What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
My mornings used to look like this:
Alarm would go off, I’d fumble to shut off the alarm, and in a groggy, half-awake state, I’d start scrolling through emails and social media. Then, I’d somehow lose myself in headlines or other people’s lives, and I’d end up late for work, rushing off in an anxious frenzy with a piece of toast hanging out of my mouth.
Before smartphones, I’d roll out of bed and immediately turn on the news and get sucked in for an hour, often leaving me feeling anxious, sometimes sad and a little imbalanced.
Can you relate?
In such a technology-centered world, we often put others before ourselves without even realizing it. As in my case, I’d immediately give away my energy and focus in the morning to Instagram and the morning news show, before I had the opportunity to check in with me; to see how I was doing.
I was plugging into the world before I ever had the chance to open both my eyes, but I was totally oblivious to this habit for a long time.
It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve realized just how important mornings are in setting our days up for “success”, and by “success” I mean setting the tone for your day, whatever tone you choose.
I first discovered the idea of morning routines in the quest to figure out my anxiety. I was hellbent on trying anything to feel calmer -- anything -- because it was so debilitating at the time. So, I began experimenting with various morning to-dos; getting up super early, meditating, exercising, reading, or whatever the popular wellness blogs suggested at the time.
This morning experiment was great; I learned what I liked to do right out of bed and what I didn’t like. Still though, I’d wake up and my brain would immediately go into thinking overdrive. I’d feel helpless after reading news headlines, jealous while scrolling Instagram and frustrated from the rants on my Facebook newsfeed, leaving little room to think about myself.
You’d think I would’ve put two and two together, but when staring at a phone or computer is considered ‘normal’, I didn’t blink an eye over it for a long time. That is, until (funny enough) I read some news article about Americans having a phone addiction.
Although this was obvious and old news to me, this particular article struck me in a way that made me think, am I addicted to my phone??
I really thought I had some boundaries around the darn thing, but I was so wrong. The fact that I’d check my phone right before falling asleep then roll over in the morning and immediately reach for my phone was reason enough to believe I had some phone attachments that needed to be sorted out.
And here I was thinking checking my phone every few minutes kept me “in the loop”.
In reality though, I created a belief that I had to be plugged into the world and others’ demands right off the bat or else I’d be missing… something. This meant I was letting the rest of the world dictate my day without my consent, which was most likely a big factor in my anxiety.
So once again I experimented with my morning routine, this time consciously setting aside my phone, TV and computer until I had the chance to perform the basics (make the bed, brush my teeth, etc.) and do something that helped me truly connect with myself. Sometimes this was meditating, sometimes it was sitting quiet with a cup of tea or whatever called to me that day. After just a week of this practice, my anxiety started to decrease, and I was able to articulate my wants and needs far more clearly than before.
Most of all though, it was freeing.
No longer did I feel trapped by my phone or the news or pending emails. Mornings started to transform into sacred time when I could really relish in my own life - no one else’s - and cultivate a deep sense of gratitude for that. I took back control over how I wanted my day to go, and no matter what came my way throughout the day, I had the strong foundation of deep connection to myself to fall back on.
This is all still true today.
I love experimenting with my morning routine, and recently I’ve been incorporating things like stretching, guided meditations and reading inspirational books. What I always try to do, though, is keep technology at a distance until I’m able to connect with myself. Emails, social media, the news -- it can all wait.
This simple practice has completely transformed my day-to-day life.
Sometimes I fall back on old phone habits, so when I do peek at social media or news headlines before I’ve had the chance to do something for myself, I really notice a difference. I’m not able to pinpoint my own needs as easily, and it’s challenging for me to focus throughout the day.
These moments are good reminders, though, just how powerful and bombarding technology can be.
So this week, I encourage you to experiment with a technology-less morning; put down your phone, shut the computer and turn off the TV until you’ve truly connected with yourself in any way that feels good to you.