When life is full of uncertainty, what suffers most is your routine. With schools closed, sporting and social events canceled, and work now transferred to your home office; everything is topsy turvy. It's time to readjust and create new routines that support you during this unexpected cycle.
Routines can make us more efficient, reduce our stress level, and benefit our overall mental and physical health. With the coronavirus affecting people on a global scale, we've had to adapt to a new lifestyle that we didn’t see coming and definitely didn’t ask for. Whether you live by yourself or in a three-generation household, everyone is trying to adjust and cope with this situation in their own way.
When the world is upside down, you can take matters into your own hands by creating a level of certainty through your daily habits. It may be a little trickier to build new routines and stick to them in these unpredictable times, but gaining even a little stability is extremely helpful. Knowing how your next morning will look can ease anxiety and the feeling of powerlessness.
What better time to try out a new morning routine than when you’re spending all day at home and can really focus on yourself and your immediate family.
Try a few of these routines to bring more order and stability into your week.
Routine Builder #1: Rise Early
One morning habit to acquire is waking up early. A big perk of early rising is that it allows you to ease into the day and be more aware of how your mind and body feel. If you’re a notorious snoozer, try waking up intentionally instead of turning over and sleeping another fifteen minutes before finally rolling out of bed.
Routine Builder #2: Raise Your Awareness and Mindfulness
You can practice awareness in the morning by doing a body scan as you first wake up. Consciously wake up your body, putting your attention on each part one by one, relaxing and stretching. This simple practice allows your day to awaken gently.
The next simple mindfulness technique is to listen to the sounds outside of your bedroom window before you get out of bed. Isolate each sound one at a time: the birds singing, a child playing, the breeze in the trees, or a car in the distance. This type of focused attention is refreshing to the mind, especially when our self-talk tends to rev and revolve fearful thoughts during uncertain and stressful times.
Another way to begin your day mindfully is to put your full attention on how the soft blanket feels on your skin. Then, take a few deep breaths, pressing the air in and out of your lungs. Focus on each breath; follow the inhale and exhale, blocking out all other distractions.
The first ten minutes of your day can drastically influence how you’ll approach the rest of it, so try greeting every morning mindfully.
Related reading: "What Is Mindfulness and Why All the Hubbub?"
Routine Builder #3: Try a Gratitude Practice
Now more than ever, focusing on gratitude can not only help you start your day off right but get you through the entire week. Research has shown that regularly practicing gratitude has a positive effect on your brain. Be patient with yourself, though; it can take a little while until a truly grateful mindset kicks in. Stay with it!
How to practice gratitude:
You can practice gratitude by being thankful for another day when you open the blinds in your living room each morning. Or during your yoga practice by feeling gratitude for your body or physical health. You can even be thankful for your favorite sweatshirt and how cozy it makes you feel. Isn't it the little things in life that make a difference in your day? No matter how small, you'll benefit from an increase of dopamine and serotonin when you're grateful.
Right now, maybe the things you are thankful for feel much bigger given our circumstances. Perhaps you're grateful for being able to work from home, a small savings, a fridge full of food, or a healthy family.
You can write your reasons for gratitude down in a journal or on a gratitude wall, which is a great activity for children. Then you can look back on them when you have a rough day and need some inspiration.
More on gratitude: "Practicing Gratitude in a Time of Uncertainty and Unrest."
Routine Builder #4: Set a Positive Intention
Another benefit of early rising is that the time you gain in the morning is yours. One great way to start your day is by setting positive intentions for the day that set you on the right path. Intentionality is another mindful practice that can help you focus on what's truly important, rather than racing through the morning in survival mode. Whether you write your personal intentions down or say them out loud is up to you and what you feel comfortable doing. If you’re unsure what these intentions can sound like, read a few examples below:
I am energized by my work.
I am confident and unapologetically myself.
I replace fear with acceptance and trust in my ability to persevere.
I am focused on what I can control and release the fear of what I can’t control.
The intentions you set for yourself are best tailored to your personality, the mood of the day, and according to what's most important to you. Listen to your mind, heart, and body; ask what is most needed and then set your intentions.
These habits will take some time to implement into your routine. And you may have harder days, so don't be harsh with yourself if you revert back to hitting that snooze button. On those days, try to find some extra motivation in listening to your favorite playlist while getting ready in the morning. Try taking a brisk walk outside to change your environment. If you're home alone, don't underestimate the power of those endorphins released with some cuddles with your pet.
Or sometimes, just snuggling up with your partner or your kids with a delicious cup of coffee, hot chocolate, or tea can recharge us.
Greet the morning with mindfulness and see how much better you feel!If you’re interested in a few more tips and good reasons to reset your morning routine, check out this great little infographic.