Bleary-eyed and barely awake, I typically start the day with snoozing my phone alarm, scanning headlines, or checking my inbox. It’s, of course, the opposite of nourishing. Maybe you, too, find yourself mindlessly scrolling Facebook, reading your email, or ruminating about your too-long to-do list. And naturally you feel tired, drained, and weary before your feet even hit the floor.
Doing something genuinely restorative or energizing in the mornings honors our mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health. It puts us in a positive, empowered frame of mind, preparing us to tackle whatever challenges might come our way. And if your day is super busy and focused on caring for others, it means you’ve already done something kind for yourself.
But changing habits is tough. So we can start (super) small.
Sherianna Boyle, MED, CAGS, author of the book Emotional Detox for Anxiety, suggests starting the day focused on feeling, or “taking a moment to tune into sensations.” For example, she said, you might notice how your body feels after taking a deep breath, or the way a warm cup of coffee feels in your hand.
Another way to feel first is to simply sit quietly on your patio, by your window, or on the floor, making sure you’re away from any distractions. Or, she said, you can wash your hands, apply hand cream, and massage the palm of each hand and your fingers for about 20 seconds. “This helps break up any stale, congested energy while increasing your breathing. Notice when you massage your hands, your breath tends to get deeper in the lower abdomen area (and lungs) where your calming nerves are.”
Here’s an assortment of small and simple acts of self-care to start your day:
- Keep a book on your nightstand, and read a few pages before getting out of bed.
- Stretch your body, putting your arms over your head, bringing your hands to prayer position, and setting an intention for the day.
- Journal for a few minutes: about something you’re excited about; something that’s been on your mind (and heart); something you love.
- Close your eyes, notice where you’re feeling some tension or pain, and massage that area. Make a mental note to return to that spot throughout the day.
- Listen to a calming or upbeat song while you doodle, color, or draw a mandala.
- Sit in a comfortable position, close your eyes, and visualize three people, places, or things that make you happy or grateful.
- Listen to a faith-based podcast as you perform a few favorite yoga poses, take notes, or simply sit in a comfortable position with your hands at your heart.
- Keeping your eyes closed, tune into the sounds and scents of your bedroom (or outside it). Or do the same as you step outside for a few minutes and breathe in the summer air.
- Simply light a candle or two in your bathroom (without turning on the lights), as you brush your teeth, shower, and get dressed for the day.
As you just open your eyes and begin your day, the key is to do something that feels good. Which will vary from person to person. Don’t pick an activity that you should be doing. Rather, pick an activity that you want to do, yearn to do. Don’t meditate because it’s healthy, and good for you, and every article seems to recommend it. If meditation just isn’t your thing, figure out what is, and do that.
In other words, focus inward. Tune into your needs and desires. Whether you’ve got a few minutes or an entire hour, this is your time.
How will you spend it?