On Cultivating Healthy Routines and Rituals
I wasn’t always this way. Those who worked with me in my previous job would typically see me walking around with endless supplies of sugary snacks, diet pop, and coffee in my shaking hands. I really and truly cringe when I think of my old habits. I feel sad for myself but not ashamed because I know I was doing the best I could, given the constant state of hyper/hypo-arousal I was in.
I knew I wasn’t where I wanted to be, health-wise, but it felt like I didn’t know where to start to make a change. I would start with the best intentions and make a healthy shake or smoothie in the morning but I was usually too stressed to even finish it. I bought books upon books on self-care and yoga and meditation but couldn’t get into any actual routine. I got myself a Fitbit, thinking I’d go for more lunchtime walks but I could never seem to pull myself away from my desk. I was basically making donations to the local women/s fitness club, as I so infrequently stepped foot in it. I could envision and almost taste what it was that I was yearning for but didn’t know how or where to get started. It felt so outside of my reach.
I rarely took breaks throughout the day. If people were going for lunch, I was usually catching up on work and trying to get ahead. There were cigarettes (double cringe) stimulants, a daily alcoholic beverage “to take the edge off,” and one meal a day at best.
Work consumed me. I loved what I did. I was good at it. My entire identity revolved around it. I had zero bandwidth for coffee dates or phone conversations at the end of the day. I was really and truly life-less. My adrenals were shot. My energy was stagnant. My body was screaming at me. And, my soul was heavy.
So, you out there, wanting to start a new healthy routine: I see you. I feel you. I’ve been there. Other people made it look so easy and I had the attitude of “That must be nice” but really, I was saying, “Who has time for that sh*t!?”
First thing’s first: It’s not going to be easy if you are in a constant state of activation. We have more choice in our actions when we are calm. So, start prioritizing practices that calm your nervous system daily, so that you can start making more intentional choices with loving awareness, rather than out of necessity because you’re in survival mode!
I will also say that with regards to my daily routine, it’s really more of an overall tone and quality/posture/approach that I embrace, than any sort of a rigid set of rules or routines I abide by.
My routine has slowly evolved over the years, the more I’ve learned to practice self-compassion and accept my own nurturing. It’s less about a means to an end or because it’s trending or this is what ego says I should be doing, and more about simply loving and caring for myself.
Please be gentle with yourself as you are cultivating a new routine. And know that if you’re doing it for a means to some end, it’s probably going to be a lot harder to stick with.
Find what feels good and do what works. Don’t expect it to look like anyone else’s, especially not what you see on social media. Your life is unique. Your needs are unique. Therefore, what works for you will be your own as well. Start small. Commit to one thing at a time and do that until it becomes integrated. It will eventually start to have a positive ripple effect.
I was hesitant to share my own routine because I would never want anyone to fall into the comparison trap or feel like they should be doing what I’m doing, however I have had many ask me about it over time, so here it is. This is just what works for me and what truly feels good and nourishes my mind, body, and spirit. If I sat and picked away at it, there are definitely things I could do more or less of in my day. But, for now, this is what’s working for me:
- I wake up with the sun or before (as long as I’ve gotten to bed at a decent hour. I do love Netflix. It’s hard, but if you want to get up early and feel well-rested (people with littles, aside, sorry), you have to set a time-limit for watching episodes and practice good sleep hygiene!)
- I make a hot cacao/macca oat milk latte and crawl back into bed to enjoy it or sit on the balcony, if it’s nice out. I enjoy my beverage while listening to an inspirational morning meditation. Sometimes, I prefer to sit in quiet. I also generally don’t turn on any lights if I can avoid it. I try to ease my way into stimulation.
- I make my way over to my meditation cushion, where I do breathwork/meditation/visualization and journaling for 30 mins. My balance is seriously thrown off if I don’t do these things.
- Some days, I run. Lately, I have been doing some gentle, mindful movements of sorts and running in the evenings a few times a week.
- I get ready for the day, which doesn’t involve much these days. #WFHlife!
- I set up my workspace with the things I’ll need that day. Review my day, and get to work! Emails, emails, emails, clients, teaching, reading, writing, content creation, etc. * I block my time and usually have a plan for what I’ll be working on in the day.
- Lunch break. Usually an hour. Eat lunch, maybe listen to a podcast, read, or just hang out on the balcony and enjoy the view.
- I usually have 30-min breaks in between clients where I get up and stretch, move around, have a snack, etc.
- Some days, I throw in a little power nap if I feel I need it.
- I tidy up my workspace at the end of the work day.
- Yoga/stretch/dance/walk/workout-Any sort of movement I feel drawn to that day.
- I eat dinner that I have usually already meal-prepped on the weekend because if I haven’t, I’m tired and hungry and want something delicious immediately, which usually means take-out.
- I wind down. Shower. Tea. Magnesium. Read. Netflix. Lights out 9:30! Asleep by 10.
Remember: this is a general day-to-day routine. It’s not always perfect. There are days where I pick up my phone more than I’d prefer to. Or where I don’t move my body after a long day. Or even on some particularly busy days, where I feel that urge to just dive into work and get to the beckoning To-Do’s and I miss my morning meditation/sit. I simply note the impacts these missed practices have on me and my day and I practice self-compassion. I remind myself, I did what felt right for me in that moment and know that I can resume the regular routines tomorrow.
Flexibility and forgiveness are crucial. And a little self-compassion can go a long way. If you’re looking to spruce up your daily routine and feel like you need a little extra support, hit me up! I love helping folks align in this way and take care of themselves the way they deserve to be taken care of. Happy Routine Cultivation to you, my friends. It’s time to give yourself this gift and show yourself the love you so freely give to others.