You see bloggers talk a lot about their "morning routine." Spend five seconds on Pinterest and a thousand of those posts and articles will crop up. I know this because I've pinned about 500 of them. But my morning routine has never consisted of tea and a face mask, or whatever the heck they always recommend. Maybe it used to, but when you have to leave for work at 8:50 to get there by 9:30, you'd have to get up pretty dang early to accomplish more than the basics. Or so I thought. I already get up pretty dang early-- 6:30, to be exact. (And since 8:30 used to be early for me, I consider the fact that I now get up at 6:30 a miracle.)
I used to think that, even with getting up at 6:30, I only had time for the basics before work. Get up, shower, eat, make my lunch, do some school work, kiss Eli goodbye, leave. There isn't time for yoga, I'd say. But tell me this-- if there isn't time for it in the morning and in the evening there's only time for dinner and two episodes of a show before I inevitably fall asleep, when the hell am I going to do the things that actually take care of me? When am I going to do all the things the Pinterest articles talk about?
This disparity produced something of an existential crisis of balance, which you've witnessed first-hand through these blog posts the past few months. But then came the new year, and those three days off. I started doing yoga not once a week, not twice a week, but Every. Damn. Day. I made it my habit every morning to wake up, roll over, and roll out my mat. Then I added meditation. I tacked on a three to five minute self-affirming meditation at the end of my yoga practice. Then I bought a deck of tarot cards, and in an effort to become familiar with the deck and the practice, I started doing a daily one card reading every morning after my yoga. This entire process-- yoga, mini-meditation, and tarot reading takes about twenty to twenty five minutes. Since I wake up at 6:30 and am on the mat by 6:40, this means by 7:05 I am in the shower. It used to be that between 6:30 and 7 I would scroll endlessly through social media in order to get quote unquote wake up. Now, I've replaced those thirty minutes of scrolling with thirty minutes of self-improvement, and I am feeling the difference. I feel better, stronger, calmer and more centered. I feel CLEAR. And I don't miss those thirty minutes of scrolling. I still scroll throughout the day, and I'm never going to be one of those people who vilifies social media. Because it's not the social media that's bad, it's the way we use it.
And then, after all that, I still have time to read. Having dressed, done yoga, and nourished myself, I curl up in my bed and read for anywhere from 30-50 minutes. And I feel whole again. That's right-- now, with the addition of yoga and self-reflection to my morning, I have even more time to READ. Who knew that the advice my therapist gave me exactly FIVE TRILLION YEARS AGO was actually true? You can do less and actually feel like you've done more! Who knew?! Everyone, it turns out.
So that's my new and improved morning routine. I'd recommend trying to implement one for yourself, but don't just do what I do. What I do works for me. Don't measure your success at self-care by whether or not you drink tea and do face masks, or whatever it is everyone else does. (I realize I've shit on tea and face masks a lot in this blog post. I don't hate them, they're simply the first typical "self-care" things I thought of.) I did for a while, and it only made me feel worse, because those things feel useless to me. I was desperately trying to make this persona of calm fit me, and feeling more desperate and anxious over the fact that those things didn't make me calm. Simply put, what I now do every morning works for me because it makes me feel like I'm improving myself. That I'm actually doing something good for myself. Self-awareness and analyzation are very important to me. Reflection and time alone with my thoughts help me to understand who I am underneath everything that I am a part of. Underneath my relationship, my job, and my education. Time away from that routine is what I think has made me feel so untethered these past few months. I've been untethered from myself.
This morning routine has been a 20 minute daily way for me to get to know myself again. A 20 minute check-in. So that's what I'm recommending to you. Whether that's yoga, taking a walk, reading, journaling, or doing a damn face mask-- find a way to check in with yourself every day. But don't torture yourself by doing what others think is the right method of relaxation. Do the things that actually relax you.
Just a little bit of self-care common sense from the girl who took 4 months to realize all this.