Most of my mornings are spent frantically jumping out of bed, rushing through my hair and makeup routine, throwing together a packed lunch and practically inhaling my breakfast, if there’s time, before running out of the door.
Needless to say, my days rarely start on a calm and collected foot, and I’m left feeling frazzled and exhausted before my real work for the day has even begun.
Last Saturday morning, I woke up early, without an alarm, feeling refreshed from having gotten a solid eight hours of sleep. I leisurely made my way downstairs, made fresh coffee and a breakfast, which I ate at a slow pace. I let Rosie out and did a few chores while waiting for her to come back inside, listening to a favorite podcast, before returning upstairs to get ready for the day. All of this was done unhurriedly and with such effortlessness, and to my astonishment, I was ready to carry on with the rest of my day several minutes ahead of when, during the week, I’d need to leave to make it to work on time.
There are several “resolutions” I set for myself year after year, month after month, week after week, and they rarely last. I believe they fail so quickly because I try to go in 100%, all-or-nothing, straightaway. I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older (and hopefully wiser, too) that this is not the way.
Small, slow shifts in our already established routines and patterns are what allow change to happen, and last. In taking a step back over these past weeks to evaluate in what ways I’ve been feeling stressed, unhappy, and unfulfilled, one of the first habits I noted was that of my rushed weekday mornings. I strongly believe that if I can address this “morning chaos” pattern, and gradually change it, I’ll not only feel calmer and more pulled together, but it will allow other, resulting habits I’ve developed to improve as well.
There are several things I know I can do to help me have more peaceful, slow-paced mornings, but I recognize that to attempt all of them at once would be too overwhelming, and likely dissolve quickly.
Slow Morning Challenge
I’ve instead mapped out one small change a week, for the next five weeks, each of which I think is totally doable, and will ease me into this habit shift, hopefully long-term. Perhaps they’ll aid in helping you to alter your morning habits – if that’s something you’re looking to do – for the better, too:
Week 1: Prepare the Night Before //
Pack a lunch, choose an outfit, and make a list of the top three to-dos for the next day.
Week 2: Set a Bedtime – or Turn In an Hour Earlier Than Normal //
I’d like to say that I already have a bedtime set, but I’ve seen that 11pm hour come and go more than I care to admit. Retiring a little earlier than normal, even by thirty minutes or an hour, will, at the very least, allow our bodies and minds to settle down and gradually drift into slumber. If you lose track of time easily, I suggest setting an alarm to remind you that it’s time to start getting ready for bed. No excuses. Our bodies love routine, and making it a point to crawl into and out of bed at the same times day after day, even if doesn’t mean we fall asleep right away, signal to our bodies that it’s time to rest. They’ll catch on.
Week 3: Wake Up 30 Minutes Earlier //
This will likely be the toughest part of the challenge for me. While I don’t want to become a “morning person” or an “early bird,” per say, I do want some extra time to simply be, before I have to face the world. To read a chapter of a book, to make a healthy breakfast, to listen to an inspirational song or podcast. Thirty minutes earlier isn’t asking much, especially if Week 2’s challenge sticks!
Week 4: Make a Savory Breakfast //
If you need some motivation to wake up earlier than normal, perhaps a satisfying breakfast is just the thing to get you up and at ‘em! Maybe it’s a fresh omelet, or buttered toast and jam. Maybe a fancy smoothie or waffles from scratch. With the extra thirty minutes in your morning, you’ll have the time! If you’re not a breakfast eater, maybe you can look forward to a fresh cup of freshly brewed coffee, or a trip to the café before heading to the office. And most importantly: Once breakfast is made, sit at the table to enjoy it. No rushing.
Week 5: Find a Morning Ritual //
Of course, all of this tied together could be considered a “morning ritual,” but what I mean for this week’s challenge in particular is: take at least ten minutes to do something you absolutely love, that you might not be able to squeeze into the rest of your day. Something slow and meaningful. Reading your favorite section in The New York Times, writing a “good morning” message to a loved one, making progress on a craft or a book, meditating. Whatever will give you that boost of energy and inspiration to carry on with your day.
I’m looking forward to seeing which of these challenges helps, which I’ll need to reassess, and how my mornings change. I’d love to hear your tips for a slow and peaceful morning, and please do share if you plan on implementing any of these habit shifts into your life along with me!