Over the past few weeks I’ve totally abandoned my self-care routine, and oof, I’ve been feelin’ it.
Knowing how good my routine makes me feel, I always struggle once I notice I’ve fallen out of the habit. I cried to my husband about how I felt terrible the past few days, even though it had been the holiday and we saw family and friends. He asked me if I had been journaling lately, and my response was…
“Sort of?” So no. I’ve not journaled or followed my self-care morning routine for many days. I looked back to check, and it had been more than 2 weeks!
Years ago, I read Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, which changed my life. I decided to become a morning person at that point. I had always been much more of a night owl, but it was at this point I started dedicating the first couple of hours of my day to myself. So instead of meandering through, I began to create the intention of starting my day by doing something nice for myself.
With building my morning habit, I would be good for a while, then fall off, as we tend to do with new routines. Then, I’d get back on and try harder for a time, fall off, get back on... Somewhere around the 11th or 12th restart, it just started sticking. I enjoyed the self-reflection and awareness journaling gave me. Reading in the morning has become as natural as breathing.
The other habits are more work to maintain, but they come more easily when I get the routine rolling for a few days.
Regardless, as much as I fall off, I return much more than I turn away. Sure, it fluctuates based on my day and how busy work is, but my favorite version of the setup goes like this:
Wake up + get a cup of decaf black tea
Cozy up with a book to read for 15-20 minutes
Meditate for 15-30 minutes
Journal as long or as little as I feel like
Gratitude journal at least 3 things I was grateful for
Yoga or stretching for at least 15 to 20 minutes
Long walk with my husband and dog
Oof! As much as I love doing all those things, it’s a lot to pack into my mornings, so you can see why and how I sometimes fall off from doing every one of these items on my list!
Every item on my list helps me in different ways, and they’re all beneficial for my mental and self-care.
I love reading because I believe it’s the key to continuous learning. It keeps me fresh, aware and continuously improving. I can easily spend hours reading if caught in a good book.
Meditation helps me with my stress + anxiety. I feel so much calmer if I spend time meditating. I sometimes do it 2 or 3x a day if I feel inclined! This is one of the items I’m still doing for the most part because it’s easy to work in, and I’ve built the habit enough.
Journaling is where I’ve fallen out of favor. I was doing SO well at the beginning of the year. Still, starting in April, I started to derail hard. Part of the reason I love journaling is that it’s terrific to review your progress. I’ve filled and completed a few notebooks now, and I love looking back to see the changes and improvements I’ve been able to make over time. I often go back through my journals and write in the margins on goals or accomplishments I dreamt about earlier in my writing history.
Gratitude journaling is another one that has fallen out of my habitual routine. I’m very grateful and try to express my gratitude as often as possible. There’s significant importance to writing gratitude out. It helps you feel more grounded to consider what you should be thankful for in your life. It’s also a great way to remember small details about your week or day—I love reading about how I’m grateful for the little things my husband, mom, or family might do.
Stretching is something we should all do because it just feels good! I do this in the evenings, but I’d like to incorporate it into my mornings again. Doing this early in the day feels better because your body needs it more right when you wake.
The long walks with Jonathan are a wonderful way to reconnect with him. I love bringing James, but sometimes he can be a pain in the butt because he can be dodgy around other dogs. He might bark his head off at them or ignore them—no clue what he’ll do. So sometimes, he stays home if we know it’s going to be a busy dog-filled walk. It’s stressful for him and us, so it’s better he gets his exercise in the yard those days.
Again, I look at all these activities, and it’s quite a lot to pack into my morning, so the reality is finding balance.
You sometimes have to choose between what you need and what’s just nice to have. Somedays, I can make time for all these things because they’re probably all falling into that ‘needs’ category on those days.
Most days, though, I can make it with just a few of these items holding down the fort.
Other things I love to do for self-care, in case you were wondering or if you just need some ideas) in no particular order…
Long bubble baths
Talking with friends
Cooking with my husband, Jonathan
Riding roller coasters
Arts + crafts
Cuddling with my dog, James
Doodling on my iPad
Watching rom coms
Decorating for holidays
Writing this list of the many reasons I love my self-care morning routine has made it feel more intentional and, as a result, helped me stick to it for at least four days in a row. I’m hoping I can make it to five, but we’ll see. It’s best to give myself some grace and not beat myself up too much. My morning rituals may ebb and flow with the responsibilities of life, but as long as I’m mindful, then I’m on the right track. It’s best to do what you can. There’s no glory in living with an all-or-nothing mindset.
Please share your morning rituals! It’s always interesting to hear how others set their day off on the right track.