A Morning Routine for Self-care and Self-awareness

morning-routine-self-care-awarenessDo you struggle with staying on track with your day and keeping motivated? How would you like a morning routine for self-care and awareness?  We have many stressors in our lives today: work and family, holidays, relationships, political climate, social media, television, etc.  It’s also true that concerning ourselves with these issues is unhealthy if done too intensely.  Deep down inside, we all know this.  However, the day gets away from us as these items add up.  Before we know it, we are overwhelmed and unsure how it happened.

So, in this article, we’ll explore one of my most relied-on self-care practices to move out of a funk and back into the flow of life. A daily morning routine or practice is the most effective way to begin your day.  I define daily practice as an activity or group of activities that can help you set the tone for your day.  You do These things for yourself to establish awareness of your physical and emotional well-being.  This is important to do before anyone else has any influence over youYou choose your mindset independent of distractions or worries going on around you.

Self Awareness for Better Time Management

Many who read this will immediately say, “But I don’t have time to add anything more to my day!”  Here’s the thing about time—when you want to do something, the time always shows up.  Every day, Americans find lots of time to check emails, Facebook, and Twitter to find out what bad things are happening in the world.  We find time to fantasize about arguing with the person who cut us off in the parking lot or the town center.  We find time to feel sorry for ourselves about our health, jobs, or relationships.  This isn’t five or ten minutes out of the day that I am talking about.

The average American spends hours daily wasting thoughts and energy on these activities without even being aware. This lack of awareness is a trap of the mind. If we stay numb to our habits, then we don’t have to change. The mind is perfectly happy to keep us occupied all day long and stagnant in our ways. Our mind makes us believe that other people’s opinions are more important than how we feel about ourselves or our beautiful lives.

By doing a set of activities when you wake up, you set yourself up with a win for the day instead of getting caught up in negativity.  You can begin to retrain your brain and your thinking with this one simple practice. I am not talking about spending hours meditating or doing yoga.  Those are great activities, but the commitment to them can be stressful, which is usually why we think we don’t have any time.  The mind is great at setting us up for self-sabotage, so instead, I am advocating maintaining a self-care morning routine that is SIMPLE and CONSISTENT.

Practice Gratitude

Genuine gratitude feels great. After a few days of doing this, your mind will start adding on by saying something like, “I am grateful for my partner who earns money for us to pay the rent or mortgage.”  Or, “I am grateful for my partner who is an incredible caretaker for my children.”  With consistent practice, your thoughts and the depth of your gratitude will deepen and grow.  As you practice, you may find that your gratitude can go on forever, another great reason to hit snooze instead of turning the alarm off.

I cannot emphasize enough the key is consistency.  That is why I say to start smallSet yourself up with small wins every day.  Once you have those, you will want to do more, but do more ONLY if you want to.  If you do something because you need to, your motivation will fizzle and cause more stress.

A simple self-care morning routine looks something like this:

  1. When your alarm first goes off in the morning, PRESS SNOOZE.
  2. Spend the next several minutes reviewing how you currently feel (self-awareness).
  3. Acknowledge 4 or 5 things that you are grateful for in that moment.
  4. Proceed with your day in a more positive and uplifted mood!

For example, after hitting the snooze button, let’s say you notice that your neck is aching.  You can start by simply being grateful that you woke up another day.  You can be grateful that you have feelings in your neck.  Regardless, make a conscious effort to notice something about your surroundings and be grateful for it.  Say it to yourself.  “I am grateful for this nice warm blanket.  I am grateful for my nice soft pillow.  I am grateful for …”

If you think you have nothing to be grateful for, and some people do at first, be grateful for things you would like to happen.  You may be discouraged by life challenges, but instead of letting the mind derail the moment, “fake it till you make it.”  In the process, you will be teaching your mind to naturally seek out the good even if you do not fully believe it as you say it.

It’s even okay to be cynical at first if that’s what it takes to get you started.  You might initially say, “I am grateful for my partner who never takes out the trash or feeds the animals.”  After a couple of days of getting that out of your system, your mind will start omitting the negative part (which is your ego).  Your mind will then it turn this into something like, “I am grateful for my partner.”

Build on it

After successfully adding a gratitude practice, try meditating by concentrating on your breath.  Again, start with 5 minutes and add on because you want to.  After that, maybe add some movement.  This can be a short walk outside, asana (yoga) practice, or a calisthenics workout.  For those of you who head out for the gym in the morning or feel that you already have a great physical morning routine, try adding the gratitude practice when you first wake up.  You will be amazed at how your morning workouts will be transformed.

Example of a morning routine for self-care and awareness:

  1. When your alarm goes off, hit snooze. You could get right out of bed, but that morning routine gratitude practice is beneficial when you are out of your dream state. For 5 or 10 minutes, discover everything you are grateful for right off the top of your head.
  2. From there, do a 10 or 15-minute calisthenics workout at a comfortable level.
  3. Then, before you check your phone or expose yourself to the outside world in any way, meditate for 15 minutes.
  4. Then you are ready to start your day.

It is not necessary to do all of this to make a positive impact on your day. I just wanted to give an example to see how easy this could be. Truthfully, I used to complain that I did not have time to do these things. By adding on slowly, I was able to increase what I did. The more mindfully I added things, the more committed I became to maintaining these simple yet profoundly beneficial practices for my health and wellness.

So, please try the 5-minute morning gratitude practice for a few weeks and see how you feel.  Add other things as you feel you are ready.

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About the Author - Michael Hurley, L.Ac., FABORM

Michael is the co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center. He specializes in Women's Health and Fertility--a passion born from he and his wife's own fertility journey. Michael holds a Master of Science in Traditional Oriental Medicine from Pacific College of Health and Science (formerly PCOM), one of the top-rated acupuncture schools in the country. He is nationally certified with the NCCAOM and licensed by the State of New Hampshire to perform acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. 

Michael has also dedicated himself to rigorous and extensive advanced reproductive endocrinology and reproductive medicine studies. He is a board-certified reproductive acupuncturist with The Acupuncture and TCM Board of Reproductive Medicine (ABORM). He is also certified in 5-Element Functional Endocrinology and Reproductive Medicine.

Cup of Life Healing Center has two locations: 82 Washington Street, Suite 2, Keene, NH and 400 Amherst Street, Suite 402, Nashua, NH.  The clinic can be reached via phone or text at (603) 352-3625.