During times of uncertainty, it is essential that we carve out things that we can control so that we aren’t choosing unhealthy patterns of control. For example, trying to control our partner, our family, or our colleagues wreaks havoc on our relationships – we can only truly control ourselves. Another common way that we might subconsciously seek control right now that can have negative impacts is through disordered eating, emotional eating, and using other vices like video gaming or hoarding.
This week I challenge you to create or recommit to a morning and a bedtime practice that you will hold with consistency as much as possible through this pandemic and ideally beyond.
What are you doing upon rising in the morning every morning to get yourself prepared for the day? What are you doing before bed each night to release the day and prepare your body and mind for rest? These are two areas of control in our lives that support our mental health and provide us consistency on a daily basis that we can always return to, so that we have something dependable and certain in our lives EVERY SINGLE DAY no matter what is happening around us in the world.
People have been reaching out to me to ask what I’m doing to keep my mental and emotional wellness strong and stay resilient right now. I share my specific daily routines down below for you to peruse.
Strategies for routines are going to vary based on how much time you can give yourself in the morning and before bed, as well as what your needs are. If you are struggling to take on your days right now or having disrupted sleep from stress, I urge you to try out and experiment with different practices you can commit yourself to daily.
Start with just adding one practice to every morning and one practice to every evening. Notice how it feels, how it affects your days and sleep. Start making that one practice a habit and then add another practice if desired. If you try a practice for a week and it still isn’t aligning with you, try something else! Experiment to find what works best for your body and what improves your enjoyment of your days. Here are some ideas:
- Movement of any kind like stretching, yoga, tai chi, vacuuming, mowing the lawn, weight lifting (or lifting cans or other things like your kids), running, or going for a walk. Something to move your body. A 2019 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that morning exercise improves attention, visual learning, and decision-making. Movement causes a release of endorphins that help us feel more motivated and more optimistic. To learn more about how movement (exercise) affects our mood, I highly recommend “The Joy of Movement: How Exercise Helps Us Find Happiness, Hope, Connection, and Courage” by Kelly McGonigal
- Meditation, even just 5 minutes a day has drastic effects on our brain and on our moods. Meditation is connected to reduced depression and anxiety, increased focus, improved immune health, decreased loneliness, emotional reactivity, improved sleep, and so much more. Some ideas if you struggle with persistent overthinking when trying to meditate.
- Breathwork – Getting conscious about shifting your nervous system out of sympathetic dominance so you can relax. I share a 1 minute video on how to do this.
- A gratitude practice. We choose our mood despite the world. Bad days are inevitable and tough situations with people are inevitable – during this time and outside of it. The day doesn’t suck – the way we define and bring meaning to our day sucks. Even in the midst of a bad day, we can find something to notice, appreciate, honor, and respect that deepens our reverence for life and brings joy. This can be general like having a running list that you add to daily or it can be specific with gratitudes from that day or the previous day.
- A goals check-in – During this time of pandemic we still need to have goals, we still need to have habits we are building upon and things to look forward to and grow. Could you increase your knowledge during this time on something? Can you strengthen and deepen your relationships through more virtual, in-depth connection? Can you work on a hobby? Commit to a home improvement project? Start a garden or start some seeds germinating? Have some books you haven’t read yet? There is an endless amount of opportunities right now for growth – use this time and use your morning or evening routine to plan out what you are doing and why.
- A journaling practice
- Reading inspirational or positive news.
WHAT I’M DOING to keep me emotionally strong and resilient:
My bedtime routine hasn’t changed:
- Using blue light blockers to try to limit effects of technology on melatonin/serotonin production when working up until bedtime. I like the built-in options in most computers now + using either Screen Shader in Chrome or f.lux app. All no cost.
- Journaling/connecting with: 1) 3 gratitudes from that day, 2) 3 things I’m proud of myself for from that day, 3) How I could have changed one thing (just one) to improve upon my day even more, and getting really specific with myself around what I would have needed to do to follow through with that change, and 4) Making a plan for the next day. Staying on schedule. What do I want to accomplish and why tomorrow? Connecting with goals.
My morning routine hasn’t changed:
- Morning Motivational Reading – Typically in part during my morning bowel movement. Too much info? 🙂
- 30+ minutes of “stream of consciousness” writing – aka “brain dumping” ala Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages practice to release negative self-talk, hold self-compassion, and come up with solutions, as well as just to clear the mind chatter.
- Meditation to ground, connect with my heart space and connect with earth and celestial/source energies (I do this at least 3x/day). Here is a meditation I led a while back when experimenting with podcasting that leads you through the grounding part of this process.
- A Qigong 3 Dantian Practice to support the 3 main energy centers in my body.
- Connecting with guides/higher self for an intention for my day and any guidance.
- Staying aware of my energetic field that extends beyond our bodies, strengthening it and connecting with unseen and seen support that helps bolster it (done at least 3x/day).
- Checking and clearing myself of any “Foreign Energy” (energies that aren’t mine) using Chinese Energetic Medicine practices (done 3x/day).
- Movement (type has changed, see below)
- Foreign language study to get my brain firing. I use Duolingo mostly but also occasionally Memrise (both are no cost).
Other keys to my emotional wellness and resilience right now:
- Of course, hand washing and mindful awareness to limit face touching when out – focusing on what is within my control instead of outside it.
- Being very aware of sugars and refined carbohydrates, keeping them limited/non-existent to prevent the hit on my immune system and maintaining a high nutrient dense diet as per normal.
- Fitness: Instead of going out to lift weights, doing High-Intensity Interval Training, and going to a yoga studio throughout the week; I’m using body weight exercises (I like hundredpushups.com and all of their other no cost programs with planks, crunches, squats, and more), hand weights at home, yoga on Youtube (Yoga With Adrienne is my favorite), exploring jogging, and continuing to walk.
- Limiting news consumption!!!!
- Setting strong physical boundaries (sure 6 feet) but also setting boundaries around communication – standing up for my needs to not be inundated by conversations about Corona when I’m not coaching.
- Continuing normal nutritional support of magnesium, cod liver oil (which is Vitamin D and A), zinc, selenium, and B vitamins, but also moving vitamin C to a higher dose. Curious about dosages? I’ve found this article helpful, but of course, please make sure to check-in with your doctor before making nutritional changes. There are also some obscure herbs for prevention I entertain, but given their obscurity/lack of availability prior to Corona, they are even less available now so not worth mentioning.
What resonates with you? What could you try committing yourself and making a habit that you are in control of this week as part of your morning, evening or even afternoon schedule? Share in the comments below please!