5 Ways to Start and End the Day
How being, not doing, helped me create a better daily routine to help my emotional, physical and mental wellbeing
My morning routine used to consist of nothing more than dragging myself out of bed, showering, dressing and leaving the house to catch my train to work and I would finish the day falling asleep on the sofa before waking and then dragging myself up to bed.
I knew that if I wanted to re-introduce exercise into my day I would have to get up earlier. And I did. I would set my alarm for 5:30, practice Yoga, shower, dress, eat breakfast and leave the house. I found it amazing how a morning exercise routine meant I wanted to actually eat breakfast. Sometimes cereal, sometimes juice, but I began to fuel myself before heading out of the house and this made a difference to how I felt at night too. Although I still knew I could make more of change. Working up to 90 hours a week though left little time for self-love and self care, but I had the best of intentions, and sometimes it’s the thought that counts right?
When I started my first consultancy, I vowed not to fall into the trap of 90 hour weeks. I wanted to have more time to myself, and more time with my family. It’s been a challenge to find the routine, but I think I’ve finally got it right. I work a four day week, and have five morning and evening practices that I do every day, without fail.
Yoga — As soon as I am out of bed in the morning I’m straight on my yoga mat, in my pyjamas, no excuses. I go with whatever routine I feel I need, sometimes it’s the Sun Salutation, sometime the Tibetan Rites, sometimes a mix of other poses, and on occasions it can just be breathing whilst in mountain pose
Daily Intentions — After my yoga I set my intentions for the day. Not running through my to-do list, but how I want to feel by the end of the day and the values I will operate from.
Meditation — I’ll then meditate based on my intentions for the day. I use Insight Timer, the timer with the ‘Om’ chant rather than a guided meditation and go into a deep relaxation meditation. This can last for anywhere between 10 and 60 minutes, I just go with it.
Walking — After showering and dressing I take my Bulldog, Bowser for a walk. I love being outside and throughout the day, with the exception of my lunchtime break, am usually fixed to my laptop all day, so an early morning walk sets me up for the day.
Breakfast — After returning home, I always have a breakfast. Without it, I can feel sluggish and find myself reaching for the wrong foods for the rest of the day. It can be a juice, a smoothie, oats or muesli with almond milk. I never skip breakfast.
By allowing myself to be in the morning, I feel ready for the day ahead. I’m calm, have clarity about what I need to get done and I stay focused throughout the day, ensuring I end the day feeling how I wanted to in my morning intentions.
I hold a strong belief that a good morning, needs a good evening and a good nights sleep. We have all experienced the morning after the night before, and if we want a good start we need a good end. So I also have my evening routine.
Switch Off — No phones, social media, laptops or any electronic devices at least two hours before bed. If I’m social media or working until I go to bed I don’t sleep. In our house all devices are off at least two hours before bed.
Water — I drink nothing but water after my evening meal until bedtime. On nights when I’m at a party or social gathering I feel the difference with my sleep patterns and in the morning if I have had anything to drink other than water. Water allows my body a gentle detox and cleanse.
Journalling — In the evening I will journal and clear my head of the days events. The good, the bad, the learnings, the feelings, my intentions, and reflect, this allows me to let go so I don’t go to bed with a cluttered mind.
Gratitude — Whilst in bed I will state everything in my life that I’m grateful for. This can be a few things, or go into tens. The more we are grateful the more we realise what we have to be grateful for. This is a great way to go to bed on happy thoughts.
Reiki — Finally, just before I close my eyes I will do some self-healing Reiki, clearing, unblocking and balancing the chakras and the physical energy. After years of practicing this, I don’t need to do this every night. I used to feel guilty if I didn’t need it, but by leaving it until the last thing of the day, if I don’t need it, it’s one more thing to be grateful for.
Kelly Swingler is Founder of Chrysalis Consulting, a non-conventional HR consultancy, The Chrysalis Foundation, building the confidence of teens and She Found Her Wings, working with High Performing Women. Kelly was appointed as the UK’s Youngest HR Director, is mum to twin boys, and loves Yoga and cycling.