One thing that has drastically shifted for most of us is the notion of a morning commute. Here at the 7115 virtual HQ, we’ve found that it has been vital for us to retain this rhythm from our pre-social distancing lives. While it seems like such a mundane thing, that morning commute was a slice of time before work where we could mentally prepare ourselves for the day ahead and simultaneously zone out a little. It placed a physical barrier between work and home life, allowing some time to transition into the flow of the work day.
In place of the morning commute, we’ve been implementing morning rituals. These daily practices have helped each of us in different ways, to find a sense of grounding and purpose, amidst all the chaos. We owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves. A morning ritual may seem like a small step, but it’s a step nonetheless.
We’ve contributed some of our top morning rituals below. What does your “morning commute” now look like?
SZEKI: SING MY HEART OUT
I play Canton music while I am making breakfast and I sing along. I am not just humming along. I singing from the top of my lungs—belting every high note with all the chest voice that I’ve got in me, like I have an audience! Growing up in a Asian household, every child needs to learn a musical instrument or two. My vocal chords was mine. Canton music was my favorite to sing growing up. I’ve always loved lyrics because they felt like poetry. Singing is my way to expressing myself without having too explain too much.
I like doing this in the morning these days because my head is often flooded with thoughts as soon as I wake up. Sometimes good. Sometimes bad. Singing helps me make sense of it all out, or help let out the excess emotion, so that I can enter my day with a more level head, especially in time like this. Sometimes it helps to just let it all out, act goofy, go crazy and release all that pent up energy before you start your day.
JULIA: SETTING INTENTIONS
Setting intentions to start my day is something that I've been doing for awhile now, but I've been finding it especially calming while working from home. It gives me a good foundation to be productive and effective and starts my day with a positive outlook. Three intentions to start the day...
Waking Up Naturally
I try to wake up naturally and once I'm up, I do my best to refrain from checking my phone so I can control my data intake.
Our phones are great tools, but especially during this time, being inundated with news and stories can be overwhelming and anxiety inducing. So, I try to start my day without that distraction, allowing me to center myself before I check the news or log on for work. I think that we're all a little nervous right now, but it is also important to remember that it is okay to come to terms with where we are, to set boundaries, and to meet ourselves with gentleness.
Fragrance is something that is really calming, so next I like to set my mood for getting ready. I love to use incense because it's got a natural timer as it disappears once the stick is burned completely. But there are many alternatives like candles, room mists, face sprays, and perfume.
Some light stretching!
A yoga mat is optional for this as it's not intensive and just meant to activate the body a little in the morning. I like to stretch because whether it's only 2 min or I can stretch for 10-15 min that day, I feel more focused and ready to tackle the day. Plus, I've been incorporating these morning stretches for over a year now, and I was telling Shirley that I think I've even grown a little. Perhaps though, I'm just a little more elongated and it's helped with posture, hah. So, I put on a little music and do some simple stretches. You know, some yoga or just dancing in the kitchen are great ways to get a little active too before starting your day :o)
Here are some stretches I've been doing...
STRETCH 1: BUTTERFLY
STRETCH 2: FOLD
STRETCH 3: SIDE TO SIDE
SHIRLEY: PUT PEN TO PAPER
My most prized ritual at the moment would be gratitude journaling. It felt cheesy at first, but I’ve really come to enjoy it. It helps bring me back to the present moment.
I use the Five Minute Journal, but you can use any old notebook you have lying around. Gratitude journaling can look as simple as bookending your days with three things that you’re grateful for. Just three things, morning and night. It’ll literally take five minutes in total.
If you’re feeling adventurous and have a bit of time on your hand then keep the ink flowing. Look at your list of three things. Are they the same each time? Do you encounter small moments of wonder throughout the day to be appreciative of?
I’m not going to lie. It can be really hard to think of things, especially when you’re overwhelmed with fear and anxiety about what’s going on. But journalling can help bring us back to the present and at this point in time, that’s possibly one of the most crucial things we can do to get through this.
Some journaling prompts for the writers-at-heart:
What helps ground me and bring me back to the present?
What am I appreciative of?
What’s one thing that would make today good?
LARA: KEEP CALM AND LISTEN TO BRIAN LEHRER
I still set an alarm even if I hit snooze for a while, it gives me that comforting feeling of waking up with a purpose to help normalize myself during this time (except for Sundays!). The first thing I do almost automatically before anything is make a full french press for the day. Even if I do not finish it, I put it in the fridge for ice coffee later in the afternoon.
Once I am settled with my french press, I tune into the Brian Lehrer show on WNYC-AM 820 via NPR at 10AM. Brian has this very calming effect for me, he always has important guests on his show and they really help make sense of current news. I typically make breakfast or a snack during the show, this week has been a sunny side egg with sliced avocado on a piece of toast.
Sometimes I break out my sketchbook and paint sketches or ideas in the morning. I have a side project where I paint silk textiles, so it is a nice way to start the morning and draw some inspiration for later in my day. Even if it's just scribbles or abstract shapes I recommend drawing and painting can really relax your brain and help let things go a bit.
While it's important to stay up to date with the news. But we totally get it if the news isn’t for you right now. If you prefer to zone out to some music instead, Lara will be making playlists for different WFH moods throughout these next few weeks. Listen to our latest one here.