When you’re a woman during the ‘sandwich’ years of 30 to 60, between your career, taking care of your family and spending time with friends, it can feel like your work is never done. Because it isn’t. Having it all can be satisfying, but stressful especially if you don’t have enough time for yourself.
But have no fear, you can start turning things around by beginning your day on a positive note through a morning routine. It's all about Making Time.
Why Create A Morning Routine?
It helps you get centered so that your morning isn’t just a flurry of activity leaving you feeling rushed and frazzled.
It allows you to make time for bite sized personal development that propels you forward without being overwhelming.
It increases your organizational skills as morning routines work best if you prepare the night before.
Now I must tell you that before creating a morning routine, I was guilty of hopping out of bed (at the last second), grabbing breakfast (or not), and running out the door. All of which was a recipe for disaster. It made my days a lot more hectic and stressful than they needed to be.
But then I came across a quote by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. I believe that this quote provides a great mini blueprint for creating your perfect morning routine. Allowing you to start your days off strong and appropriately manage any stressors that come along.
"When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love." Marcus Aurelius
Reflecting on that quote helped me to create a morning routine for myself and I think that it can be helpful to you as well. If you want to learn how create your own morning routine, sign up for my guide.
Below are seven activities inspired by the quote that you can choose from to create a morning routine to care for yourself so that you can be less stressed and more present for your loved ones.
Breath = Life. Which makes breathing exercises a great go-to for your morning routine. As women, we typically have to-do lists a mile long (I know I do!) and many of us don’t take the time to breathe deeply and fully. Deep breathing is simple and can be done even before you get out of bed.
Some tips for breathing deeply:
Place one hand on your stomach and the other hand on your chest.
Inhale deeply through your nose. As you inhale, your stomach should rise as your lungs fill with air.
Exhale slowly through your mouth. Putting your lips together as if they’re on a straw can make this easier.
As you exhale, your stomach should lower as the air leaves your lungs.
While you are doing this exercise, the hand on your stomach should move more than the one on your chest.
Here’s an easy deep breathing exercise that you can do:
When box breathing, you will inhale, exhale and pause for equal lengths of time. Usually for a count of 4, but you can count for whatever length of time is most comfortable for you.
Inhale through your nose for a count of four.
Pause (while holding your breath) for a count of four.
Exhale through your mouth for a count of four.
Pause (without breathing) for a count of four.
Meditation is a practice that’s a natural partner to deep breathing. I love meditating early in the morning because the solitude makes it feel as if the rest of the world is quiet and asleep.
If you find traditional forms of meditation difficult, consider guided meditation.
In guided meditation, you can use an app or scripted recording to imagine yourself within a scenario that you find relaxing.
For example, if you enjoy being at the beach, use guided meditation to imagine yourself walking along a serene beach. A guided meditation session doesn’t have to be long, 5- or 10-minutes will do.
If meditation doesn’t thrill you, consider visualization. It’s something that’s often used by athletes to prepare for big events.
For example, if you know that your day is going to be stressful (lots of meetings, major project at work, finding homecare for a relative, etc.), visualize the day having the outcomes that you would like.
Visualizing positive outcomes cements them in your mind, helping you become more confident and less stressed.
If you’re really concerned about upcoming events, visualize multiple scenarios to prepare for multiple scenarios.
For example, if you know that an upcoming meeting’s purpose is to discuss your new work initiative and your co-worker who disagrees with the initiative will be there, visualize a variety of responses to your co-worker’s point of view.
Mindfulness helps you focus on the present, become centered and get ready for the day ahead.
If you’re new to mindfulness, start simply, such as the way the water feels when you’re taking a shower. Or when enjoying your favorite beverage, savor its flavor or note how it feels as it flows over your tongue. Being hyper focused on the present moment is a skill that can be helpful when you need to have focused concentration, especially when there are many other things happening around you.
I personally love incorporating mindfulness into my walks. There’s nothing better than noticing how the sun feels on my skin and the various colors of the leaves in the trees.
It just involves taking a few minutes to reflect on what you’re thankful for. This sets a positive tone for your morning that continues throughout your day.
If you want to make this exercise more meaningful, take your gratitude out of your head and put it down on paper (or in your preferred electronic device – whatever works for you).
Write down at least three people or things each morning that you’re grateful for and why you’re grateful for them. You can do this in a journal, on sticky notes or in a gratitude jar.
If you’re wondering, a gratitude jar is a container that holds slips of paper where you’ve written your declarations of gratitude. When the jar is full, you can go back and read the slips to remind yourself of who and what you’re grateful for.
Having an attitude of gratitude can help you have more empathy for others and for yourself. Which can lessen feelings of pressure and stress.
Gentle stretching gets your blood flowing and wakes your body up. Over time, you can expect benefits such as improved circulation and increased overall flexibility. Stretching also partners well with exercise if that’s going to be part of your morning routine.
If you enjoy reading, the morning is a great time to indulge a bit before your day gets hectic.
Your first decision is what to read. You can choose to read for pleasure or to read something that will enhance your personal or professional development.
Next, depending on your schedule, you read a few pages or a whole chapter. You can read while you are having your breakfast, when you’re still in bed or right after you’ve gotten dressed.
One thing that I personally enjoy about early morning reading is that it allows me to absorb and reflect upon what I’ve read throughout the day.
Some other activities to consider include:
Listening to Music
Now that we’ve discussed several possible activities for your morning routine, it’s time for you to choose a few.
Once you’ve chosen your activities, you can gather any necessary materials and place them where you can find them easily.
For example, one part of my morning routine is reading, so whatever book I’m reading is on my nightstand along with a notebook, pen and highlighter.
Your morning routine doesn’t have to be elaborate or made up of 20 different components. As a matter of fact, it’s best to start with one or two activities and get into the habit of doing them regularly. Once you get into the routine, you can add or subtract activities or change things around in the way that suits you best.
Even if your day turns out differently than you planned, your morning routine allows you to engage in a bit of self-care. And that helps you to take on whatever life throws your way. Which allows you to give your best to yourself and your loved ones while also managing your stress before your stress manages you.
What activities are part of your morning routine? Let me know in the comments section.
Cassandra Martin-Himmons, LMSW is a stress management coach and content creator who believes in empowering her clients to help them manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time she enjoys papercrafting, hand embroidery and travel. Connect with her on Instagram.