In all the literature I have read, theyk9 emphasise the importance of a bedtime routine. The importance of winding down the same way each night to let your body know that it’s time for bed. This could be by having a bath or reading a book. They all agree that turning off any device and not watching tv at least an hour or two before bed is also beneficial because the blue light gives your body a false sense of daylight. This is something professionals agree that everyone should follow, chronic illness or not because it helps you sleep better which leads to better decision making, improved memory and …. in summary, normal cognitive function.
However, I haven’t read anything about a morning routine. Personally, I’ve found it really useful to have a morning routine as it sets me up for the day and also gives me a good indication of how I am really feeling.
At the beginning, just after I was diagnosed, I got into a routine of waking 20 minutes earlier than usual. Yes, it meant less time in bed but usually I was awake. It also meant I could do these activities without worrying about having to rush around; I could take my time getting ready to go to work or go out. I began to follow a mindfulness course from a book my sister gave me a few years ago that I hadn’t got around to starting yet. It is a 7-week course and I have referenced it in the reading list part of my blog. So, I would meditate, following a mindfulness track or tracks dedicated to that week for 10-15 minutes. Then I would stretch. Once I had started with my PT, these stretches became more dynamic and yoga based which aided my relaxation and breathing.
Why was this necessary?
However fatigued I felt upon waking, after having completed 15 minutes of mindfulness and a further few minutes stretching, I always felt more refreshed and a little more energised. It gave me a more positive mindset for the day ahead. Even if this lasted for a short while, at least I had some slight respite from the fatigue and pain.
How about now?
Since returning from holiday a month ago, my morning routine has changed slightly in that I only really stretch consistently each day. Although I do not experience the same degree of stiffness and muscle pain, it is to aid my strength training, keeping me supple and try to prevent any avoidable injuries. Stretching is beneficial for everyone, particularly after exercise as it helps to prevent injuries and improves circulation. I do meditate but I haven’t found the need to do this as routinely. I will do it when I need a break but not so much in the morning. I did get out of a routine whilst away I think because I felt so much better that I didn’t feel the need. So perhaps I need to get back into the routine as it can only be of benefit to mediate at least once a day. Having said that, I do find myself being more aware of things happening around me and try to be mindful in the small moments in daily life.
I still reflect on how I am feeling each morning and continue to do this throughout the day after particular activities. I write these down in my diary which has become a log of what I will do when. I don’t fill it full; I just add the 3 main activities I want to accomplish that day alongside a time. I don’t criticise myself if I don’t start the activity at that time as it is not set in stone. I wait to see how I feel when I wake and make any necessary changes once I’ve reflected on how I am feeling.
Why is this important?
For anyone with a chronic illness, you have to learn to take each day as it comes. If you don’t, you’ll begin to feeling constantly guilty and a failure because you were unable to achieve all the things or even one thing you had previously planned to do (if I’m having a particularly bad day). You don’t know how you’re going to feel until you wake and then this could change throughout the morning as you get up and start your day.
So, reflecting how I am feeling each morning, stretching and perhaps some meditation all help to ground me. They set me up and keep me hopeful for the day ahead.