How I created my morning self-care routine
What does self-care mean to you? Do you find yourself snoozing your alarm multiple times some days struggling to get up? How can we cultivate healthy morning habits that we are excited to wake up and do?
We all have those days where the alarm goes off and we really just want to go back to the world of dreaming, those days where your self-care is simply staying in bed and getting more sleep. Whether or not you have a morning self-care routine, I thought I would share some of the habits I do first thing in the morning that give me time to really be present and have been hugely important for my mental health wellness. So what is self-care and how can we start forming habits, making time and start our days focusing on ourselves?
Self-care is a conscious act that someone takes in order to promote their own overall health, physical, mental, emotional and, for me, spiritual. Previously I wrote about some of the self-care acts I take daily to support my mental health wellness, and the acts of self-care I take every morning started with slowly building up one healthy habit at a time. Forming habits takes perseverance, and it can take up to 21 days to form a habit, then after 90 days these habits become more of a lifestyle.
Over two years ago I began self-care for my physical health by joining gym classes, before this I would snooze my alarm, and stay in bed for as long as I could before I needed to drag myself out of bed and get ready for the day. I decided it was time to focus on my physical health and move my body, when I began working out I wouldn't have defined this act as self-care. I chose to change my mindset to working out, and ended up with more energy throughout my day, more focus and overall felt proud of myself for developing this new healthy habit. With this feeling of success came improved mood, improved fitness and overall improved health, and now I couldn’t imagine snoozing my alarm a million times and rushing around getting ready in the morning. My biggest excuse was that I just didn’t have the time, and I have since found that if you really want to do something, if you find something you enjoy doing you somehow create the time, for me that meant waking up at 5am to go to the gym.
So that is how my self-care morning routine began, with one simple act that was for me, that gave me joy and is still something today that I look forward to waking up to. The next act of self-care I added to my routine, around a year later, was drinking a glass of water first thing. I found this habit gave me more energy, like a natural source of caffeine for the body. The health benefits of drinking water first thing in the morning is that it re-hydrates your body, and is helpful for gut health. When we wake up and we feel tired, it is hard to recognise that this is a sign our body is dehydrated and by drinking water in the morning you wake up and hydrate your organs and this can boost your alertness. Our brains are made up of over 70% of water, so when we are dehydrated we can feel drained and this then impacts our mood. There are so many benefits to drinking water first thing in the morning and with this act of self-care I was further supporting my physical health.
Another act of self-care that I have written a blog about is my freeform writing, this for me personally really supported my mental health wellbeing as I was able to scribble down unexpressed thoughts and feelings into my journal. The act of freeform writing is a way in which we can express our emotions onto paper, with ourselves and release these emotions from our physiology, almost like a form of therapy with yourself. This morning habit some days I am left staring at a blank page, and I have found the more my mental health has improved the less inspired I feel to write.
The next few acts of self-care that I have added slowly to my morning routine came more recently, with first having a cup of herbal tea, then doing a guided meditation and now adding in my art journaling first thing. For myself, the act of self-care of drinking herbal tea was inspired by Jay Shetty, where he speaks about how you can awaken all of your senses. When my tea is brewed I hold the warm cup and appreciate the sensation of touch, then I take a deep inhale through my nose smelling the fragrance waking up my sense of smell, then I look at how the tea bag has changed the colour of the water focusing on what I can see and last but not least I enjoy the taste by taking a small sip. Herbal tea contains many health benefits such as boosting your natural immune system, herbal tea detoxifies your body, supports digestion and gut health and can relieve stress (1).
Now for one of the self-care acts I have found harder than others to maintain, and some days I find excuses to not give myself the time to do this. Guided meditation. Morning meditation has been shown to boost focus and help keep stress and anxiety levels down throughout the day. Meditation allows you the time to set an intention for the day ahead, slow down and bring oxygen to your entire body, the reason meditation can improve your ability to manage stress and anxiety is because it can reduce your amygdala reactivity, the part of the brain that is responsible for stress (2). For me personally I find guided meditations easier as I have just started on this journey of practicing meditation in the morning, and there have been days where certain guided meditations have instantly improved my mood.
Self-care for each person is about what the individual enjoys doing, although these habits have proven helpful for me personally, there may be others who have a routine that is entirely different that wouldn't work for me. Therefore as I love art and it is a huge part of my life I have decided to add an act of self-care to my morning routine of art journaling, another way to improve my mental health and bring a deeper sense of self-awareness to how I am feeling in the present moment.
So what self-care means to you, is simply doing an act that you enjoy, that brings you joy and improves your overall health. We are all beautifully unique human beings on our own journey, simply ask yourself what can you start to do today that is for you? And how many consistent days can you instill this act of self-care until you have formed a lifestyle of self-love, self-compassion and kindness to self? (1)Herbal Tea Benefits: 8 ways herbal tea benefits your health (indiatimes.com) (2) How to Start Morning Meditation and Build a Healthy Practice (insider.com)