I’m a list person. I like taking a moment every night and writing down everything I need to do the next day. Ticking off the boxes is so satisfying…if I get everything done.
Over the past few years, many have encouraged me to create a “morning” and “night” routine. Keeping on a schedule once proved helpful to my depression and anxiety, but I found I never could keep on track. I tried many different routines throughout the years, none of them sticking for more than a couple of weeks. And when I didn’t accomplish everything on my to-do list, my single takeaway from that day was remorse.
Frustrated with myself, I began to examine this conundrum. Was it just laziness or my lack of motivation? What was off in each routine? What else could I add to my schedule to keep me in control of my every day?
Then, it hit me. I didn’t need something added or removed. What I really needed was a rhythm.
What is a Rhythm?
The mood you set for your every day is your rhythm. It focuses on feeling and mentality rather than an hourly action plan.
Why Have a Rhythm?
I’m not bashing routines. But I do think they can become boring and often a set up for failure. After all, if you happen to fall out of your daily to-do’s, it’s hard to fight against the idea that your whole day has been wasted.
A rhythm creates a fluid feeling that you can then carry with you throughout the entire day. It allows room for flexibility and grace and draws you to what truly matters in your personal life.
How do you discover your rhythm? By identifying your priorities.
When you take even a few minutes to recognize and acknowledge your current state of daily life (such as physical, mental, relationships, food, budget, etc.), and how each state makes you feel and react, you can then start learning about your deep-set priorities.
Curious about how you can increase your daily awareness? Read about it here!
Why is identifying priorities important for creating a daily rhythm?
Since I was a child, mornings have been difficult for me. I never get a restful night’s sleep due to sleep problems. Each morning I wake up as though I’ve pulled an all-nighter, leading to a surge of anxiety the moment I create cognitive thoughts in the morning.
As I began increasing awareness of my personal life, I recognized a similar pattern on mornings I had to get up and going vs. mornings where I had little obligation. When required to hop out of bed a few hours earlier than usual, rush around the house, spend an hour in my messy closet moaning about nothing to wear, and shove food down into my nauseous stomach so I wouldn’t be late, I never had a good day. This hurried routine left me with a headache, debilitating anxiety, and feeling sick and dizzy. These were mornings such as Sunday, when I had to get ready for an early church service, or work days when I’d be on first shift to open the store.
As someone with a brain injury and sensory processing issues, this kind of day often breaks me.
It wasn’t until I realized that, in order to have a productive day, I needed to prioritize “me-time” for my mornings. But I couldn’t move forward unless I recognized what my true values were and what I wanted my overall takeaway to be from each day.
Discovering My Ideal Rhythm
I knew I wanted to prioritize physical and mental health, family time, and nutrition. I needed the ability to optimize my capabilities to take on the day, and to do so I needed to listen to what my chronic fatigue needed from me.
By taking slow mornings — relaxing in bed, not pressuring myself to get up at a certain time, eating when my body tells me it’s ready, interacting with my family, getting in morning snuggles with my dog, showering when my dizziness is gone and resting afterwards — has decreased my anxiety and heightened my daily mindfulness.
This is my rhythm. I do my best to plan out slow mornings because it hits all my priorities. My day now begins with a big dose of calm to prepare me for whatever else comes my way.
What About You?
Envision your ideal life. The one you think isn’t attainable. The life you daydream about and then shove to the back of your mind with a check of reality. If you created those daily awareness lists we talked about in the previous post, use them. Write out your ideal state for each item and note where your priorities lie.
And then — now this is important — identify why you desire those things.
You won’t get far in simple living if you don’t identify your end-goal. Simply having a desire for a less messy kitchen or a closet you can walk into without tripping isn’t going to cut it. Take a look at the priorities you currently practice and compare the priorities you want to re-embody.
Perhaps you’re filling all your time with work and saving very little space for personal family time. Or maybe you’re a frazzled mama, pushing through day-by-day, on the point of breaking, and you wish you spent less time running around and more time appreciating and enjoying your fast-growing children.
Think about your ultimate goal with simple living, and as you do this, consider your every day life. What sort of vibe do you want to embody? Take a step further from want and consider what melds with your personality, your mental health, and your work ethic. At this point, don’t factor in your home, current living situation, mental health, job, or anything else that pops up in a way of a “barrier,” interrupting your idea flow. Listen to your first thoughts, the fluttering in your gut as you write out your dream day.
It is from here you start introducing, little by little, your daily reality. There are some things you’re just not going to be able to change — your living situation, your inability to lock yourself in the bathroom and hide from your kids all day, etc.
Accept the Possibility of Change
Creating a space where there is no room for change isn’t always healthy. So, consider what you can control and change to better accomplish your ideal rhythm. Can you change jobs or hours? Live more frugally? Declutter and minimize your home so simple tasks don’t take half your energy to complete?
Change may seem impossible — but there is always the ability to change tucked away in your life somewhere. It may just require some uncomfortable searching.
For me, my current slow morning routine means I’m really starting my day around 10AM. I’d like to wake up earlier, to experience more quiet, mindful time before the whole household gets going, and to give myself more time to get things done in my day so I don’t stay up quite so late at night. I want to be ready mentally to enjoy some family time, get anything done around the house that I need to, and then jump into a productive work day. This means learning ways to better accept my morning “illness” both physically and mentally, working on my anxiety, and creating a simpler space in my life so that I’m less distracted and caught up spending hours on things that don’t really matter.
So, tell me — what does your ideal rhythm looks like? I would love to know what priorities you value in your life and how you’re going to better incorporate them into your daily rhythm! Let’s chat in the comments.
• Next time we’ll talk about how to create a more calming mentality and home to better accomplish your new daily rhythm •
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