Ever feel like you’re just rolling out of bed on Monday morning and being pulled reluctantly along through the work week? Counting down the minutes until lunch, hours until the end of the day, and days left until the weekend?
We all have those weeks..or months, or even years!
It’s pretty tough to feel inspired and creative on a daily basis, especially if we spend 40+ hours a week on a computer.
So, what’s the answer to feeling in control of your day?
The simplest practices you can imagine can make a huge difference in your day. You probably already have some morning and evening, or even midday routines. Brushing your teeth? A morning coffee ritual? Maybe you go to the gym or on a jog before you start your day? These are all great. They get us on track to move through the day feeling clean and energized.
And you can find countless resources for optimizing productivity. But I think we are already pretty obsessed with producing and working hard.
These 14 routines (5 morning, 4 midday, and 5 evening) shared below are aimed to inspire you and help you feel excited to create. But I think you’ll find they will also help you be more efficient, mental clear, calm, healthy, confident, focused, and alive!
Pick and choose any that resonate with you. Maybe pick one or two and build up to more if that feels good.
Stretch in bed. Take a few minutes before leaping out of bed to stretch out. Try child’s pose or seated forward bend. See if you can take some deep breaths while stretching before standing up and starting your day. Read more here about how stretching in bed can help you have a better day.
15-30 minutes of exercise or yoga. Stretch out any kinks, and get the blood flowing. Morning exercise jumpstarts your metabolism, improves energy, helps you sleep better, and develops self discipline. I read something somewhere–”exercise in the morning (before your brain knows what you are doing)”. Super helpful!
Meditation & deep breathing. Take a few minutes (maybe start with 5-10) to sit and take deep breaths. If it helps, you can focus on an intention you have for your day. Or just be present and acknowledge the thoughts coming in and out, without judgment. If you have trouble meditating, try an app. I use the Insight Timer App–it has a timer with a selection of beautiful bell sounds and a library of guided meditations from thousands of teachers.
Tea or warm drink. Yes, coffee is ok here as well! But maybe try starting your day with something a little more gentle. Coffee stimulates our adrenal glands, initiating fight or flight. Most of us are doing this every morning, first thing. Continually blasting our adrenals can be quite damaging long term. It can make our work erratic. Try drinking some green or herbal tea, or a tonic. I like to make tonics because they can feel as rich and delectable as coffee. You might find that reducing energetic ups and downs can stimulate your creative juices. The myth that we need to feel cracked out on caffeine, despondently sad, or emotionally unstable to be creative deserves its own blog post.
5-10 minutes of writing. A morning exercise can look many different ways. It could be a braindump (freewriting whatever comes up to clear out your mind) a dream journal, a to-do list, really anything goes. I like to braindump for a few minutes and then write 3 things I am grateful for, and 3 qualities I would like to embody for the day (e.g. confident, calm, and inspired). Pick your own writing adventure!
The middle of the day is a great time to reset after a morning’s work. Try these routines to relax your screen-drained brain, and refresh your body.
Eat outside or away from your desk. Take a total mental and physical break from work. Allow yourself to fully enjoy your lunch. Be present, and don’t spend your whole break on your phone. It’s tempting to decompress digitally, but scrolling doesn’t really help our brain unwind or our body decompress.
Look up or do some eye exercises. Most of us spend the day staring into a small world about 2 feet in front of us, straining our eyes and our postures. Take a few moments to look far into the distance, up at the sky. Observe the light in the trees, the traffic as it moves by on the street. If your eyes feel tired, try moving them around in clockwise and counterclockwise circles. Your eyes will thank you!
Stressed? Deep breathing or meditation. Having a stressful day? Use lunchtime to do some deep, slow breathing and/or sitting in silent contemplation. Observe your thoughts, locate where the stress is manifesting in your body, and use your breath to relax those tense muscles. Your whole day will be transformed.
Most of these evening routines are designed to help you wind down, and also to dedicate some creative time for yourself.
Healthy, light dinner. This one can be tough! Sometimes the best part of my day is making and eating a hearty pasta dinner. But eating light and early at night can help us get a better sleep. Our bodies really don’t need so much food late in the evening, as we’re probably not doing much in the way of movement or exercise. We can give our digestive system a break by eating some easy-to-digest foods, such as steamed veggies and whole grains. Even just doing this 1-2 times a week can help our bodies out.
Digestive tea. If you do decide to go for that pasta dinner, try drinking some peppermint, fennel, or ginger tea to help you digest before bed. If you’re feeling really wild, you could go with apple cider vinegar (I like to mix a tablespoon or so with a glass of warm water). This helps our body to process everything we’ve eaten. What does digestion have to do with creativity, you may ask? It’s pretty simple. Maybe you’ve noticed, but it’s awfully hard to feel inspired when you’re feeling overly full or even unwell. We’re much more likely to turn on Netflix or scroll through our phones if we’re seriously full.
Creative Practice. This could be music, art, writing, baking, collage, drawing, brainstorming, rearranging furniture, trip planning…anything that feels different than what you do for work. Ideally this is something you can do with your hands, but it could also be a creative computer project. This is time just for you, to do something that feels personal and fulfilling.
Meditation/breathing. Take some time to sit in stillness before sleep. Clearing out our head a bit before bed allows us to wind down and ground. It’s tough to get a full and deep sleep if our mind is still racing from the events of the day. Deep breathing (inhale and exhale for 4-6 seconds each) can help as well.
End of Day Reflection. This reflection is based on an Ignatian prayer practice called the Daily Examen. I like to do this in bed, right before I go to sleep. Reflecting on our day allows us to feel present, aware, and grateful. It sets us up for deep and peaceful sleep. You can listen to a guided version here. You can take or leave the prayer/god stuff, it just serves to get us feeling connected.
So try a few of these routines out, whichever resonate with you. I guarantee after a week of adding these to your life, you’ll feel transformed.
Do you have your own favorite routines? We’d love to hear what gets you feeling inspired and excited about life.
Originally published at www.sebvisions.com