The Power Of Bookending Your Days
The number one complaint I hear from women when it comes to taking care of themselves is that there just isn’t enough time. Of course, we have the best of intentions but once the day starts to unfold, taking care of ourselves just gets lost in the shuffle. Well, there’s a solution for that!
I think we would all agree that typically we have a greater ability to “control” the earlier and later parts of our day, our am & pm routines. The middle of the day not as much, where people and things we didn’t anticipate come into play. Of course, there are no absolutes but generally speaking we have a heck of a better chance at determining how we want our mornings and evenings to go. Darren Hardy, motivational speaker and author of The Compound Effect refers to this as optimizing the bookends of our days.
Ideally, I like to use my mornings to exercise but of course there are days my schedule or body is asking for something else. Regardless, whether it’s an hour or 15 minutes, my morning routine hands down includes some form of rejuvenating self-care practice. Most recently, I’ve incorporated a game changing habit called the Three-Minute Morning Mindfulness practice, introduced to me by Pilar Gerasimo author of the Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World. The idea behind it is to start your day on your own terms rather than exposing your mind to stressful, distracting thoughts and outside forces.
You chose any feel good activity-stretching, meditation/breath exercises, petting your dog, journaling, stepping outside to listen to the birds, or even finding a favorite spot where you can just look out the window and enjoy having a cup of tea/coffee for at least 3 minutes or longer-as long as you find whatever your doing rewarding and doable.
One caveat though, before and during the Morning Minutes practice, they’ll be no checking into your phone first , or TV, or any other sensory distractions or stressors. Emailing, texts, social media, or news will have to wait. The the whole point of this exercise, is to gradually & peacefully give our body and mind a chance to establish an early state of mindfulness and wellbeing, making it easier to retain and reclaim throughout the day. Part of the morning minutes practice uses the last few moments to set intentions for the day and then visualize how you want it to go or to reflect on the things you are most grateful for. Then close the practice with three deep, energizing breaths before moving on to the active part of your day. You’ll be surprised how just taking 3 minutes to yourself without exposing your mind to any external stressors upon awakening, will markedly make a difference how the rest of your day unfolds.
But keep in mind if we want to fall into supportive morning routines, it all starts the night before with a good nights sleep. Evenings are the perfect time to hone in on some self-care practices, to decompress, quiet our minds and prepare our bodies for restorative sleep. Of course that looks different for everybody but research supports shutting down our phones and electronics is key to reducing the blue light stimulation that interferes with restorative sleep. All the more the reason to get off our devices and use our pm hours towards self-care practices. (i.e. journaling, reading, meditating, taking a bath, connecting with those near & dear, etc…).
As bookends are used to support a row of books from collapsing, your am and pm routines can have the same capacity to ensure a great day ahead. Use this more “controllable” part of the day to set yourself up for greater success and wellbeing, try optimizing the bookends of your day!
Wishing You The Best Of Success