"The choices we make every waking minute are a statement of how well we care for ourselves. Morning presents us with an opportunity to cultivate inner hospitality. Even if the morning feels like a frantic blur, small preparations and beneficial activities go a long way toward preparing mind and body for the day ahead.
"It's easy to underestimate all the good things we do for ourselves in the morning. Simply noticing gestures of self-kindness we already practice can be an important step toward developing a greater awareness of our morning care. Use the next minute to take a personal inventory of the six beneficial behaviors that follow:
• "Brushing your teeth, showering, and general hygiene
• "Moving, stretching, and exercising
• "Eating nutritious food
• "Choosing clothes to help you feel good about your appearance
• "Focusing with an intention, a meditation, or a centering practice
• "Minimizing negativity and anxiety-producing stimuli
"If you regularly practice two of the body-care and two of the mind-care activities listed above, you are devoting valuable time to your morning care, even if you didn't think so. Which of the morning practices tend to slide under your radar? How would it feel if you were to find time for these nurturing activities? What obstacles prevent you from doing so?
"Monica was a stressed-out thirty-five-year-old mother of three, who came to see me because of her workload, which included managing the household, driving the children to various classes and activities, and a part-time job. Not surprisingly, Monica felt increasingly exhausted and irritated. When she took the morning-care inventory, she was surprised to find that she was actually taking pretty good care of herself. Encouraged, she went on to pay attention to those areas she could improve upon, such as taking care of her body and reducing anxiety. She added some simple stretches after her shower, which took little time, and she asked her husband to help shuttle the children. These changes made her feel supported, gave her extra energy, and improved her overall health.
"Mindful one-minute changes in morning care don't require a full aerobic workout, a sit-down breakfast, or thirty minutes of meditation. Small, realistic, and meaningful choices make a noticeable difference. Gently stretching for a few minutes, eating a hard-boiled egg or cereal, and consciously affirming positive intentions demonstrate how you feel about yourself and your willingness to make self-care a priority. May each beneficial action inspire every minute of your day.
To become more aware of your morning-care behaviors, keep a 'morning-care journal.' One way to do this is to create two columns on a page and write 'Beneficial' above one column and 'Unbeneficial' above the other. . . . Skipping breakfast would clearly go in the Unbeneficial column. You may discover that you are already nurturing yourself more than you imagined. Take a minute now to consider what else you might do.