There’s a lot of buzz right now about morning routines. They’re the latest trend promising your best possible life, though they’re nothing new. Everyone from Sigmund Freud to Steve Jobs had one, and I’m not above taking health advice from dead geniuses. Wellness experts all over the inter webs assure us that the path to perfect happiness and peace of mind starts with a routine that includes things like lemon water, meditation and making your bed, because studies have shown that people who make their beds are more likely to be actual millionaires. But morning routines are highly individual. If you’re already a millionaire or tidiness isn’t your thing, that’s cool. Studies have also shown that making your bed provides a cozy home for skin eating dust-mites. Whichever side of the bed you wake up on, there’s a morning routine for everyone, and for those of us with chronic illnesses like multiple sclerosis, morning routines can be especially beneficial. They can help you:
Feel like a boss (even if you don’t have a job)
Medical retirement means never having to put on pants. This sounds great at first but can quickly lead to feeling like a garbage person. My morning routine makes me accountable to myself. It lets me tick off some easy to accomplish goals that make me feel like I have my shit together.
Gain some control
I’m a type-A personality trapped in the body of a whatever personality type is the lazy and passive-aggressive one. Chronic illness robs me of what little certainty I think I have in this life, but a routine is something stable, a way to feel like I have a say in how my day’s gonna go. What’s more, doing the same thing regularly is a way to check in and see if today was different than yesterday, making it easier to spot changes in health and address them quickly.
Our days are filled with decisions. I only have a limited amount of them in me, and I don’t wanna waste them on what to have for breakfast, because even small decisions are exhausting. Having a routine means you can coast on auto-pilot while the pillow lines work themselves out of your face, conserving precious mental energy for more important choices, like what to binge on Netflix.
My MS Morning Routine
Wake up when I feel like it
Thanks to multiple sclerosis wreaking havoc with my life, making plans for the morning is the last thing I ever want to do. Let’s be clear: a routine is not the same as a schedule. Schedules are for normals, who sleep through the night and can balance on two feet in the shower, whose bodies cooperate enough for them to be accountable to that asshole Father Time. If your well-being doesn’t start until noon? Well, that’s when your morning routine starts. Fuck the sunrise.
Put on a bra
This sounds obvious but for a long time (like years) I didn’t start my day with this step. I was spending the better part of most days alone with the dog. She didn’t care, and she has, like, 6 tits. Alas, I have evolved past the canine. For the last few years, I start every day by putting soap on everything that needs it, and then getting dressed into clothes I didn’t already sleep in (but will probably nap in later).
Go for a walk
I’ve started roaming the long hallways of my condo like a ghost. In an effort to be active all day, I get up and walk the halls every couple of hours for about eleven minutes at a time, more if it’s a good day. Using my rollator, I think about each step; heel, toe, shoulders back, don’t swing the leg, don’t drag the foot, heel, toe. This slow, concentrated walk is almost meditative, which is just another way to say boring, but it reminds me that I’m still walking and that’s something positive to concentrate on.
Make coffee, skip the dishes
Next I make coffee, take my meds, and update my Fitbit. Since I take approximately 7 thousand pills and supplements each morning, this takes awhile, but forces me to drink at least one huge glass of water, which is great because getting enough water is a challenge. If the coffee isn’t quite ready by the time I’m done my meds, I’ll take a quick, guilty peek at Insta, but I try to stay off my phone until after I’ve finished this next step.
Journal and puppy time
This is the reward part of my morning for having shaved my armpits and walked a thousand steps. I curl up with my journal and coffee, and my 60 pound dog climbs into my lap. I’m not writing a gratitude journal about how I’m thankful for babies laughing or the smell of cinnamon. Who am I, Oprah? No. I put aside this time for processing my own narcissistic life. This isn’t advice, guys. I’m just a blogger making shit up.
I always have a smoothie unless I have to be somewhere and don’t wanna have to pee. By the time I get around to making this it’s usually been awhile since I last ate, which is ideal because delayed breakfast helps me get into ketosis which is a whole other thing. At this point I’ll drink my smoothie while checking email.
That’s it. That’s my weekday morning ritual. Depending on how much time I spend with my coffee and burn-book, this whole routine takes about an hour and I’m ready to take on the world (or, you know, go back to bed).