Starting Your Day Off Right (Hint: It Doesn't Start with a Certain Food)

How does your day start? Does it begin with checking your phone, scrolling through Facebook posts or turning on the TV to catch the latest news? Are your thoughts already whirling along at a thousand miles per hour by the time you leave your bedroom?

Or perhaps you start your day off with good intentions. You want to create a Miracle Morning and have a list of five things that you want to check off before you leave for work: meditate or pray, do yoga or go for a walk, read something inspiring, create art, and write a hand-written letter to a friend. Instead you complete one task and feel like a failure.

Maybe, like me, you struggle frequently with insomnia. Instead of popping out of bed at 5:00 as you'd intended, you shuffle to your closet closer to 6:00 and feel like the whole day is off to a poor start.

The title of this blog post was intentional: "Starting Your Day Off Right." Notice it didn't say, perfectly, just right.

Letting go of unreasonably high expectations

If you're anything like me you may suffer from too-high expectations when it comes to making positive changes in your life. I can't tell you the number of times that I've tried--and failed--to do things perfectly: exercise, eating healthfully, creating art, writing, being the just-right wife, mom, friend, get the picture. 

So, when it comes to starting your day off right, I have a few suggestions. 
  1. Embrace tiny changes. These are the changes that are so slight and small you might feel ridiculous making them. Try them anyway. Maybe it's something like, "stretch for two minutes before I take a shower," or "yell at the kids one less time to hurry up." 
  2. Choose one thing. Do one thing that you know will make you feel good all day. For me, it's quiet time where I journal/read my Bible and pray. For you it might be meditation, exercise, or sketching. Choosing one thing doesn't mean you can't add in other things (eventually) but start with the single, most valuable practice. Make it something that nurtures you.
  3. Make a plan and be flexible. Make a plan to do X, Y, and Z when you get up, otherwise other things will get in the way. But also maintain flexibility. There are mornings when you'll oversleep, wake up feeling sick or have to take care of someone else who is sick, etc. 
  4. Learn about habits. I read (listened to) and excellent book called, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg. I highly recommend it. 
  5. Stop listening to the gurus. Yes, I know that I just recommended a book to you, but in general it's best to listen to one person when you're trying to make a positive change in your life: you. Figure out why you want to change the way you start your day. What benefits are you hoping to gain or what negative impacts do you wan to avoid? Trying to change something because someone else has a morning routine that you envy may not be enough to make that change stick. 

Starting your day off right

Right now, I'm sitting in my darkened office with a single candle lit. It's quiet in the house. Other than the tick, tick, tick of the old clock on the wall and my fingers tapping the keyboard, I can only hear faint birdsong outside the window. 

I love this time of day. Everything is fresh, new and possible. The entire day is spread out before me like a fresh notebook page, ready to be written. I've read my Bible, prayed and now am doing creative work that is important to me. 

Every morning doesn't start this way, but most of them do. But that doesn't happen by chance. There were years when I started my day by lounging in bed, hitting snooze and thinking (i.e. worrying) about the day ahead. There have been many days when I got up on the wrong side of the bed and started my day by storming through it. 

So, what I'm getting at is this: don't think that you have to do things perfectly. Please don't fall into that trap. There is no "right way," or "one way," to create a morning practice for yourself that is meaningful. There is only your way. And that's perfect in its own imperfect way. 

Do you have a morning routine to start your day off right? Please tell me about it in the comments. 


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