Morning/Evening Routines- Setting the Intention
Why have we forgotten the importance of routines?
If you are a mom or someone who has experience with children and raising children, you'll remember how important routines are for kids.
Routines create safety and security. A child will know what to expect. When I was a school teacher I had a routine to begin the day and I had a routine to end the day. I had the daily plan written on the board so the students would know what to expect. Doing so created an atmosphere of security.
As a mom I had a morning and nighttime routine. The nighttime routine would happen in the same order to ensure that my kids would wind down and start to prepare themselves for sleep. After dinner we would play, then there would be bath time, story time, sing a few songs, say a prayer, then lights out... nighty night. If the routine didn't happen in that order the kids would not always go to bed smoothly. The routine was not only for their benefit, but mine as well.
Why don't we do the same for ourselves? We too are children who need structure and security. It's just as important for your safety/security for your mental well being. When you add healthy habits at the beginning of the day you are setting the tone for the day. When you have an evening routine you set yourself up for success so when the end of the day is upon you, you are able to manage the urges to drink better as the day closes down.
Routines help to save brain energy. When you have a routine in place you don't have to make as many decisions. The decisions are already made and over time the routine will be delegated to the lower brain. The routine will be second nature, and you will free up decision making so when you have to decide to drink or not drink at the end of the day you will not be decision depleted.
For most of us we wake up and look at our phones. When you do that you are starting your day off slammed with information. Perhaps you check your email or look at the news first thing. When you do this you have overloaded your brain with stimulus before you even have a thought about what your intention for the day is. If you could make one change to your morning routine I would suggest that you don't look at your phone until after you have stretched, breathed 5 cleansing breaths and thought of an intentional thought defining how you want to show up for the day
My goal every morning is to not look at my email, calendar, social media, or news until I've done the following:
Make my bed
Had a cup of hot lemon water (great for digestion and alkalizing the gut)
Write down my thoughts (thought download) quick journaling
Write three things I'm grateful for
Written out a self coaching model
When I do this my day is not as hurried. I'm better equipped for the unknown (a.k.a. life).
Furthermore, I'm not depleted at the end of the day and I'm able to manage urges (drinking, watching t.v., scrolling on social media, etc.).
At night, to ensure that I follow through, I set out the lemon, I put my journal on my desk and I make sure to set out my favorite pen to write with. Also, on most nights I turn the t.v. off, shut down the computer so I can read to help me relax and get ready for a solid sleep.
So why are these routines "hard" to get going? The answer is our thoughts.
We create sentences in our minds that get in our way. We create our own obstacles. Why? Because doing something new takes work and brain energy and when that is happening your pleasure seeking brain is switched in to full gear and talking yourself out of it. You're brain is wired to not expend much energy. It's easier in the moment to put things off, but in the long term it comes back to bite us... we feel stuck. So little changes at a time can help set new routines into place.
Awareness of your thoughts is key. Be sure to listen to the thoughts and plan for them to arise; they will want to talk yourself out of something. A little bit of discomfort in the moment and riding it out will pay off in the end. You will eventually get to a routine that doesn't take any effort, it will be second nature.
What will you create for your morning and nightly routines?