This is changing my mornings

Are you a morning person?

I want to tell you that I am, but my family would tell you otherwise. I am a morning person . . . if I don’t have to interact with people first thing. My mom told me that calculation in and of itself disqualifies me from being a morning person. I’m convinced that having no caffeine intake in the wee hours stacks the cards against me being a morning lark (I like caffeine; it doesn’t like me).  A decade ago I admittedly would have identified as a night owl. These days, I wonder if there is some other flying, feathered creature that might give a name to someone who feels they are neither a morning bird or night owl.

Either way, I have learned the value of rising earlier (which inevitably means choosing to go to bed earlier). Yet, perhaps, even more, valuable than rising early is having a morning routine (of sorts).

While I believe in morning and nighttime routines (more on those in my book), I don’t believe there is one magic routine that we all should subscribe to.

What isn’t always so clear to our over-advertised saturated brains is that someone else’s secret to success might not be ours. Someone else’s schedule might not suit us.

The right morning routine is, simply, the one that works.

That’s why I’m reluctant to tell you what is changing mornings for me.

But as someone who has tried on others’ routines, I’ve found this fits. How can I not share?

If your current routine, or past versions, are ill-fitting. This one just might suit you.

What I can tell you for certain is that I am a person who, often, finds myself in that mire-y morning funk. I do my very best to thank God for a new day before my eyes are fully opened. Even as the sudden surge of gravity pulls me to lie back down, with a centrifugal force, I try steady myself by listing gratitudes in my groggy voice. I practice putting on a smile before I put my clothes on. I even high-five myself in the mirror sometimes (another habit for another day).

But you know (I know you know) . . . there is procrastination (IG when you should be doing computer work), the aftershock zombie effect from the (non-surprising) ornery kids fighting in the car on the way to school, the tedious listing of to-dos, the phone calls you dread making and so on and so on.

I found I needed something (other than caffeine) to give me a gentle get-going boost.

I believe my new habit can help you too.

Typically, my tried and true morning routine consisted of reading my Bible, reading a book, journaling, and then exercising (usually Pilates). In the past year, however, it stopped working for me. Actually, it likely stopped working long before I caught on and had the intuition to change things up.

I decided to try flipping my routine. Movement first and then reading and introspection. This in itself made a noticeable difference. Even if it meant simply stretching for five minutes or a gentle 15-minute Pilates routine before I took a seat with words.

 (Maybe your morning routine isn’t wrong. Maybe the order is?).

In time, clues kept coming my way to get out into the sunlight and fresh air first thing in the morning. To take a walk in nature as soon as possible upon rising. To take grounding steps, barefoot, on the grass.

I’m a walking evangelist and If you read my book you will see many nods to the benefits of walking and mental health. I’ve been quite religious about taking a daily walk for some time. Only, my habit was to take my walks around the block on a lunch break or in the evening.

Because the clues (posts, articles, podcasts, messages) kept coming, I decided it was time to experiment with taking my walk first thing in the morning–getting myself outside just as soon as I could (mostly, that means after I get the kids off to school).

On my later-in-the-day walks, I often made phone calls or listened to podcasts or walked with my husband (or kids if I could guilt them into it). On my first-thing-in-the-morning walks, I listen to the birds, the psithursim (sound of the wind in the trees), and the sound of my own breath. I talk to God. I pray. I feel the sun on my skin and the breeze in my hair. I feel more light than heavy.

Fresh air, morning light, and walking first thing are making a world of difference for me.

I believe it can do the same for you.

Exposure to natural light first thing in the morning regulates our circadian rhythms. It helps us to wake up and, in turn, fall asleep easier.

Moving my legs helps move the thoughts that often try to paralyze me first thing in the morning.

I haven’t ditched my later-in-the-day walks. In fact, I crave them more. Movement begets movement. Time outside, only, makes you want to get outside more.

I’m still working on my morning routine. I’d like to get up before the sun and see if my reading works best then (it still may fare best after movement?). I’d love to be consistent with getting dressed in proper clothes. I’d love to write before I delve into other work or tasks.

My morning routine is flexible. It’s my own. It changes and shifts in seasons, like me.

But the first-thing- summer-sunlight-walk, I’m quite settled on.

And I’m going to be presumptuous and say . . . you should try settling into this too.

Give it a go for a week and let me know what you think!

I’m here overcoming overwhelm and working on my mental and emotional health right alongside you.

XO . T

To read more of my thoughts on overwhelm and walking grab your copy of Unclutter Your Soul.

Do you have a morning routine? Tell me about it in the comments.

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Responses

  • Jenni Lisa Howard
    Commented on May 23rd, 2022 at 12:49pm

    I love all of this! The walking on grass piece makes perfect sense to me as someone who has struggled with anxiety for years and always, intuitively, seek fresh air when I can feel panic overwhelming. A few months ago, I stepped outside in the early hours of the morning when I was overwhelmed with worry over something and couldn’t sleep. I stepped out and walking, barefoot, onto our little stretch of grass, was deeply soothed. And if there is a little morning dew still on the soft grass, even better! Thank you for the inspiration to re-think and maybe ‘reset’ the order.

  • Trina
    Commented on May 23rd, 2022 at 5:31pm

    Love that, Jen! Thanks for sharing how that helped you! xo . t

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