I am your classic workaholic.
My morning routine up until this year consisted of waking up at 7:30AM, rolling over, and immediately looking at my emails. After checking my email, I would get dressed, scarf down a granola bar, literally run to the elevator in my apartment building, and get into my car. On the way to work, I would try to drown out my worries about the upcoming workday by listening to music on the radio.
At work, I would settle in eventually, knocking out projects with pleasure (I thoroughly enjoy my job as an Associate Director at a small consulting firm). However, my work went late, and by the time I got out, I was tired. Occasionally I had time to squeeze in a trip to the gym. At home, I would hang out with my now-husband, watching Netflix and HBO-go.
Now, I'm not saying that people who follow the above routine are doing anything wrong. I just know that ultimately, the cost-benefit of living this hurried way, responding to stimuli (emails) upon waking up, limiting exercise and self-care time, did NOT work for me personally. When I faced the added stress of planning a wedding this year, I decided I could no longer continue with this routine.
So I simply changed my morning routine.
I began waking up earlier, at 6:30AM. I stopped checking my phone. Instead, I put on my favorite music, or even better, one of my favorite podcasts and headed to the gym or the park.
I learned that podcasts started my day out right because I could ignore my own anxieties for a while and instead learn about self-help (mostly from "The Life Coach School Podcast" by Brooke Castillo) and also listen to stories (i.e. on podcasts like "The Moth Radio Hour").
At the gym, I started to develop a routine -- one day I'd do cardio, another day -- legs, another -- arms, and finally, abs. Then I'd start over again. Exercising made me feel great not only physically but mentally as well.
I left the gym every morning feeling refreshed. And since I had woken up early, I'd have time to grab my favorite iced coffee, eat cereal for breakfast and sometimes journal while eating! I would then shower and drive to work feeling relaxed and accomplished.
When I arrived at work, I found that I was more productive and happier since I was starting out my morning in such a positive, healthy way. I started finishing my work faster, delegating appropriately, and our projects were completed more efficiently.
Now, what does this have to do with writing my novel? With my professional life in check, I now have more time to write my novel when I get home. After work, I no longer needed to squeeze in a trip to the busy evening gym since I already went. Now that I am working more efficiently, I get out of work earlier, with more time to write.
Sticking to this morning routine has transformed my entire day, and enabled me to finish the first draft of my novel. I am so thankful for the time I've made in the morning to improve my mental health and focus throughout the day.
Running in the AM in Miami while traveling for work
Labels: anxiety, exercise, health, mental health, morning routine, My Mental Health Journey, My Writing Journey, novel, podcasts, writing