Small daily habits of self-care can be the foundation of our well-being.
“When we don’t purposely and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people – our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families – will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything meaningful and important.”
Greg McKeown in his book Essentialism.
How often do we roll out of bed, get straight away absorbed by everything and everyone around us and act from minute one of the day just in reactive mode? May it be triggered through that notification of an overdue bill waiting on the phone, that email of a notorious early bird boss, all the things that you still need to prep before running to the bus, the tired and stiff body that makes you cancel another morning class… And because we are always "available" and find comfort in instant gratification, we ignore that some delayed gratification or in other words willpower could often get us so much further. The smallest changes to our existing start of the day can make the biggest changes to how we feel and live throughout the remaining day. They can become habits. Automated routines. And the great thing is, it doesn't need much to establish a morning routine. Everything you are going to read now won’t necessarily mean you have to trade it with 1 hour of your precious sleep (it can if you want though). If, then it's only a couple of minutes that you will invest into a version of yourself that you gonna love to pieces.
Because we all know that a step-by-step guide often clashes with our own reality, how about we see the following 7 ideas as a starting point of an experiment? An experiment on how we could feel better, happier, and more in control of our day and health right away.
7 Simple Changes to Your Daily Routine:
THE EVENING PREP
× Pack your gym gear and work clothes the night before.
× Prep your brekkie.
Making decisions when you are still half asleep can be hard, even something as simple as, "Which top fits which pants?”. “Do I feel like avo on toast or do I have the time for the good old scrambled?”. Overnight oats are a great quick solution, just a few fresh berries and nuts on top in the morning and it's a healthy one for brain power too. And we win some extra quality morning time for ourselves. These methods date back to even Roman times with the likes of Marcus Aurelius who practised these as part of his meditations - they are not new fads!
THE PHONE ABSTINENCE
× Leave your phone alone. Or at least for the first 30 minutes of your day.
… and all its temptations and notifications out of reach while still in bed, on the loo, while brushing teeth and during all the great self-care morning time. It’s simple but so hard. With this powerful one, we can delay the reactive and emotional-based modus operandi as long as possible and start with conscious “me-time”.
In the early hours after sleep, our brain cells are especially brilliant in learning, having ideas, figuring out decisions and strategies and grasping complex concepts. So it makes sense to feed our recharged hungry brains with something positive and empowering like reading a page in a self-development book, instead of already getting lost in the overstimulating TikTok tunnel, heart rate elevating to-do lists and the flood of work emails that can also wait for another hour.
THE SOUR SIP
× Drink a glass of cold water with a good squeeze of lemon juice.
Here's not just a high five to everyone who has trouble getting to those damn 2-3 litres of fluid every day (like me). We are starting the day well, aren’t we? This very first thing in the morning is also refreshing, immune boosting, detoxifying the body, and improving the metabolism and gut health, so that our good old friend, the digestive system will provide us with a fabulous start to the day and vice versa. And, did you know 80% of Australian's are dehydrated? That's a crazy statistic. It's due to our active lifestyle and our climate here. And if you become dehydrated, your body can stop absorbing water too. Your body and mind will not work optimally if there's not enough hydration in your system. If this is a struggle you often face, try the Nimbus Co natural hydration supplement, Cloud Form.
THE FRESH BED
× Shake out your pillow and duvet and make your bed.
Aww that feeling of a nice clean bed, ready to welcome you after a long day. This little habit goes a long way, the first act of success of the day, creating the path for many more to come that day. Making the bed is about setting an intention to do the little things that bring about an orderly, thoughtful, responsible, balanced and successful life. Think this overrated by all the gurus that swear by it? Try it for a few days and send me a DM.
THE MOVE & STRETCH
× Stretch and mobilise.
× Sign up for a class.
× Go for a walk or run.
We all hear it every day, but are we actually sticking to regular movement? This can be as little as stretching all those stiff corners of the body for 3 minutes each morning (yes even in bed counts) or as big as a run, walk or a class. Whatever makes you feel great - Strength, Pilates, Yoga, Boxing (and don’t cancel!). Don't just take our word for it either.
Sometimes I love beaming myself a few years forward and then thinking of looking back at today’s me - I see in relation to how young, agile, strong and flexible I still am and all the endless opportunities I have to influence the health of my heart, my brain, my lunges, my organs, the vessels that carry the liquid of life. Why would I not want to protect my only true home?
THE COLD DIP
× Finish your shower cold.
It’s been my personal favourite and a non-negotiable every single morning since my teens. The cold water triggers a host of biological processes in our bodies. Here are just a few reasons why you've gotta overcome your fear: increased blood flow in the skin, better physical recovery after training and reduced pain and fatigue. It has been proven that this ancient self-treatment can also increase the immune response and decrease anxiety. The burst of energy and better mood are a bonus. Studies suggest that the greatest physiological response to cold water exposure happens during the first 30 seconds. Lucky you!
Here’s how to get into it: Start with washing your face with an ice cold. Next day finish your morning shower by rinsing your arms, legs and face COLD! Next week work your way of a cold rinse towards the heart - up the legs, arms, chest and face. Take a dip in the ocean if you get a chance, or learn about and try ice baths if you're near a Nimbus Co studio, they have cold plunges in all four locations.
THE DAILY SNEAK PEAK
× Your first meeting is about YOU, your day (and your first coffee).
This is one I only just started a few months ago and it’s been a game changer for a head like mine that wants to multitask all the time. Thanks to Elana from ‘foundher’ I learnt the first meeting of the day should be with myself. Here I preview the day, tasks, priorities and my capacity based on today's energy level mentally and physically. This is the gatekeeper to plan my day ahead, structure and reschedule. And I pencil it on paper! My never-ending battle with the to-do list has turned into a more motivated, organised and goal-orientated me, without dragging my depleted self from one day to the next.
And maybe a bonus step, start learning how to say “NO”. It’s your life, your body, your time. Prioritise what’s good for you, not for others. And oh, did I mentioned, it’s free to say no, but if you don’t, it might cost you in the end.
Alright alright, now that's a lot of information. How about we kick off the journey with one new habit at a time? Pick the habit that seems the hardest to you and start tomorrow morning. Once you have done it three mornings in a row add the second hardest and so on. If you feel like a shooting star already, go ahead and do multiple, but remember to set yourself up for success.
If you feel stuck, just can’t get it started or for the curious minds out there wanting to know more, shoot me any questions that pop up. Can’t wait to hear how we are all going on that uplifting journey!
Elaine is a personal trainer, Pilates instructor and physiotherapist and founder of Citta Collective, holistic retreats. Her studies and work across these fields have shaped her understanding of the human body and her clear, unique style of coaching. With a strong focus on injury prevention and rehab, she utilises a variety of strength/conditioning training and Pilates for her work with clients from all walks of life - athletes, pre- or postnatal, post-physiotherapy etc.
The last 15 years have developed her dedication to evolving education and self-awareness in her clients, being the key to transforming and establishing healthy and sustainable habits for a well-balanced life.
This holistic approach and the understanding of the impact of the recent years on our health, have led Elaine to extend her offering to retreats and events, in which learning and self-growth play a (fun)damental role.