We Tried Setting a Morning Ritual – And It Made Our Whole Week Better

Wellness Wednesday

The LD staff decided it was high time we all made health a priority. Enter Wellness Wednesdays, a series of weekly health challenges by LD writers (and editors!) where we commit to seven days of healthy habits and share the results with our readers. This week’s challenge: Establishing a morning ritual.

This Week’s Participants: Katy & Jodie


Day 1

Katy: Whenever I take my morning a little bit slower and try to be intentional with my time, I feel better throughout the day. Eating breakfast on the go or mindlessly scrolling through social media is bound to happen sometimes, but I definitely find that starting my day off with a good podcast and a nice bowl of oatmeal gives me way more sustainable amounts of energy. This morning was a weird day to start this challenge because I had to wake up extra early to make the hour trek from my parents’ house back to school (I went there on Sunday for the Super Bowl). Thankfully, I got to use that time to have quiet contemplation in my car, as well as drink in the sunrise on the beautiful drove back to Eau Claire.

Jodie: Establishing a morning ritual is important to me because I have a flexible-but-busy schedule. Between my MFA, my remote/freelance work, and my home life, I have many responsibilities but not much of a routine. While it’s true that I don’t have to jump out of bed and cram a workout in before commuting to the office, I still find mornings stressful. I often work late and sleep in, and as a result, I tend to fritter the first part of my day away. Today, after finally dragging myself out of bed two hours’ later than planned, I focused on enjoying a healthy breakfast and getting some reading done. Tomorrow, I’m planning to wake up earlier and so I can eat, read, and meditate before I leave for a 10 a.m. appointment.

Day 2

Katy: This morning was little bit crazy, but I still got a chance to take a little bit of time for myself. I woke up a little later than I anticipated, but thankfully I set out my pot to boil the night before so I could make some tea (my one constant that I make sure I do every morning). I also made a nice bowl of oats with homemade nutella and chia seed jam. It definitely helps to be able to sit down and eat a filling and healthy breakfast before I officially start my day. I also got to read a short story for class while enjoying my breakfast, which was killing two birds with one stone. I did have to rush out of the house to print an assignment before class, but that’s life.  

Jodie: I didn’t get a good night’s sleep, so it was still a challenge for me to rise particularly early, but my 10 a.m. appointment kept me in check. After getting ready, I had time to sit down, eat breakfast and drink a cup of tea (OK, bit of a lie, I dumped most of it into a to-go cup before I left), but not to read or meditate. So, I definitely still have work to do. With that said, there was a time when I would have started the day by checking Facebook or even watching something on Netflix as I ate breakfast–I feel so much calmer now that I’ve made it a rule not to touch my laptop until I’m ready to be productive. Looking forward to tomorrow, I’m giving myself a cut off of no work past 10 p.m. tonight, so that on Day 3 I can be better rested, and have more time to myself before I get on with my day.

Day 3

Katy: I was incredibly tired last night, so I decided to go to sleep extra early. That gave me time in the morning to go to the gym. I usually go in the afternoon, but it’s easy for life to get in the way, so making the choice to go early ensured I’d have time to get in a good workout. I listened to a podcast and watched the sun rise through the gym window. It felt so incredibly good to greet the day that way, and I think I’ve found my new favorite way to start my morning. Obviously this won’t be possible, or even desirable, every morning, but it was nice to have a time to listen to podcasts (one of my favorite things to do) and get a nice sweat in.

Jodie: I’m leaving for a conference in DC today, so it was tempting to write the whole morning off before heading to the airport. However, I decided to stick to my goals of having a sit-down breakfast and reading before I turned my attention to anything else. I was excited about my trip and all the friends I was planning to see, so I made an exception and checked my phone/social media over breakfast. In hindsight, it wasn’t my brightest idea. Checking social media is fine, but I often find it hard to tear myself away once I start, and then keep feeling tempted to check it again (as if it’s really so important for me to know if anyone’s liked my status update or whatever). Not the best when I was trying to pack and make sure I had all my work organized. Post-election, I’ve found it’s especially important to delay my screen time, not only because it’s distracting, but because it’s often depressing. Of course I care about what’s going on in the world, but I don’t need to bombard my mind when I’m barely awake – politics is a subject I’d rather think about in the afternoon/evening.

Day 4

Katy: I didn’t get as much sleep as I wanted last night, but I still had plenty of time to make breakfast and chill a bit this morning. I got up and made a smoothie bowl with raspberries and mangos and a good bunch of granola on top. I enjoyed it with a large mug of green tea while reading and editing one of my classmate’s short stories. I love reading the creative work of my peers. It inspires me as well as helps me identify stylistic choices I admire/would like to implement in my own writing. I really wish that I would make more time to read for pleasure rather than for schoolwork, so I am hoping to do that at some point during the remainder of this challenge. It feels good to get stuff done in the morning, but sometimes it’s nice to treat yourself, even if it’s something as small as reading a good book or short story.

Jodie: Here’s where this challenge gets interesting for me, because I’m no longer at home in my own space. I woke up this morning in DC (comfy couch generously provided by Korey, LD’s Love & Sex Editor!) and was tempted to stress about figuring out the Metro and which conference panels to attend. However, I decided not to rush and instead made blueberry pancakes, hung out with Korey, and took time over my hair/makeup. One thing I’ve noticed is that, even with a flex/freelancer schedule, I feel a lot of guilt about not working in the morning. Even though I hate working in the morning! If I’m honest with myself, I get so much more done if I use the morning for exercise, reading, answering emails and even random chores – but I still feel the guilt of not having a “real” job and adhering to a corporate schedule. I hope this is something I can let go of over time.

Day 5

Katy: This morning I was greeted by the sun glowing bright orange through my window. After one of the better nights sleep of this week, it was a great way to begin my Friday. The sunshine for most of the week was deceiving, but thankfully today was the beginning of what will hopefully be a warm streak. I made some toast with peanut butter and chia seed jam and enjoyed it while reading a short story. I fulfilled my promise to myself to treat myself to some pleasure reading instead of just assigned reading, so I finally started a collection of stories I picked up at my local bookstore a handful of months ago. The collection has a sort of Black Mirror vibe going on, and I can’t wait to read more of the stories. I made sure that I had my tennis shoes so I could go to the gym right after my 9 a.m. class, so I drove and parked close to school. Scheduling is incredibly important to me, and I sometimes let myself become controlled by trying to pack a ton into one day. Hopefully I’ll find a way to overcome that trait over time.

Jodie: I woke up much earlier than normal (around 6 a.m.), which is common for me when I’m sleeping in a different place. Despite having these extra hours, I still took it easy and didn’t force myself to rush to the Metro for a 9 a.m. panel. Mornings are me time and not to be interrupted! One of my mistakes in the past was to set high expectations for morning productivity, and designate way too many tasks for before 12 p.m. I’ve learned that it’s helpful to take care of simple things the night before (such as choosing an outfit, packing my bag, and putting together meals/snacks when possible) so that I can truly relax the next day. As a result of taking it slow this morning, I had a lot more energy for the rest of the day and found I was able to concentrate more at the panels and events I attended.

Day 6

Katy: Similarly to Jodie, I woke up feeling extremely congested Saturday morning. I think it was a combination of getting less than optimal sleep and the ever changing weather here in the indecisive Midwest. I stayed up way too late watching the last season of “Parenthood” for the second time (crazy Friday night, right) even though I knew I had to be up early for an event in the morning. What can I say, the Bravermans took priority this time. I woke up and got ready super quickly so I would have time to call my mom and have a nice morning chat. Thankfully, my friends were running a little late, too, so I had time to look and feel halfway decent. It was beautiful outside this morning, so we walked on my favorite trail to get to the Planned Parenthood rally we were attending. Even though I didn’t have as much energy as I would’ve hoped, I still had a decently productive morning.

Jodie: I went to bed late the night before and woke up this morning feeling like my head was weighed down by bricks. (Mostly congestion, but the G&Ts the night before probably didn’t help.) I gave myself permission for a couple extra hours of sleep, plus a snuggle session with Russell, Korey’s adorable Yorkie, and felt much better. Interestingly, I found myself really craving a workout to get some energy going for the day– we’ll see how I feel about that when I return to Pittsburgh. It took me longer than I intended to actually get ready and get out the door for more conferencing, but at least I was in a good mood. It definitely feels indulgent to spend so much extra time relaxing, eating, and doing my hair and makeup, even though I much prefer it to leaping out of bed, rushing around, and trying to write when I’m half-asleep. Why is it so hard to do what is right for me personally, as if there is a committee of people judging me for not starting my day super early?

Day 7

Katy: Whoops is all I have to say…I went out with some friends last night to a house show and then we hung out at my apartment for a lot longer than I anticipated, even though I knew that I had to be up super early to make it to an event this morning. I fell asleep facedown of our futon (which was thoroughly documented by my smart alek friends) and then woke up at like 3 a.m. to move to my bed (whoops). So, needless to say, this morning was a complete rush just to get out of the house looking like I hadn’t woken up fifteen minutes before. I got to my book club meeting on time, and that in itself was a great way to start the morning. I went for coffee and some pleasure reading between the meeting and work, so I guess I’ll call that my effort for morning routine this time around.

Jodie: This being the last day, of course it was when I behaved the worst; I woke up at 6 a.m. again and immediately checked my computer. I told myself it was to make plans for my journey home, but y’all know I spent an hour reading random crap on Facebook. Sigh.

In conclusion…

Katy: I definitely feel like this challenge was a great vehicle to really focus on self-care and creating a routine for myself that makes me feel good and gives me energy for the day. The beginning of the semester is always stressful, and I noticed a significant change with how much I got accomplished this week compared to the last few weeks. I paid more attention to how much sleep I was getting, I made a conscious effort to make a good breakfast, and I gave myself ample time to be with my thoughts and expand my mind creatively and otherwise. That being said, there will definitely be slips ups and there’s no way that I’m gonna spend every morning calmly listening to a podcast and taking my time eating, but at least I now know that those things feel worthy to prioritize in my life.  

Jodie: I’m pleased that I took the time to track and be mindful of my morning activities. I love the ritual of waking, making breakfast and reading before getting ready. Going forward from here, I’d like to work on going to bed/waking up earlier, so that I still fit in my hour (or sometimes more) of me time first thing, but without it affecting my entire morning. I’ve realized it’s not that I can’t do a single thing until the afternoon, I just have to get myself in the right mindset first.

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