As a working professional with kids, you know the drill. Rise and shine, get the kids up, and dash out the door with one eye open. Those days are over now and it feels so good. This may be the best thing about being semi-retired. No more do I have to wake up to the sound of a screaming alarm.
My mornings are quite different now. What do I do in the mornings? Whatever I want — and that changes all the time. That’s the beauty of retirement: doing what you want, when you want to. No longer are your days controlled by someone else. Now your time is your own and it’s up to you to make the most of it.
Mornings are typically my most productive part of the day. I find myself getting up earlier now than I did when working full-time. Maybe it’s because I look forward to my days so much more now that I’m the boss.
My routine changes based on what’s going on that day, but it’s usually pretty similar. Here’s what I like to do in the morning now that I’m retired.
1. Stretching Or Yoga To Get The Kinks Out
There’s a reason that yoga has been around for thousands of years. It’s the Swiss-army knife of exercise. Studies have shown that a regular yoga practice offers many health benefits. It improves strength, balance, flexibility, and cardio health while releasing toxins from your body, easing joint pain, and more.
Yoga is a total stress reliever for me. All that breath work and concentrating on different poses help me unwind and chill. Two great things about yoga are that you don’t have to be a pro and you can do it anywhere. I found a yoga studio in town that I love, and I also like Yoga With Adriene on YouTube. Yoga isn’t just for women either. There are always men in class at the studio — sometimes they outnumber the women!
Don’t let your fear of crazy yoga poses stop you from trying it out. According to my instructors, so much of yoga is about breath work. Even if you can’t do all the poses (some take literally years to do correctly), you still get many of the benefits just from the breath work involved. So do what you can and enjoy the journey.
2. Enjoy A Late Breakfast
I make time for breakfast. It’s nothing fancy, but for someone who never ate breakfast while punching the clock, it’s definitely an upgrade. Though a lot of people are into intermittent fasting and skip breakfast, some studies say that it’s an important meal. There are a number of health benefits to eating breakfast, including lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, lower diabetes and heart disease risk, and better memory.
I’ll usually whip up a breakfast smoothie with fruit, veggies, and this amazing ground flaxseed. Other days, it’s avocado toast with the famous Everything But The Bagel seasoning. It definitely brings toast up a notch! Either way, it’s nice to enjoy a leisurely breakfast. If the weather cooperates, eating on the deck is the best.
Meditation is good for everyone from kids to seniors. My sister practiced meditation long before I did. Meditation worked wonders for calming her mind, but I just couldn’t get into it. But more and more I started seeing the names of some very prominent people who were practicing meditation. In fact, the list of successful and famous people who say they meditate is a long one. Celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, business people like Bill Gates and Arianna Huffington, and even Paul McCartney are some of the famous who meditate regularly.
Meditation, like yoga, has been around for thousands of years. There’s a reason for that — it’s an easy way to relax and reduce your stress levels. The benefits of meditation are numerous. For me, the number one reason I like meditation is that it helps me sleep. I actually get 8 hours of good sleep when I’m practicing yoga and meditation and limit caffeine. Sleeping is tough for me, so anything I can do to improve it, I’m all in.
Here are some of the other things that meditation helps with: gaining a new perspective on stressful situations, reducing negative emotions, and increasing self-awareness, imagination, creativity, patience, and tolerance.
When I say “meditate,” I mean I sit quietly for a few minutes and think good thoughts or give gratitude for all the good things in my life. I feel more centered with a few meditation moments. Meditation doesn’t have to be a formal thing. I know some people that meditate for 30 minutes or more. I’m not one of those people, but I feel like I still get some benefits from my meditation routine. Just a few moments of stillness work wonders.
4. Coffee With Friends
I miss being around people, so I try to connect frequently. Meeting friends and acquaintances for coffee once a week or a couple of times a month is perfect for staying in touch. It’s not a big time commitment, and the benefits are huge. We like to go to local, neighborhood places around town. What’s better than a steaming hot cup of coffee and chatting with friends? Maybe a chocolate donut on the side!
5. Journaling And List Making
I’m a list maker from way back. I can remember sitting in high school history class making lists of all the cute outfits I wanted to shop for at the mall over the weekend. My teacher was not impressed, but I did learn the art of list-making, and it’s stuck with me. The trick to a good list is not to make it too long or too broad. More than about 5 things on your list is overkill and intimidating and you might not follow through on any of them.
A good list is also concise. There’s no reason to intertwine lists; make a separate list for each subject. I routinely have lists for groceries, Netflix, books, wine, and of course, a travel wish list. Each morning, I go through a list or two and see if any additions or deletions are needed. With all the bullet journals available today, list-making is more fun than ever.
I’m not nearly as dedicated to journaling as I am to list-making. List-making is quick and easy. Journaling is a little deep for me sometimes. But journaling is well-known for its therapeutic propensities, so if you’re struggling to deal with certain things in your life, journaling may make sense for you. If you like short and sweet entries like I do, you may be interested in this 5-minute journal. It’s the perfect, almost no-commitment, journal.
6. Gym Class
We all know we need to move more, but sometimes it’s easier said than done. I’m more likely to go work out if I have something specific to do or people to meet. My gym offers quite a few morning classes. They also offer pickleball, which I’m going to try soon. Pickleball is quite the craze where I live, so I’m guessing it’s a good time. These days, I’m into a couple of structured cardio-weight classes. It’s fantastic to go work out early and get it done for the day. It can be a social thing, too. A lot of the regulars are all semi-retired, so there’s always a chance of building relationships outside of the gym.
7. Early Morning Pup Time
I’m a dog lover, and my high-energy goldendoodle loves to walk. We walk the trails by my house almost every morning. Summer gets super-hot here, so hitting the trails in the mornings is the only way to beat the heat. There are some good, flat, shady trails in my area that I like to explore. The Omaha Riverfront in downtown Omaha has been totally revamped and is an amazing place to walk if you feel like a city vibe. Nearby Fontenelle Forest is great if you want to pretend you’re hiking in the woods.
Retirement is awesome in so many ways, and one of the best things about it is your mornings are your own now! Take advantage of this time you have and spend it any way you choose.