The pandemic continues to provide us with a roller coaster of changes and challenges in our lives. By focusing on taking care of ourselves we can better manage these times and build our resilience for the future.
We are living in unique times during this pandemic that presents all new challenges. That’s important to acknowledge and give ourselves grace and compassion as we navigate through. There will be the other side to this, but for now let’s focus on the present.
Let’s zero in on morning routines and how we can use this time in our day to our advantage.
Let’s reflect on the benefits of spring arriving. Spring brings a wonderful change in weather, a welcomed growth spurt in nature and maybe even more pep in our step. These changes can make our mornings feel more motivating which in turn can feel more inviting to get out of our beds earlier to start our days and get moving.
Morning routines are important. They can set the tone for the day and help build lifelong habits that contribute to overall well-being. Have you evaluated your morning routine lately? Is it working for you or against you? Let’s get into it.
Your Mind in the Morning: what are your thoughts as you wake up? Is there an inner critic that starts barking at you? Are you able to tame and befriend this inner critic? What about anxiety or stress as the day starts?
Strategies for mindset
Before you get out of bed, check in with yourself with these 3 steps.
1-Ask yourself, “What is the priority today?” Review in your mind, what is the most important thing to you and ensure that is the focus for the day. Maybe YOU are the priority. Or perhaps it’s taking a step towards that goal you set three months ago or perhaps it’s simply to make that phone call you’ve been putting off. With this heightened focus you will be able to prioritize, stay on task and feel good about what you accomplished.
2-Practive self-compassion. Remind yourself that you are okay, you are learning and growing, and that you are doing your best. It’s important to remind yourself first thing in the morning the importance of practicing patience with yourself and giving yourself grace. The path of life isn’t always smooth and clear. When you start the day with this kindness toward yourself, it’s a lot easier to grow from life’s ups and downs and see obstacles as learning opportunities.
3-Set an intention for the day for yourself. For example, “Today I will” or “I invite in”. Make it action oriented such as, “Today I will look for opportunities rather than obstacles” or “Today I invite in gratitude”.
Your Body in the Morning: breathe, body scan & mindful movement. These are the key strategies to add to your morning to honor your body with a self-care approach.
BUT FIRST! Not all of us feel great or ready in our body to take on the day in the morning, right? Some days we open our eyes our body says, “NO, not today”. I get it. Everyone lives with different abilities, medical conditions and challenges. It’s not easy but we can work with what we have and do our best to move forward.
Strategies for your body-
1-Breathe. Yes, you are already breathing right now but the key is to notice your breath. Notice the inhale and exhale. This mindful awareness of our breath helps to ground us in the present moment. Simply being aware of our breath and centering ourselves in this particular way can reduce our anxiety.
When we intentionally deepen and count our breath the health benefits continue to expand. Try this breathing exercise: deepen and lengthen your inhales and exhales for 4 counts and 4 counts on the exhale then repeat this cycle 8 times. This intentional breathing exercise, according to a study published in Forbes.com, can regulate blood pressure, impact memory, and may also improve immune system resilience.
2-Check in with your body. Before going about your daily tasks, take just a few moments, even 30 seconds and ask yourself, how is my body feeling? Really tune in and scan your body from your toes all the way up to the crown of your head. You can do this body scan during your morning tea or coffee, perhaps when you are brushing your teeth or maybe before you get out of bed.
Take note of what feels strong, tired, tight, loose, lengthened, good, rested, relaxed, tense, sore, painful, neutral, etc. Try to linger in the places that feel positive.
Then decide how you can take care of your body today. Ask yourself, how can I honor my body today? You can further this inquiry by exploring what actions you might take or not take that would give back to your body or that would be kind to your body.
3-Move mindfully. Move your body in a way that feels good to you and as you do think about what you are doing with your body as you are moving it. Mindful movement is a way to give back to your body. It’s an opportunity to be mindful or have an awareness of your body while you are moving it.
Instead of “checking out” while you engage in physical activity, you choose to “check in” to your body, listen and respond to its signals and cues it offers you. When you move in a mindful way, you are honoring your body and it’s a wonderful way to learn about what your body likes, needs and wants. You sense what feels good, notice what you notice and become an observer of your body while you move it. You just might be surprised at what you learn and discover.
Bonus morning pro tip:
Putting mindful movement in action
Decide for yourself based on your morning routine how many minutes you want to dedicate to movement. As for the choice of movement, perhaps it’s dancing, maybe it’s walking on the spot or around your block, perhaps it’s skipping, stretching, yoga, Pilates or fill in the blank.
Choose movement that works for your body and abilities and ensure it is something you enjoy. The key to making fitness a habit is making it enjoyable and adding an element of fun in some way for you.
You might also enjoy this article on moving beyond the stigma of menopause.
Author: Doris Ward is mind-body fitness coach who helps others build their optimal fitness, body confidence and stress resilience through mindful movement, education and coaching. She is a regular contributor to Optimyz Magazine. You can read more about her work here.