Morning Ritual Spotlight: Simone Russell

Morning Ritual Spotlight: Simone Russell

Welcome to Morning Ritual Spotlight: This week’s guest is Simone from yogamona.com…


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 – both in this AIP caper, but also the wider 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 Simone…
Simone is a registered occupational therapist and a life and mindfulness coach helping people navigate the highs and lows of being human. Many of the people she works with in her coaching practice first come to Simone feeling burnt out, stressed and overwhelmed. They seek more meaning, balance and calm in their life. Pretty sure most of us can relate to that goal!
I first met Simone (aka Mona) when we were both studying to become health coaches. I was immediately struck by her warmth and compassion, especially because I was knee-deep in my elimination phase of AIP when we met, and despite being surrounded by other ‘health seekers’ at the time, was feeling a little sorry for myself given my food restrictions. Simone made me feel welcome and included – a feeling I’ve never forgotten.
If you’d like to learn more about the engaging and empathetic Simone, I encourage you to head over to her ‘about’ page: https://yogamona.com.au/pages/about-us. She’s a gorgeous human bean.
Welcome, Simone! What’s your health story?

My health journey has really been about tuning into my body and nourishing it in a way that feels right for me. Minimising stress, learning to say no and self-care has been a huge part of my journey as an over-giving, burnt-out health professional. I’ve tried paleo, gone off coffee, been vegetarian transitioning to vegan and now sit somewhere in between! I would say I eat plant-based 85-90% of the time.

How do you wake up in the morning? Do you use an alarm clock? Are you a snoozer?

I wake up in the morning, often to my almost 2-year-old daughter or my alarm clock. I use the Sleep Cycle app which is meant to wake you at your lightest sleep within a half-hour period. I do find I wake less groggy when I use this. I’ve been a dreadful snoozer prior to having my daughter but it’s something that has improved and I hope continues to improve.

Do you have a morning ritual? Can you describe it for us?

My morning ritual has to be flexible and it’s more focused on my mindset and mindfulness these days. I wake up and check in with my breath, my body, my thoughts and feelings. I notice what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling without judgement and with kindness and compassion. I use incidental moments to practice mindfulness throughout my morning and day such as in the car (tuning into my breath), meditating on the train three days a week when I work in the city, regularly bringing myself into the present moment by tuning into the 5 senses (smell, taste, touch, sound, sight) and switching off autopilot. Making sure I eat a decent breakfast is also important!

Morning Ritual Spotlight: Simone Russell

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 is something I’ve been consciously working on overtime and has evolved. I would say it has been consistent for the last year. When my daughter was younger I was still very sleep deprived and that made my morning ritual more challenging. As she gets older, it’s getting easier. I have to be clever with how I use my time, on my days home with her I often meditate when she goes down for a nap in the afternoon.

If relevant, can you talk us through how your morning ritual has evolved over time (especially as related to your health caper)?

When I think back to perhaps a decade ago, I was a massive snoozer, I would jump in the shower, rush out the door and often times skip breakfast. My thoughts would often be negative on waking. Things are different now but I would say I’m still not a morning person. I don’t punish myself to be up at 5 am sipping on lemon and hot water. Instead, I really tune in and listen to my body and try to follow my own body clock. I snooze much less and never skip breakfast! I’ve also managed to tame my negative thoughts on waking with mindfulness.

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?

This is still a work in progress! I’m naturally a night owl and find it difficult to be asleep before 10.30 or 11 pm. I aim to be in bed between 10-10.30 but it doesn’t always happen. The evenings are where I can enjoy some downtime.

Do you have an evening routine to help you get ready for quality sleep?

I enjoy winding down with a shower, a herbal tea and a guided meditation or some reading before bed. Sometimes I might do some yin poses to stretch out from being at the computer and chasing my toddler!

How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?

I usually have breakfast 15-30 minutes after waking. It’s nothing complicated – it might be muesli, fruit and yoghurt or avocado on toast.

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?

Mindfulness is part of my daily life and it starts when I wake up by tuning into my energy, body, mind. I try to use the time on the train commute three days a week to meditate or at least be present for part of the journey rather than on my phone. I find other anchors throughout the day like the shower, mealtimes and when I’m stopped at traffic lights in the car to tune into my breath or the five senses. I walk and try to get to yoga a few times a week or practice some yin poses at home.

Do you use any apps or products to enhance your morning ritual, track your sleep, movement or mindfulness?

I use Sleep Cycle to track my sleep, I’m a big fan of Insight Timer and 1 Giant Mind for meditation. Many of my clients swear by Calm. Smiling Mind and Head Space are other good meditation apps. I love Spotify for sourcing relaxing or new music depending on my mood and podcasts for mindset and inspiration.

(JF – If you’d like to check out one of Simone’s meditations, this one’s a good one to bookmark: https://youtu.be/jJHYrf76_tI)

How soon do you check your social media and email in the morning?

Most mornings I try to wait until well after breakfast. Other mornings I might make it until lunch before I check-in. Weekends vary depending on what we have on. This is something I’ve consciously been working on. I got a new phone in January and my email didn’t automatically come across, which means I can only check on my laptop. It has been a blessing in disguise!

How does your family fit into your morning routine?

My daughter and her sleep overnight definitely still dictates my morning routine at the moment! There is less freedom to get up and go to a yoga class.

Do you follow this morning ritual every day of the week, or do weekends look different?

The week looks a little different. On days off with my daughter, I tend to have a slower start to the morning and often don’t set an alarm. We often share a cooked breakfast, head outside to the park where I focus on being present with her.

What happens if life throws you a curveball and your morning ritual is compromised? How does this affect you?

I’d like to think I’m pretty flexible in general. ? I will often wait until I have a moment to mindfully check to see whether the curveball has affected my mindset or mood. If it has I practice noticing and naming the thoughts and feelings that might be coming up and then let them go.

Do you have any advice to people just starting out in creating their own morning ritual?

See what rituals you’re drawn to, introduce or try one thing at a time and find what works for you. Don’t compare yourself to someone else’s ‘Insta’ perfect morning of exercise, green smoothie, meditation, journaling and gratitude list if that’s unrealistic for you! Keep it simple if you can. Don’t beat yourself up when you stray, just return to your why and your goal with kindness and compassion. Start again the next morning. While starting the day right is extremely important, remember you can hit the ‘reset’ button at any stage through the day if you need!

Many thanks, Simone!


Morning Ritual Spotlight Jo Romero

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