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I Tried 6 Different Morning Routines & This One Made Me The Happiest

Practice makes perfect.

I Tried It

For full transparency, I envy the person who can jump out of bed in the morning and conquer the day. While I do consider myself a morning person, because I set my bedtime at 10:30pm, I admit I need to ease into my day. I've found that the best way to do this is through something that can set the tone on how I want it to end: on a good note. Talk to anyone balancing their success with inner peace, and they'd tell you morning routines play a huge part in the color of their lives.

In light of that, I was curious in trying different ways to start my mornings off right and wanted to share my experience to the world. And let's just say my experiment on morning routines was surprisingly helpful in all sorts of ways. Let's dive in, shall we?

I Tried 6 Different Morning Routines

The Wim Hof Method

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Recently, I came across this new regimen called the Wim Hof Method. It was founded by a Dutch extreme athlete named Wim Hof who is known as "The Iceman'' for his cold exposure achievements which have landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records. The Wim Hof Method consists of three pillars: Breathing, Cold Therapy, and Commitment. The benefits include increased energy, better sleep, reduced stress levels, enhanced creativity, etc. How it works is, you start with a breathing exercise, take a cold shower, then end the regimen with a commitment that you are going to accomplish a task or goal for that day.

When I got to the cold shower part, it was exactly what I expected it to be, COLD. I am a warm/hot shower type of woman myself, so the cold shower did give me the wake-up call I may have needed. Despite the few sneezes I got afterwards, I felt I was more alert and it allowed me to be more focused and disciplined with the work I had to get done. The laziness was gone folks! If you are interested in trying the Wim Hof Method, you can download the free mini class here.

Video Log

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I love a good vlog. Watching someone share their story, tips, or shared activity with you through a video is engaging and interactive. According to YouTube stats, out of 2 billion monthly users, people upload 500 hours of video every minute and each visitor spends 11m 24s per day on the site, on average. That's a lot of video time, am I right? So why not use it for your own personal life?

With this morning routine, it was about starting a video diary. Start your day by talking about whatever you want, to yourself for yourself. There was something about looking at myself in the camera, messy curls and all, and saying what was on my mind that made me feel at ease. It was a good way to say, "Hey, you good sis?" We can get caught up in social media and need a break from technology sometimes. But taking the time to use technology and giving myself the space to be vulnerable made me feel like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. It feels necessary to do in such a digital world. I approve.

The 5-Hour Rule

Kiara Byrd/xoNecole

Knowledge is power, right? We have probably heard that personal development should always be a part of our wellness goals. When you learn a new skill or talent, you feel better about yourself. So I applied the 5-hour rule to my mornings. It has been practiced by Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Oprah herself. The 5-hour rule is simply you intentionally setting aside 1 hour a day (equaling 5 hours a week) for learning or practicing a new skill.

You can do this by reading a new book, reflecting on small/large achievements, and/or experimenting by practicing a new skill or brainstorming new ideas. The 5-hour rule is honestly one of the things I used to manage my mental health better. When I was able to give time to myself with zero distractions, I was able to focus better on my 9-5 work and even my school work. I felt more in control in a sense. I didn't feel like time got away from me or that something was missing because I made the choice to start my day doing what I wanted, to get my brain going. This is a routine I appreciate continuing to help with my growth.

Future Journaling

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Writing is my therapy. I have countless journals and hundreds of pages filled with my thoughts, feels, and wild imagination. So I figured the concept of future journaling would be great to try. The key is to write a detailed letter to yourself from your future self. It can be as detailed as you want with the lifestyle you dream about. There are no rules when it comes to future journaling because it all boils down to making dreams into reality.

When I wrote down my future, I took the next step in taping it to my wall and reading it out loud. I even wrote my future in different stages (overachiever, this one). This kind of writing reminded myself that my life is mine and no one else's. Everything that was written is the life I am working towards and I am setting intentions while tapping into manifestation. I am my number one motivator and personal hype man. As we all should be.

Dancing

Kiara Byrd/xoNecole

We all love a good playlist. When we are driving in our cars or in our rooms alone, there is always that one song that hypes us up and gets us in a good mood. I took a nice 10 minutes out of my morning and danced my ass off; no matter how good or bad I looked. The song of choice was "CROWN" by CHIKA. Let me just say, if you haven't listened to this song yet, I'm going to need you to download it ASAP.

The words of this song mixed with my controversial dance moves made me feel happy, sad, empowered, and unapologetic all at the same damn time. I felt free. I felt that all my worries of yesterday were shaken off and left in the past. Bringing my body to movement helped me become more energized and just overall better emotionally. It's important to work hard, but I prefer to play harder.

Free Hugs

Kiara Byrd/xoNecole

Now this one, this routine surprised me the most. It was one of the simpler routines that I found to be the most rewarding. With these 'Free Hugs', I was able to be present with my surroundings and give myself grace. We can get caught up in the next big idea or working towards that new promotion. But we forget to stop and just say thank you. This routine gives you time to appreciate what you have that is right in front of you. I went around my apartment and hugged everything I had, while saying "I appreciate you and I am grateful for you."

This honestly felt really nice for me. I started hugging things like my pets, my bed, and my clothes. But the more I was hugging, the more comfortable I was in hugging things you probably don't think about. I hugged my table, my shower, my wall paintings, and even my trash can. Yes, I said my trash can. I ended my hugging spree with hugging myself, because why the hell not? Embracing what I currently have allowed me to feel more content and grounded. Even though it's not something you typically hear people do during their spare time, I think everyone should at least try to incorporate 'free hugs' in their lives. When you feel you are always on the go and need to take second to rest, hug something. Enjoy the moment and appreciate all the blessings you have in order to look forward to the blessings that will continue to come. Definitely recommended.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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