Mind-Body Strategies to Optimize your Morning Routine

The clocks have gone backwards but together we are only moving forward.

Let's reflect on the opportunities of this season. I want to first recognize that we are living in unique and ever-evolving times during this worldwide pandemic that presents its own challenges. That's important to acknowledge and give ourselves grace and compassion as we move through this time. There will be the other side to this time but for now, let's focus on the now. Let's zero in on morning routines.

Our mornings are brighter which invites us out of our beds earlier to start our days and get moving and grooving. Morning routines are important. 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.

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. Maybe it's taking a step towards that goal you set 3 months ago or perhaps it's simply to make that phone call you've been putting off.

Self-compassion-remind yourself that you are okay, you are human and that you are doing your best.

Finally, 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 check in & mindful movement. These are the key strategies as you take on your morning.

BUT FIRST! We all don't feel great or ready in our body to take on the day in the morning right? Some days we open our eyes and our body is like, NO not today. I get it. Everyone is living with different abilities, medical conditions and challenges. It's not easy but we can work with what we have.

Here's how.

Strategies for your body-Breathe: yes, you are already breathing but the key is to NOTICE your breath. Bring awareness to your breath. Notice the inhale and exhale. Throughout the morning (and the day if you can) gently become aware of your breath. You don't need to change it in any way at all, simply notice it as you go about your activities.

Check in with your body. 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. 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.

This brings me to mindful movement. You might be wondering what is that? Simply put, it's thinking about what you are doing with your body as you are moving it. Furthermore, it's being mindful or having an awareness of your body while you are moving it. Instead of "checking out" while you workout/exercise/engage in physical activity, you choose to TUNE IN to your body, listen and responds to its signals and cues it's offering you. This type of movement gives back to your body, it is a way to honor your body and a wonderful way to learn about what your body likes, needs and wants.

In the morning, you can choose to engage in "X" minutes of mindful movement of your choice. 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, maybe it's stretching, yoga, Pilates or fill in the blank. Choose movement that works for your body and abilities and something you enjoy.

Morning routines can be a hot topic. Make your morning routine work for you. Decide what feels right for you and what strategies ADD to your morning in a way that makes you feel better in your mind and body.

I'm also aware not everyone is a "morning person". That's okay. And also everyone is on a different schedule so perhaps your morning starts at noon. That's okay too. You do you and make your routines work for you.

My suggestions are exactly that, suggestions. They are for you to take or leave. I do hope though that you find some of them helpful in some way or that they inspired you to come up with your own mind-body strategies that help you to feel better.

Tell me what is working in your morning routine now and what isn't? Maybe we can expand on this list together.

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