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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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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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