By: Prianca Naik
Transitioning from singlehood to marriedhood to motherhood has been an interesting journey to say the least. Learning to share a tight space with another human being that didn’t involve stacking bunk beds in college was a new experience. In those days, my husband would go to work early, leaving our two bedroom apartment at 7am and I would sleep until 8am, getting nine to ten hours of sleep on average. This is my ideal amount of sleep and always has been.
I am not a six to eight hour per night kind of gal. Needless to say, back then, I would wake up and leisurely get ready, take a twenty minute shower, and perhaps watch the Real Housewives of Orange County to accompany my hearty breakfast. At that time, I did not feel fulfilled during my mornings, but I did feel as though I was reducing stress before starting my arduous work day. Of course, when S entered my life with a bang and slept for no more than an hour at a time, I really began to appreciate those long lost zzzz’s. Gone were the mornings when I could leisurely get ready without interruption.
I started to think about the availability of time or perhaps lack thereof. Its management seemed critical in my newfound life; I had an additional human being whose place was center stage in my life. Laura Vanderkam’s book What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast inspired me to invest energy into perfecting my morning routine. She talks about the flexibility of time and how it stretches to accommodate various events that arise. If you apply this to your own life, you can see how this is true. She uses the example of a pipe bursting that needs to be fixed. Somehow, the eight hours required to resolve this issue magically appear in your week without disrupting the rest of its flow. From Housewives to exercise and meditation I went.
Here is what I learned: going to bed on time is imperative for success the next day. If for whatever reason I found myself in my bed after 10pm, my chances of waking up to work out and meditate were much slimmer. As many authors, speakers, and happiness seekers mention, it takes twenty-one days to form a habit. Serious discipline and determination are also key ingredients of a fulfilling morning. Finally, skip no more than two days of the routine in order to keep it alive.
In full disclosure, I have been a lifelong exercise avoider and loather. Yet as a physician, I know the obvious benefits for my mind and body. I contemplated working out for three months before I actually began to do it. I finally brought myself to commit to thirty minutes a day, given that that amount of time felt manageable. In a week, I noticed I began to feel centered when I did it. If for whatever reason I missed a day, I could really feel the negative effects. Within two weeks, I needed it and within three, working out felt as though it had always been a part of my life. I soon discovered that exercise combined with a twenty minute meditation made me feel whole, confident, and content. As an additional bonus, my stress level dropped exponentially.
Each person’s schedule varies as does his or her priorities. Your morning routine should fit into your day comfortably and accommodate your needs. Mine is as such: I wake up, put on my gym clothes, and drink a large glass of water. Putting my gym clothes on right away is crucial. My hatred for exercise means I have to do it first, before I have time to talk myself out of it. Thereafter, I savor a cup of my favorite coffee along with some form of tasty sustenance. My body is now nourished and I can proceed to meditate. I often use Headspace, as it tracks my progress and shows me how many hours and consecutive days I have meditated. This app has functioned as a fantastic accountability partner as well as a rewards chart with star-shaped stickers like those so often used in elementary schools. After my mindfulness meditation, I practice gratitude and engage in positive reflection. I take five to seven minutes to tidy my room, make my bed, and put clothes away. Then, I get ready for work. I go to work feeling accomplished, refreshed, and ready to tackle my day.
I used to drag my feet going to work and facing my inevitably emotionally draining day. Since I have cultivated a healthful start, I approach my day with gratitude and energy. In many ways, I feel as though I have lived a lifetime before my work day. The hours I spend at work feel as though they have diminished because I take time to care for myself every day. My morning routine brings forth a better person to my marriage, my job, and my son.