Updated: Aug 7
Reflecting on my time working from home during March 2020, my morning routine was pretty much null and void. I am embarrassed to admit, it consisted of me waking up, rolling out of bed, and grabbing my laptop and phone, and diving straight into work. I might eat. I might not eat. My morning hygiene routine was, let's just say, embarrassingly lackluster and often became more of a mid-morning/lunch time routine (hey in my defense I did shower at night before bed). This was pretty much my routine until my rotation day to present to the office once per week. Now, if I am really going to be transparent, I can honestly say that my morning routine since still needs a lot of work. Mind you, I do not skimp on the morning hygiene, but everything is completed at a frenzied pace with little to no time to spare before I'm jetting out the door and zooming down the rural roadways to make it into the office-often times out of breath.
As therapist and coach, I know better. None of us should be just rolling out of bed, rushing through getting dressed, and immediately heading to work. Every morning that we do this, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to learn something about ourselves and grow. We don't provide space for us to check-in with ourselves to even see where we are emotionally for that day. Starting our day in a negative mood, puts a damper on our whole day. Luckily for us, the opposite is just as true. Let's take a look at 5 ways you can spoil yourself before work thus improving both your mood and work efficiency.
For this to work, you will need to build in at least 20 to 30 minutes of alone time into your morning routine. Now if you are like me, your routine may have gone by the wayside. Time to go to the drawing board and make sure this practice is at the top of your list. How can you spoil yourself, if you don't even know what it is you want? Taking a mindful moment can allow you to take the time to pay attention to your body and your mind. How are you feeling? Is there any one place you feel tension? Where are your thoughts drifting too? Is the overall tone of your thoughts positive of negative? Really take a moment to sit with yourself. Grab a pen and paper and write if it will help organize your thoughts. Then commit to setting an intention for what you want to accomplish today. Do you want to be intentional about work productivity? Or do you want to be intentional about helping someone else? Or maybe your goal is to be intentional about the self-talk you engage in throughout your workday?
If you were wondering if I was going to mention exercise, well, yeah. So let's go ahead and get this one out the way. We've discussed it before, so you already know my talking points. Movement helps strengthen our muscles, builds bone density, helps us maintain coordination and balance, and strengthens our lungs. Maybe running or jogging isn't for you right now. If you can commit to walking even if only 5 minutes per day to start, you will find that you will begin to feel calmer especially when doing it outdoors in the fresh air. Another alternative is stretching. It not only keeps us flexible but also helps with reducing muscle tension caused by stress. The increased blood flow can also help boost our energy, mood, and mental clarity.
Favorite Morning Meal
As much as I love ice cream and if ice cream also happens to be among your favorites, please do not take this as the green light to eat it for breakfast. We need energy to get through our workdays. Calories are used for energy, but we need to make sure we are intaking sufficient amounts of the nutritious foods that help us have long-term energy. That said, I also don't want you to force yourself to eat oatmeal just because it is nutritious. Experiment with different foods that are both nutritious and pleasing to the palate. The article, "A Harvard Nutritionist Shares the No. 1 Vitamin that Keeps Her Brain Young and Healthy-and Foods She Eats Every Day," breaks down the benefits of the class of B vitamins. Vitamin B1 (thiamin) is known to increase our energy whereas Vitamin B3 (niacin) helps with reducing inflammation. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) helps fight diseases and Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) helps with heart health. Some foods you could add to your morning could be eggs, yogurt, chickpeas, salmon, and spinach. But if the occasional pancake or waffle is more your speed, just remember moderation is the key.
Pump Up the Volume
Need a little bounce in your step? Look no further than your iTunes, Spotify, or Tidal playlists. Whenever I listen to music I nod my head, tap my feet, and snap my fingers. If I am really intent on embarrassing myself, the rest of my body moves too (and often times with no coordination thanks to two left feet). A 2019 article of Psychology Today, "Music, Emotion, and Well-Being," discusses how music that we find pleasurable may lead to release of the reward neurotransmitter, dopamine. The pleasure center activated in the brain when playing enjoyable music is the same center activated during other pleasurable activities such as food, sex, and drugs. So if you need a morning pick-me-up, pump up the volume during your hygiene routine.
Replace the News with Favorite Show
Feel good news stories are few, far, and in-between. My excuse is convincing myself that I am just trying to catch the weather. Problem is, I have to get through the doom and gloom stories to get to the 30 second weather report. If you are like me, rather than get caught in that cycle, download a weather app to your phone. Rather than watch the news, open the app, check the weather, and then tune it to your favorite show. To pull this off, you will need to have built in this down time into your morning schedule. Please remember to set a timer so that you won't be late.
So how about it? How many of these are you currently doing? How many of these are practical for your current schedule? What changes can you make this month, to find more ways to spoil yourself before work? Let me know in the comments below. Just know that our dedication to our personal and emotional development is not separate from our professional development. Providing adequate care to ourselves during our personal time is what will ultimately make us more effective during our professional time. And remember as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
"It's not the load that breaks you down, it's the way you carry it." ~Lena Horne
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