Creating a Morning Self-Care Routine
Routines are a great way to make taking care of your mental and physical health throughout the day a habit. This will be the first in a three-part series about creating—and maintaining—selfcare rituals throughout the day. We’re first focusing on morning because the way you begin your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day.
Try a Morning Meditation Ritual
Meditation looks different for everyone and you can choose to meditate in silence or to use a guided meditation structure. There are so many apps out there that can help with mindfulness (Insight Timer, Headspace, Calm, etc.) that you can use if you are new to meditation and want to find a place to start. You can also meditate on your own by sitting in silence—preferably in a quiet place—for ~10 minutes. Meditation is not the absence of thoughts entirely, but rather, the acceptance of thoughts coming and going throughout your mind. You think many thoughts and have many different feelings throughout the course of the day, and that is completely okay. This practice gives space to think of these thoughts like leaves floating on a stream. They can come into our mind and leave our mind and we don’t need to attach to them or become consumed by them.
Start the Day with Movement
Exercise and releasing endorphins can strongly benefit your mood, so if you are able to wake up even just a half hour earlier than normal, that can be all that you need to elevate your heart rate and boost your mood.
Morning can be a peaceful time to go for a run around your neighborhood and fresh air can work wonders for mood. If leaving your house extra early isn’t your thing, there are tons of at-home workouts through YouTube and other online platforms that can be done right from the comfort of your living room. It can be helpful the night before to set an alarm for the time you’re willing to wake up to workout, as well as setting out your workout clothes and maybe even filling up a water bottle so that you are ready to go in the morning.
Our breathing is something that we don’t think about on a regular basis, but it can improve mental clarity and the ability to remain relaxed. Chances are, you spend a lot of time shallow breathing or holding your breath without realizing it. It’s ideal to practice relaxed breathing for a few minutes when you first wake up or during your commute to work so that if stressful situations pop up throughout the day, you’ll be to use these techniques to help yourself stay calm.
There are many different types of conscious breathing techniques, but here is one example:
Sit or lie flat in a comfortable position
Place one hand on your chest, and the other hand on your stomach right below your ribs
Take a breath in through your nose and feel your stomach push your hand out
Breath out through pursed lips as if you were whistling or blowing bubbles and feel your hand on your stomach lower
Repeat 3-5 times
No matter which morning ritual works best for you, start off by thinking positively - the day is yours for the taking!
Heather Slugaski is a clinical social worker living and working in North Carolina. You can follow Heather on Twitter @heatherlynnsw.