Do you ever feel like you can’t get ahead during the day? Are you tired or sluggish and can’t seem to get energized? Are you constantly putting out fires and feel overwhelmed with the situations that confront you? Until I began and stuck to a morning routine, I used to battle these feelings for most of my days. When I reflect on the small changes I’ve made that produced the greatest results, a morning routine is #1 on the list. It allows me to center myself before the day begins. I am able to respond instead of reacting to circumstances. It gives me a sense of accomplishment before the day begins and energizes me to remain productive throughout the day. I built my morning routine around the pillars of physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.
It is a common experience that a problem difficult at night is resolved in the morning after the committee of sleep has worked on it. – John Steinbeck
I begin my day with breath work and meditation. While I am doing this practice I ponder on a few questions. How deep is my breath going? What thoughts keeping popping into my head? How do I feel compared to other days? Am I stressed or do I feel relaxed? Am I having trouble focusing on my breath? Pondering on the answers to these questions allows me to center my mind and get in touch with my body. It helps me focus throughout the day and not let stress take over. I know I can always come back to the breath if I need to settle down.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive; to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. – Marcus Aurelius
When I finish my breath work and meditation, I move into a journaling practice. I will write about my meditation and breath experience plus anything that pops into my head. I use this exercise as a brain dump to release my subconscious and anything that is on my mind. There is something about writing down all of the thoughts that come into your mind that is freeing. I will also use my journaling to write three things I am grateful for each day. It does not have to be something big either. Sometimes it is as small as the smell of my puppy’s breath. My goal is to think of different things every day. This helps train the brain to look on the bright side and seek out positive experience during the day. Lastly, I will include goals I would like to accomplish during the day and a few affirmations.
After I finish writing, I will read a passage from a book such as The Daily Stoic. The reading allows me to introduce and apply beneficial information from great minds throughout history to my life. The first information I consume on the day needs to be beneficial. It needs to be educational and allow me to grow. I do not want my brain to take it the latest hysteria on the news or mindless social media. From the breath work, meditation, journaling, and reading, my mind and spirit are ready for the day. Now I need to get the body moving.
See what daily exercise does for one. – Seneca
My morning movement practice is not intense and is focused on opening up the joints and tight muscles with stretching and flowing movements. I use a program called 5-Minute Flow by Max Shanks. It consists of flowing movements similar to vinyasa flow yoga but with less structure. It primes the pump, allowing the joints and muscles to wake up after being asleep all night. It takes me five to ten minutes and I am ready to attack the day once this is complete.
My morning routine takes me less than an hour and is the most beneficial time of the day for me. It allows me to focus, brings creativity to my work, and builds on the three pillars of a whole person (mental, physical, and spiritual). Since starting this practice over a year ago, my anxiety dropped and I have an ability to go with the flow as problems arise during the day. It is the structure I need to give me freedom for the rest of the day. Starting the day knowing I have moved my body, learned something new, and delved into my inner thoughts is my first win of the day.
If you are looking to start a morning routine, I advise trying one of these activities and see how you respond. If you are having trouble getting movement during the day, start stretching. If you are stressed, try breath work and meditation. If the thoughts in your head are getting in the way, try journaling. The key is to start small and build. Win the morning and you will win the day!
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Originally published at www.thelonggame.co