Jump Start the Day with a Good Morning Routine and Fight the Coronavirus Sluggishness and Blues.
During the last two weeks of isolation, we have all been exposed to some of the benefits of a meditation retreat: we are restricted in what we can do, and we are eating (or stashing away)a lot of beans. We are finding open, uncharted spaces inside to “just be.” But we may also feel sluggish and unmotivated. And let’s admit it, it’s unnerving. If you have small children to homeschool and are working from home, you may have another set of problems. You may be busier than ever, solving old and new tasks without all the necessary equipment and knowledge. But having small children has its positives too; the tasks and obligations that get you up in the morning have already been built into you.
One of the problems we face with this isolation is the lack of structure that normally gets us up and going. All days seem the same. It is hard to keep track of what we have done and when because we lack the usual points of reference that cadence our days. Even if our work routine continues somewhat with check-in’s and meetings, it’s hard to get up in the morning and get going without the necessity of going to an office or other location outside of our homes. We all may even be enjoying the additional rest, recuperation, and extra sleep, so the new problem for many has become finding the motivation to get up and seize the day. The risk is that we press the snooze button and roll to the other side of the bed. But we do not want these days and weeks to pass in a blur until we come out of this crisis.
Today I will offer a morning routine that may help you get up and get going. A good morning can set the tone for a good day. Feeling energetic, active, and productive can make the difference in how you live during the coming weeks. Six months from now, you may be able to look back and feel proud of how you handled it; that despite the catastrophe, you were able to not only survive it but make something meaningful out of your time. This jump-start routine is inspired by the teachings of David R. McDuff, a sports psychiatrist coach and consultant for the NFL and the Olympians. I recently took a course with him, and if a good morning routine helps the Ravens and the Orioles stay on top of their games, it can also help us fight the sluggishness and sense of isolation many of us are feeling.
Below, you will find the morning routine in bullet points. You can modify it to suit your needs. Obviously, it is better not to exercise on a full stomach, but a little snack would probably be fine. We have to start some place, so I chose to start with a morning routine. However, a good sleep routine is also needed so you will wake up refreshed and on time. I also mention scheduling and breathing exercises below, topics I will cover later on.
Hang in there! Fill in the blanks with the tools you already have, and if you have any suggestions for changes and improvements, please let me know.
· Set the alarm for a reasonable time, not so early that you will be tempted to press the snooze button, roll over and go back to sleep.
· Get up immediately. Lingering in bed only makes it more difficult to get up, and you do not benefit from staying in bed.
· If there is a risk of snoozing, just place your phone or alarm clock on the other side of the room. If you use your smartphone clock, placing it in an out-of-reach location has the added benefit of making your night browsing more difficult.
· Once the alarm is off, get a glass of cold or warm water or other liquid (different than body temperature). McDuff says this will give a jolt to your system and wake you up. I personally am a bit skeptical about cold water for the regular person. Warm water might be less shocking to the system.
· Go to the window and take in the light for a few minutes.
· Do some energizing breathing exercises like the “breath of fire” or “Ha breath” if you know them. Otherwise, skip that for now. We will cover them in another session.
· Set up a chair and a mat. Go to YouTube or Google and search “The scientific seven-minute workout.” This is a simple, seven-minute routine you can find in regular, advanced and easy forms to meet anyone’s needs. If this workout is not good for you, follow the instructions of your doctor about how to exercise. We all have seven minutes to spare these days.
· Eat breakfast. Digestion will give you energy to start the day, and as McDuff says, it will also further wake up your system.
· Review your to-do list for the day (which you prepared the day before). We will cover scheduling in another article.
· Stay still for a moment and close your eyes. Set the intention. Focus your one-pointed attention on what you want to achieve today, then zero in on your first step.
· Be kind to yourself in these days of isolation, even if you end up snoozing for hours. Get up when you can and troubleshoot for the next day. It’s a day-by-day process.
· Have a good day!