When I was growing up in the 70s, there was a popular song whose lyrics I didn't completely understand until I got older. It was multifaceted in its meaning, to say the least.
On the surface, the lyric, "I fought the law and the law won," seemed to mean exactly what it said. A criminal tried to get away with something, and was willing to fight to do it. But ultimately, he lost the fight, and the law won it.
But over time, I realized it had other meanings. For example, it could be used to talk about those things we can't escape, no matter how much we might want to do so. The idea is that you can kick and scream all you want to, but the result is inevitable. There's no fighting it.
I also thought it be about the things we resist again and again. In the song's chorus, he suggests by repetition that he kept on fighting. Maybe we humans do that in many ways. We resist again and again even though we know we can't win.
And so we come to mornings.
When was the last time you found quiet time, in your own house, where no one is bothering you? Imagine drinking a full cup of coffee without heating it up in the microwave 3 times. Maybe you craft the perfect blog post, or read a book, or fold laundry. Whatever it is….you get to choose.
- How Busy Moms Can Have Happy Mornings, Messy Motherhood
Talk about something inevitable, that resistance will not fix no matter how hard you fight!
(1) Nurture Yourself First
When I get up, I put on a soft, comfy robe. I slide on comfy slippers. It's like I roll downstairs while still in my bed. I don't pop up, shower, shave, and hit the ground running. The opposite works for me. -Chris Dessi, 5 Powerful Morning Rituals for People Who Hate Mornings, Inc.com
I am learning that pushing myself when I first get up drains me, and sets me up to struggle all day. Instead, I am gentle with my morning routine. I stay in my robe and slippers.
I start the day with my quiet time, reading a passage of Scripture, praying and then, reading something inspirational whenever I have time to add more reading. For others, this time could be spent meditating (I often do a brief meditation, too), doing yoga poses, having a cup of tea or other soothing activities to create enough time to come to life gradually.
(2) Start with Whatever is Most Important
I encourage you to make a brief list the day or night before, and list them in order of importance. How you begin the tasks may be influenced by what kind of day you're having. or may vary.
Generally speaking, start with what's most important to you to get done that day.
But if you need a quick win, with something small you can finish easily, you might start there, and find that the energy of that accomplishment helps to fuel the next thing.
If I wake up tired or brain-fogged, for example, I might start with a small task, that I don't need much brainpower or energy to accomplish, and the satisfaction that comes from that small win lifts my flagging spirits, gives me a small burst of energy and motivates me to move on to something else on the agenda.
You may find, too, that everything gets easier after that first small task has been accomplished.
On the other hand, if you have been avoiding a task or tempted to do so, because of a challenging task, you might start there so that you can break the spell of avoiding it.
I find that this can happen for me with writer's block. So if I notice that days are going by and I am still putting it off, then one morning, I make it the first thing I tackle.
But I set low expectations. Instead of trying to complete it, I tell myself I will find a quote I want to use, or write the introduction, or think of a story I want to include.
Just doing a piece of it breaks the spell, and then, it's much easier to keep going or to get back to it without procrastinating again. Would that strategy help you, too?
The tried and true strategy, of course, is to start with whatever most needs doing. The one where, if asked about only getting one thing done, it's that one you'd choose.
For me, those are often tasks that have a deadline. Which means I have probably been worried about them. So getting them done not only gets them off my back, it makes me feel better.
What are the tasks you have that come with a deadline? Best to start your day with them whenever possible.
(3) Let Go of Perfection & Completion
It's letting go of the expectation of what we thought the day would look like (or how much sleep we would get that night) and deciding to be present with what is rather than trying to fight against it.
- Ashley Bradley, How to Let Go of Perfection Once and for All, Mama, Motherly
There's something that trips me up like nothing else on difficult days. It's the vision I had for the way I thought the day would go. The way I needed it to go.
It can be so hard to let go of that, for me. Is it for you, too?
But if I can't let it go, then I don't create the space I need for accepting what's actually happening. There may be ways to enjoy the day I've got if I can take my gaze off of my disappointment about what went wrong.
Letting go is hard for me, so this is still a work in progress. But I am working on it because it's another one of those things that can make such a big difference when I am able to do it.
It helps me to pause, right in the middle of mentally complaining about whatever went wrong and acknowledge my disappointment. Sometimes I have to take a break for a few minutes and breathe until I have moved a bit sideways from it.
Then, I can think about how much of the day is left, what I hope to create during that time, and what I can do right now to make this moment better.
Later, it might help to take a look at what went wrong to see if I can create any workarounds for next time, but that is a process that works better at night when the day is done and I'm beginning to anticipate the next one.
(4) Surrender to Your Need to Rest: Even for Brief Pause Breaks
We’ve seen over and over again that a diligent approach to mindfulness can help people create a one-second mental space between an event or stimulus and their response to it. One second is all it takes to become less reactive and more in tune with the moment. In that one second lies the opportunity to improve the way you decide and direct, the way you engage and lead.
- 10 Minutes of Mindfulness Changes Your Reactions, GetPocket.com
Sounds like those 10 minutes minutes a day might be well-spent for moms and others who lead families, not just companies, am I right?
The article goes on to suggest tips for becoming more mindful, and makes the point that though mindfulness techniques can be done at any time, morning seems to be the best time if you can find time for it then. To read the article, click the link in the quote box.
Pausing in between activities, especially work-from-home activities has really helped me. After getting something done and knowing I can take it off my list, I make myself a cup of tea and then grab my Kindle and read for a bit.
I need that down time before taking on anything else, and when I don't give myself that break, I run out of fuel much sooner during the day and find myself struggling later on to get anything done. It surprises me sometimes to note just how powerful and restorative this break is.
I'll go into it feeling tired and thinking that I may have to put off whatever I had planned to do next, and then, once my tea break is over, I find myself eager to get right back to work.
(5) Take Time to Eat
I am never hungry when I first get up. So it's easy not to even think about eating until I have gotten quite a bit done, and have had my morning tea.
But if I skip eating altogether, not only am I ravenous eventually, but I completely run out of steam. It saves time, to decide to eat later when I have to run errands or get to appointments, but I pay for it by feeling like I don't have the energy for what I need to do.
Even eating a small amount will make a difference. You may find that it solves the energy crisis you experience during that part of the day, when suddenly you want to stop, but there's still some day left.
For me, eating a little something, or sometimes an entire meal was often just what I needed.
Now, I have a chronic illness, chronic fatigue syndrome, so I am not suggesting that a meal can get rid of any chronic illnesses, or their energy challenges. But I often gave up on anything making a difference at all because I knew it wouldn't solve the big problem (the illness). I didn't realize what a difference it could make to solve a small problem.