Research suggests that having (and sticking to) a daily routine can actually make you more awesome. And by awesome I mean more organized, more rested, more productive, more emotionally stable, and best of all, more empowered.
Having a routine is also critical when you’re setting out to kick an old habit, or implement a new one.
Lately (and largely attributable to my ‘Type A’ Morning Smoothie), I’ve had a lot more physical and cognitive energy.
I try to get seven to eight hours of sleep per night, but I’m always up at 6, when hubs’ alarm goes off. The very first thing I do when I wake up is breathe. Seems obvious, right? Believe it or not, our breath is super shallow while we’re sleeping (especially for us clenchers and grinders). I take three to five deep belly breaths, imagining that my entire body is expanding as the breath comes in, and deflating as the breath makes its way out. While I practice conscious breathing, I release my jaw (I’m convinced I’m going to wake up one day without any molars) by gently pressing my tongue to the roof of my mouth and holding it there for about 30 seconds or so. I use a Still Point Inducer (yes, I know, it looks very similar to Bart Simpson’s ass after a pretty bad spanking, but it really does help stabilize the craniosacral rhythm, is great for the immune system, and cures tension headaches, to boot) and lie on it for about 10 to 20 minutes before I begin my morning stretches.
Here, let’s do them together:
First, roll onto your side (facing the edge of the bed) in a fetal position. Press your hand (of the arm that’s not under you, duh) into the bed to gently lift yourself up. Let your legs hang off the side of the bed, roll the ankles outward and shoulders backward five or so times, then reverse. Take a deep breath in, lift arms overhead, and stretch legs straight out in front, leaning forward on the exhale, stretching as far as comfortably possible (try to keep your back straight, not rounded). Point and flex the toes, and roll the right and left wrists five or so times in each direction.
Wiggle the toes.
Inhale, lift arms overhead and, on the exhale, gently twist right and lower the arms (right fingertips tented behind you, left hand pressed against right outer thigh, gaze over your right shoulder) for a count of five, inhale arms up and over, exhale, repeat on left.
Place right foot on left thigh in a figure 4, flex the foot. Inhale, lift arms overhead, exhale bend forward for a nice hip stretch. Repeat on left side.
Now you’re nice and stretched, the blood is flowing, and you’re ready to dominate your day.
Once standing, I like to do a few low lunges on each side to stretch the hamstrings.
I put my hair up, wash my face, and brush/floss/scrape/rinse, and hop in the shower.
Mind you, before the last nine months of full-on self care, that routine alone would have me wanting to crawl right back into bed — I’d be exhausted before I left the house.
After a quick moisturizing and skin care routine…
I make my way to the kitchen, where I pop a probiotic with a full glass of filtered H2O. At the suggestion of my doctor, I’ve been trying to fast overnight for 13 to 14 hours, so I’m not eating breakfast before 11am on a typical day. When I do, I prepare and eat my Type A smoothie (or some other protein based meal), and take 960 mg DHA Fish Oil. Please DO NOT take any supplements that I discuss on the blog without first consulting your physician.
After that, I start working, writing, doing calls, etc. I am literally obsessed with yoga (House of Jai is my second home), so I’ve been going to one to two classes a day, usually one gentle/yin and one Vinyasa. I guess I’m a little Qi crazy.
Exercise is SUPER important to manage general stress and anxiety, and keep our brains and hearts healthy. I try to hop on the treadmill a few times a week, but I literally hate indoor exercise. I cannot wait to move somewhere I will be able to ride a bike around town without being terrorized by crazy sociopathic drivers that hit and run for fun.
When I was first diagnosed with CFS, my doctor stressed the importance of “graded exercise” (physical activity that starts very slowly and gradually increases over time). I could barely do any exercise at all back then, let alone yoga twice a day. I would work out with my trainer once a week, and walk. I walked miles and miles, but that’s all I could do. Even that would leave me utterly exhausted, and sometimes a bit shaky.
But I never stopped. I kept pushing myself to do a little more each time, and I was determined to someday be able to exercise like I used to.
Nowadays, I get that exercise in, be it yoga, treadmill, or working out with my trainer, Ljubo Kovacevic, which I’d been doing two times per week.
In addition to exercise, we really need to stay on top of a healthy lifestyle (I don’t believe in the “D” word). I am currently, for the most part, gluten, dairy, corn, soy, refined sugar, and pretty much red meat free. I also try to stay away from other types of inflammatory foods, such as nightshade veggies, starchy grains, and *gulp* chocolate (mind you, I used to consume chocolate after every meal, even breakfast). I think this type of lifestyle is critical for those of us battling with any type of chronic inflammation or autoimmune condition.
Getting enough fruits and veggies in is also critical, but a challenge sometimes. Although I absolutely LOVE and can consume both in very large quantities without hesitation, cooking veggies at lunchtime when I have a gazillion other things to do (like write blog posts and practice yoga) is just a giant pain in the balls. I don’t typically do raw (aside from the occasional crudite), so it was easy to end up with no veggies at all at lunch. I’m also not a big fan of canned or frozen, unless absolutely necessary. So what I’ve decided to do lately is, instead of being a complete gavone and eating all the veggies we have at dinner in one gluttonous sitting, save a portion for lunch the next day. Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to not eat all the veggies in front of me? Major challenge. But I do notice a difference when I get those veggies in at lunchtime.
Between lunch and dinner, I’m either working, doing yoga, or running errands. My husband and I usually have a late-isa dinner, but 9 times out of 10, it’s lean and green.
Then, some cuddle time with Foz, reading, and into bed.
Seems exhausting, but for me, and so many others, having a meaty self care routine is critical to having a healthy and sane existence.
Would love to hear about your amazing and energizing routine and how it works for you in comments below (or, if you’re a shy one, feel free to shoot me an email).