Self-improvement hacks

Here’s what happened when I tried to makeover my morning and evening routines.

Wake at 5 am on first alarm

My usual habit is turn off my alarm clock on the first alert and go back to sleep for about 30 minutes. The alarm clock is stationed across the room and I must get out of bed to turn it off, but I still crawl right back into bed.

I think I was successful at getting up at 5 am twice so far. It is wonderful when I do because I am able to accomplish so much before I need to get into the shower at 7 am.

Write for 30 minutes while drinking coffee

Most mornings I did achieve this. On weekends I carved out an hour or three to write depending on other obligations and my mood. Writing serves as a type of therapy for me. Unlike others, I typically know what it is I am and feeling and what I want to say, but writing is the vehicle that allows me to express myself most effectively. It also bars interruption mid thought and holds questions until the end.

Some evenings I would take my laptop to Tae Kwon Do and try to squeeze in a few more words. That was until my son called me out.

“Mom, why don’t you watch me?”

“What do you mean?

“You are always on your phone or computer like the other moms.”

He was right, well he was half right. I was on my phone or computer half of the time. After that, I have not scrolled through Instagram or hauled my laptop to any of their events. The truth is I love watching them practice. Grand Master Chong is hilarious and it fills me with happiness to see how far they have come.

Read for morning inspiration (10 minutes)

Currently, I am participating in a yearlong course in regards to clearing. Each day for one year there are small nuggets of wisdom to read or listen to about simplifying and acceptance. This takes less than 10 minutes and I was able to do this mostly regular, say 80% of the time. I also liked the idea of completing this task just before meditation to deepen my contemplation on the subject.

Meditate

By nature, I am an incredibly anxious person. Well, maybe not by nature. I remember long ago summer days when I was as far from worry as possible. All of my happiest memories are from summer, possible vitamin D related anxiety?

Anyways…

Meditation seemed like a wonderful way for me to clear my busy mind and find peace. Most days.

Exercise and stretch

For a couple years now I have been following Emily Skye completing her workouts because I have found her routines do not hurt my lower back. I prefer to get my workout done in the morning because it’s easier for me to dismiss adding a workout into my already busy evenings. Morning workouts also get my endorphins pumping and help me to focus better throughout the day. Not to mention it helps put me in a better mood and there is also the satisfaction of knowing I have my workout in for the day.

Stretching is a HUGE component I have been missing. After watching my boys at Tae Kwon Do I noticed how much of the practice was dedicated to stretching and how flexible they had become in just one month. It was impressive. Now after each workout, I use those exact stretches and also a few others I picked up from my back surgery rehabilitation. The difference this has provided in the reduction of back pain is incredible. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I could jump on a trampoline without serious pain the next day, but now that is just part of every day.

Record 5 items in my gratitude journal

This has changed my attitude for the better. Humility is largely important to me, but I too suffer from the human condition of ‘never enough’. After doing this for a few weeks I noticed a shift to my inner dialogue saying thanks to things I had otherwise taken for granted.

Each evening drink 1-2T of ACV before bed

Easy, breezy, lemon squeezy. This one was pretty simple to incorporate into my routine and I completed this 99% of the time. Sure, it’s not delicious, but it’s doable. I put a little in a glass of water then chug. Follow that with another glass of water and I am done.

One strange thing I noticed was that my lower right abdomen was sore the mornings after doing this. I assume that is from the cleansing happening to my kidneys and liver.

Head to bed at 9 with my book

Fail. To date, I do not think this has ever happened. My husband is a night owl and I am an early bird. To compensate for our very different circadian rhythms I fall asleep on the couch while he watches TV and he wakes me up when he is ready to go to bed. Luckily we are both introverts so just being in the same room satisfies the need for closeness.

When I am really lucky the TV won’t be turned on, the boys grab books, my husband watches YouTube on his phone and I can read surrounded by my beautiful family. This is my favorite way to end the day.

What I learned

Some days all of this seemed like just more crap on my already full to-do list so I rebelled and skipped things. Other days I really wanted to get it all done, but forgot, fell asleep, or prioritized other things.

What I learned is that there is no need to feel obligated to do all of these things every single day. I still benefited from each of these without keeping a perfect routine. At one point I was five days in and did not get up at 5 am so I thought I would need to start the experiment all over again, but then I decided not to. Instead to just forge ahead and see what I could do.

My routine was often jumbled up. Some days my exercise took on the form of jumping on the trampoline with the boys or playing several games of badminton in the backyard. Meditation had to wait until evening some days and often it was also done on the trampoline while watching the sun sink low into the horizon. There were also days when I fell asleep while meditating on the couch.

Most days I completed some, but not all of the tasks. Some days I doubled up to make up for the days I missed. The bottom line is that I did the best I could without becoming neurotic and stressed. The result being I like the way it feels to add these things into my life. Trying to add so much at one time is a bit foolish and I knew that going into this project, but if I keep moving forward eventually all of these things will just be a part of my everyday life.


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