Mindfulness and meditation

Why I started a new morning routine

Over the past few weeks, I’ve started changing my morning routine.

I used to get up, take my supplements, empty the dishwasher — maybe down a cup of black coffee — and then dive into a workout routine. Back when I was going to a gym class — I would jump in my car and go. But lately it’s been at my house. Regardless, by 6am I was sweaty, pumped and ready to dive into my day.

But I’m starting to question the routine. It woke me up — no doubt — but I started to be aware that it was doing nothing for the constant state of anxiety I was in. If anything it intensified the feelings. For 45 minutes I pushed hard , and I felt relief from the exhaustion that followed, but the stress and anxiety would always return within hours.

I still believe in exercise — preferably high-intensity exercise done in shorter time. But I finally started listening to my body. And my body was suffering. I was irritable when I didn’t exercise. And I don’t think I  was very much fun whether I did or not.

A couple of weeks ago, a career coach I heard speak talked about the things you should do every morning. And it struck a chord with me because I was already starting to tweak my routine. What she was saying seemed to take that even further. So now, while I’m still honing what works best, I’m working to establish a morning habit that leaves me more relaxed, calm and able to handle stress throughout the day.

Walk

I love being up before the sun and taking the dogs for a walk. I grab my phone and headphones, a couple of poop bags, and off we go around the neighborhood. On days I have less time, we walk around the block. But on other days, we might go for a bit longer — even up by the park in my neighborhood. Sometimes I listen to one of my Spotify playlists, but lately I’ve been listening to podcasts I downloaded from Entheos, an awesome website I have a membership to thanks to a gift from a friend.  I feel centered and quiet. The dogs love it and come to expect it. I used to make it the last thing I do, but the dogs are agitated until I walk them because they know they get to eat right after — so I made it the first thing.

Meditation

After the dogs are fed, I pull out my yoga mat in my office and I sit in silence for several minutes. I’m still trying to get this meditation thing down. It’s really hard to quiet my mind, so I’m definitely practicing, I have a whole routine I go through with my eyes closed where I try to focus on something inside me, then the sounds around me, then my breath.

You know what really helps? Goose. Goose will lay down in front of me and I just pet her while I practice. Research has shown that petting dogs helps lower blood pressure, so I’m sure that helps a lot.

Affirmation

I continue my quiet time by doing affirmations. I have a whole list written down, and I read through it three times — really thinking about what I’m saying to myself.

Visualization

I used to let my day happen to me, but by using visualization, I can plan out how I want my day, week. month or even year to happen. This is where I think about what goals I want to accomplish and how I’m going to do it, whether it’s a tough meeting with a client or where I want my business to be by the end of the year. It feels like I’m taking responsibility for my own goals and happiness. It makes me feel more accountable – and that I have the ability to shape my life.

Read

I pull out something to read from the shelf sitting next to me or my iPad, but my rule is that what I read cannot be email. I may read a few passages from something like “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff at Work” or something inspirational like that.

Write

I made a new addition to my food/workout log. It’s now also my gratitude journal. I take time to write about what I’m grateful for that day, and it is so eye-opening. It makes me really think about all of the good things that are happening and the people in my life. It kind of makes the annoying things or the bad events seem small and not as significant.

Next steps

I’m going to keep working in this routine over the next month to see if  I can make it a habit as well as make it work for me. I’ve been sick over the past week, so I have not wanted to work out. But I need to add it back in, and I need to figure out where in the daily schedule to put it. Maybe I will do it right after. Or maybe a midday workout is best. I’m still honing this whole thing.

But I know — so far — there has been a positive change. Andy has commented that I seem much more calm and capable of handling stressful events. I had a flat tire earlier this week, and I didn’t get nervous or freaked out or anything. I just did what I had to do — change the tire (with Andy’s help), reschedule some appointments, and rearrange my schedule to make time to get the tire fixed. Did it put me behind? You bet — but it’s not the end of the world.

And that’s the whole point, right?

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Cindy

Hi! I'm Cindy Brummer. By day, I'm a web & wordpress designer/developer/content strategist. And for fun, I'm a cook, Crossfitter, novice Olympic weightlifter, and mom to two cuties. Find me on Google+.