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April 2, 2023

How Sticking To A Morning Routine Helped with my Adult ADHD

Photo by Mesut çiçen on Pexels.

I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in my teens. I even went to therapy to cure it but it was little to no help. Though it might be very beneficial for some, especially if you find the right therapist for you. For me listening to my own needs helped much more than sitting on a couch complaining about my childhood wounds for hours.

I started my self-healing with the firm decision to want to “be better” and then working out the how. Which wasn’t as easy as it might seem. At age 32 I received my correct diagnosis – adult ADHD, which was misdiagnosed as depression and anxiety. Knowing my “real problem” took a lot of weight off of my shoulders – I didn’t feel like I need to fix myself but rather to accept that this is the way I am, this is how my brain works.

I knew I did not want to take medication or follow forced methods that don’t feel good. For me, positive reinforcement is what helps me to gain momentum with whatever I do. So I tried out many things for a while and created an Excel sheet in which they were all listed along with how they effected me, how it worked, what results showed up, etc. Then the columns were right next to each other so I could easily compare them. I copied the best working ones to a new sheet and started to work with them. This way I could find what helped me to move forward.

Once I started to stick to these routines, I realized I felt more and more motivated to curl out from under my sheets each morning. Because I found activities for myself I genuinely enjoyed it naturally resulted in me feeling excited about them. There was something good to anticipate!

What helped me tremendously was creating a morning routine out of these special rituals and activities and then sticking to it. This routine changed a lot through the years and with my own personal evolution, growth, healing and needs. But one thing is certain: still sticking to a morning routine. Whenever I stop or allow myself to slip on it, I find myself falling back into old patterns. So clearly a healthy morning routine positively affects mental health.

When building your morning routine, it’s important to consider how much time you have. Even if you only have 20 minutes each morning, you can use that time to promote good mental health. If you have a very limited time in the morning, I’d suggest you go to bed earlier and wake up a bit earlier, that way you don’t deprive yourself on sleep yet gain more time in the morning. On the long run it will help you to sleep better as well.

It happens with me too, that I have appointments or errands to run and I have less time in the morning. In those cases I stick with the routines that benefit me the most.

Don’t forget, you are your best support, so sticking to your morning routine will be as successful as your bedtime routine. To make it easier, include some things in your bedtime routine that support your morning routine, such as preparing your clothes, bag, or even your breakfast. You save a lot of time with this.

I used to write all these down on a paper so I don’t forget about them and had it by my bed, so when I woke up I could just run through the steps.

My list looked like this:

– Wake up
– Drink water
– Open window
– Stretch in bed
– Morning pages
– Make bed
– Breakfast
– Change clothes
– Wash face, brush teeth
– Listen to uplifting music
– Yoga

These are some basic things everyone should include in their morning routine for good health, like drinking water to re-hydrate yourself or opening your windows to let fresh air in. I like to just quickly make my bed, too so I have the feeling of accomplishment first thing as I rise and it sets the tone and I don’t need to think about it again. Plus fixing your pillow and your blanket only takes a few seconds.

Morning pages really helps me to gather my thoughts, especially when I am worried about something and it keeps me up all night.

Stretching in bed was really useful to get the juices flowing and get rid of the sleepiness that would hold me back in bed.

A reminder to have breakfast might look silly but living with ADHD I can forget about it or I don’t bother with eating cos I can’t decide what to have.

Changing clothes, washing your face and brushing teeth—my ADHD brain works like a browser with 60 tabs open. Sometimes it freezes, other times I don’t find what I’m looking for even though I kinda know it was right there somewhere…. you know what I mean. Sometimes I brush my teeth twice in the morning cos I just don’t remember that I already did it or put on my make up only to remember half way thruugh it that i forgot to wash my face before.

Listening to binaural music helped me to get moving and helps my brain to focus and yoga saved my life, so I stuck with it ever since.

Later I made the decision to not look at my phone before 10am, and I added other things to my routine as well:

– morning meditation right after waking
– hot drink (usually tea or cocoa, seldom decaf-coffee cos it can make my ADHD worse)
– reading or journaling
– pranayama (breathing exercises)
– morning walk
-listening to inspirational podcasts/youtube videos
yoni egg practice

Now, I do not stick to all of these every single day as performing the full morning routine would take about 3 hours or even more. But I like variety, so I stick with some basic things I perform each day and the rest varies each time—I wake up, hydrate, meditate for 10 mins in bed, stretch in bed, let air in, make my bed, wash my face, perform my Ashtanga practice, breath work, longer meditation, breakfast is the base. I try to stick to this even on busy days.

The rest comes depending on what is on the to-do list of the day. If I don’t get to do any of the items on the list, I do them later in the day (going for a walk in the evening) or move them to my night time routine—like reading, journaling would totally end up there.

So how did my life change after I started to stick to my mourning routine?

I’m sure you can imagine—my physical and mental health improved a lot, I lost weight, my posture, skin and hair improved a lot, got stronger in body and mind, my cognitive functioning got better, my memory improved, my mood swings evened out and an overall good mood replaced it. My relationships got better, what better? I basically had no relationships when I was younger… Not to mention my negative thinking pattern got rewired on its own. While I stopped complaining on the sofa of my therapist I got more space for allowing in positivity by focusing on good feeling activities.

When starting a journey of a productive morning routine many of us will find this difficult and may not even stick to it straight away. I’ve been guilty of this myself. Whether or not you believe in willpower fatigue, I’ve found that changing my environment helps to keep me on track. Now, I don’t say you should move but maybe reorganize your room?

Another thing that held me back when I started out was the fact that as I grow and heal, my needs change and often I tried to stick to a routine that didn’t serve me (enough) anymore. So I either had to think about replacing it with something more useful for me or upgrading it. So when I figured I got bored of my morning Hatha yoga, I didn’t ditch it but looked for new styles of yoga. I found Ashtanga that is very challenging but just as beneficial so I built it in my routine. There was a time when going for a run in the morning helped me the most because I had a lot of tension in my body. I had nightmares from PTSD and running helped to release the stress I accumulated overnight. Once the nightmares were gone, going for a run felt draining so I had to change it.

My advice is to keep checking in with yourself monthly to see how your habits support your health and well-being and adjust accordingly. Stick with things you like and that elevate your vibration and you won’t fail.

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