five things I must do to start the day, karyn shanks, karyn shanks md, wisdom, start slow, practice slow, slow medicine

Five Things I Must Do to Start My Day (Hint: Yep, Think Slow)

Aren’t those things we do—and say to ourselves—in those first minutes after awakening, the tone-setters for the whole day?

Jumping out of bed and racing out of the house, coffee in one hand, kid in the other—leads one direction. (Eek! The dreaded time pressure, high survival launching out the door—I remember those days! Oh my gosh—my chest is clenching!)

Versus slow. Slow start. Slow breaths. Slow affirmations. Slow Presence. Calming the nervous system. Everything ‘s all right. Ah, just Be.

How we start the day—and the tone we set for our day—is entirely within our control.

And this practice doesn’t have to take all morning. Slow—and all its benefits—can occur in a matter of minutes. Or just a conscious breath or two.

Here are the five things I’ve learned I must start my day with. When time is tight, which it inevitably will be at times, I shorten the intervals. But I love a long, luxurious ninety-minute slow start to my day.

  • With the very first inkling of consciousness I give thanks, saying something like: “Thank you for this beautiful day.” I started this practice many years ago, when my boys were little. A time when I was too stressed and tired to actually believe my words, but I uttered them anyway. Morning by morning, neuron by neuron, I started believing—these words changed the course of my entire life.
  • I drink sixteen ounces of hot water immediately upon getting up. Chug-a-lug! My two-thirds water body is so grateful.
  • I make a big cup of decaf Sencha ground green tea with coconut cream and MCT oil and sip over the next hour—infusing myself with the beautiful green tea catechins and healthy, energy-supporting fats.
  • I write in my journal. I must have a place to “dump” my worries, concerns, plans, and great ideas. My writing helps my feelings and thoughts flow, morphs them into something positive I can see, and helps me direct them constructively.
  • I meditate. Seated meditation with Insight Timer app on my phone. So I can connect deeply with my inner self, my strong center, and the Divinity all around me.

With all this, I am fortified and prepared for the day to come.

How do you start your day?

Name three small slow things you can do now to take control of your day. (Hint: breathe—breathe—breathe—that’s three in thirty seconds!)

p.s. From my Archives:

My Beautiful Self-Care Plan. 2017.

Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.

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