LIFE HACK: THE MORNING RITUAL
I used to dread mornings: oversleeping, skipping breakfast and rush hour traffic. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve learned more and more to enjoy the quiet of being an early riser. Since I stopped watching television during grad school, and never resumed the habit once I finished, I really have no reason to stay up late anymore, so when I find myself yawning at 9 pm or even 8, I close the laptop and head for bed. I have discovered the joy of rising at 4 am, sometimes earlier depending on whether I had class the night before. Going to bed and getting up at nearly the same time each day is an imperative to functioning with Bipolar.
With no one to bother me that early, I am completely left to my own devices. My two rottie-mix dogs and I rise usually without an alarm and head for the back door. While they’re outside, I refill their food and water dish, make a fresh pot of gloriously aromatic, but cheap, coffee and prepare some breakfast. They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and it’s the only time I don’t have to worry about what my kids are eating, or how many I have to cook for. Sometimes it’s a fried egg on toast, sometimes it’s yogurt with mounds of fresh berries and granola, and sometimes, it’s just an Arbonne protein shake. But whatever I make, I get to take my time to eat or make whatever I feel like eating or making.
With the pups back inside and breakfast in one hand, hot cup of joe in the other, I pad quietly into my office and open the laptop. I have been told it’s best not to check email first thing in the morning, but to set aside a specific time to open mail and handle it once, maybe twice per day on your timetable, rather than reacting to the insistent chiming of the “you’ve got mail” bell. There are, however, specific things I do purely because I enjoy doing them, and I do them without guilt, interruption or condemnation. This is a list of my steps to a Miracle Morning:
- CHECK IN WITH A MEDIA SOURCE. Since I would have gone to bed around 8 the night before, there will be a lot to review and articles to read. I read the links to the news articles I follow, watch the video links and sometimes listen to a song or two. Sometimes I comment or “like” a few things, but mostly I check in with the world. If you don’t Facebook, this is the perfect time to read the newspaper.
- PERSONAL JOURNAL. I’ve tried over the years to do a traditional journal and failed miserably. Now, I do an art or mash journal (which I’ll explain in a later blog) that reflects my feelings or thoughts that morning. It helps keep me from “over sharing” on Facebook and lets me be a little creative and get my thoughts down on paper. I also give the date and a mood score.
- CHECK IN WITH MYSELF. What is a mood score I’m sure you’re asking? Well, I do an internal feelings or mood check with myself and score how I’m feeling that morning on a scale of 0-10, 10 being Zippiteedooda great. Usually, I hover between a 6.5 and 7.5. On a good day, I might hit an 8, but that’s very rare. I write it down in the corner of my journal so I can keep track of my moods.
- TAKE A BRISK WALK. This is definitely for a good day. I hate to exercise. Seriously. And I’m totally out of shape. But I always feel a high after I’ve taken a brisk 20-minute walk while listening to my favorite upbeat playlist.
- PINTEREST. You could exchange this for anything that relaxes you, whether it is reading a devotional, prayers, meditation or yoga. I just love my Pinterest. I collect photos of things I like and pin websites that I may want to refer to later. I have over 90 boards – like photo albums. But you could use Evernote or other way to organize websites you want to tag.
By this time it’s usually 6 a.m. I’ve been up for a couple of hours, had a leisurely time listening to some music, eating a good breakfast and worked on a couple of hobbies. Time to head for the dreaded shower (those of you with depression will totally understand why I say that), and leave the house around 7, getting to work in time to miss rush hour traffic and get a good parking spot, which is premium on a University campus. So there you have it: my Life hack for missing all the commotion of a rushed and stressful morning, which can ruin an entire day and send you spiraling out of control. Try it! You might be surprised how much a couple of private hours in the morning can set the stage for a calm and positive day.