How a simple morning routine saves my life
Since I retired from the daily grind last year I’ve settled into a very satisfying morning routine, something I’ve learned is extremely important for my sense of equilibrium and well-being. The essential ingredients? Coffee, reading, and journaling, followed by exercise, breakfast, and dog-walking. I cling to this routine rabidly. Taken daily, it’s a prescription for my mental health and gives me the energy to transition into the remainder of the day.
Science – social and physical – tells me I’m not crazy to set my morning routine in stone. Recent studies have shown that “larks” (people who function and feel best in the morning) report more happiness and overall better health than people who consider themselves night owls. One theory is that Larks are happier because they benefit from extra hours of light, which has been scientifically proven to improve mood and increase energy. Another holds that, because their biological clocks are in sync with societies schedule, morning people are more productive and content.
In a book titled What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, author and time-management expert Laura Vanderkam asserts that the most productive people are those who make time at the start of the day for contemplation, exercise, work on personal projects, and family time. Doing these things first, before the distractions and intrusions of the regular day, give you a sense of well being and accomplishment that carry through the rest of your day.
With the advent of summer and its earlier sunrise, my own biological clock wakes me about an hour before it does in the dead and dark of winter. I’ve been going with that flow and getting up immediately, rather than lying in bed and letting my monkey mind take over. I love the sense of dusky stillness in the house, love watching the sky pink up as the coffee burbles into the pot, love settling into my favorite corner of the sofa with that first fragrant cup. I can read for a while, write in my journal, and energize myself with thirty minutes of exercise or yoga, all before anyone else in the house gets out of bed needing my time or attention. I start the day feeling peaceful and settled, rather than frantic and cheated.
Even my husband, who proudly calls himself a night owl, has embraced the concept of earlier rising, and has his own sacrosanct hour of time in the morning to sip coffee, cruise the internet, and play with our two dogs.
Whether or not my morning routine makes me more productive, it definitely makes me more content and satisfied. It’s a gift from me to me, this time in the morning that’s completely and totally my own. I cherish it.
And I’m worth it.