Starting in the Morning…

What better way to start a day? And a blog? Than in those beginning phases of something when it is new and fresh, unknown and unexpected, free of clutter and confusion. Maybe the most special time of day? Not a time to be glossed over and missed in the rush toward the events of high noon. This is a time to relish and delight in how this thing is slowly unfolding and unfurling its gift to you. Yet, some people sleep through it, or they’re up and to work before appreciating the beauty of the morning sky. Bottom line, poetry aside, beginning with an enjoyable morning translates to an all-around more enriching day.

Developing a healthy morning routine. You’ll find tips for doing so, some reminders of healthy choices, and I’ll share habits developed according to what works for me. You’re tasked with finding your own way of greeting the day. Some people are more comfortable with routine, and thrive in its structure. While others can make choices on the fly and find direction with more ease… Most of us are somewhere in the middle, requiring some regiment along with room to improvise according to what the day asks of us. Just be sure your habits shift with the cycle of seasons, and evolve with the changing circumstances of your life.

Maybe this is all common sense now, with 1000+ blogs out there about healthy lifestyle, but I’d like to share these early morning concepts I’ve been experimenting with, helping me to experience more enjoyable days.

The first moments of the day can color the entirety of what’s to come. Invite in positive thoughts when you first awake, and find something you appreciate about life to recognize and consider… 

Waking up, getting up, or rolling around… Some people are apt to pop right up at the first bird’s song. Others will take some coaxing, snoozing of the alarm, or a sleepy roll-around-and-cuddle-with-pillows session before rolling out of bed. How you feel in the morning depends on the amount of sleep and activities performed in the past few days. If you’ve been dragging for days in a row, be easy on yourself, carve out more time for sleep tonight, before your next morning. Or consider less sleep, and test the effects on your energy – some people do better with 6 rather than 8 hours per night.

Always good to start with hydration. All our body systems require water, all the way down to little chemical exchanges between the little cells floating inside us. Water hot or cold, or herbal tea; honey and lemon for taste and health. Maybe step outside for a few fresh breaths of air while you drink.

Movement in the a.m. is a good idea: a brisk walk, or jog, some light stretches and easy movements, even rolling around and stretching out while still in bed cuddling pillows – just ways to wake up the body and get all systems online… You may enjoy a more rigorous exercise in the morning, especially if you won’t have much chance for movement during the day. Exercise, light or heavy, is a great way to kick-start the appetite and metabolism, getting you ready for that breakfast… but first…

Working on practicing meditation regularly – and I find my mind is more tranquil in the wee hours before the world outside is bustling – begin with a calm, clear mindset to bring to the rest of the day. Meditate after you’ve been up and moving around to avoid nodding back to sleep in your meditation seat. Or forget the traditional seated meditation and find your center through deep breathing, doing dishes, jogging, while eating, or whatever works for you.

Don’t rush the eating. Work up an appetite first, then eat. Eat according to your appetite or the amount of energy you foresee needing for this day ~ the food will fuel your brain and body. Enjoy your food, and in the spirit of efficiency, let your breakfast be your meditation. Mindful eating. Paying attention to every bite and every chew. Experiencing the flavors and textures. Enjoy.

Maybe most importantly, do something that you enjoy doing, that you know to be beneficial for yourself, that simply feels good, before you do anything for anyone else. Even if only for 15 minutes – go out and garden, play some music, journal any interesting dreams from your night’s sleep, or you could write an email to a friend.

Delay screen time until you’ve given your eyes some time to adjust to being open, whether taking in sunlight or houselights – perhaps waiting a good 30 minutes after you’re up before checking the phone or email. Natural light cycles for the eyes can do wonders for our biological systems, regulating sleep cycle and metabolic rates (see circadian rhythm). If you have the chance, be outside in the dawn and witness the slow bloom from twilight to sunrise.

Establish a routine so you can also break it. It takes some time to get in a habit and more time still to shape these habits into a routine, and more time still to experience the benefits of that routine. But once we have a solid routine in place, there is the fun of experimenting and bending the routine, or changing it up and seeing how we may like this new way more or less than our standard.  

Breaking routine can be a good thing. By choice or necessity. Some nights we don’t get to sleep till late, and then there’s an obligation early the next morning – it happens, and it’s alright if we don’t have the time to stick with our morning routine. Just try to manage gracefully. Don’t operate on a rigid schedule or checklist that must be accomplished each morning, or the routine itself can become a stressor. According to what your body needs that day, give yourself a little more time for some extra goodies before you head out the door. I’ve heard a lot about keeping a regular sleep cycle, which can be helpful, but risking a rigidity of mindset. Give yourself the allowance to change it up or follow your heart.  Sleeping in or getting up super early to work on some creative project. The dawn is a most inspiring time of day.

Giving yourself an extra 10 minutes can make the difference between a hectic rush out the door and an easy, spacious morning. This is an extra minute between ten morning tasks to take it easy, or 10 minutes to dedicate to a new morning practice. The trick is being efficient with transitions from one task to the next – this is where planning ahead, or conversely, improvising gracefully can come into play.

Anything you can prep the night before? Like blending the Nutty Monkey Mocha Smoothie found below or picking out your outfit – doing so can save time for the morning, which is a smart choice if you’re awake in the evening with nothing better to do. And you really have nothing better to do than to give yourself the best mornings possible (but don’t forget that the nighttime is special too… for a later post).

Hopefully you found good food for thought in this post, or inspiration for a fresh start tomorrow. I ramble quite a bit, and I thank You for staying with me through this one.

So here’s a quick Nutty Monkey Mocha Smoothie recipe – love how this is simple to make (even on a groggy morning), healthy and energizing, and can be made the night before, kept with a lid in the fridge, and enjoyed anytime on the go. I use an immersion blender, or stick blender, so I can blend it up in the vessel I will drink from.

Ingredients:

~1 cup yogurt/milk mix, or just one or the other (or any creamy liquid substitute) (try coconut milk)

a ripe banana

big scoop peanut butter (or Almond butter)

big squeeze honey (to desired sweetness)

+cocoa powder if you want it mocha

++finely ground coffee beans (freshly ground is best) (or a splash of brewed coffee) to make it extra mocha

+++bonus ingredients you can keep on hand: bee pollen, maca powder, flaxseed oil, coconut oil, or any other healthy food powders or oils you like

Prep:

Put everything in and blend! 

 

Good Morning! Enjoy!