What's your current morning routine? If you working the nine-to-five, punching a time clock, commuting, or getting kids off to school or daycare, chances are your morning must-do list is minimal because you're so busy. Typically, we're jarred by a blaring alarm, jump out of bed, shower, shave, dress, and maybe grab a cup of coffee and toast before flying out the door.
I (Nancy) used to do that. Except my morning routine was a bit longer because I still fixed a healthy breakfast and lunch after getting myself ready. Plus, I have two dogs to feed, water, let out and generally cater to because they're spoiled. Sometimes I'd check my emails/texts for urgent messages that needed a response. Then I commuted a half hour to my teaching job while drinking a green smoothie. Though I strived to make time to meditate and exercise, often that didn't happen before I ran out of time. What a stressful way to begin the day, rushing around just to cover the basics. Even when I did get time to meditate, it was usually right before flying out the door when I was so wound up I couldn't get into the peace zone.
Now my morning routine is vastly different. I still get the basics done, but my mornings have become enjoyable, even joyful. It just took shifting my priorities and changing my thoughts. Developing a few new habits has made me more positive, more productive, and happier. And all this before 7 a.m!
For me, it all started when I stumbled upon a video about Miracle Mornings. This is a term coined by a guy named Hal Elrod. He's an amazing person with an amazing story. You should check him out because he's very inspirational. Although Hal suggests we get up earlier and devote an hour to creating your morning routine, I simply don't want to get up at four a.m. I already get up at five, which feels like the middle of the night sometimes, so I had to find a way to fit in a new morning routine with the time I had already. Hal says you can cut down that hour to something that works for you, so that's what I did. I also split up his six, ten-minute components into morning and evening routines, so my morning ritual takes about a half hour. Also, I moved my shower/hair washing to evenings to free up this 30 minutes.
My advice is to do whatever you have to do to incorporate the main components any way you can, because this morning routine has the power to change your life in ways you can't imagine. So here are the basic things I must do every morning:
Affirmations are positively worded statements that detail exactly what you want to be or achieve, for example, "My health is improving every day. Each day I take steps to improve my health. I am eating a fresh, clean diet of whole, natural foods, and I know just what fuel my body needs to feel and be well."
You can start by listening to affirmations on You Tube. I like Louise Hay, Wayne Dyer, and Abraham-Hicks. A channel titled, "Growing Forever" has lots of nice affirmations about abundance and success. Whatever you listen to, write down the ones that speak to you and read over them later. Don't bother with statements that sound "off" or aren't right at this time. Listening or saying affirmations gets you used to positive words. We are so accustomed to hearing and talking about what's wrong that it's become a habit to be negative. Instead, get accustomed to a new habit....thinking positively.
I'm telling you this works! We are creatures of habit and it's just as easy to develop positive habits as it is negative. Really. In the 2016 election cycle, I stated listening to the news more than I usually do because of the entertainment value. After a couple weeks of tuning in, I started feeling depressed and hopeless about the government. Then I found myself becoming grouchy over challenges at work that I could usually take in stride. It all snowballed into a generally negative outlook about everything!
I knew I could get out of this rut by ignoring the news and expressing gratitude for anything I could find to feel better about. Simple things like how good my bed felt at the end of the day, no snow during my commute, a tasty homemade meal, and my sweet dogs, my wonderful husband bringing me tea in the morning. I also listened to and said positive affirmations every chance I got, like while making dinner, cleaning house, driving. Those lifted my mood and got me back on track. Within a couple days I started feeling better. You see, you don't even have to believe them at first. When you seek out positivity in people, books, videos, movies...anywhere, that too snowballs and soon you're genuinely feeling it.
Affirmations are easily done while you do other tasks, so that doesn't need to take any extra time in the morning. While dressing and putting on make-up, or even driving, I do my visualizations. I simply picture in my mind's eye how I want my day to go, or how I prefer a conversation with a family member to play out. I may also picture myself exercising, imagining how strong I look, and how much more energy I have. If you desire a better house or job, you could picture what that looks like. The sky's the limit, so just have fun and get happy doing it.
These are the two crucial things to do in the morning because they set the tone for the entire day. Even if I wake up a little grumpy, I can turn it around just by visualizing and saying affirmations. By the time I'm heading down to the car, I'm feeling pretty good just thinking about all the great things that the Universe has in store for me. If you're familiar with the law of attraction, you already know that this is how we create our reality.
As for the remaining two components, I find that I just need to do them in the morning because if I don't, they just won't happen in the evening. I spend about 15 minutes on exercise which consists of strength training (squats, push-ups, bench dips, free weights, crunches) or yoga (8-10 Sun Salutations.)
Going into the silence and quieting the mind reaps so many benefits. I will write an article on meditation so I can go into this in detail and hopefully inspire you to really delve into your own practice. Since my time is limited to about 15 minutes in the morning, I simply put on some meditation music, such as Tibetan singing bowls and flowing water, sit cross-legged on the couch with my dogs and focus on my breath. I almost always start my meditation with some deep breathing (such as counting to four on the in-breath, holding for six counts, and releasing slowly to a count of eight.) This calms my mind and is also detoxifying for the body, so win-win! I try to not attach to any thoughts that arise but if I'm having difficulty detaching from my thinking, my whole 15 minutes will be spent on deep breathing.
Feel free to experiment with all the components to see what works best for you. For example, If you already go to the gym to exercise at a certain time, then you don't have to work it in to a new morning routine. Likewise, if you find some quiet time in the afternoon or evening then go ahead and meditate or listen to a guided meditation. You Tube has plenty to choose from.
I do the other two components of the miracle morning in the evening:
These two things can be as short or long as I feel like. Even five or ten minutes would do a person good. Not just any reading or writing will do; it needs to be something that improves your life, so a book on inner growth or self-improvement would do nicely. Likewise, a blog that covers business-building, or raising independent kids, or natural health (!) would fit. Reading is inspirational; it opens you up to possibilities you may not have thought about previously. It also magnifies the affirmations you're doing and gives you something to feed your visualization practice.
For writing, I often incorporate my morning visualizations about my wellness coaching practice, or my exercise program, or a vacation I'd like to take. Write about anything that has meaning for you. If you want to improve your relationship with your significant other or your kids, for example, write about what that looks like and maybe the steps you're committing to take to make it happen.
Writing is a powerful thing, because when we see our hope and dreams on paper, they become more real to us. When they become more real we start to believe it's possible. It's good to periodically go back and read what you've written in the past because you're reminded of your goals and also how things have changed for the better.
On weekends, I still commit to my morning routine. I have the luxury of extending any of the parts I want to, such as exercise and meditation. Instead of saving my self-improvement reading for the evening, I will also spend a little time doing this in the morning along with writing. You can rearrange and lengthen your routine on the weekends as long as you don't leave out anything.
It doesn't take long to start feeling the positive changes that a morning routine will bring. I know that within a week of beginning, I was experiencing remarkably happier mornings and the work day seemed to flow without as many glitches. Even my commute seemed faster and easier. More and more, it becomes easy to find things to express your gratitude for.
Doors may begin to open that you don't expect. Ideas come to you that when acted upon, lead to positive outcomes. I know that's what happened for me. My morning routine is nonnegotiable. In fact, that's a good affirmation to begin with.
Start one now, tweak it as much as you need until it flows naturally, and don't stop. Commit to it for one month and see if it doesn't transform your life. "Life is always working out for me," will become a reality instead of just an affirmation.