As previously seen on Wit & Delight
Editor’s Note: It’s been (and continues to be) a long week. For anyone looking for a little calm in their mornings in the days and weeks and months to come, we wanted to share this post Kate penned about the small morning habits that make a big difference in how her days begin. We hope they bring you a little solace and enjoyment too. (P.S. A friendly tip that you can find more of our health and wellness content here.)
I’ve been doing a lot of work around making small changes to my day-to-day life. As someone who has constantly set out to boil the ocean, this is a BIG deal.
Since buying into the idea that small habits compound into big changes, I’ve found myself fascinated by making simple changes to my routine—drinking lemon water first thing in the morning, making meal plans, and journaling for ten minutes when I wake up before doing anything else.
Through this process, I’ve learned that what we’re avoiding is probably what we need the most.
A part of me feels like by focusing on these tiny things, I’m taking time away from my big plans. But the time I used to spend thinking about big goals for my future—at night, on a Sunday, when I’m instead writing this—was time I was critiquing how I’ve been doing as a leader, as a mother, as a wife, as a woman. When I’ve let my big plans take center stage instead of thinking about the small, direct things I can do to take care of myself and my family, it’s only been to my detriment; in those instances, I put myself on trial with my inner critic and judge and jury.
Taking stock of the little things is the exact opposite of boiling the ocean. It’s about looking forward to what is right in front of you, like what you’ll eat for breakfast or what you plan to wear in the morning.
Taking stock of the little things is the exact opposite of boiling the ocean. It’s about looking forward to what is right in front of you.
Now that implementing small, incremental habits has become a central goal of mine, I’ve shifted my entire outlook on how I spend my mornings.
If you’re like me, you might not realize you’re basically winging it 90% of the time. I would wake up and let whatever email or metaphorical fire was burning brightest dictate what was highest priority. If we don’t connect with ourselves and articulate what kind of day we need to have, it is not only nearly impossible to tackle all the tasks that require our attention, but it also becomes really hard to find the extra time for self-care and connecting with family.
You can do this through meditation or just while you’re making breakfast. The point is to observe yourself and take note of the tiny details around you. This practice helps me not only connect with myself but also find gratitude for all that I often take for granted.
Morning pages are essentially a long-form journal entry that consists of your stream of consciousness thoughts. There is no wrong way to do them and they are for your eyes only. I like this practice as a way to remove any lingering negativity around what could go wrong during the day by acknowledging the thought but not giving it the power to control the rest of my day.
Affirmations have been scientifically proven to work, especially for those working toward a focused future vision. Steer clear of this one if you’re currently arguing with yourself over whether or not these affirmations are true. For those with healthy self-esteem, affirmations can help set the day off on the right track, aligning your motivation with purpose and preparing you to face any challenges that might derail your progress.
Taking a daily photo is another way to connect with the present moment before you begin your day. You can use an app or simply create an album in your phone to collect the image from each day. It could be a selfie or perhaps the view from the porch with your coffee. It doesn’t need to be perfect or edited in any way. It might be the easiest kind of diary to create that will also be enjoyable to revisit years later. After all, the small moments matter, too.
BY Kate Arends - November 6, 2020
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.