If mornings are usually a stressful time for you, setting aside time and space for yourself is amazing. Stress is a major cause of unwanted eating, so the more relaxation you can get into your day, the better. And what better time to start than when you wake up?
I am a huge fan of using technology for wellness. It’s so fast and easy, and so many amazing apps and resources are out there – totally free. Some of them are super high-quality and today I’m going to share three free apps that I use in a 20-minute morning routine to totally makeover my whole day.
Waking up with stress and anxiety
So, I’ve been waking up with a ball of generalized anxiety sitting in my belly. You know, the one that feels like there’s a big, dark rock sitting in your guts? There’s no real reason that I can see, but it feels awful.
This has been going on, on and off, for a long time – but it’s gotten harder to ignore now that the cold and dark of winter is here.
I was waking up tired, defeated, and uninspired. Too cold and unmotivated to go to the gym, and yoga just wasn’t feeling right.
And do you think a healthy, balanced breakfast was appealing? Hell no! I wanted ALL. THE. CARBS.
Which is extra crappy, because I am one of those crazy ‘morning people’… so if morning isn’t my time, then I really don’t have one. Which sucks.
I could feel my emotional eating getting ready to come out to play. All the willpower it was taking me to be cheerful and get out of bed, meant less to put toward food choices. Plus, just more stress and less happiness. Not good.
I’ve been reading about morning routines for a while, but they just seemed so… brain-intense. When I wake up stressed and anxious (which also means usually wake up nauseous), the last thing I feel like doing is poking around in my emotions.
I want to feel better.
With minimal fuss or effort.
So, in a random flash of inspiration I ended up creating this 20-minute morning routine, and it’s changed my life. Seriously.
- More content
- Less anxious waking up
- Getting out of bed feels good
- More creative
- Way more productive
- Each piece is so short, I don’t mind doing it
The 20-minute morning routine that’s changed my life
I knew I wanted to include physical, mental, and emotional components in my routine. But, I wanted them to be quick, easy, and fun.
What do we all carry with us 24/7 full of ready-made quick, easy, fun solutions? Your smartphone! So, I did a little research and picked 3 apps that come highly recommended, and gave them a spin.
And my 20-minute morning routine was born.
Here’s what I’m doing each morning and why
1) Johnson and Johnson official 7 Minute workout (7 minutes)
This is my starting point. I roll out of bed, put on my yoga pants, hop onto my yoga mat and fire up this app. The signature ‘7-minute workout‘ is exactly as advertised, 7 guided minutes to moving your body. Each exercise lasts for 30 seconds, followed by a short space to move into the next exercise. It’s fast-paced, exciting, and over in a flash.
I love it because it gets me moving and gets my heart pumping, but I know I don’t have to do it for very long. The change in pace that comes with each different exercise keeps me interested. What’s more, this app has a ‘smart workout’ feature where it can create a custom 7-minute workout just for you based on your exercise likes and dislikes, and your motivation and fitness level.
It’s a quick blast of movement and I am just really enjoying it and the way it makes me feel. I’m not saying you should swap your fave form of exercise for this, or that this is all you’ll ever need, but if you’re having trouble getting going in the morning and the thought of spending hours at the gym is putting you off, this is definitely far better than doing nothing.
2) Lumosity (6 minutes)
After I’ve finished my 7-minute workout, I sit cross-legged on my yoga mat and open the Lumosity app.
The free version of this app gives you a different selection of 3 short games every day aimed at testing and strengthening various aspects of your mental abilities – like memory, attention, speed, and flexibility.
The app creators have worked really hard to make the games not only fun but supported by research. They’re designed by researchers and psychologists, and many are modeled after very well-respected psychological tests.
I love it because it’s cute, I’m a psychology nerd, and I feel like I’m looking after my brain. I’ve also started playing a few rounds of Lumosity games when I take breaks from writing or coaching and I’m sure it’s helping me feel more refreshed and creative.
3) Stop, breathe and think (7 minutes)
When I’ve finished my brain workout, it’s meditation time. I either stay cross-legged on my mat or lay down. Depends on how I’m feeling. The meditations are around 5-7 minutes long, which is great for me as a beginner. They’re also all guided, which helps keep me focused. There’s a ‘meditation timer’ if you want to go unguided.
What I love most about Stop, breathe and think is the ‘check in’ feature. You tell it how you’re feeling physically and mentally, and then choose up to 5 emotions from their extensive list, and the app will suggest a selection of meditation to match your current state. You then check in again after your meditation and over time you get a bunch of cool stats about your mood and emotions before and after meditating. It’s awesome!
Some of the meditations on the app are a paid feature, but there is definitely enough in the free version to keep you occupied.
Once I’m done meditating, I go have a shower and get on with my day – endorphins flowing, mood boosted, and brain totally alert. It’s changed my life!
I can not recommend this highly enough if you’re struggling to get yourself out of bed, feel uninspired, and if physical activity feels like the hardest thing in the world. It’ll be the most valuable 20 minutes of your day.
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