Tiffany Walsh ponders how to carve a new morning routine in a time when everything is anything but normal.
One of the biggest struggles I have had since the pandemic began in March is the complete loss of my daily routine. I am a creature of habit, this is a very ingrained part of my personality: there is no ritual of selecting business casual dress for the office and then packing workout gear for my lunchtime fitness classes at the campus gym; no breakfast cereal between getting the kids organized for school and applying my makeup; no praying of a Rosary in the car as I drive in; no chatting with colleagues as I move about my work day.
I know that these are all small things, but they make me inexplicably sad. My mind and spirit thrive on routine, and on encountering other people as I go about it. Yet right now the routine that I knew and loved for many years is gone, and I have no idea when it will come back.
I find this incredibly difficult to deal with on an emotional level, and there are days where I struggle to find the will to get out of bed in the morning. And the morning is truly the key to the entire day -- if my morning starts out in a struggle with a low mood, the rest of the day quickly follows in the same direction.
Over time, I started to notice a few things that could regularly turn my morning back into a positive when I anticipated them. I thought about the feelings that used to comfort me and evoke feelings of contented happiness when I went about my former routine, and how I could try to recreate those feelings even in the absence of the same routine. For those of you who are like me, and mourn the loss of their morning routines, I thought it might be helpful to share notes:
A special beverage
I look forward to morning coffee even before the previous day is over. Not everyone is a coffee drinker, but I find that a beverage specifically set aside for the morning (could be hot or iced tea, water with lemon, fruit juice) makes that time feel special. I used to pack up a big travel mug of coffee to take into my office. Now I have dedicated Rosary coffee mugs (largest size, please!) that I purchased to make the morning coffee time feel exceptional in a different way. I even select the mug depending on the day of the week to match up with the dedicated Rosary mystery for that day or liturgical season. This small thing makes getting out of bed something I now look forward to!
I’m not in the car nearly as much as I used to be, but even if I can squeeze in one decade while I drive to run an errand, I find that getting back to that habit really energizes me. Since I am home more, I have also turned on EWTN and prayed along with their daily Rosary, something I have not done in many years!
If I’m in the kitchen doing my work-from-home thing, I get to pick the music, regardless of who else is home with me! I used to not listen to music much when I worked, but I find myself doing it more and more lately. Having a bit of chill music in the background does wonders to calm my mind.
A breakfast pick-me-up
After everyone else in my household is settled into their daily tasks (or at school that day), I carve out a short breakfast window for myself that involves all the self-care that I would like. For me, that is coffee in my Rosary mug, the food I have prepared, and a Hallmark movie or show playing on the television. I so rarely get the television to myself, that this is a real treat!
Once I stepped back and took a look at what I treasured so much about having a routine, it helped me to recreate a new one, despite it looking so very different from anything that I am used to. I was longing for constancy, some soothing moments that could look the same every day amidst a time of so much uncertainty.
Have you developed new pathways in a morning routine? I would love it if you would share them with the community in the comments!
About the Author
Tiffany Walsh is a wife and mother, a native western New Yorker, and a college librarian. She is a cradle Catholic who rekindled her childhood faith as a graduate student via her love of books, and is the author of Exploring the Catholic Classics, part of the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women series. She enjoys writing about faith, crafting, dance, fitness and wellness. Visit her blog at Life of a Catholic Librarian.