Updated: Sep 5, 2021
Morning/Evening Routines- Setting Your 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 for my three kids. 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. The human brain has evolved to know how to save energy by teaching our brain that regular activities become a habit. Habits and routines are delegated to the lower brain and they are played out without much depletion of energy of the brain when they are under the direction of the lower brain. So, let's be thankful for that. If that wasn't so, we'd be so exhausted about making decisions about daily common activities that we'd not have the brain energy to invent and invite new things into our lives. It truly is such a masterful system.
When you have a routine in place you don't have to make as many decisions. You begin to move through your routines as if you're on auto-pilot. Basically, our brain is doing us a favor when it turns on the lower brain to do things automatically. For example, you know your drive home pretty easily. You could probably do it with your eyes shut. You don't have to think hard about the route because you've done it so often that it is second nature. The routine to make a decision ahead of time about "to drink or not to drink" will be second nature, and you will free up your brains energy so when you have to decide to drink or not drink at the end of the day you will not have to exhaust yourself with yet another decision and your brains decision making energy will not not be depleted, which will help you not give into an urge to drink.
There are ways to create healthy decision making hygiene. Keep in mind that our brains make just about 60,000 decisions in a day. If you deplete your decision making quota by 2:00pm it's no wonder why your decision making around alcohol is weak at the end of your day if you're not creating healthy habits that don't use up too much brain energy.
For most of us we wake up and look at our phones because we place on our bedside table. 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, said a gratitude about your life, and think 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
Write 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, I set myself up for success for the next morning to ensure that I follow through with my easy morning routine. 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.
Why do routines matter when it comes to handling an urge to drink?
When you've spent your day needing to make decisions about new things you're depleting your allotment of your 60,000 decisions in a day. When you don't have routines set up you get mentally exhausted. So when the end of the day rolls around and you're experiencing an urge you're more likely to give in to that urge... even when you woke up that morning promising to skip the booze in the evening... that promise seems so long ago and like a crazy idea because you never knew you'd have such a hectic day!
Why are these routines "hard" to get going?
The answer is your thoughts.
We create sentences in our minds that get in our way. We create thought obstacles. Pouring a drink doesn't just happen. There was a decision on your part. The alcohol has no voice that whispers in your ear, "Drink me". It's your thoughts about the day and in that particular moment when you're thinking, "I deserve to have a drink because it's been a long day."
You might be saying that this isn't new you've tried to talk/think yourself out of pouring a drink. I coach all of my clients to not focus on the alcohol but rather focus on the feeling you are in search of. Every habit is tied to a feeling.... feelings cannot occur without a thought.
You're probably feeling stuck because you've been focusing on the wrong thing. I'm not saying this is bad... think of it as a great bit of information to help you change your relationship with alcohol.
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 or extra brain power, it will be second nature.
What will you create for your morning and nightly routines?
✅ P.S. Need a simple to follow step-by-step process to drink less? Check out my signature programs HERE.