Create Smoother, Calmer, More Beautiful Mornings

Create Smoother, Calmer, More Beautiful Mornings

If you've ever been woken up by your alarm, overwhelmed by a feeling of not knowing what to do first combined with wanting to do nothing at all and decided instead to just press the snooze button, you're not alone. More importantly, it's likely also not your fault. At least not the "you" in that moment.

Allow me to explain what's happening in that action-packed couple of seconds that greets each of us every moment. When we rise after a period of deep sleep, the resulting sensation of grogginess, confusion, or wanting to pull the cozy covers back over our head is a combination of 2 things:

  1. cortisol, the stress hormone, suddenly beginning to enter the body through light, noise, and increased activity.
  2. sleep inertia, a temporary disorientation and decline in performance and/or mood after awakening from sleep.

These things are not necessarily bad, but they can be a limiting factor if we don't figure out how to make them work for us. We often hear that "healthy stress" is good for us and that morning dose of cortisol falls precisely in that camp. A controlled amount of cortisol in the morning embraced in ways that make you feel empowered is key to awakening the body's physical and cognitive power. Moreover, while sleep inertia causes temporary slower reaction time and speed of thinking, that groggy just-waking-up state can be a great opportunity to get in touch with your subconscious mind (which was very active during sleep) and write in a dream journal, do a 2-minute brain dump, or connect mind and body in a morning meditation session. Controlling these variables is another reason why having a great morning routine is key to creating a great day. Imagine for a moment that all of those forces are working against you, so you snooze until the last minute, roll out of bed feeling a like a messy cocktail of morning chemicals, and dive straight into your day. Clearly, all of the important things that you will be doing, even the way that you show up in the world and interact, will be weighed down by that poor morning routine. Then imagine that, instead, alert daytime you took some steps to ensure morning you is prepared to greet the day warmly and softly, with a glow, gratitude, and excitement for the day ahead. That version of you is going to be doing *incredible* things. And incredible things are exactly what you're meant for.

Happily rising with that first alarm ring and going about a healthy, enjoyable, and productive morning routine can be a challenge. Luckily, taking charge of and preparing our environment, routines, and influences gives us the ability to create mornings that feel refreshing, empowering, and beautiful. Mounting research has brought an astonishing amount of visibility into our biology and psychology, amongst many other areas. With this research at our fingertips, we've also been able to create organize solutions that can truly set up present day humans to operate at a much higher level than ever before. Increasingly, we have more individual power to direct our inner narrative, shape our image to reflect our inner values, understand our drivers, and operate in perfect sync with the needs of our mind and body. 

Harnessing that power and finding habits that bring you energy, calm, and joy is an incredible responsibility and privilege. Preparing for and walking through a morning routine is a very beautiful and very human thing to do. In a way, it makes us feel alive. In gathering what you need for a perfect morning routine, consider the following questions, perhaps journaling on them or just going on a walk and thinking through your answers.

What (and when) does your morning consist of?

Consider all the things you would like to do in your dream morning routine. Asking the question "what would the best version of me do in the morning to have the best day possible?". Writing or typing these activities in a note on your phone can be a very effective tactic for mapping out and visualizing that version of yourself. Keeping in mind, all the while, that you deserve to be the best version of yourself every day. You deserve to create and live the best life you could possibly have. 

Consider the time each of these activities truly requires.

If a skincare routine in the morning is a must-have, what provides the most value? Is it a 5-minute cleanser & moisturizer with SPF? Or does the feeling of a 10-minute sheet mask truly energize you? If morning movement feels essential to raising your endorphins and bringing out your best self, would you feel elated after a 30-minute jog or a 10-minute guided yoga/stretching session? It is easy to fall into the trap of assuming doing everything your best self needs to thrive would take more time than we have available. Instead, consider the minimum necessary time/effort for the maximum result.

For context, let's review some examples. In a 30 minute routine, this could either consist of a 25 minute run + 5 minute shower OR a 5 minute stretch, 2 minute guided meditation, 3 minute breathwork with aromatherapy, 5 minute skincare basics, 10 minute healthy bowl of oats, and 5 minute cuddle with the pups. Both of these routines require the same 30 minutes, yet they create a completely different backdrop to the day. One is not innately better than the other, yet each of us would likely feel much better following one of the options rather than the other. 

What is your environment communicating to your senses?

Is your space comfortably warm, inviting you out of bed in the morning, or frigid and cold, inspiring you only to pull the covers over your head? Vice versa equally applies, just thinking of the environment that makes you feel most energized and brainstorm the tools around you that could help create that climate (setting the thermostat schedule, investing in a towel warmer, putting an eye mask in the fridge, etc.). 

Some of our most powerful senses are related to smell and taste. Consider the scents you expose your senses to each morning. Are they refreshing and energizing? Comforting and warming? Inspiring and whimsical? When the olfactory system detects a scent, it sends signals to the limbic system, which then elicits an emotional response based on our past experiences and associations with that particular smell. This powerful connection between scents and emotions allows fragrances to influence our mood in various ways. Consider what your best life would smell that and find the right tools to recreate that in your environment and put your mind and body into the perfect state to thrive. Consider lighting a candle for ambiance, using a diffuser, or opting for a few sprays of an atmosphere enhancing room spray. 

At the same time, think of the beverages you interact with first thing in the day. Are your first sips of sugary sodas or artificially flavored coffee products? Does your routine involve sipping on a cold glass of water, an iced matcha, or a greens juice? Consider what would make you feel most nourished and energized for hours to come. Brainstorm the type of breakfast that would give you sustainable energy and the type of feeling that sets you up for success. Is a hearty, warm, comforting breakfast bowl? Or a chilled, refreshing, colorful yogurt or overnight oats bowl with different toppings? 

What does your morning sound like?

Whether it's relaxing lofi beats, white noise like bird chirps or rainstorms, or a favorite album, consider the soundscape you wake to and get ready for the day to. Ask yourself whether you enjoy upbeat or calm music in the morning, prefer a briany podcast, or even a background story. The only right answer is the one that makes you feel your best. 

In conclusion, while our morning may seem rushed, fleeting, or even dreadful, the moment we remember that so much of our experience is dictated by our own choices in routine, attitude, and energy, we can regain our personal power and create the space that is conducive for setting us up for the best day we can possibly live. Go out there and get it, you owe it to yourself. 

Evoke your best epoch, with Ephoque.

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