I am, and always have been, a morning person. I love waking up with the sun, feeling its warm rays bleed through the blinds, knowing I have the entire day ahead of me. Aside from the benefits of a few extra hours to be productive, waking up early also gives me some time to shave off any stress lingering from the day before. It sounds corny, and maybe even laughable to night owls who loathe alarm clocks and consider 10 a.m. early, but forcing myself out of bed at 6 a.m. to perform my personal morning routine for stress has improved my mental health and general attitude.
When you think about it, everyone has a morning routine. It may not be structured, or consciously planned, but every one of us falls into pattern after rolling out of bed whether it be washing our face, brushing our teeth, even eating breakfast on the early bus. There is a method to every madness, but mornings don't have to be so hectic (or a groggy blur).
To kick off my morning routine, I clear my head by meditating.
I'm one of those people who will let one worrisome thought multiply until eventually every little thing that was even slightly bothersome turns into a boil of emotions.
To ease into the practice, I did what any millennial would and searched around the Apple store for the best meditation app to guide me and decided on Headspace, which offers users an array of guided meditation sessions for issues such as anxiety, insomnia, and more. Depending on how tired I am (or how lazy I feel), I'll either sit straight up and cross-legged on the floor or in bed, close my eyes, and focused all my attention on my thoughts.
I'll admit that as a beginner, meditating feels strange, but the more you do it the easier it becomes to control any negative thoughts or emotions that arise. Starting your day on a clean, positive slate puts you in the best mental state possible.
Next, I hit the mat.
As a writer, I'm sedentary most days (my longest commute being from my desktop to the bathroom), so I make sure to get my blood flowing for at least 25 minutes every morning to a) ward off laziness b) work off any lingering stress and c) stay in shape.
I typically alternate between 20- to 30-minute yoga/Pilates sequences I find on YouTube (Yoga with Adriene, SaraBethYoga, and Boho Beautiful are a few of my favorite channels), and HIIT or weight training routines like Crush Fit's Crush at Home or any of the Beach Body programs.
Yoga is optimal for stress reduction, and by combining a zen practice with high intensity routines, my body and mind grow stronger. Head of Yoga Content for Gaia.com Ashleigh Sergeant tells Elite Daily,
Yoga asks practitioners to consider what we consume, take on, and take in. Consumption of information and technology, and constant connection to the dramas of the world can disconnect us from both ourselves as well as those soothing, reassuring, deeper meanings behind our very existence.
The diversity in my training keeps my body at its peak, pushes me to step outside my comfort zone, and really focus on my mental and physical health.
After I've worked out both my body and mind, I pamper a bit.
I make sure every shower feels spa-like because the act of pampering shouldn't be a once-in-awhile occurrence. I set the temperature to hot and just kind of wade in the water, enjoying the feel of droplets toppling over my skin. I use my favorite body wash (H2O Plush Sea Greens Body Wash feels like silk) and shampoo, and take my time getting clean and catering to my body.
I love multi-step skincare routines, so once I'm all dried off after my shower, I'll put on my silk robe and go through all the cleansers, serums, and creams. Once every few days I'll even implement a sheet or mud mask.
Post-shower is tea-time.
I know a lot of people prefer lemon water first thing in the morning, but I find that a piping hot mug of peppermint tea eases my stomach more effectively. My digestive issues cause me a lot of stress, so it's important that I find ways to keep it in check.
Aside from its gut-health benefits, peppermint tea also improves mental focus as its sharp, minty-fresh aroma wakes up the senses. I can honestly say my performance at work and my alertness in general has increased since starting this routine, so I'll continue to sip on that, thank you very much.
To wrap up my morning routine, I read something motivational to spark inspiration for the day.
I'll reserve up to a half hour before my work day to read passages from literature such as The Power of Positive Energy by Tanaaz Chubb for a boost of motivation before the busy schedule of my day unfolds.
There are a million unique, effective morning routines you can adopt to de-stress and start your day with positive intention. Just remember that, like happiness, whether or not we let stress get the best of us is a choice. Find what works for you and implement these practices into your everyday regimen.