Embracing Daily Habits for Joy
For four years of my life, I commuted daily to New York City from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. That is, on the days I was working from the office and not traveling the world.
My “normal” day was easily 16 hours long-…waking between 3am and 5am, returning home between 8:30pm and 11pm.
During these years, morning and nightly routines did not exist, quite frankly, morning and night did not even exist for me. I was on copy, paste, rinse and repeat, go, go, go…
During these years of my life, I was searching for ways to become more calm and focused. As the years progressed and my schedule did not shift from this manic state, my blood pressure went up, my cortisol levels went through the roof, my auto immune disease got worse, and I was in the hospital three times in twelve months. I was chronically irritable, overwhelmed, nervous, depleted and exhausted.
The state I had allowed my body and mind to endure needed to change. Over the past four years, I have discovered, designed and implemented rituals and routines into my life, that have not only given me a sense of calm, serenity and joy, but have also provided me with the grounding I needed to become fully present in my life. That grounded energy that comes from health and wellness allows me to be calm and joyful with my family, as a leader, and in my work. As a result of these daily practices, I gradually became clearer, more focused, and radically improved my productivity and influence in my work. Most of all, I am healthier, happier, and I maintain a clean and consistent level of energy throughout my day.
Just last year one of my mentors shared a quote with me, that “Discipline shall set you free.” The idea of rituals is that, through daily commitment, or “discipline” they create grounding in your body. Our bodies need to have consistent rhythm like the rhythm of nature. Consistency is key. I became amazed at how much my sense of calm and joy improved with simple choices like committing to 8 hours of sleep each night, maintaining as much consistency as possible with the time of day I woke from sleep and went to sleep. Sleepwas truly the number one goal I had in my “recovery” so around it, I created daily rituals to ease my body in and out of waking hours.
To create and maintain consistent calm in my life, I focus on my mind, body, and soul every morning and evening through the practice of daily ritual.
When waking in the morning, I like to take the first few moments of my waking state to breathe in deeply as I welcome in all of the things that I am grateful for in my life. Practicing simple deep breathingand thoughts of gratituderather than reaching for my phone to see my email and what I need to react to has greatly improved my sense of calm as I embrace each morning. Checking email while you are still in your bed puts your body into a fight or flight response, and looking at the blue light instead of the sunlight is not calming for your nervous system.
I make my bed. This simple act helps me feel like I’ve organized my environment, that I’ve cleared the sleeping energy and moved into an energy of the next thing. I also clear the air with sage or lavender, signaling to my body a sense of calm and renewal.
I get outdoors. I have three dogs, so getting outdoors first thing in the morning is not optional. The beauty of this though is how my mind changed this from an obligation to an opportunity. Fresh, clean country air, and connection to the beautiful souls of my animals- being their care giver and mamma, has helped me start my day with a sense of purpose and connection to the bigger picture of life and the energy of life that comes from the air, the trees, the singing birds, the ebbs and flow of nature. Fresh air to me gives me such life and energy.
I write stuff down. I journal, I plan, I set intentions and I form my strategies. As I sip my morning coffee, I begin to set intentions, and to create plans for what I want my day to look like, who I will be, how I will feel, what I will give. I like to use The Three Minute Journal, The Happiness Planner, Savor Life Planner and Desire Map Planner to help guide my thoughts and intentions, and inspire the actions I will take and goals I will achieve throughout the day. I have also tried to limit my “to-dos” to three things as I feel we cannot truly accomplish more than that in the midst of a packed meeting schedule which is how many of us work each day.
I meditate. Rejoice as this is a beautiful practice to put into your life if you are looking for a way to get clear, channel your chaotic energy, get out of your head, and go into the day with a sense of calm, joy and purpose. In the beginning, the most incredible take away I found in meditation was how breathing deeply and completely helped to relax my nervous system. Over time, I realized I could receive guidance from the stillness, and I allowed my mediation practice to start guiding me to the right next steps to take in my day, and in my life.
I listen to music. Being married to a musician you would think that music would have been a strong part of my daily routine and lifestyle, but it was only recently that I truly discovered the healing power of music and how when you find the right music, it can move you to a strong sense of calm and joy in the moment. I listen to Kundalini meditation music throughout my morning.
I move my body during the day. Everyone has a different biochemistry, and for me, I have found the best time to move my body is mid-afternoon in the fall and winter months and early evening in the summer months. I try to take a 30 minute walk just to clear my mind and energy, and I find I am most creative and allow thoughts to come freely as I listen to music and breathe fresh air. I am able to go back to work with better ideas, I often problem solve and sort during these walks. If during the evening, I realign with my work day being over and I reprogram myself to know that it is now time to savor life, enjoy life and transition away from work.
To wind down from the hectic days, I choose to take an hour to transition myself to sleep. This starts with dimming the lightsaround 9pm, putting on my meditation music, running a hot whirlpool bath with Epsom salts, lavender essential oil, and candlelight only in the bathroom. I also practice deep breathing, and often readsomething uplifting and positive for my continued personal growth. I like to always be learning and like to have positive, uplifting thoughts as I drift off to sleep. I also like to do some yoga stretchesto open up my body and make sure I clear any stress or anxiety out of my body so that I can open it up for the healing energy that sleep provides. Finally, I say prayers ofgratitudefor everything that they day offered me, and all of the positive connections and joy I received.
I hope that you benefit from the stories around how these practices changed my sense of calm and joy, and that you are able to adopt positive uplifting habits into your daily routine so that you can experience calm, joy and a healthy mind, body and soul.