The best ways to start your day

By Kelly Wilton

We know that when we wake up on the ‘wrong side of bed’ it’s generally due to a poor night’s sleep, together with our systems being overloaded with all that we manage on a day to day basis, resulting in less time for our bodies to rest, reset and get ready for a new day.

There are ways that we can incorporate small practices to set ourselves up for a good day ahead, and if something does go pear shaped (which is likely in the world of special needs parenting!) we may potentially have a bit more stamina to deal with the incident.

Creating new practices and daily rituals takes time and yes, practice! We need to practice them, like we would do anything else.  Beginning a healthy eating plan, beginning an exercise regime, beginning a new job and something you’ve been doing for a while – beginning to learn about our children’s needs!  Think about all that you do on a daily basis that you just do and no longer have to practice anymore, it’s simply become part of your routine. 

I know for me, if you had told me I’d be administering medication every day to my child, attending therapies to transfer over at home and wearing a few different ‘hats’ as a parent – I would’ve said ‘no way, I don’t know how to do any of that – what experience do I have?’  But like you, it’s taken time and practice together with small steps at a time.  My confidence has wavered many a time, but I still had to just learn, make mistakes and give it another go.  

We need to remember also, just as we do with our kids, progress is progress no matter how many inch stones you take… one step forward, you’ve got this!

Here are a few ways to help your day start off well:

1. Give yourself at least the first 15 minutes of no screen time

Besides turning off an alarm that might be on your phone, resist the urge to check your social media or work email. Try to stay away from technology while getting yourself and the family ready for the day. It will give you a sense of control that you can get to the emails, once your ‘work’ day has officially begun. Set up that boundary so you can manage all that needs to be done before those emails or admin and attack them with a clear head!

2. Shower only – no day planning!

How many of us shower and plan the day in our head, completely missing our shower because we were somewhere else!  If you can, try to focus on your shower, the sensations of the water on different parts of your body, the smell of your soap etc. It takes practice but just try a little at a time, and see the difference it makes to that morning shower – it is a quick yet beneficial way of setting yourself up for the day!

3. Stretch

It seems so obvious, and yet so many people ignore it. You can do this in bed, using a simple stretched-out-legs-and-arms-overhead movement or you can practice whatever feels right for as little or as long as you like. Your body’s just been booted down for hours (possibly you’ve been woken throughout the night) so we can’t expect it to be warmed up, energised, and raring to go!  Just a couple of minutes, it will take some practice for this to emerge into a routine, but once you do, you won’t be able to start your day without a good stretch!

4. Set 3 goals for the day

If you plan your day with 3 achievable goals, it will get you into the practice of chipping away day by day things that will move from your goal list, to an everyday ‘routine’.  Simple things like packing a healthy snack while you’re on the run at therapy appointments with your child. I bet you pack food for your child, but do you put in a healthy snack for yourself!  Schedule a doctor’s appointment you’ve been putting off or try making a goal of getting to bed earlier that night.

5. Remember we were never meant to run at 100 miles an hour constantly!

Despite our busy modern lives, as humans we were not designed to be going at the speed of lightening all the time! Sooner or later, we burn out because this is not sustainable for us. Think of ways that if you feel like you are spiralling, to just pause for just a moment to reset.  Become aware when you feel you are on the edge and focus on one small way you can get yourself back from that ledge. Try some deep breathing, put some music on a for a couple of minutes.  If you are too far in, call a friend, call a professional, call someone who can help before you crash and burn.

The more we try and look out for ourselves and one another, the more we will be able to support each other in the long run!

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