how we start and end each day

How We Start and End Each Day

Sometimes our lives feel crowded, don’t they? The funny (or not so funny) thing is that we make our lives this way. We’re crowding ourselves.

We can play the technology card—absolutely. We’re always on, plugged in, and this is becoming the norm rather than the exception.

writing portfolio

For most of us, this is an occupational hazard. But if you’re a writer like yours truly, the screen time is that much worse. And when we’re glued to screens during our free time? By that point, screens have pretty much taken over our lives.

“We never really choose to live reactively. Instead, it just kind of happens. A little bit, every day. Until, one day, we wake up and realize, “my life is not my own.” Think about it. Did you choose, I will begin checking my email first thing before I get out of bed, and then respond to what everyone else says is important today?” – Jonathan Fields

Over the past two years, I started receiving strange compliments about my posture. Thanks to ballet and yoga, I tend to sit without resting my back against chairs so I’m straight as board.

Side story…my fabulous posture almost cost me my driver’s license test when I was sixteen, because the DMV guy thought I was terrified. He made me pull over, then gave me a pep talk to calm me down, or else he was going to fail me—yep, for my posture.

pointe shoes and duct tape

I explained to him that I did ballet, but he didn’t believe me. So I had to slouch uncomfortably for the remainder of the test, and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life. I’m not really sure how I passed my driving test like that, but I did.

Anyway, now good posture is this crazy awesome sight to people. Because sadly, we have become a hunchback society that’s missing the world around us.

eye palming yoga

I’m really no different. I do plenty of yoga, foam rolling, and massage to try and fight it, but I have the same complaints as any fellow sitting addict. Headaches, eye strain (I highly recommend eye palming!), neck and upper back knots for days.

In the end we’re certainly not being forced to live this way, but we are being encouraged to. So it’s absolutely up to us to make a commitment to ourselves. And one of the best ways to do that is fine-tuning how we start and end each day.

vrksasana

It wasn’t until about six months ago that I got pretty good at this. The twenty or so years before that when I was a stubborn night owl, I was doing it wrong—I hated mornings, slept as late as possible, and rushed into my day.

I was late and stressed until the afternoon, and then like clockwork, I felt sluggish. It was a vicious cycle, and I wasn’t living the best life I knew I could live.

As life got busier and busier, I realized there were two parts of each day that were mine and nobody else’s…morning and night. So, I stopped sleeping. (Kidding!)

But I did create a routine where I started and ended each day the same way. On my yoga mat.

half moon

Sometimes it’s only five minutes, sometimes it’s an hour. There are days I meditate or practice yoga, and others where I just lay on my yoga mat and stare at the ceiling, or do some gentle stretches to music.

If I feel especially overwhelmed or exhausted, I just take child’s pose, press my forehead to the ground, and thank myself for being alive.

cat yoga

There are the simple pleasures that get me too. I love the sound my mat makes as it rolls open and slaps the floor. I love the comforting feel of the squishy rubber beneath my tired feet. I love the way it reminds me of being a kid, when I used to pretend a towel or couch cushion was a magic carpet that whisked me away.

My yoga mat is the one place I can just be.

Because it’s early enough, my inbox doesn’t matter. And when it’s late enough, the online chatter and screen light finally die down.

evening yoga

How we start and end each day is pretty critical. If you strip it down, it’s the precious time that surrounds our sleep—morning sets the tone and night sings the lullaby.

If you’re feeling off-balance, like you need more down-time in your life, I recommend checking out how you’re starting and ending each day. It may look very different for you—maybe the magic carpet yoga mat story just didn’t do it for you. Whatever it is that grounds you, building this healthy habit can really change your outlook, like it did for me.

How do you start and end each day? Share your me-time habits, or how you want to improve them!

41 thoughts on “How We Start and End Each Day

  1. cravesadventure says:

    I make 30 minutes of time mine in the morning before I head off to work and take another 30 minutes before going to bed. The BEST Hour I GIVE to Myself – love it 🙂 I love how your one cat does yoga with you – ha! Happy Day – Enjoy

  2. Les Petits Pas de Juls says:

    I love how reading your always take me back to the essentials. Energy, simpleness, mindfulness, slowing down, finding one’s way. I love how you ground me with just a few words and help me find my way out of my computer.
    I think about you every time I unroll my yoga mat. I have 1-hour classes on my computer and follow them scrupulously because I feel I can’t do it on my own (that’s also why I took so many yoga classes at the studio). But now, you reminded me that while I was walking El Camino, I did some yoga stretching and moves every night after the hike, without my computer. 15 minutes, to ground me back and take care of my posture, of my muscles.

    As I’m currently temporarily unemployed (until we move to the beach and open Raul’s bar on our favorite island, near Cancun, in his friend’s restaurant), my days are pretty much the same and spent a lot in front of the screen (selecting pictures for future albums about 2016, El Camino, Cuba…). But I try to wake up earlier now, practice 1hour of yoga and get on the screen a little later.

    Your words about posture today also reminded me that I really need to create a real space to do so because I’m actually slouched on my bed and my back hurts like hell!
    So thanks for reminding me always of the simple things and those beautiful things that’ll make my life more beautiful.

    Have a lovely day, darling!
    xoxoxox

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Honey, you are the best and the sweetest. I am so happy you are practicing yoga more regularly. Amazing how much more time we have to take care of ourselves when we’re not grinding at work, right?

      How exciting about Raul’s bar!!! We will definitely need to come visit and have a drink with a little umbrella in it. xo

  3. Sheila says:

    I love the picture of your cat looking out the window, wondering what kind of silly human tricks you’re doing. Yes, I’m guilty of the hunchback computer syndrome. I’ve been trying to stretch and exercise at the beginning of the day and after coming home from work, but I don’t always do it. Life gets in the way and I become more of a hunchback. 🙂 That’s a good way to think of the start and end of each day – as the time that surrounds our sleep – thank you for inspiring me to get up and exercise more often!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yeah, Hazel the cat might have been hunting too. But it’s such a funny pic!

      We are all guilty of the hunchback thing, believe me. The past year I have had so many problems with my neck and back. The more shoulder and chest openers we can do, the better. Standing is also key to our survival!

  4. Kate Johnston says:

    Awesome post! I know that I am in need of a new routine. My mornings are all about writing and the kid thing, hustling them off to school, but I am not refreshed when I wake up. I have to drag myself out of bed every morning, and that’s unusual for me. Nighttime I try to chill out with a book in bed, but lately my son has been having bad anxiety and cannot get to sleep on his own. It’s been a rough few months. Hoping it’s just a phase, and we’ll soon get past it and into a brighter, sweeter, happier phase!

    Love your yoga suggestions and, of course, your kitty!!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Rushed mornings are so tough! I still sometimes fall into that habit, even though I’ve been working on it for a while. Mainly I get caught up with my laptop when I’m supposed to be on my way somewhere, then I get stressed because I’m late!

      Hope your son feels better soon…and I hope you can bring more relaxation into your morning and night routine, sweetie!

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    Good to read right now because I just got stuck in a snowstorm on the drive home from NH. Was 90 minutes from home but they closed the interstate for the debate stretch I was on. Drove 35 miles in 5 and 1/2 hours. Finally found a motel I could stay at (but it’s scary!) so will try to drive the last hour tomorrow. But now my spine is all crunched up from clutching the wheel in stress for so long. If this hotel floor wasn’t so scary I’d do yoga now, just as you recommend. But it looks like it will have to wait until I get home!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yikes! I know, we do so much sitting. But yucky floors are no good for yoga. You’ll be so tense while you’re stretching that it’s counterproductive.

      I tried doing yoga in our Rome apartment on a towel on the tile. It was pretty much a lost cause with the slipping and hardness, and I ended up more stressed and out of whack than before!

  6. Audrey Kalman says:

    What a great reminder! When I was pregnant (many, many years ago…) I practiced yoga every morning before I left for work. Now I have a morning writing routine that involves only paper and pen, with pauses to stare out the window. What a blessing. But you’ve inspired me to get out my yoga mat before bed!

  7. Gallivanta says:

    I hadn’t really thought about the start and end of my day until your post. But thinking about it, I do certain things, almost unconsciously,and they help me to keep in sync with myself and the day. So funny about your driving test.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Sounds like you have a solid routine already, doll! The syncing is important, because no matter what happens throughout the day, we can feel more grounded.

      Yeah, that driving test situation was pretty epic.

  8. Letizia says:

    Your driving test story is so funny (and sad at the same time). Your posts are always so thoughtful, and I loved reading everyone’s responses. Having a puppy, my mornings and evenings start with a walk in the garden regardless of the weather. It allows me to take stock of the smallest seasonal changes, to watch the little critters scurry around, to look at the sky.

  9. Roy McCarthy says:

    Nah, no routines like that. I’m pretty much glued to my screen full time, either for work or writing, blogging etc. But (1) I refuse to own a smart phone and (2) I zone out and recharge during my 4-5 weekly runs. No problem in relaxing and I’m lucky my posture’s fine.

    When coaching running I do put a lot of emphasis on form, and the importance of staying tall – high hips, shoulders back etc. It’s one of the understated benefits of running as one drifts into middle and older age.

    (I’d try the yoga thing but I don’t have a cat 😉 )

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Haha, yoga without a cat is simply not yoga at all. So you’re better off, Roy!

      Totally understand the zone out/recharge aspects of running. My mind will sometimes wander during yoga, but hardly ever when I’m running—especially on the trail when my full concentration is needed to avoid eating shit. 😉

  10. Andrea Stephenson says:

    Sounds like a great way to bookend you day Britt. I start my day with a walk to the little park at the end of the street with my dog, so trees, birds, grass and at this time of year, stars! Hopefully I end it with a little reading and a little daydreaming (creating) before sleep 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Love that you used “bookend your day,” doll! Adorably clever. 😉

      Your daily walk with your pup sounds magnificent. Nature and furry friends…winning combo to start the day! I need get back on some daydreaming before bed. I’m usually too pooped when my head hits the pillow, but I used to do that every night to allow my dreams to stir up story ideas.

  11. joey says:

    My day begins and ends with snuggles and I like it.
    I think it’s great that you begin and end with yoga.
    The parts before bed and after waking, though…those are chores for me. Kids, pets, household tasks.
    I do stretch every single morning, barre on the floor anyone? Sometimes yoga, sometimes lazy calisthenics.
    I have never given up my ballet (and mother imposed) posture, either, but I’m more hunched than I want to be! I have a tall work table behind my desk at work, so I can stand for many of my tasks. And then it’s back to the computer! When I get in my car to go home, I stretch again. Neck and shoulders really like to drive home relaxed 🙂

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Snuggles are always an amazing way to start and end each day! Love that you said “lazy calisthenics”…I have my version of those too!

      The hunching has started happening to me a bit over the years too. Getting myself back into ballet a couple of times a month has been helping. I also use my yoga bolster for chest openers, which makes a huge difference. The more we open that area, the better off we’ll be.

  12. Zen A. says:

    I am the worst when it comes to starting and ending each day. It’s become horrible in the last couple of months too. I struggle to sleep and struggle to wake up. I have been trying to end each day with a midnight walk, unplugged from all screens, but it hasn’t been working. And my mornings are just a battle with the snooze button, especially when it takes me 3 hours to sleep the previous night. So miserable. 😦

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      I hear ya, hon. The colder weather didn’t help my cause here—I also did some tests at my naturopathic and discovered I have super low cortisol in the morning. Most people are much higher, which means I need to jumpstart myself with some physical activity to get going. Working out in the morning when it’s dark and cold is challenging, but I’ve been doing a pretty good job sticking to it these past few weeks. It totally makes a difference!

      Not sure if you’ve tried it or not. Even a short walk or a few minutes of stretching or movement can help. I leave workout clothes on my nightstand, so they are the first thing I see when I get up.

      But, the sleeping issue at night is tough. I would recommend acupuncture as that has helped improve my sleep a lot this year! xo

  13. Oliver says:

    Believe it or not, but I corrected my posture twice while reading… 😀 Maybe time for making yoga part of my daily routine!?
    I really like the idea of consciously wrapping your days with a routine, finding quietude within and around you. Even though I tend to struggle to stick to habits. Especially the good ones… 🙂
    Thanks for yet another reminder Britt!

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      Yay! So glad you corrected your posture and you’re ready for some yoga! My work here is done. 🙂

      Routines can be really helpful in establishing healthy habits. We can’t control much during the day, but before bed and when I wake up is ALL mine! (cue evil laugh)

  14. Minuscule Moments says:

    LOVE, LOVE LOVE this post Britt. Most mornings I try to start my day with yoga. This year I joined the Revolution online group with Adriene. Yoga every day, I have turned up every day except yesterday as was on the road six hour trip to my sisters house. I did bring my yoga mat and hope to get back into it today. I never thought of finishing my day with yoga and so I might try. Im usually extremely tired after walk and weights but maybe a small time on my mat at the end of the day may be just what I need. I have rounded shoulders and and as a young girl was often told to put my shoulders back. Gosh I would have loved having your posture. I find now that I do yoga it is a little easier to straighten my back and walk taller. But I see my daughter slouching when she has beautiful straight shoulders. I noticed her cousin does it too they are both around twelve and thirteen. I think its a teen thing but I hope she changes once her confidence grows.

    • Britt Skrabanek says:

      That’s awesome, Kath doll! You’re killing it.

      When I finish my day with yoga, it is SUPER chill. I’m all about winding down in the evening as it helps me sleep better. At the most, I will do a yin or restorative class. A lot of times I meditate, lay with my legs up the wall, or listen to music and do a few gentle stretches.

      Posture is an issue for all of us these days. And not just adults with computer jobs, since kids are starting on devices so early now. Yoga will absolutely improve posture and it’s never too early or late to start. Same goes for pilates and dance, since they encourage similar alignment and focus on core strength!

  15. Web Development says:

    (I’d try the yoga thing but I don’t have a cat 😉 )
    When coaching running I do put a lot of emphasis on form, and the importance of staying tall – high hips, shoulders back etc.

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