I bet you heard people saying that routine is not a good thing. I bet you heard about ‘work-home-work-home’ routine or maybe that’s your daily life? It’s actually very hard to run away from this routine especially when you don’t know where to go, what to do, how to make a step to your dream life and in general are lost in this world. You are not alone. I am the same. This ‘work-home’ routine is killing me even more because I literally live at work (staff accommodation, same building, not ideal at all). I can’t even escape this place, I am always at work, surrounded by the same walls and the same people EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. So yeah, I know that routine sucks, but I wanted to talk about other type of routines. I wanted to talk about the things we do when we wake up and the things we do just before going to sleep.
So everything began over a year ago when I created this blog on Instagram. I was trying to find something that would make me happier and something that would help me to find myself. It was a long journey and I know it will continue until my last breath, but step by step I found bits and pieces that fit into my daily life, that gave me more purpose, more energy, more positivity and more stability. Slowly but surely I involved morning and evening routines or simply speaking – the things that I do everyday when I wake up and just before going to sleep.
First of all, what is a routine? Routine is defined as a usual set of activities or way of doing things. You might think that you don’t do that but you wake up in the morning and going to brush your teeth or turn on a TV after work and sit down with a bag of snacks, am I right? There are things that we all do repeatedly without even thinking. There are good and bad routines, but one thing I want to assure you – routine is a powerful thing.
I want to share some interesting facts about why daily routines are good for us:
- Lower stress levels. Our days are busy, we always have some things to do, we run, we fail, we try again. And it’s just keeps going on and on and on. No matter how many things will go wrong, no matter how chaotic our day was, when we know exactly what we going to do in the morning or in the evening and when we know what we can control it helps us to calm down, reduce the stress and relax.
- Improved self-care. Daily routines usually involves creating new positive habits and self-care acts. We organise our time and prioritise things that improves our mental and physical health. I always say, that we need to take care of ourselves first, and creating a morning or evening routine usually involves a self-care ritual.
- Improved sleep quality. I bet you heard about the need of the deep sleep. If not, I will quickly explain – deep sleep is the third stage of our sleep (first is a light sleep and second is a rapid eye movement (REM) sleep). When we are in deep sleep mode our breathing, heart beat, body temperature and brain works at their lowest levels, and our muscles are all extremely relaxed. Deep sleep is very important because during this stage blood sugar levels and metabolism is being balanced out, immune system is being energised, cells and tissues are in a recovery mode, all body is healing, our brain detoxifies, we actually learn and memorise things in this stage. So it is very important to our mind and body but we often don’t have it because of the stress and burnout, late night screens, eating late, or other physical issues.
- Better mood. With lower stress levels, more self-care and better sleep we have more energy which leads us to be more productive during the day and when we get some stuff done (even if the only thing you wanted to do is taking a bath) – always comes a better mood.
Now the morning and evening routines are different. Morning routine should inspire you, fill you up with positivity and prepare for the upcoming day. While the evening routine should be relaxing, unwinding – absolutely chill before going to bed.
So how your morning routine should look like?
- Early wake up. I know this sounds horrible, especially when you are a real night owl, but hear me out. A lot of successful people wakes up super early in the morning, like Square CEO Jack Dorsey wakes up at 5:30 and goes for a six-mile jog and Apple CEO Tim Cook gets up at 4:30 so he can send emails and be at the gym by 5:00. And they are absolutely hitting it because when they wake up early, they have more time to get themselves ready for the busy day (like meditate, have a proper breakfast or do some other work), they are more productive because early morning they have no distractions, also with a fresh mind their creativity levels are high and overall less stress to prepare for the day. And also this habit can make you happier – one study found that morning-type people tend to have higher levels of positivity and well-being. So maybe it’s time to wake up a bit earlier tomorrow?
- Exercise. I am not talking about 10 mile run a minute you opened your eyes and it definitely doesn’t have to be going to the gym to lift heavy weights. Even 5 minute exercise or stretching in the morning increases blood flow, releases endorphins (which are related to happiness), and strengthens your body. Exercising also increases our energy levels, enhances our mood and prepares us for the upcoming day.
- Make your bed. Sounds silly, but you have hear out what Navy Seal Admiral William H. McCraven advice:
If you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task, and another, and another. And by the end of the day that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed.
Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made — that you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow will be better.’’
Who knew right?
- Have a proper breakfast. I absolutely love breakfast. And I think you don’t need an explanation to this point, but I am really happy to tell you – what you eat in the morning is the main fuel for your body which might affect your energy level, mood and wellbeing in general. So eat those fruits, oats, fiber and protein to be your best self.
- Plan your day. Do you remember the last time you had a stress free day? Of course not. So maybe it’s time to plan your work, create to-do list and stop procrastinating so you could have an evening all for yourself to relax and be you.
My morning routine is very simple – wake up, take a book and read a few pages instead of reaching the phone (it took me a while until I got used to it). After reading a bit, I get out of bed and I take a huge glass of water. Then doing some yoga, stretching. But it’s not like a full professional yoga masterclass, no no no, just some easy moves, to awaken all my body. I feel so so good after it. The time of stretching depends on how much time I have left to work, so sometimes it’s like 3 minutes of stretching and sometimes it’s 15 min yoga. After that – shower and go to do stuff.
This routine works very well for me and now I want to adapt new habit of waking up at 5 am. It’s ridiculously early time and sometimes I go back from work too late and too tired to wake up so early. But I will try to make it happen. It takes some time to create a habit.
Now that you have an idea, how we should start or day, let’s get into how can evening routine look like?
- Take time for yourself. It is very important. I always say, that we have to take time for ourselves every single day. It’s not negotiable. We all need to calm ourselves down after a long day and do whatever makes us happy, maybe it’s one episode of your favourite TV show, one game on PlayStation or a long bath with all the spa procedures. You matter. So take time for yourself.
- Plan plan plan. I bet we all been in the situation when we lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, but suddenly start thinking that you need to wash the dishes, go to the post office and send a parcel, visit your parents and don’t forget to take your dog to vet. All those thoughts suddenly brings loads of stress instead of relaxation and then you can’t fall asleep for three more hours and that leads to a rough morning and ruined day. What to do to avoid that? Plan your following day, write down everything what bothers you, what you need to do and you want to do. This will take off the pressure from your shoulders and let you to relax before going to sleep. Look what authors Jason Selk, Tom Bartow, and Rudy Matthew say:
‘’Identifying daily priorities might seem like an obvious or insignificant step to take, but writing your most important tasks down the previous night turns your subconscious mind loose while you sleep and frees you from worrying about being unprepared. You’ll probably find that you wake up with great ideas related to the tasks or conversations that you hadn’t even considered!’’.
- Turn off the screens. We all know that they are no good, especially before sleep. They are not only a distraction that you actually don’t need, but also the blue light from electronics interferes with the production of melatonin, a hormone necessary for restful sleep. So hide your phone and turn of computer at least 30 minutes before sleep.
- Reflect on your day. Write down everything what you achieved today, what made you happy, what you’re grateful for. Reflecting on a good things will give you a positive perspective and gives you more encouragement for the following day. Leo Batauta, author of Zen Habits, say:
”If you reflect on the things you did right, on your successes, that allows you to celebrate every little success. It allows you to realise how much you’ve done right, the good things you’ve done in your life.’’
- Relax your own way. Clear your head before sleep. This might include meditation, light stretching or reading a book. I bet you know that these activities helps to reduce stress, live in a moment, forget all the struggles. So you should definitely include one or all of them in your evening routine.
- Go to sleep at the same time. I know sometimes it’s impossible, but once you get into routine you will think how could you live without that. And it is also very good for your body and mind! Believe me!
For me evening routine is more exciting but it takes me out of the edge to follow it everyday. So one hour before going to sleep I turn off my phone. No Instagram, no more filling the shopping carts in apps, no more movies (so sad). But that one hour or hour and a half is for writing a journal (I do practice gratitude, planning the next day, writing what I want to find out or to do), yoga, meditation and reading. That is the time to be with myself and I love it so much. No distractions, no stress. Just me relaxing before going to sleep.
So the things that we do daily matters a lot. If you feel exhausted, stressed or overwhelmed, maybe it’s time to have a look at your daily routines? What you do early in the morning or just before going to sleep have a lot of impact of how you will perform during the day. Stress, procrastination, tiredness are the things that stops us from enjoying our day, being our best selves. Involving a good habits into your daily life won’t do any harm for you. Even opposite – they will help you to find the light in your life!