Disconnect to Connect: Reclaiming a Morning Routine
As you all know, the end of December through the end of February was quite the rollercoaster for Mike and I. I feel like we have been continuously treading water. Simply staying afloat and getting by. As March rolled around a sense of normalcy began to return, and actually a lot of great things happened. We had a wonderful trip to New Orleans, I got my promotion/new title at work, and we sold our condo! Things were definitely heading in the right direction. So why was it that two Saturdays ago I found myself crippled in bed with anxiety? Things have been moving in the right direction…so why did I feel as if I was slipping backwards? I realized that I needed to re-evaluate some of my habits. I needed to reclaim my routine. I happened to come across an article on Elephant Journal entitled “The morning routine that might Change your life” and it was exactly the catalyst that I needed to fully wake up (pun intended) and re-evaluate how I was spending my time and what I was expending my energy on. I came to the conclusion that I really needed to disconnect to connect and that the way I was starting my day was truly impacting me negatively. In this post I want to share with you what I’ve done to reclaim my morning routine and offer some additional tips and insight on the power of disconnecting.
I don’t think I realized how much of an impact my poor morning habits were having on me because in general I feel I am pretty good about disconnecting from my phone and the internet. My Facebook account remains deactivated aside from 4-5 days a month- I much prefer Instagram as my social media platform (personally I don’t find it nearly as distracting or negative as Facebook), and most nights my phone is on airplane mode and plugged in out in the kitchen by 7:30/8:00 PM. What I realized, however, was that I was making up for those evening hours of being disconnected first thing in the morning. Even if I wasn’t crazily scrolling social media in the morning (which a lot of the times I definitely was) I was using the beginning of my day to respond to various emails and text messages. Let me point out – none of these emails or texts were urgent in the least. Why did I feel the need to respond, to engage, first thing in the morning? In fact by 9 AM I often had multiple conversations going. Don’t get me wrong – I love my friends and my family and enjoy talking to them – but I was engaging with others before I even had the time to fully settle into my own day. By the time the opening bell for the stock market rang at 9:30 AM and the office started filling up I was distracted and frazzled and my mind was in a million other places. I was setting the tone to be unproductive, disorganized, and stressed. I knew something needed to give. As Elayne Youseff says, “Putting your phone aside when you wake up helps you start your day with a calm, peaceful, and aware state of mind—instead of subconsciously storing information from social media in the morning, we can create valuable moments with ourselves instead”. I could not agree with this more. Not only was I subconsciously storing information from social media, but I was doing the same from various personal conversations. My brain was processing the thoughts and emotions of others and distracting me from my own. So I decided to reclaim the morning routine I had long ago tried to implement, but never followed through on. Below are a few tips on what I've been doing in the morning and the difference that they have made!
Don’t look at your phone for at least the first hour of being awake. Use an alarm clock, or if you do want to use your phone for your alarm keep it on airplane mode (with Wifi turned off) so just the alarm goes off and you don’t have access to data, messages, applications or the internet. On the weekends I made it my goal to not even go get my phone for the first couple of hours. Instead I spent my weekend mornings leisurely waking up; enjoying an iced coffee (duh), cuddling with my kitties and READING! Reading is truly one of my biggest escapes and one of my biggest tools in my mental health journey – so incorporating it as a way to start my day is a win-win! This past Saturday morning by the time I finished reading a few chapters and finally got out of bed I felt fantastic!
Drink water. I’ve read this countless times. Almost every blog, account, or health and wellness driven person implores you to start your day with water. It’s literally the simplest and easiest concept. But to be honest, I’ve always sucked at it. I’m pretty good about hydrating throughout the day – but never about starting my day hydrated. I’m aiming for 2 glasses of water first thing in the morning, but happy when I get one in. It truly does make me feel so much better physically.
Move your body. In some fashion. Doesn’t matter what you’re doing or how long you are doing it, but engage your muscles. I’ve always been so impressed with Allison, she starts her mornings by tapping or meditating and then yoga of some kind. In fact, I’ve always wanted to be half as committed to my morning routine as she is. Thanks for inspiring me, A! Right now I’ve been focusing on doing a stretching sequence a few minutes each morning and incorporating a walk if I can get to work a bit early. And referencing Allison’s morning rituals brings me to the next tip….
Meditate. Or engage in some sort of mindful thinking. Perhaps reflect on yesterday. Set an intention for today. Enjoy just sitting in silence in your own company, lost in your own thoughts. Allow your mind to just be before you have to start processing all the information your day throws at you.
Tidy up your space. Some of us are naturally neat freaks. I’m hit or miss when it comes to being one of those people (and I'm sure Mike would say I'm totally a miss!) But taking the extra few seconds to make the bed (even if its not fully made with all the corners tucked in and all that jazz) and put away my makeup bag, hairbrush and pajamas leaves me feeling much calmer and more in control as I head out the door.
Find an accountability partner. Mike felt the same way I did, so we have been doing our new morning routines together. We don’t even typically wake up at the same time, but we report back to each other about how our mornings went and how much better we felt because of it. Knowing that he is going to ask me if I stuck to it each morning and I will have to answer him honestly definitely holds me way more accountable.
These are just a few tips to get you started on hopefully crafting a morning routine that works for YOU. Remember, as with everything we write here on Loving Lately, don't hold yourself to perfectionism. You can always restart if you aren't met with success the first time around, or even start simply and just implement one small change. And although the above tips are working for me – your morning might look totally different! I'm a little over 2 weeks in to this new routine and the changes I've seen have been MASSIVE. My anxiety in the morning has been almost nonexistent. I've felt much better physically. I feel way less rushed, not nearly as overstimulated, and much more productive. I can't wait to see what else I can incorporate into my mornings to increase the benefits even more….stay tuned! And truly, don't underestimate the power of disconnecting as a way to truly reconnect.