Today I am guest-blogging over on the site of career coach, Jena Viviano - come over and visit! Jena is an inspiration, an industry changer, a dear friend and a client of mine. She gives good advice, and that is hard to find :).
**Lets learn together how to energize your morning routine so you can find joy and purpose in your work day!**
Routines hold a certain amount of comfort - there is a predictability that brings a welcome reliance.
When we are out of our normal routine, our bodies and our minds can feel out of place and uncomfortable. Often times we look forward to our routines - maybe without even realizing it! The challenge is to find healthy habits that you actually LIKE... habits you like MORE than old, un-healthy ones! Maybe you are struggling with low energy throughout the day or brain fog that keeps you from being as productive and creative and fun as you would like?
What if there was a habit that you could establish in your day that would keep you energized and focused?
I have found that for my clients, establishing a morning routine keeps them energized, focused, and grounded throughout the day. It can be a source of healing and strengthening for you physically, socially, psychologically, and spiritually. Deciding that the first thing you will do in your day is to nourish and care for yourself could be a powerful practice that infuses the rest of your day with strength and peace!
Most of the time, though, your morning probably breaks in like an avalanche. Your phone starts pinging with work emails, it’s hot and sticky out so you politely decline your morning work-out, somehow you cannot find the charger for your laptop, andthesubwayisdelayedandtherearenocabswhy…. You are so focused on taking care of all the things and getting out of the house to start your day, that you are not really prepared for the day ahead.
Now, I love coffee and I'm guessing you do too. The problem is that your body's nervous system is affected by caffeine. In fact, it activates your sympathetic nervous system - your fight, flight or freeze response. Not quite the relaxing morning you may have been hoping for…
Your nervous system influences the fuel your body uses. Your SNS signals your body to burn glucose (sugar) as fuel, because it is quick energy. Where as your body does not begin to burn fat until and unless you are activating your parasympathetic nervous system - which enables your rest, digest, repair, and reproduce functions of your body. <-- This one, clearly, is the one you want to tap into first thing in the AM. Especially if you are trying to shed a few lbs, and even more importantly, if you are trying to enable your body to heal.
So, with the goal of starting the day off nourishing and cherishing your body, enabling it to heal and digest appropriately - what habit can we put in place to make this possible??
For my clients, this is as easy as replacing their first cup of coffee with soothing decaf tea and energizing Maca Milk.
Have you heard of Maca?? I could write a novel… It has been declared a “superfood” and rightly so. It helps balance your hormones, enables your body to adapt to stress, gives you sustained energy and enables greater focus, increases memory function and improves your mood. FOR REAL. My favorite way to enjoy maca is in my Maca Milk recipe:
- ½ C hemp seeds (are full of omega-3s, protein, fiber, and minerals)
- 6 dried pitted dates (great source of calcium and magnesium, and are so sweet :))
- 2 tsp ashwaganda (also an adaptogen, helps to relieve stress)
- 3 tsp maca powder (all. the. things.)
- 1 tsp cinnamon (moderates blood sugar, and improves digestive health)
- 3 C water (essential to all your body’s metabolic proceses)
Blend in a high speed blender until all incorporated. Pour a generous amount into a cup of decaf tea (roobios is my favorite), and enjoy! Store the remaining milk in a mason jar in the fridge for up to a week.
With this new tea-and-maca-milk-habit, you still add warmth and the comfort to your morning routine, gain sustained energy and mental function, and omit the unintentional stress.
But maybe you are experiencing stress that is coming from somewhere other than your physical body: from old hurts that are still throbbing, or stubborn fears that seem perfectly valid as you look into an uncertain future. Even the best decaf tea infused with superfoods will not address these things fully.
They affect our stress level, our productivity and steal our joy.
We are more than just physical beings. Our spirituality, our psyche and our social interactions determine our health and vitality. Establishing habits that will enable you to engage spiritually, mentally and emotionally first thing in the morning can set a solid foundation for you to keep going back to throughout the day when challenges arise.
Here are a 3 habits that I find to be life-changing:
Thankfulness and Prayer Journaling
Because the tendency of the human mind and heart is to complain or be discontented and dissatisfied, we need to actively engage our minds to cultivate thankfulness. I have my children write in their thankfulness journal first thing when they wake up. This is a habit of “remembering” all that we have been given, and letting our hearts be comforted and surrounded with the truth that there is so much to enjoy every day. I make my kids (who are 11,9, and 6 ½) list 15 things from the previous day that they loved and are thankful for. Their lists consist of everything from sprinkles on their ice cream to the joke that they totally nailed in conversation.
But then our heart still can ache. There are things that we have not experienced, that we long to accomplish, that we want to receive. Pray for these things. Pray for them with the same urgency and constancy that my kids plead for Fruitloops instead of flaxseed muffins. Don’t feel guilty for asking, for you have a good Father who wants to lavish on you incredible gifts (like the ones He gave you yesterday and the day before). He knows what gifts are truly good, and when you are ready to receive them. Practically, this looks like writing down, conversationally, your requests and asking God for them. Patience and a peaceful trust grows from persistent and fervent prayer. Don’t fall into the mental trap that says “I can accomplish this on my own!!”. Ask. He hears you. His love for you surpasses what you can imagine, He is wise, and His generous hand can be trusted.
Meditating on Scripture
You may have heard about the benefits of meditation, mindfulness, and focusing on your breath. It is pretty in-vogue right now, but let’s take a minute to remember that this is an ancient practice that has fueled the human mind and psyche for thousands of years. It works.
I love that the Bible refers to itself as Scripture that is “God-breathed”. In the same way that God breathed life into newly-formed Adam in Genesis and Jesus breathes on the terrified-and-amazed disciples when he meets with them after He raises from the dead - the scriptures breathe life into us every time we read them.
Have you ever watched someone teach a baby to “swim”? It is a fascinating thing. The instructor holds the child tightly, breathes hard in their face so that they quickly take a surprised deep breath - right before they are plunged into the water and then are lifted up again. Reading the scriptures in the morning is quite like this :).
Right now, I choose a chapter in Proverbs and a chapter in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) to read every morning. Usually, as I read, one of the verses takes my breath away and I meditate on it so the truth massages into my mind and heart. The truth of God gives me the life and strength I need as I plunge into the rest of my day. And the confidence that Christ who is my Life will sustain me as I swim.
Writing forgiveness letters
Abraham Lincoln had this funny practice of writing letters to those whom he was in conflict with, but would never send them. As a man in a position that was vehemently opposed by so many whom he wished to be unified with, his mental resilience and emotional strength was supported by this habit of writing letters that said all of the things he could/would never actually say to that person.
I suggest we adopt this practice. There may be people in your life that you are quite frankly - pissed at. Maybe they have hurt or betrayed or just annoyed you beyond what you feel you should endure. Write them a strongly worded letter that ends with “and I forgive you”. And mean it. Write as many letters as are needed for those three words to be true in your heart. Bitterness is toxic to your soul.
But forgiveness is a balm to our frustrations and to our wounds.
Establishing a morning routine that nourishes your physical body is so valuable. In the same way, we can place great value on the health of your soul and your psyche and create morning habits that bring peace and empower you to embrace the day ahead.
So go buy a beautiful journal and a pen that rolls just perfectly, and make yo-self some nourishing and energizing maca milk - and start your day out right :).
And don't forget to pop over to Jena's site for more daily career and life inspiration!!
Jena Viviano is a career coach who helps go-getter professionals figure out what they want to do with their lives and how to get there. She has personally maneuvered the treacherous waters of multiple career changes - starting out in investment banking, moving to the New York Stock Exchange and getting her hands dirty at the growing career advancement startup, The Muse.
Work with Jena if you're ready to not merely survive in your career - but to thrive.