Back when I was working my corporate job, mornings were a hectic, spastic kind of a mess. To get up and out and take care of everything that needed to be handled before rushing out the door to sit in traffic was…madness.
I always wanted to get more organized, and maybe even bring a little calm to my mornings. But I could never figure out how to do it without making it even more time-consuming and complicated.
As I retooled my life towards a more creative path, reclaiming my mornings was one of the first priorities on my list.
Setting an intention for your day sets the tone for everything to follow; it’s no wonder you’re feeling stressed, panicked and exhausted if that’s how you’re starting off every morning.
Flip that dynamic around—I dare you to just try it for a week and see if it makes a difference in your sanity.
Here are a few simple things I do every morning to bring a little more awareness, calm, and mindfulness to my day. And by the way you guys, this actually doesn’t take any more time than my hectic morning routine did.
Start with Gratitude
I saw an interview with Wayne Dyer where he said as soon as he opened his eyes every morning, before his feet even touched the ground, he took a moment to be grateful. Just laying there in his bed, he would express silent gratitude for the gift of another day to live, another breath, another sunset. What an amazing way to start the day with grace!
And so much better than starting with a scrolling mental to-do list, an inventory of aches and pains, or an admonishment to yourself for the extra glass of wine you had last night that made you toss and turn. (That’s not just me, right?!)
This year, I started a new habit of reading Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening every morning. If you haven’t heard of this book, it’s a revelation. Poet Mark Nepo has a short reading for every single day of the year, and each is a mini-story of courage, inspiration or reflection.
I take two minutes to read it first thing, when I’m still bleary-eyed and barely awake. For that reason, I bought it as an iBook so I don’t even have to turn on the light to read it on my tablet from my comfy bed.
There are so many great lessons and nuggets in this book, it’s hard not to get inspired as I start each day.
Before, it was a quick, rushed, 20-minute walk at best, with me tugging poor Charlie down the street impatiently so I could hurry up and get to work.
I still take him out for a walk every morning, and sometimes now it’s longer than 20 minutes, other times it’s not. But what’s different now is what I do with that precious time.
I look up. I notice how my neighborhood is shifting with the seasons. I say “Good morning” to every single person I pass, even if they don’t say it back. I listen to an inspiring podcast, or a favorite playlist or a new artist on Spotify, or sometimes I leave my headphones at home and I just listen to what’s happening around me.
A friend turned me on to a free 30-day yoga challenge with Bad Yogi Erin Motz, and that’s how I started fitting yoga into my mornings. She’s a down-to-earth, straightforward instructor who doesn’t try to impress you with her knowledge of Sanskrit or try to bend you into a pretzel. Each video is 10-20 minutes long, and it’s kind of fun to try something different every day.
And then I sit down with my favorite cup of tea and snuggle up with Charlie to watch the morning news, and I get started with my day. But this part, this “me” time—is non-negotiable. My new morning routine is exactly how I want my days to be: simple, calm, and awesome.