When I was early in recovery I really underutilized my mornings. I wish someone had told me then how I could use mornings to support my recovery process and minimize stress in my life.
I would wake up late, and the anxiety would hit right away. My alarm triggered panic about the day and my ability to get through it. From there on out, it was just one reaction after another, in a sequence that ran something like this:
“Omg, what time is it? Get up! Get up! Ugh, I am so tired, coffee help me please. Food or not? Okay food, what food? Nothing feels right! I hate all my clothes (and myself). Ahh, decisions. I can’t do this… I’ll just get back into bed.”
I would end up under the covers (usually crying) until I absolutely needed to be somewhere. You can imagine how the rest of my day unfolded.
My life today is definitely not one peaceful and harmonious interaction after another. No ones is. I still wake up with anxiety and get triggered often. What has changed? I've created effective morning habits to set myself up for success.
These days (and it’s taken about 10 years to get there) my morning routine is set. I keep the same routine when I travel, when I’m on vacation, during the holidays, and especially when family comes to visit. I won’t compromise it for anything! The morning sets the tone for my entire day.
I wake up with the sun. I sleep longer in the winter and shorter in the summer. Sleep matters to me (and I'm sure it does to you too), so I try to get seven to eight hours every night, even if this means sleeping in a little bit in the morning. During recovery, the brain needs to time to rebalance and rewire all the profound growth it is going through.
Then, I start my morning with something I love. A piece of dark chocolate.
Yes, I start my day with chocolate. Every. Single. Day.
Keep in mind this is no sugary milk chocolate. This is 80% - 90% cacao content dark chocolate loaded with the serotonin and dopamine inducing compounds. Delicious and indulgent!
I find that giving myself what I want right away, instead of depriving myself, fills me with happiness and is just what I need to tackle the day with a smile and positive attitude.
Next, it’s time for hydration. I always honor my body by rehydrating it after sleep, and before I dehydrate with coffee! I have a big glass of water (at least 16 ounces) with a squeeze of lemon, a teaspoon of a super green (chlorella is a favorite), and a probiotic. Not into greens first thing? Remember to add them in later in your day. You can pick up probiotics at your local drugstore.
Then, coffee! What morning routine would be complete without coffee, right?
And here’s the most important part:
I always sit down in what I call the time of “pause” to actively create my day with my mind. Getting in me time in the morning to center yourself matters, even if you're squeezing in a few seconds in a hectic household.
Neuroscience suggests that we can rewire our brains to think, act, and even be the person we want to be. We do this by creating new neural pathways in our brain. Neural pathways are created by repeated actions and thoughts or in other words, habits.
During my time of “pause,” I think through the challenges that the day will bring, anything from little hangups to big life situations, and consciously visualize how I want to respond to them. So when the shit hits the fan, (which it does often!) I have already handled it once, even if it is just in my mind.
Remember. The mind creates before the body takes action.
If I have time I might combine this with some meditation, breath work, or journaling. It’s not about the amount of time spent in “pause” (it could be the few moments it takes you to stir the coffee, and add the cream and sugar), it’s about the intention infused in it.
Does this not sound do-able? Really this routine is: giving yourself some goodness in the morning, taking time to chill out, and getting your zen on for a few seconds. Your brain and body will thank you.
Habits are built where our wants, knowledge, and abilities meet. When you start building routines to create healthy habits, you'll start building a better you.
Nuria Reed is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur, and person in long-term recovery from anorexia and addiction. She is the Chief Wellness Officer and co-founder at Ekka Recovery, a monthly subscription wellness and inspiration box, specifically designed to assist individuals in recovery to create a new and healthy lifestyle. You can learn more about Ekka’s holistic methodology at www.ekkarecovery.com.