Getting ready in the morning is usually a process for me. There's the lack of desire to get out of bed, and then there's getting dressed, getting breakfast (maybe), and getting to my beauty routine. Then there’s the ten minute walk to the subway, a time I once reserved for finding some calm before a chaotic workday. But these days my commute is basically nonexistent (I don’t think the .01 miles from my bathroom to my bedroom desk really counts). With nowhere to go, the routine I had become so accustomed to (cleanser, toner, serum, moisturizer, SPF, foundation, eyeshadow, mascara, blush...) has all but disappeared. And the truth is, why waste all that time on a look others can only see via a tiny box on their screens? If I’m the only person I’m working to impress, why not impress myself with extra time just for me?
I picked up my new routine after a big life event: unemployment. I had all the time in the world and nothing to do. I've never been a morning person—in fact, my favorite mornings are the ones with no alarm. But now seemed like the perfect time to become one by swapping my morning beauty routine for a morning meditation routine. Instead of greeting the day with a rush to get ready and a sweep of makeup to make myself look presentable, I could greet the day with a grounding routine that didn’t involve looking at any social apps first thing in the morning.
I started small, integrating a ten to fifteen minute meditation into my first waking moments. And truth be told, it was hard. Quieting my mind seemed impossible, especially as an Aquarius, the sign known for being all up in their head. Plus, the options, between apps and YouTube, were so overwhelming I didn’t even know where to begin. Youtube seemed like the best option: free with thousands of videos to choose from. I began to find my rhythm by searching “guided morning meditation” and picking videos that seemed aligned with my intentions: mental clarity and peace of mind throughout the chaos of the pandemic, breaking news after breaking news and what then seemed like never-ending unemployment (I'm lucky to have since found a job).
Then, I began writing for at least twenty minutes, just to get any leftover thoughts and worries out of my head, sometimes feeling clearheaded enough to remember my dream from the night before. With that followed a daily tarot reading, a centuries-old spiritual tool that can be used to decipher life’s many twists and turns, though it has the origins of a simple card game and something done for fun. And while tarot cards certainly cannot predict the future, they are a terrific tool for remembering the light at the end of the tunnel, welcoming abundance and setting intentions that align with your goals.
These three little steps quickly became the ritual I looked forward to each morning. With each day a seemingly blank canvas, my new morning routine swiftly became the grounding morning meeting I could not miss.
With each day a seemingly blank canvas, my new morning routine swiftly became the grounding morning meeting I could not miss.
Cultivating a morning routine doesn't just help you get your day off on the right foot, but can make a huge impact on your mental health for the rest of the day. But the most important aspect of any routine is what it does for you. Anything can seem like the perfect tool for wellness, but if it doesn’t benefit you and your needs, well, what’s the point? Take it from Tara Nicolas, a teacher at Healhaus, a wellness space in Brooklyn focused on offering diverse and accessible styles of healing from meditation and yoga to reiki, a Japanese form of energy healing. “Approach your ritual with the kindness you would to someone you love,” she says. “Pick two things to focus on: one thing that you want to add, and one thing you want to take away.” Tara’s routine? “Meditation and reiki are my go-to's in the morning but recently there hasn’t been enough time in my schedule to do them... now, my morning ritual is a moment of gratitude, to really feel it in my heart and breathe that loving sensation in.”
Tara’s advice rings true to my own needs. My morning routine has become such an important part of my mental well-being that on days without it, I feel noticeably more irritated and my mind seems to fog until I’ve had my first sip of caffeine. So whenever I do go back to 30-plus minute commutes and days filled interacting with others face-to-face, I won’t be taking my old beauty routine with me. Instead, I’ll consider truly becoming a morning person (a.k.a. setting an alarm earlier than 8 a.m.), waking up with enough time to integrate my COVID-era mornings into my everyday post-COVID life. What better way to fall back into yet another new normal, whenever we get there?
“I encourage us all to take a moment and see what we need; maybe it’s a morning epsom salt bath or journalling. Maybe it has to be the exact same routine every morning at 8 a.m. Or maybe it’s committing to 30 minutes to an hour of something nourishing just for you every single day. A lot of us are living in a state of flight or fight. These self-care routines aren’t just another fad—think of them as your entry point into long-term health and vitality,” she advises.
Words to take to heart. Healing and wellness should be a time to play, explore and find what works for you; it may seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run, something I can personally attest to. Instead of dreading each morning, I look forward to grounding myself in my morning ritual; meditation, journaling, and a tarot reading have me more ready for the day than my old routine ever did.
Plus, these days, if I’m lucky, I’ll even catch the sunrise out of my bright south-facing windows as I get started. I’ll take that over a swipe of blush any day.