I know some people bristle at the idea of structure or routine, but that’s not really what this is about.
This is about establishing rituals that trigger your brain to shift your thoughts, activities, and energy levels as you move through the stages of your day.
If you’ve lost all structure because you’re depressed, this will help you start moving back toward a normal routine. Even if you’re not depressed, many people find that establishing a daily rhythm improves focus and productivity, ability to relax and enjoy leisure time, and sleep habits.
The four most basic stages of the day are:
- Morning Ritual
- Leisure/Family Time
- Nighttime Ritual
Let’s start with getting up in the morning!
Getting going in the morning is not easy for most people. Is there a way you can make your first moments of the day a little more pleasant? I know, getting up even five minutes earlier is asking a lot but try it for at least one day. If you’re not on a tight morning schedule, that’s great but you may need a morning routine even more than people rushing out for the day.
Start the morning by rehydrating.
If you’re a coffee drinker, you’re hydrating. In the past, medical professionals thought coffee was a diuretic, i.e., dehydrating; now they’ve changed their minds and believe coffee hydrates as well as water, as long as it’s less than 5 cups a day. Yea! Of course, water is probably the ideal choice.
Think of something you will enjoy first thing in the morning.
This may motivate you to get your head off the pillow! Everyone’s schedule is different, so it may be something that lasts 2 minutes (reading a favorite blog, scanning the sports pages) or something longer if you have the time (reading the newspaper, watching a TV show). Just be sure that the activity has a definite “end”–that’s your cue to get moving! For example, read a favorite blog but don’t start researching online, because where does that end? If your activity does not have a definite end (listening to music, meditating, praying), consider using a timer.
Other vital aspects of your morning ritual:
- Breakfast (most important meal of the day!)
- Daily hygiene (enough said)
- Five minutes to straighten up before you leave home for the day so you return to an organized, peaceful environment
- If you can, expose yourself to sunlight in the morning–this helps maintain your sleep/wake cycle
- Make certain you make the shift from your “morning ritual” to the productive part of your day. More on that tomorrow!