What’s your favourite time of day? You might guess from the title of this blog that I favour mornings. I believe that what I do for myself first thing sets me up for the day. I start with gratitude as soon as I wake up, reminding myself of all the good in my life: a comfortable bed, a home I love, work I love to do, that kind of thing. Then it’s onto affirmations and a glass of lemon water before coffee enters the picture. Lemon water helps with hydration and digestion as well as vitamin C and affirmations help direct my focus. I say things like “this is going to be a great day,”  “I am capable,” “I am adventurous” to name a few. It took some time to implement the habit of saying affirmations but after learning from author and speaker Louise Hay that affirmations are rooted in the idea that our thoughts can influence our health and our mindset for the better, I was inspired to try them. Ten years later, they’re part of my daily routine. Affirmations as simple and direct as these examples can benefit how we think about ourselves:

I appreciate what my body does for me each day.

 – I keep myself in good health with regular activity, great connections and nutritious foods.

– I am enough exactly as I am.

– I am adventurous and willing to experience things outside my comfort zone.

– My happy thoughts help create my healthy body.

“The past is gone. Today is full of possibilities.”  
Karen Casey

Having a morning routine can be a game changer and I have found that gradually adding in healthy habits really supports me and provides a solid underpinning for how the day will go. After I make my bed (which makes me feel like I’ve already accomplished something) and have coffee, I include either yoga and meditation or a walk outdoors in the morning, to help me feel both calm and mentally energized for the day.

I think we all know that good nutrition plays an important role in how we feel; I’ve learned from experience that for me it has to be sugar, caffeine and spicy foods in moderation. I do my best to include lots of fruit and vegetables as well as good quality protein but in all honesty my pandemic eating plan included too many potato chips and some days I was definitely on the see-food diet: if I saw food I’d eat it. Joking aside, the unspoken stress of the last few years has tested my good habits but has not deterred me from returning to what I know is good for me.

“With the new day comes strength and new thoughts.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

You’ve heard the expression “dance like nobody’s watching?” That may be exactly what you need to do as part of your morning routine, if you don’t enjoy going to the gym. Including some kind of movement early in the day seems to clear out the mental cobwebs and increase circulation. Movement doesn’t have to be fancy; it can be walking in your neighbourhood with a friend, catching up as you go. Research tells us that getting out in daylight first thing in the morning helps keep our sleep/awake rhythm in check. Move for ten minutes a few times a day or thirty minutes in the morning while you have the energy to get it done. Fitting movement into our day is easier when we’re not pressuring ourselves to do what everyone else does. Find out what works best for you and do that. Move to enhance mental clarity, increase your energy, improve your mood and sleep as well as strengthen your muscles.

I think it’s important to start our day with the intention of not overwhelming ourselves. I find having a list for the grocery store helps, so I can add to it as needed. I also like to make sure I have a “to do” list for tasks that are both immediate and long range; this way I don’t have to keep track of all of the information in my head. Put a little fun on your “to do” list every day too by adding an activity or an experience that you know will make you happy. It could be calling a friend, writing an appreciation note for someone, reading a book or enjoying your favourite refreshment in the garden. We’re so used to taking care of everyone else before ourselves that if we don’t write it down, it might not happen.

Try journaling to either express some feelings you might be experiencing or to help solve a challenge in your life. Sometimes, I enjoy journaling about what I love: food, experiences, people, or activities. I also love to write down what I’m grateful for (it’s a long list). I think you’ll find that this exercise can be a powerful tool to help clear out mental clutter.

However you begin your day, incorporating healthy habits benefits your health on all levels and having a good self-care practice incorporating some of these ideas is a great reminder to yourself that you are important and you matter.

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