“Well begun is half done” – Aristotle

Seize the day means making the most of your life as it is happening right now. 

Do you often find your thoughts wandering into the past or reaching into the future ?

Do you put off what you really want to be doing now, to an elusive “later” time (the opposite of seizing the day) ?

Don’t worry, This is normal – we all do this to some extent, but it doesn’t mean you can’t change this! You  can learn to focus on the present moment, on what you  can achieve in the ‘here and now’ and how you can make the most out of every single day. 

What better way to start than from the moment you wake up?

The way you start your day can be really powerful. It often sets the tone for the day and influences our mindset for the remainder of it. Done right, a good morning routine can set you up for success, create momentum and shift your focus. On the flip side, a less than stellar start to the day can make you feel like you are on the back-foot before your day has even properly begun! 

What type of wake-up routine do you have? Do you identify with any (or all) of the examples below ? Have a think about these examples and how this might impact the rest of your day:

  • Serial Snoozer : Your alarm starts blasting, startling you out of a deep sleep (they call it an ‘alarm’ for a reason!) You snooze the alarm a few times, repeating the process of rest, alarm, rest, alarm until such time you absolutely MUST get out of bed or risk being late. Cue mad rush and dashing out the door. 
  • Phone Fanatic: Your alarm starts blaring, you turn it off and open up your social media accounts/email/news, scrolling bleary eyed. Before you are even fully alert, your brain is being bombarded with information overload. Some time later you realise this has distracted you for way longer than you intended and now you REALLY need to get up. And so the frantic process of getting ready for your day begins.
  • Pooped  Parent: You are in the midst of a deep slumber and suddenly you feel the weight of little bodies on top of you. The alarm hasn’t gone off yet, but your children are ready to start their day – meaning YOUR day has also officially begun. The cuddles in bed are lovely (feet in face and all!) but there has not been one moment for you to adjust from the state of deep sleep to having the responsibilities of being Mum/Dad. No time to address any of your own needs, before the needs of others. From the moment you crack your eyes open, it’s time to entertain, comfort, feed, dress, motivate, negotiate, herd and pack. Phew!

Now consider an alternative morning scenario

  • A gentle alarm sounds with ascending volume, you wake up slowly and calmly. You look around your bedroom and realise that it is quiet, no one needs your attention right now, you’re not rushed, and you can do whatever YOU want to do in this first hour (/20 minutes/10 minutes) of your day. You don’t snooze the alarm as you’re excited to spend this precious time looking after yourself. Similarly, you don’t check work emails, mindlessly scroll Facebook or look at the latest headlines – plenty of time for that later! You rehydrate with a big glass of water and drink it outside, taking in some natural light and looking around at nature or up at the sky, taking a few deep cleansing breaths. You then engage in an activity that energises you and makes you feel good (walking, journaling, stretching, meditating, playing with your dog etc). After this activity you have a cuppa and consider the three things you are most looking forward to today. Now it is time to get ready for the day, you have allowed sufficient time to do this and are feeling calm and energised.

Wow, what a difference! Allowing yourself to have the time and space to transition from rest to the demands of the day is a real game changer. It might be counterintuitive to think that waking up earlier actually INCREASES your level of energy, but it absolutely can – if you fill that extra time with joy and meaning. 

You might be thinking “it is all well and good to KNOW what a better morning routine looks like, but HOW am I supposed to add more activities to my already crazy, overloaded, busy life”?! 

GREAT question!

 It might mean you go to bed a little earlier, or cut out parts of your morning routine that don’t light you up (that phone scrolling again).

 It helps to start tiny, I mean REALLY tiny, with these changes. 

Maybe you aim to wake up 5-10 minutes earlier than usual , or you commit to a stroll around the block ?

You may decide to listen to a 5-minute meditation or perhaps you spend the first few minutes stretching your body ?

It is best to start small and achievable so you can immediately rack up those small wins , you can always increase the amount of time you dedicate to your morning routine over time.

Having big dreams is brilliant, but if the idea of a 10km run at the crack of dawn fills you with dread (it does me!) then it won’t have the intended effect. Choose things you genuinely want to do, not those you feel you should do to start the day well.

The sky is the limit when it comes to activities and ideas you can implement in your morning routine.

Here’s some ideas to get you started:

  • Stretch your body, whether that is a simple stretching routine or a full yoga class on YouTube
  • Take a few deep cleansing breaths 
  • Listen to guided mediations – especially morning meditations that leave you feeling inspired about the day ahead
  • Get outside and play with your dog
  • Go for a walk and really notice your surroundings
  • Creative writing or journaling – aim to write for a set amount of time with no expectations regarding length or content (or quality)!
  • Think of three things you are looking forward to today. Maybe share this with your partner/housemate or write it in a journal
  • Any form of exercise (swimming, running, cycling, gym, free exercise videos online)
  • A mindfulness practice during your morning shower or waiting for the kettle to boil
  • Consider an overarching goal or mantra for the day, you can repeat this to yourself over the day to keep you motivated
  • Read – for pleasure or to learn something new
  • Connect with loved ones 
  • Have a leisurely breakfast, really experience the pleasure of slowly eating great food

A note to parents : If your children are really early risers and it’s not feasible to wake up before them, include them in your stroll around the neighbourhood or playing with the dog. Run around with them, embrace play.

The most important part of enacting these changes is to experiment with your morning routine with a sense of curiosity and openness. Play around with different ideas and different combination of activities until you find a routine that serves YOU well…

And remember, each person’s routine will be unique & personal to them, and your routines will likely change and grow over time (as we do!), so remember to embrace change and have fun with it….Carpe diem! 

Amie Shailer

Author Amie Shailer

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