Pandemic Week 46: Mastering the morning routine

Not everyone needs three hours to get ready in the morning. The alarm goes off and some people, quickly armed with a cup of coffee and a danish, can start their day. For some, 30 minutes is all that lies between the sound of the alarm and sitting in the home office ready to tackle the day. I need more than that. A lot more. 

My work-from-home routine starts with an alarm set for exactly three hours before the time I want or need to be at my desk. For some, a workout, a shower, and a more nutritious meal can wait until later. I need to workout in the morning. And to stretch, meditate and eat a good breakfast (“most important meal of the day” mom always said). I have a dog, so walking and feeding him is a priority too. And of course there’s no showing up on Zoom before a shower, hair do, and make-up.  And maybe putting on a nice top.

I cannot say that I am successful sticking to this routine every day, although when I do, I am notably more productive the rest of the day. I know this about myself. I know how my brain works and it works better with a higher level of endorphins, preparedness, protein, and caffeine.

This time of year especially, there are challenges. Starting with the fact that I hate winter and I live in Northern Illinois. All the caffeine in the world doesn’t tame Seasonal Affective Disorder. This is my third winter here and I’m noticing a pattern. My ability to keep up with my scheduled workouts diminishes considerably during the winter months when I no longer have an immediate goal. Oh and because it’s cold and grey and icy AF outside!

Last year and the year before, we had our Surf City designation race weekend to look forward to and for which we needed to keep up the mileage. The NFL Championships were settled last weekend and although the Buccaneers and Chiefs are headed to the Super Bowl, there is no race in Surf City that day to look forward to this year. While in the few years past, my slump didn’t begin until February, this year it started in November after I finished my quest to run every street in town and my coaching gigs concluded as well.

I’m hoping that because I crashed earlier than usual that it won’t take until May to get back into a solid routine. Every self-help book or article I’ve read seems to include exercise as a cure for almost everything that ails you – and I’m living proof that’s the case – so, I am focusing on simply moving. Focusing on steps rather than miles. Don’t feel like running today? Just walk – even if that’s on the treadmill.

While my schedule remains somewhat flexible and there’s no commute to factor in, I’m going to continue to fill my morning with lots of self-care and the routine that works for me. Personally, I know if I can get the morning right, the rest of the day tends to take care of itself.

The most important consideration is that we are all different and we need to find what works for us. If setting the alarm for 5 minutes before you need to be in your Zoom class is actually working for you, who am I to argue? If you prefer to workout after work or to take a break to do it at lunchtime, go for it!

The one thing that remote working or learning, or simply living in these times, has proven is that we all need to figure out how to make it work for us – and not beat ourselves up if we haven’t quite mastered it yet. Just as long as we’re trying.

Lakefront. Lincoln Park. Chicago, Illinois. January 2021

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