to trial a new routine of waking up at 7am each day (it’s not quite 5am but it’s a huge improvement) giving me a whole three glorious hours to pack in as much as my soul needs before I sit down at my laptop to begin my professional day.
At first, it felt a little ridiculous because I didn’t ‘need’ to be on my feet so early but I worked on changing that thought pattern by seeing the early hour as a ‘gift’ instead of a punishment. My favourite moment of the day has always been when I’m the first one to potter into the kitchen in the mornings; there’s something so lovely about that time and now I was giving myself the chance to experience it on the regular.
Having read the much raved about Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones on my Kindle, I was determined to tackle my morning the right way. I would build a routine that I would stick to every day, one that brings me joy and serves my soul so by the time that I sit down to work, I feel accomplished and satisfied that I’ve done something for me that day.
Now my mornings begin with an hour walk – rain, hail or sunshine – with a podcast for company, followed by a 15 minute yoga routine using an app called Down Dog. I’ll then potter around the kitchen and whip up a smoothie, prepare myself breakfast and sit down to read a little before retiring upstairs to feed my puppy and play with him for a bit before showering and changing.
It’s OK if you’re rolling your eyes reading this. I mean, I am a walking cliché, but a much more level-headed, satisfied, motivated and inspired one at that. The best thing is that I’ve slowly managed to shake off that feeling of guilt which means my evenings are free to embrace my inner sloth knowing I’ve got the next morning to tackle my ‘to do’ list.
If you’re wondering how dedicated I’ve been to the routine, I did slack on one or two occasions and I felt those old feelings of frustration kick in almost immediately. While I take my job very seriously and am a highly ambitious and dedicated worker, I’ve learned that no career will make you feel as satisfied as serving yourself from the inside first. If there’s no hours in the day for me time, it’s my duty to create them.
We’re always reminded to ‘be kind’ but that should apply to ourselves too. I’ve found that by flipping my routine, I’ve given myself the best gift and while not every day is challenge free, I’m better equipped to tackle things having unburdened myself of the frustration of not having the time to do the things that make me happy. Maybe you’ll try it too and I think you should – you’re worth it.