Morning Routines

Do you wish your days began more peacefully? More simply? With less aggravation, angst and drama?

I know I do. Each morning when the morning bell rings at 7:20 a.m. and two hundred-ish seventh graders charge down the hallway toward their lockers, there is no chance to reclaim the calm and balanced mental state of my morning until sometime after 3 p.m.–and by then, I’m too exhausted to care.

For quite some time, I have considered creating a morning ritual, a small but meaningful routine to bring my attention, focus and energy down into the moment where I am living from. Over many years, I’ve become a morning person (much to the surprise of my mother, whose daily threats to my teenaged sleeping self only prompted me to roll over, not get up) and while I relish the calm that comes with the morning darkness, especially here in the Ohio winter, I wander aimlessly from task to task in a light frenzy of activity that does nothing to start my day with ease.

And I need ease. And comfort, because as those of us who spend our lives serving others know, once the students come in, my time and sanity is no longer my own.

So today, instead of popping open Pinterest or scrolling through Instagram when I got up, I went through the motions of the routine I intentionally put together last night. It is nothing elaborate or fancy: wake up, stretch my legs and always-tight Achilles tendons, make tea, do a 10-minute yoga sequence, read over my monthly intentions, read 10 minutes of a new self-help book I downloaded last night and write a to-do list that’s been bouncing around in my head.

That sequence only took me 25 minutes to complete (35 this morning, as my new yoga app was a bit testy in the download phase), yet I feel immensely accomplished–all before sunrise. Today as I walk into my empty classroom, I’ll do it a little lighter, knowing I started my day with things that matter to me, and will work hard to carry my peacefulness over into my dealings with students and staff. When I start my days in rush and reaction mode, rather than interacting from my core self, those are the days I come home, collapse and despise teaching. Days like that aren’t good for anyone in any career, especially because they leave those of us who serve others feeling as though we’re giving the best to everyone except ourselves.

The morning ritual ends all that. If I start my day with the actions I choose, I can flow effortlessly into the energy of the day knowing I have already given myself my very best. And if one day if it doesn’t work, tomorrow I have the luxury of trying again. What about you? Do you have a morning routine dedicated to yourself and a peaceful state of mind?

If so, what does it consist of? Do all the actions support you? Are there any you’d like to add or modify? How do they contribute to your overall sense of peace and balance in starting your day?

If not, how would you like your days to begin? Not all of us are early morning risers, but that shouldn’t preclude you from starting your day meaningfully. A five-minute routine of actions that nurtures you is far better than an extra hour in the morning spent fiddling and floating around without intention.

To Create a Morning Ritual:

Think about what actions would bring the biggest sense of peace to your mornings and start from that point. Even though it wouldn’t work for me, some people use that time to check out the news or social media updates. Maybe you want to sit quietly with a cup of coffee in your pajamas while the caffeine slowly works its magic. If you’re a creative mind like me, you wake full of ideas and possible projects that disappear as the day wanes on, so you’d like to spend a little time centering and writing down your thoughts in the fertile morning silence. Some folks need to move, to exercise and stretch to bring energy and oxygen back into their bodies after a long period of rest.

Whatever you choose, whether one activity or a series of smaller, meaningful actions, choose them intentionally from the core of your self. Guard against choosing someone else’s actions, or something that makes you feel as though you’re winning a competition. Choose wisely those routines that feed your soul and open your heart to the day. There’s no better way to center yourself than by doing things you love most. You deserve it!

Beth Morrow is a middle school educator, education blogger and program director at Camp Hamwi, a residential camp for teens with diabetes. Catch up with her on Twitter: @BethFMorrow.