One of the underlying reasons that people drink alcohol is because it's become part of their routine. To some, drinking is a habitual practice. It definitely became habitual for me when I found myself watching The Bachelor every Monday with a glass of riesling in my hand.
Having a routine is almost second nature for humankind. All of us engage in some routine or another, whether it's checking social media when we wake up or brushing our teeth before bed. Naturally, humans are creatures of habit.
When I quit drinking, I felt all out of sorts. My evenings were suddenly free for me to do whatever I wanted, and I'd be lying if the free time didn't freak me out a bit. Deciding to give up drinking, which took up a lot of my time, was a big change for me - no matter how beneficial it was.
Early on in my recovery, I knew that I needed to re-stabilize myself, otherwise relapse was a realistic probability. At the time, my schedule consisted of working on an internship during the afternoons, and working as a bartender at night. That left my mornings open.
I decided that I wanted to start a daily morning routine that would give me structure and help me optimize my day. It was all too easy for me to begin the day by downing a cup of coffee, diving straight into work and into the flurry of emails. This always left me anxious, stressed and unwell. It was time to make a change.
I decided to start each morning off with things that would make me feel relaxed, balanced, and ready to take on the day. I've adjusted my morning routine a handful of times since I started, but it's always consisted of a mixture of these key things:
Meditation. For my morning routine, meditation is a non-negotiable. I'm the type of person who starts stressing out about everything I need to get done in the morning, so meditation is essential to calm my state of mind. The first thing that I do in the morning is meditate so that I can start my day off in a calm state. In the beginning, I started with five minutes, and now I've worked my way up to fifteen.
Affirmations. I'm fairly new to affirmations, but I've grown a liking to them. Repeating affirmations everyday is a great way to become more confident in areas of your life where you feel you're lacking. For instance, one my affirmations right now is "Money is a resource. I will use this resource to the best of my ability. I will not feel guilty about how I choose to use this resource." This is a good affirmation for me at the moment, because I'm taking the summer off work and often feel guilty about not earning enough money. Eventually, I start to believe my affirmations, and my behavior changes accordingly. Every few months, I modify or change 4-6 affirmations, and spend one minute repeating each one.
Journaling. After my meditation and affirmations, I spend 5-10 minutes jotting down my thoughts and feelings for the day. Writing is a good outlet to let your thoughts clear out of your head, and it can be extremely therapeutic. The goal is to let the words flow and not to get caught up in perfectionism. I always end my journaling sessions with three things I'm grateful for, and what I'd like to get out of my day.
Breath-work. When I first started my morning routine, I did five minutes of breath work before my meditation session. It's a good way to release any stagnant energy. I never got super in depth with breath work practices, so I just inhale and exhaled throughout my nose with no pause in between. It seems simple, but it's more difficult than you'd imagine. Usually, it really heightened my meditation practice. If you're interested in learning about breath work, the book "Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art" is a great place to start.
Exercise. I admit that I've been slacking on this one for a few months now. However, for a handful of months, I was doing 10-30 minutes of exercise every morning. Some days I would go on runs, other days I would watch HIIT workouts on Youtube. Either way, mindful movement was a good stress releaser. If you like yoga, that would also be a good option to incorporate into your morning routine.
Reading. Sometimes if I'm free, I like to spend my morning reading a book. Usually I leave this for bedtime, but I've heard of people reading for ten minutes out of their morning.
At first glance, thinking about doing these five activities every morning might seem daunting. However, it actually turned out easier to implement than I thought, because each activity only takes up a few minutes at a time.
I also customize my morning routine to fit my situation. Nowadays, I'm spending more time meditating and doing affirmations because that's what I think best suits me at the moment. Other times, I was focusing more on the exercise aspect. It's always changeable, which makes it a lot less stressful.
Deciding to implement a morning routine was one of the best decisions I made for myself in sobriety. It has tremendously decreased the amount of stress I feel in the mornings, which has really helped my recovery. I'll admit, that I still have some hard days. A morning routine isn't going to solve all negative emotions, it just makes it easier to navigate through them.
My morning routine has brought stability and peace to my life. Through it, I've experimented with meditation, found my favorite fitness channels, and enhanced my gratitude practices. Now that I'm hangover free, I can take some much needed "me" time every morning.
My morning routine never takes longer than forty-five minutes. Even so, I'm devoting that time for myself everyday. Out of our twelve hour days, we all deserve to spend at least one of them on self care.
Inner peace has been pivotal in my sobriety, and I have my morning routine to thank for that.
If you're interested in learning more about the benefits of a morning routine, Hal Alrod's book "The Miracle Morning," is a great resource to start thinking about it! He also has a journal, planner, and separate editions for real-estate agents, network marketers, parents, entrepreneurs, and students. But my all time favorite is the Miracle Morning for addiction recovery!
Do yourself a favor, and invest into your well being by spending your first hour devoted to peace.