A few years ago, my morning routine was simple:
I’d wake up by shining the light of my cell phone in my eyes and watch a few of last night’s Instagram Stories from people with whom I wasn’t actually friends. I would then head to the gym or yoga studio, but not before getting a medium almond milk latte from [insert coffee shop name here] on the way. My caffeine fix took all of a few minutes: I went there so religiously, they knew my name and order.
Cut to today. At MUD\WTR, we’re moving fast and I really can’t afford for my mind and body to be running on empty throughout the day. Thankfully, I’ve learned a thing or two on my journey here about how to start my day in a way that sets me up for success.
A New Morning Ritual
Every morning after brushing my teeth, I meditate for 20 minutes using Sam Harris’ Waking Up app. After a few years of meditating regularly, I’ve learned that the best meditation practice is the one you’ll actually do consistently. I’ve made it very no-fuss (I just sit on my bed against my headboard with some pillows and put my AirPods in my ears). It’s simple enough to do anywhere, so I never skip it.
I then consult a few books on my nightstand. Every day, I read a page out of The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. There is one entry for every day of the year. I find that it gives me just enough of a spiritual nugget to take with me throughout my day, like a happy little secret I’m carrying around in my back pocket. Then, I spend some time journaling in The Five Minute Journal. I write a gratitude list and set my intention for the day ahead. I also aim to read 21 pages each morning. I’ve found that if I don’t make time to read first thing in the morning, I usually won’t do it at all. I’m not a bedtime reader—by the end of the day, I’m way too tired.
Morning practices: mug of mud, journaling and reading
Next, I make an effort to take a walk outside. Although I’m starting to do some Pilates again—I went through two spinal surgeries last year— walking has been my primary mode of exercise. I resented that for a long time as I am used to being extremely active (beach volleyball, lifting, yoga sculpt), but now my walks have become a daily highlight. Sometimes I walk to the ocean a few blocks from my house, which is especially grounding. I listen to a podcast and track my steps with my Ōura Ring, striving to hit at least 10,000 steps throughout the day. It’s also become important for me to do this within an hour after waking to get morning light into my eyes (through a window isn’t nearly as effective). I learned this from Andrew Huberman: It helps set your circadian rhythm and I’ve found it fundamental in giving me energy for the day ahead. Just make sure to leave your sunnies behind to reap the full benefits.
When I return from my walk, I start heating water on the stove for my morning mug of :rise. It feels good to know I’m consuming way less caffeine than I did in my almond latte days. I’ve been drinking mud since before I worked here and I love the calm, steady energy it gives me versus the old highs I used to get each morning and major crashes after lunch. My favorite way to make my mud? Add in some collagen, a sprinkle of cayenne (try it!) and a spoonful of honey. I add hot water and froth, then steamed almond milk on top. I’ve become my own damn barista and it’s a ritual I cherish.
While waiting for the water to boil, I have a few other morning practices to get on with in the kitchen. First, I drink a LMNT with room temperature water to rehydrate from the night of sleep. I haven’t been working out nearly as much as I used to due to my spine surgeries, and I found that because of this, I wasn’t drinking enough water throughout the day. LMNT helps. I also take my probiotic (shoutout to Seed) and microdose psilocybin in pill form every third day. I started microdosing after coming off painkillers following my second surgery last July. The opiates made me feel completely awful and not like myself at all. (I would sit to meditate … and just cry.) Microdosing has given me more energy and allowed me to feel more connected to myself, to others and to the world around me again. Like switching from coffee to mud, it took over a month of consistent use to truly feel the benefits, but now I’m so thankful I added this practice to my life.
Morning ritual complete, I walk a few blocks to Mud HQ and start my work day. Our team works remotely from all over the world, but MUD\WTR is based in Venice, so we do have an office here from where I work most of the time. My day is made up of a myriad of tasks, from handling our social media, to planning events and assisting in crafting our newsletter.
Hard at work at Mud HQ
Preparing for a Good Night’s :rest
No two days are the same in my position, but my ideal day winds down with another walk with a friend and watching the sunset at the beach a few blocks from my house. I like to eat dinner early. I’ve found it really helps me to sleep better at night (insert grandma joke here). I consider my evening routine to be as vital as my morning routine, because like we say at MUD\WTR, the best morning starts the night before. Every single night before bed, no matter where I am in the world, I take a hot shower. It seems counterintuitive since you want your body temperature to fall at night, but after the hot shower, your body temperature drops when you’re in bed, making you feel sleepier and more relaxed.
I then heat water in the kettle again for my evening mug of :rest. I’ve found that having a cup of something each night helps my body to realize that it’s time to wind down from a hectic work day. I used to think a glass of wine was that thing; although I would typically just drink one glass with dinner, that’s enough to negatively affect your REM sleep. With :rest, I’m sleeping more soundly than ever before (and my Ōura Ring scores prove it).
Before bed, I complete my Five Minute Journal entry for the day. I wish I could say that I completely shut off screens a few hours before bed and tell stories by candlelight, but alas, I usually watch an episode of something like “Friends” or “New Girl” on my laptop. Before I do, I set my phone alarm for the next day and slide my phone into my Phone Home, so it is at least out of reach until the next morning.
Evening practices: mug of :rest, long walks and sunsets
Small, Incremental Gains
Working in the wellness industry for over a decade, I’ve fluctuated from the bare-bones phone-and-coffee morning routine, to thinking each day had to start with something elaborate like making fresh juice from scratch and writing a few pages of the next Great American Novel.
If you’re struggling with a morning or evening routine, start small. You can begin with improving what’s in your mug and build outwards. Think of your morning and evening routines as the bookends to your day. Working for a fast-paced startup, I can rarely control what happens between them, but I take comfort in knowing I have the space to create a tiny bit of my own magic each morning and night.
Blair Atkins is a movement and mindfulness teacher based in Venice, CA. She also happens to be MUD\WTR's Community Manager. Connect with Blair on Instagram.
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