The Art Of An Effective Morning Routine


I’m sure I’m not alone in this, I am not a morning person. I am the queen of hitting snooze, getting up at the last second and getting ready quickly and mindlessly. I am always rushing and running late.

Honestly, it’s a pretty shitty thing to do to myself. By rushing and stressing every morning, I not only lose out on valuable time to take care of myself, I’m setting that tone for my day.


1) Get Up, No Really Get UP!

Pick a time and stick to it. If you’re not used to waking up early, you may want to start by waking 15 minutes earlier each day. I chose 6:30AM as my wake up time. I leave in the morning at 8AM, so it gives me an hour and a half to wake up and set myself up for success.

You must, and I cannot stress this enough, get up as soon as your alarm goes off. I find it helpful to set one alarm for the time I must wake up and get back to bed. If I set 3 alarms 10 minutes apart, I won’t fall back into restful sleep anyways.

Making it routine to hear your alarm and get right up is key for actually getting up. Sure, it sucks. Especially in the beginning. However, the more often you do it, the easier it gets.

2) Have Something To Look Forward To.

For me, it’s coffee. I love flavored hot coffee. I prepare it the night before so I can turn on my coffee maker, use the bathroom, and wash my face.

By the time I am finished, I have a warm cup of flavored coffee to enjoy. After a few sips of coffee, I am ready to continue my morning.

I also light a candle and play some gentle music, sometimes acoustic covers and sometimes The Coffeehouse by Sirius XM.

3) Eat Something, Even If It’s Light.

I usually alternate between cereal and oatmeal along with a banana or some strawberries. Some prefer to eat breakfast after getting ready, but because I try to stop eating an hour before bed, I’m pretty hungry when I wake up.

I like to have my journal out, in case I feel like making a physical note of how I’m feeling, jotting down ideas, or making a to-do list. Typically, I look at my planner the night before, but if I know it’s going to be a particularly heavy day,

4) Move Your Body In A Way That Works For You.

I don’t think I will ever be the person that bounces up from sleep at 5:30AM and gets ready to go to the gym. I don’t like getting up before the sun does. For a lot of people, it’s what works. I’m scared of those people.

I try to move my body in a simple way each morning. I do some light yoga or take my dog on a short walk. I don’t sign up for 6AM workout classes that I’ll snooze my way into missing. I keep it easy and quick, practicing deep breathing and mindfulness.

5) Start Getting Ready.

Take a shower if you didn’t take one last night. Wash your face, brush your teeth, take your medication. Drink water, lots of water. Pick out an outfit that you feel confident and if you’re feeling it, put on a little make up. Not for anyone, just for yourself.

To keep myself moving at a pace that will get me out the door on time, I like to listen to a podcast. My current favorites are Michelle Obama’s and The Highest Self Podcast. Hopefully I’ll learn something new. While getting ready, I state my affirmations. I listed a few that I say almost daily.

I am strong.
I am capable.
I am loved.
I am deserving of good things.
I am important to others.

6) Whatever Fills Your Cup.

Once I am ready, I make my lunch if I didn’t the night before and pack my bag. When I am ready, I determine how much time I have until I need to leave. I make it a point to leave the door 5 minutes before I need to.

Below are some activities I do with 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and 20 minutes before leaving.

5 Minutes to Fill:

  • Quick phone sesh, swipe through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and my favorite, TikTok.
  • Write out a to-do list, grocery list, gratitude list. Make a list.
  • Take deep breaths, meditate, stretch.
  • Listen to music (Folklore still on repeat for anyone else?)

10 Minutes to Fill:

  • Watch an Inspiring TedTalk
  • Journal
  • Color
  • Cuddle sesh

20 Minutes to Fill:

  • Watch a short light-hearted show
  • Wash some dishes
  • Fold some laundry
  • Write a letter
  • Pay a bill
  • Do something that tired 5:30PM you will be happy about

Let me know in the comments if any of this is useful, or what pieces are necessary in your morning routine! There’s no right and wrong way, but this has been my experience about what the best and most effective ritual is for starting my day. Likewise, you know yourself better than anybody!

Peace.

Hi, My Name is Lonely

TW: depressing AF, a little hopeless, definitely whiny

I won’t for a second pretend that I have it harder than anybody else. For years, I was the queen of woe. I was depressed. I was anxious. I had trauma. I had the early stages of an alcohol problem. I was poor. I was lonely.

I’m sitting back, looking at the past tense that I use to describe my struggles, but most of them I’m still dealing with today.

I am depressed. I am anxious. I have trauma. I struggle with money. I am lonely.

Loneliness, I believe, is the biggest mental health crisis of 2020. We are all lonely, because for awhile, we need to stay alone as much as we can.

We cover half our face, but you can see it in our eyes. This is really fucking hard. I sleep in the same bed as my girlfriend every night, and while I’m asleep I know I’m not alone.

But when I have to wake up, I’m by myself.

By myself, I have to get out of bed.

By myself, I have to take a shower even when I can’t even imagine doing so.

By myself, I go to work and take on the burden of others even though I too am struggling.

By myself, I prepare dinner and force myself to eat something besides cereal, as that had been the meal for the past several days.

By myself, I go to the pharmacy to pick up my antidepressants, only to find out they hadn’t been filled. A blessing, really, compared to going the following day and my card getting declined and not being able to take my Zoloft in 5 days because I couldn’t afford it.

By myself, I pick my scabs off my skin, layer after layer until it gets infected or I find the will to stop.

So if I’m struggling and feeling like the weight of the world is on my shoulders but I can’t hold it because we’re supposed to be six feet apart, what the hell am I supposed to do?

How do I get others through this if I can’t get myself through this?

I don’t know how much loner I can do this. I am so lonely, even in a crowded room I feel so fucking alone. Everyone is so far away, both geographically and mentally.

It’s just me. And if I feel like I’m slowly dying while trying to get through every day, I cannot imagine what others are going through.

Nothing is more important than community, and despite efforts to make us feel connected through technology and letters and masked hang outs, it’s not the same.

My family lives really far away. I wasn’t ready for any of them to move away but they all kept leaving. At 21 my parents moved to Tennessee and by the time I was 22 my sister had moved to Pennsylvania (now North Carolina).

I feel like I lost my family. Today, I FaceTimed with my sister as she and her husband went to visit my parents for the long weekend, because its only a 5 hour drive and restrictions are much looser down south than Massachusetts. My family members that live closest to us don’t reach out because they have their own lives, but today went out to western Massachusetts to visit more family. My baby cousin turned 2, and I wasn’t invited to her birthday party.

Even my mother, who lives an hour away in Massachusetts refuses to visit, but went up to New Hampshire with my brother to spend Labor Day Weekend with my brother’s family.

I don’t know why I am constantly excluded from everything, but my dad and stepmom used to make sure we were together for the big stuff. At 24, they didn’t live thousands of miles away from their families. They lived near the siblings and their parents. They were grown up but they weren’t alone.

I finished college and I knew this was coming. There was no home to go back to. I had to make my own home, my own family, my own support system. Still, I begged everyone to still include me during the holidays, to go out to lunch, to go for hikes, hell, even to let me babysit so I could be with family.

There’s a pandemic, so why would I feel like I can take this personally?

I work with at risk individuals and have been closely exposed to coronavirus several times, I can’t blame my family for not reaching out so often. I’m struggling, I know they are too.

I’m just so lonely. I know I will be fine and am learning to embrace being alone. It just sucks.

I don’t have it harder than everyone else, but it’s still hard and I am still struggling. I’m not pushing my feelings aside and just going through the motions anymore.

I am feeling all the feelings, even the ones I’d rather not. I’m in less of a fog, I’m remembering my dreams, I am making progress and killing it in life. Even though I’m sensitive.

I’m okay today and I will be okay tomorrow. Life will keep getting harder but I believe I will keep getting stronger.

Call Out Sick & Show Up For Yourself.

I called out sick today.

My job is really stressful. I know a lot of people have stressful jobs but like, my job is really stressful. Overseeing the day to day operations of a drop in homeless day center and supervising a staff of 10 take up far more than the 40 hours I’m contracted for.

I love my job. It’s fast paced, the work is meaningful, and it’s a good work environment. But girl, is it stressful! Breaking up fights, calling an ambulance for suicidal clients, and narcaning individuals when they overdose. All while smiling from day to day, updating my notes on time, and giving it 100%.

It’s a lot. My role changed drastically when the pandemic began. I was working with sheltered individuals 1:1 to secure housing, which could be overwhelming at times but overall was manageable. When the pandemic began and resources became scarcer, my organizations’ drop in center attendance skyrocketed. The clientele became more acute, the work more stressful, and there’s a pandemic going on!

As work, my mental health, and my life got harder and harder to handle, my therapist suggested taking 2 weeks of medical leave to separate from work and focus on stabilizing my medication and positive coping mechanisms. I took a minute to process that, and then asked “Am I really that bad?” I was.

But I kept going anyways. 5 months risking my health and safety to serve others. As Monday of this week crept up, I knew I had to take a mental health day. I finished hiring 2 new staff, scheduled their shifts to begin next week, and cancelled all my appointments for today.

I worked extra hours to make sure I would be caught up and my absence wouldn’t complicate the jobs of everyone else (as a small non-profit, we have to watch out for each other!). As I said goodbye to my supervisor yesterday, I told her “Just so you know, I am going to be calling out sick tomorrow and taking a mental health day”. She replied “Okay, are you OK?” to which I replied, “Yes, I just need to have a self-care day, my mental health has been poor the past couple of weeks and now that I got everything I needed to accomplished, I need to focus on me”. And she said “That’s fine, have a good weekend!”

I typed up an email last night, and sent it out to our team first thing this morning. being honest with them as I did my supervisor. “I need a mental health day so I am calling in sick, I’m ok but need to focus on my mental health today”.

I am so glad that I did. I don’t get physically sick often. I never call out. I feel guilty when calling out when I’m struggling with my depression and anxiety. Who doesn’t have depression or anxiety? Who doesn’t need a self-care day now and then to rest and recharge?

I shouldn’t feel guilty for taking a day to make sure I’m ok. I was getting really burnt out, and saw that my service to others was lacking because I was running on empty. I would never judge someone else for taking a day to focus on their mental health, why do I think that my co-workers would judge me? Why was I judging myself?

I was honest, and it allowed me to enjoy my day freely.

I called out sick today.

And it was a really great day. I slept in a bit, ate a slow breakfast and drank my coffee. I went to the pool in my complex and read a book. I took a shower, for the first time in 3 days, and put on a face mask. I caught up with the cleaning and laundry. I wrote in my journal. I did what I needed to do to feel better.

I called out sick today and I am so glad I did. For the first time in a long time, I put my own needs first in a small way and showed myself the love I’m constantly showing everyone else.

By calling out sick today, I showed up for myself.

I truly urge you to do the same.

-B