How to ground yourself in the A.M.
Mornings are crucial to how we feel through out the day. I teach this to my high school students (I’m not a teacher, but my company works with high school and college students), whose mornings are often composed of running out the door with shoe laces untied and an Eggo waffle in one hand. Their mornings are usually harried and reactive, and it’s tough to be focused in your morning class if you woke up 20 minutes ago.
As an adult, the effects of a harried morning are similar. You’re still waking up when you get to that 9:00 AM meeting, and your creative wheels aren’t spinning in full force. I’ve been experimenting for the past few months on how to cultivate a grounding and focused morning myself. Disclaimer: I still struggle with all of these tips, but I’m slowly getting better. The key is consistency, and not just consistency of actions but a consistency of effort. Make a commitment to yourself that each morning you will get up and at least try.
So here’s what I’ve found:
1) Don’t check your phone as soon as you wake up. Depending on where you work/what you do, you probably spend a good amount of time in front of a computer screen. This is a habit I’ve really struggled to break myself; I don’t know what the draw is, but my inclination as soon as I wake up is to check my socials and notifications. It’s not like I’m waiting for anything critical or urgent from Instagram, so why have I started scrolling down my feed already?! Now there are all of these images in my head and I haven’t even turned on my bedroom light yet. Fail.
Turn off the alarm, and leave the phone on the charging station. Reminder to self: the world won’t end.
2) Drink some warm lemon water as soon as you’re up. This gets your digestive system going and detoxes your body. I’ve talked about the benefits of this at length in my post about Healing Your Gut During the Holidays, so check that out if you’re interested. Also, there is just something really comforting about warm lemon water in particular. Try it.
3) Start your day with a centering practice. This can be a spiritual practice (I’m Muslim, so I pray the sunrise prayer and then read the Quran for a bit), or you can write in a journal, meditate, do some breathing exercises, or take a walk. This helps you get inside your mind a little bit and begin to focus your energies. By creating a centering practice, you can be proactive instead of reactive during your day. Check in with yourself, feel yourself in your body, focus your energies. Trust me, it really helps keep you grounded when you have to deal with incoming situations at work or manage your energies throughout the day.
4) Set intentions for the day. What do you want to accomplish? It can be something tangible, or it can be something internal you are struggling with. Are you trying to heal from a situation? Where are you in the process? Do you want to tackle a new project at work? Do you want to do something kind for someone today? Intentions can be personal, professional, or anything you want them to be. Again, actively setting intentions helps you be the primary agent of change in your life.
5) Get moving (if you can). Having a physical practice in the morning is sooooooooooooooo life-changing. I’m not the best at it (my kickboxing gym is a 12 minute drive away, and requires a hair-wash afterward, so sometimes I have to compromise on this one and do it in the evenings instead). Do some yoga, stretch your muscles, go for a walk, or foam-roll. Do what you need to do to feel yourself in your body, thank your body for everything it does for you day in and day out, and get those endorphins flowing.
6) Light a candle. Okay, fine, this is a personal favorite but I wanted to share this in case it helps someone. I prefer the lights in the morning to be soft (but not too dim), and lighting a candle brings me great comfort. I used to light a candle and work in the early morning hours when I was living in my cramped, tiny, mold-smelling apartment in college. I could barely afford the rent, my parents and I weren’t in a good place so I was on my own financially, and I was working three jobs. I was majorly anxious and depressed most of the time, and it was so difficult to find the emotional energy to write papers, take exams, and just be a student. Lighting a candle helped me focus and breathe. There is something magical about a small and seemingly fragile flame; it flickers innocently, but has unchecked power at the same time.
7) Cherish the silence. We are such an over-stimulated culture. There is always something in our ears, eyes, and mouth. Sitting in silence helps you unlock your inner voices and creativity. What is going on in those complex brains and hearts of ours? Is there something our intuition is trying to tell us? So much of what comes from our spirits is difficult to hear because we are constantly searching for stimulation. Use the morning time to listen to yourself.
8) Read something. Preferably not the news. There is so much sadness, destruction, and drama on TV. Honestly, when you think Trump can’t sink any lower, he does. It’s tough to have a productive morning if your mind is upset or you feel nervous or anxious. I’m not saying avoid the news completely, but try not to engage too much in the morning. Instead, read a book or poetry. Learn something new. Currently, I’m working through Purification of the Heart. I only read a few pages with breakfast each morning, but it gives me something to ponder during the day that is beyond my work. It’s empowering, and you are actively educating yourself.
I hope some of these things can help you as you craft a morning routine that grounds you and helps you live more intentionally. If there is something I’ve missed that you think is super helpful, let me know in the comments. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.