By DeAnna Jordan
The morning routine: both a dreadful and exhausting thought. “But I already make my bed, drink my coffee and get dressed every morning,” you’re thinking.
Unfortunately, despite the daily repetition, brewing your morning coffee and putting on clothes for the day is not considered a morning routine. A morning routine should hold depth and weight, pushing you toward a healthier and happier mind, body and spirit.
If it sounds outlandish that a simple series of conscious actions in the morning can affect your life in such an enormous way, let’s look at it this way: Think about what you did this past week. When you woke up in the morning, did you wake up with a purpose? If you started your day with anxiety, were you on edge all day? How was your connection with the universe or your higher power? Did you take any time this past week to ruminate on the people, places and things for which you are grateful?
John C. Maxwell, author of The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth: Live Them and Reach Your Potential, says: “You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
The recovery community places heavy emphasis on routine. Ask anyone with a long-term, happy sobriety about their morning routine. I guarantee that they spend at least 10 minutes every morning connecting their mind, body and spirit in preparation for the day.
So how do you develop a personalized morning routine?
The three key ingredients for a productive and successful morning routine are meditation, gratitude and visualization. These sound like big, scary words when first starting out. Early in my sobriety, the thought of meditation made me cringe. Let me break these terms down for you with actionable steps that feel a little less overwhelming and a little more inspiring.
Although monks and yogis can spend hours on end in deep meditation, most of us are unable to spend more than three minutes in meditation. That is perfectly normal, and three minutes is all you need. Meditation is nothing more than mindful breathing and acute sensory observation.
Mindful breathing is the act of focusing on each breath into your lungs and each breath out of your lungs. It often helps to count the length of your breath (i.e. five counts in, five counts out), helping you to focus more closely.
Acute sensory observation is the act of using your senses to observe the world around you. You can do this by isolating specific senses, like noticing the smells around you while maintaining your breathing or focusing on sounds in your general vicinity,and so on, addressing all of the senses.
Meditation comes in a lot of shapes and sizes, and there are plenty of resources online or on your smartphone to help you get started.
In the app store on Android or iPhone, try downloading apps such as Headspace, Buddhify, Calm and the Mindfulness App for guided meditation. Or you can search “Guided Meditation” on YouTube for some relaxing video meditations.
Gratitude is imperative to maintain a positive attitude toward life, despite circumstance. My favorite quote is, “Perception is your reality.” If I choose to seek gratitude instead of dwelling on the inevitable negativity that comes from being a human, my perception will shift, and my life will follow suit.
Spending just three minutes in the morning thinking about what you are grateful for will not only boost your mood and set the tone for your day, but it can also curb morning anxiety. If you are more of a visual person, you can write out your gratitude list or text it to a friend or family member for accountability.
Visualization allows us to premeditate our goals for the future and push us toward achieving such goals. When I say premeditate goals for the future, I don’t mean 10 or 20 years down the line. I mean what are your goals for the week? What are your goals for the next six months? How are you going to achieve these goals? Visualizing the end result of a particular series of goals increases the chances of achieving said goals.
In an interview with Oprah, motivational speaker and life coach Tony Robbins discusses his three-prong morning routine. Part of this routine is visualization, or what he calls “Three to Thrive,” during which he visualizes the outcomes of three events or situations he is committed to and gives thanks for his desired outcome before it actually happens.
This gives the quote “Perception is your reality” a whole new meaning!
When you spend just three minutes in the morning to envision your best self, you are one step closer to actually becoming that person.
In nine minutes, we were able to focus our breathing in meditation, calm our central nervous system and tap into the energy of the universe, dwell on our gratitude, and visualize our best selves achieving the goals we long to achieve.
All you need is nine minutes to change your life. Are you willing to try?
DeAnna Jordan, clinical director at New Method Wellness, has more than 20 years of experience helping individuals, ranging from celebrities to CEOs and everything in between, in their recovery and building of healthy relationships. As a result of her expertise, she has been featured on Dr. Phil, Jane Valdez-Mitchell and National Geographic’s Taboo and has been published in Elle magazine as well as the Huffington Post.