“Underneath all we are taught, there is a voice that calls to us beyond what is reasonable, and in listening to that flicker of spirit, we often find deep healing. This is the voice of embodiment calling us to live our lives like sheet music played, and it often speaks to us briefly in moments of deep crisis. Sometimes it is so faint we mistake its whisper for wind through leaves. But taking it into the heart of our pain, it can often open the paralysis of our lives.”– Excerpt from Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening
About 10 years ago, I went through one of the darkest times of my life. I was doing all the right things, but somehow none of it felt “right”. Everything in my life was good on paper, but in my heart I knew it wasn’t for me. I walked away from what I thought was the path I was supposed to follow. Get a good job. Establish myself in a career. Get married. Have babies. Live happily ever after. The end.
It can be scary to feel like you don’t fit in. That everyone else’s “normal” doesn’t make sense to you. To wake up with that knot in your gut and voice in your head that says, “this isn’t right.” I know now that when I am not living my highest truth and not aligned with my values, my body tells me. It is up to me to listen to these messages. I didn’t know how to listen back then. So I continued on and kept going until my body began to shut down. Healthy coping mechanisms were now out of reach. I plummeted into a state of high anxiety and deep depression. I spent most of the day sleeping or crying in bed, repeating over and over, “I can’t do this.”
My healing only began when I started to walk away from the things that were no longer serving me. As I began to let go of certain commitments, habits, relationships and negative thought patterns, I filled that newly found space with habits, thoughts, rituals, and connections that lit me up. Things that felt aligned with the life I truly wanted to live.
When I was deep in depression and could not get out of bed in the mornings, my sister gave me a piece of advice that has stayed with me ever since. Establish a daily routine. It doesn’t matter how small it is, but do it every day. It started with getting out of bed by noon and having breakfast. Slowly, I added to my routine. The routine I remember the most, and which was most nourishing at the time was waking up early and heading off to a Yoga Sculpt class at Corepower Yoga. It was a hot, sweaty, intense session and the savasanas were oh-so-amazing. It was energizing and nourishing and just what I needed. Then, I would spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon laying in the sunshine by pool. That’s it. That was my healing routine. How I spent the rest of my day didn’t matter as long as I stayed committed to those two things first thing in the morning.
Over the past ten years, life has changed. A lot. After leaving my high-pressure “successful” corporate job, I signed up for yoga teacher training and began this wonderful journey of sharing yoga with others. I left an unhappy marriage and let go of friendships that were not filling my soul. The journey was not easy. But oh man, it was totally worth it! Once I started following my heart’s path and truly tuning in and listening to what I needed and wanted, it was the only way to live. I began to love myself again and could hear the messages clearly about how I desired to embody my spirit and live the life I truly always wanted. I worked less and traveled more. I nourished my body with healthy foods and consistent exercise. I read books and day-dreamed. I allowed myself to dream of fairy tales. I fell madly in love, moved to Spain and now we have built our dream life here in Valencia, with our five year old son, Luca and our fur buddy, Kylo.
Although life is pretty blissful most of the time, I do still lose myself. Often. I get caught up in my to-do lists, frustrations of parenting, expectations, and outside pressures. The anxiety kicks in and it’s back under the covers for me. It is a practice to learn to recognize these triggers and to listen to our body when it is begging for us to stop. To relax. To breathe. To love on itself.
The one thing I always come back to as a way to pull me out from this dark place is my routine. These days, I am committing to sticking to a loving, nourishing morning routine before the stress of the day has a chance to greet me. Before anxiety creeps in. It’s like preventative medicine in my mind. And it’s a priority.
From what I’ve seen and heard from many of you, self-care and mental health is at the top of the list of our 2021 intentions. Creating time, space and creative ways to care for ourselves this year is a trending topic. I’m here to help.
So, what is the secret behind my self-care morning routine?
The first tip: Keep it simple. Keep it light.
There is no need to overwhelm ourselves, when stress and overwhelm is exactly what we are trying to prevent. So, keep it short, sweet and simple. Ask yourself, if you had an extra 30 minutes every morning, what would you do with that time? What would feed your soul? What would help you to begin your day feeling at peace, calm and happy? If you can’t manage a half an hour of self-care, commit to 10 minutes.
Second tip: Begin your routine directly from your bed, or from your bedroom.
Find a nourishing way to wake up within the first few minutes of opening your eyes. Before checking your phone, before brushing your teeth, before drinking your coffee. This will help you get started on your routine without any distractions getting in the way.
That’s it! It is only about 20 to 30 minutes in total, but makes the world of a difference. I have shared the importance of my self-care morning routine with my husband and Luca so they know that it is mommy’s time. It’s a priority for me so it is important that it is seen as a priority for my family as well.
If the rest of the day is full of distractions, to-do lists, and the unexpected… I feel more grounded and am better prepared to manage these things, as long as I took that time for myself in the morning.
Some other ideas of small things you can add into your self-care morning routine:
- A gratitude journal. Write down three things you are grateful for when you wake up in the morning. No need to get out of bed for this one!
- Bed stretches! Take five minutes to stretch your body, right in bed. You can find a video to guide you here.
- Sip your tea in silence for five minutes. No phone, no visitors, no book, just you, your tea and your thoughts.
- Start your day with a warm cup of lemon water. There are so many incredible health benefits related to this!
- Go outside. If you have the ability, commit to a ten minute walk outdoors each day. If you can’t go for a walk, sit outside in the fresh air, on your balcony or in your yard for five to 10 minutes before starting your day.
There are endless possibilities of what you can incorporate into your self-care morning routine. However, remember to keep it simple and start with your routine in your bedroom (still in bed if possible!). If it is short, sweet and simple, it will be easier to commit to every day. It is the small changes that we make, and the little things we do each day, that make the largest impacts on our life and our health.
Looking for help establishing a nourishing routine? Join me for a 7-day program, “Meditation and Movement. A collection of mindful practices to support you on your journey to establishing a self-care morning routine.”
Sending you a virtual hug and lots of encouragement on your journey to taking better care of yourself this year.