My Morning Routine

I’m a morning person. Yes, I’m one of those people you hate. I’m pretty happy in the mornings and probably too loud for your liking. But I’ve always been an early riser. 7 a.m. has been my natural wake-up time since I was in elementary school. Sure some days I slept in later but I think the latest I’ve ever slept is probably 10:30. That’s laughable for a college student, but hey, that’s my normal. I do recall a few mornings that I pretended to sleep-in to avoid going to church…sorry mom ;)

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Another constant since I was little? My morning routine. It’s one of those routines that gives me comfort and isn’t so “strict.” It starts my day off on a positive note and sets the tone for an overall productive and happy day. Morning routines sound like common sense, right? But when you have a plan for the start of your day the rest of it is bound to go smoother.

Here’s a peek into my routine..

1. Go to bed at a reasonable time. Yes, my morning routine starts at night. I know it’s not always possible to hit the sack early, but I do make sleep a priority. On a normal night, I’m in bed by 10 p.m. and asleep by 10:30ish. Even on nights when I have a lot of homework, I set a cut off time for working. Whatever I don’t finish, I work on in the morning. I’m a big believer in sleep.

2. Set an alarm (or two) if you must. I sleep worse when I set an alarm because somehow my body knows it has to wake up soon so I can’t sleep straight through the night. I typically wake up before my alarm anyway, but I always set two alarms: one for opening my eyes, one for getting out of bed.

Typical wake-up hours.

Typical wake-up times

3. Workout. 5/7 days I workout in the morning because if I don’t, it’s not happening later in the day. Sometimes it’s hard to wake up when the clock says 5:xx but I know I’ll be happy when I’m done. Whether it’s running, yoga or stretching my body just feels better after doing something. But, I’m human. While I may intend to workout one morning, sometimes sleep is more important.

All smiles after an early wakeup call

4. Look presentable. Notice I didn’t say “look good.” That’s because I certainly don’t do that every day. After I shower from the gym, I do my hygiene routine (brush teeth, wash face, deodorant, etc.),  pick out an outfit and do my hair put my hair in a ponytail.

5. Eat breakfast. Breakfast has always been my favorite meal. I’ve gone through breakfast “phases” in my life…I was a devout Life Cereal eater until I was diagnosed with celiac, then I transitioned to Rice Chex, and now I’m onto oatmeal. I’ve always had some type of fruit on the side. I know that if I don’t set aside a reasonable amount of time to eat a leisure breakfast, I’m setting myself up for failure. I don’t rush through breakfast and really enjoy my meal.

Typical breakfast at home (2x) while catching up on social media (see below)

6. Catch up on the world. I read the paper, read blogs, Skimm, check out social media, get sports scores, find out which Kardashian announced she was pregnant, and more. I love my morning “catch-up” time. Instead of hopping on the internet randomly throughout the day, I dedicate time in the morning (and night) to get my technology-fix. Once I’m done, I’m done.

Recycled photo

The Skimm from July

7. Mentally/physically prepare for the day. Sometimes writing out a list (not too extensive!) or packing bags for later can ease any stress about upcoming events. I tend to pack my lunch and a bag with whatever extra things I need (sneakers, books, extra clothes).

8. Carpe that diem. Just felt the need to end the list there.

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Do you have a morning routine?
Favorite breakfast food?

Time to Loosen Up

I really need to loosen up. No, not physically (but I do need to go to yoga). My desire for structure has gotten out of hand this summer. It’s no secret that I love my routine and while it does keep me calm at times, it has caused me a lot of stress this summer. I’ve written about this before but this is something I’m still working on.

This past weekend was amazing. I had an awesome time with my best friends and laughed more than I have in a long time. But, truth be told, I was not looking forward to the trip. It’s almost embarrassing to admit, but I had anxiety over it. It’s not that I wasn’t excited to see my friends, it was that I didn’t want to leave my routine.

breakfromroutine

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Most people would think of this as no big deal (because it shouldn’t be), but I over thought the situation and panicked. I worried about silly things like missing my Saturday run, not sleeping well, and being pressured to drink. I kept thinking about my routine and what I “needed” to do that I wanted to rush through the weekend.

Luckily, the drive on Friday gave me some time to think and I began to rationalize the situation...

What’s the worst thing that could happen if I didn’t run? Well, it would kind of suck but it’d be worth it if it meant spending time with friends.
What if I don’t go to sleep until 2 a.m.? Then I can take a nap when I get home on Sunday.
What if I feel pressure to drink? Umm my friends know me and know that’s not my thing, so why am I even worrying?

By the time I arrived on Friday I was energized and excited for the 48 hours ahead. My “worries” kind of disappeared and they didn’t bother me again. However, I did think about how I reacted to the situation and I wasn’t proud of that. I hope I can use this experience as another reminder that my routine is NOT the end-all-be-all.

Like most things in life, it’s really all about how you look at the situation. By rationally responding to my own concerns/questions I was able to turn dread into excitement, something I don’t normally do. While a weekend away might not mean anything for most people, it was a tiny-win for me. And with that, I can confidently say that I look forward to more (small) breaks from my routine.

Routines

I love routine. I kind of live by it. 

As a Type-A person, having a routine keeps me sane. I find comfort in knowing how my day will turn out. During the school year I try to pick classes that mesh well with my routine: Wake up early, exercise, eat breakfast (or breakfast first if I’m not working out), go to class, eat lunch, do homework, have some “me” time (aka a nap or one episode of Grey’s), eat dinner, study (or club meetings), go to bed. Repeat. I have no complaints about my routine. In fact, I love it. But being home for summer and starting a new job has made me reevaluate the emphasis I placed on maintaining a routine. 

I don’t leave much room for spontaneity. If something pops up out of the blue and I can’t prepare for it, I usually don’t participate. Or, I participate unwillingly and end up complaining most of the time. This past year I’ve “loosened up” a little, which sometimes resulted in anxiety (I felt unproductive and mad that my day wasn’t in my control. Oh, control…that’s a whole different post). However, more often than not, the result was positive and I had fun. 

Leave routines behind
I’m a planner by nature but I’m learning that too much of it can have a negative effect socially…even in little instances such as hanging out with friends. For example, last year, if I had planned to go to yoga at a certain time and my friends invited me to go to the beach at the same time, I would have probably said that I’d meet them later. But lately, I’ve started making an effort to readjust (or ignore) my routine and make it adaptable to real life…where things aren’t predictable. 

Sticking to my routine everyday may make me happy in the short term, but making memories with people will bring a lifetime of happiness. If it means skipping yoga to go to the beach with friends, no problem! If it means making late lunch plans because my friend doesn’t get out of class until 2 p.m., then I want to be able to adjust…happily.

Blessed are the flexible
On the other hand, I’m hesitant to say that I’d ever give up maintaining a routine completely. Last week, I did not know what to expect before I started my summer internship and instead of stressing over that, I relied on my routine. I simply readjusted the schedule I’m used to and went into the week without any worries. 

While my routine is good in many aspects, I need to work on loosening up a little. I think this summer with vacation time and work I’ll face scenarios that will challenge my routine, and I need to learn to that that’s OK. Nothing bad will happen if I have a project that keeps me at work until 8 p.m. instead of 6. The sky won’t fall if I don’t get to workout because of an early meeting. 

Instead of always staying in the comfort of my routine, I want to relax and be open to all of the possibilities in life. My goal is basically another tie to living a healthyish life…having a routine with some wiggle room.

Do you follow a routine? Is it hard to break?