Welcome to Morning Ritual Spotlight: Jo Romero, the very first in my morning ritual spotlight series!
My personal morning ritual has become a crucial part of my day, and my healing caper. It allows me to create space for myself before the noise and expectations of the outside world arrive, and to set an intention for how I choose to have the day unfold before me. It’s my time, and it’s all for me.
In this series, I’m talking with people who inspire me in this AIP and health space, about their morning rituals. As we learn about how they begin their day, my hope is that you’ll gain some insights and motivation to develop a personal morning ritual for yourself.
If you’d like some help in creating YOUR personal morning ritual, head on over to check out my NEW free video eCourse – How to Create Your Personal Morning Ritual.
Let’s find out more about Jo…
Jo is a food blogger who has used AIP to heal psoriasis. She found it also improved her IBS and mental health. Jo believes in eating well and having fun. She runs the health and wellness blog Comfort Bites and can be found on Instagram @joromerofood. She has just set up an Everyday Stress Management group on Facebook.
Welcome Jo! What’s your AIP story?
I started AIP in 2013 although had a few false starts. When I finally got the hang of it, I found that my symptoms settled within a month so I started reintroducing some foods.
My biggest challenge is sugar – I’m fine if I can fully detox from it, and then I don’t really want it. But the minute I make a treat or have some chocolate with a friend I’m back to craving it again and I have to consciously step back and start again. Nowadays my diet looks like a fairly low-carb, mostly paleo diet. I’ve reintroduced occasional eggs, nuts, nightshades and seeds, along with some very occasional dairy.
I also make sure I prioritise my sleep (although that can be difficult, too!) and get lots of time outside. I’d rather walk than drive the car, especially on shorter journeys, although I am trying to incorporate more active movement into my day now, too.
How do you wake up in the morning? Do you use an alarm clock? Are you a snoozer?
I usually wake up a couple of minutes before my alarm, which I always think is kind of weird! But it’s there if I should ever accidentally sleep in. I never snooze, once I’m up I’m awake. I’m definitely a morning person.
Do you have a morning ritual? Can you describe it for us?
I wake up, and then just let myself slowly start to think gently about the day. It’s tempting not to rush straight in, but I feel better if I start the day calmly. I get a lot of emails and messages on my phone throughout the night, so I make a real effort not to check my phone for the first half an hour of the day. I get up, shower and then head down for a cup of chicory coffee or camomile tea. No one else is up in my house at this time, so it’s a little time for me. I like to look out at the weather, the colours of the sunrise. I start my day as gently as possible.
Is your morning ritual something that you have been actively or consciously working on, or has it naturally evolved over time? How long has it looked like this?
It’s evolved over time. I used to get up and do yoga, but now I prefer that later in the morning or in the evening before bed. I think I just saw that the second I opened my eyes I was scrolling through messages and emails and it set me off in ‘active mode’ straight away and I wanted to change that. It’s looked like this for the last 5-6 months.
We know how important sleep is for our health. What time do you go to bed? – and, to sleep? How religious are you about your bedtime?
My husband will sometimes want us to stay up and watch some TV together and I always calculate how long the programme or movie is and then say I need to go to bed! I feel like a bit of a party pooper but I really do try to protect my sleep. Without good quality sleep I’m unfocused, tired and moody, so it’s all good that I work on it. I go to bed about 9.30pm and usually read until I feel sleepy, which varies. I’m always in bed preparing to sleep by 10pm.
Do you have an evening routine to help you get ready for quality sleep?
I usually read – nothing too gripping or mysterious though, or that keeps me awake! I’ll start to wind down around 8.30pm, turning off all my screens. I have a salt lamp which I light in the evenings, which gives the room a soft, reddish glow so it’s easier on my eyes and sets me up for sleep. In the winter I wear blue-light blocking glasses if I need to stay awake later. Then I’ll just have a quiet camomile tea, brush my teeth and then get into bed with my book.
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
It might sound odd, but I don’t usually eat breakfast. I like a warm drink, I chicory coffee or herbal tea, but I’ll start eating at around 11am. I just feel like my digestion works better this way, and over time I’ve found I’m not naturally hungry before then anyway.
However, some days I wake up hungry and I listen to my body. I’ll usually eat leftovers – stews, soups – or I’ll make one of my favourites, which is a meat and vegetable hash, like this Pork, Red Onion and Sweet Potato Hash.
Let’s talk about stress management? – Is movement or mindfulness a part of your daily morning ritual? If not, how do you incorporate these into your day, if at all?
Learning mindfulness was such a game changer for me. I walk the children to school each morning and we talk on the way. There seem to be so many people driving even short journeys in cars, but this walk gives us a little bit of gentle exercise, fresh air and a chance to chat. We incorporate mindfulness into that too – sometimes the moon is really big, or still noticeable in the morning sky, so we’ll look at that. Or listen to the birds, or look at the clouds. It all helps us to shift our focus into what’s happening now.
Do you use any apps or products to enhance your morning ritual, track your sleep, movement or mindfulness?
I have a Garmin watch which tracks my sleep and movement during the day through an app on my phone. It also tracks my stress levels, and will pop up with a warning if it thinks I’m getting too stressed! I just try to keep mornings as gentle as possible, it suits me better. I’ve seen an app which has positive affirmations which sounds like a great idea, so I might add that in at some point, too.
How soon do you check your social media and email in the morning?
I start checking about half an hour after I’ve woken up.
How does your partner/family fit into your morning routine?
I wake up early (usually around 6.15am) so my husband is usually still asleep until later. I help the kids get everything they need for school and make the packed lunches, but they know I’ll be just sipping a hot drink and gazing out of the window for the first half an hour I’m up!
Do you follow this morning ritual every day of the week, or do weekends look different?
Saturdays are the same for me, as my daughter has a violin lesson early in the morning and we need to get ready and out of the house. Sundays are a little more relaxed, although because my internal clock is somehow set, I’m usually still waking up at 6.15am!
What happens if life throws you a curveball and your morning ritual is compromised? How does this affect you?
I go with the flow – my morning routine isn’t rigid. However, I do notice that if I start the day with a challenging situation, I do feel less calm for the rest of the day and I don’t seem to handle other stresses as well as usual, later on.
Do you have any advice to readers just starting out in creating their own morning ritual?
I think the most important thing would be to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. It helps set your Circadian Rhythm, and you’ll wake feeling more refreshed. And not checking social media as soon as I woke up was really difficult in the beginning – but it’s so much nicer to start the day slowly. I find it sets me up for the whole day, and puts me on the right track, emotionally.
Many thanks, Jo!