My AIP morning routine is an important part of living well and finding joy while living with autoimmune disease. I developed my morning routine while at my rock bottom, after being diagnosed with my autoimmune disease. How? One habit at a time.
My AIP morning routine then looked nothing like it looks now. It took me time to figure out what works best for me in my life, what helps me live my best life and find joy while living with my autoimmune disease, and what helps me stay positive and cultivate a growth mindset.
What Works Best For Me May Look Differently Than What Works Best for You
First things first, please understand I am not sharing my AIP morning routine in an effort to tell you to adopt it! Rather, I am sharing simply to show you what I do, to give you ideas, and hopefully inspire you to create your own unique morning routine that helps you live with joy each day no matter how well or unwell your body feels.
Depending on where you are in your autoimmune journey, if you are working full time, if you are a mother of young children, and so on, you may have very little time in the morning.
It may be more important for your wellness to sleep as much as you can in the morning, and instead develop a midday or evening routine.
Or, you can break your wellness habits up throughout the day as time allows. For example, walk outside during your lunch break, meditate while your baby is napping, write in your gratitude journal before bed, and so on. You do not have to get all of your wellness habits done first thing in the morning.
Developing my AIP Morning Routine
I developed my morning routine during a time when I felt my worst. Losing the life I once had, I felt weak, afraid, frustrated, angry, and distraught.
Struggling to do the bare minimum, my focus at the time revolved around studying about autoimmune disease, and doing anything I could to feel better.
I felt desperate, and adopted what I call a “1% Better” approach to wellness. Meaning, if I could develop enough healthy habits that each help me feel just a little bit better, then maybe combined, I would feel a whole lot better! With that in mind, I went to work developing healthy habits, and setting up my morning routine.
Please keep in mind that I work part time from home and can create my own schedule. I can work more one day and less another day.
Also, although I technically still “homeschool” my two children, they are older now, more independent, responsible, and “attend” live high school and middle school classes digitally. No early morning drop off for me. Again, depending on how you feel, and what your responsibilities are, you may need to prioritize habits and get creative with your day!
AIP: More than Nutrition
The autoimmune protocol is about more than nutrition. As life changing as the nutrition side of AIP is, the lifestyle side of AIP can be just as life changing!
Personally, I found improving sleep, managing stress, physical movement, meaningful connection, and enjoying nature incredibly important to my autoimmune wellness journey. My morning routine helps me with many of the lifestyle aspects of AIP.
Riding the Autoimmune Disease Roller Coaster
One of the hardest parts of living with autoimmune disease is the ups and downs, as well as the twists and turns. It can be hard to stay consistent with any kind of routine when you do not know how you will feel from one day to the next.
As you experiment with your morning routine, I encourage you to offer yourself lots of love and support.
If you have a goal to wake up at a certain time to start your routine, but are feeling more unwell than usual and need extra sleep, it is okay. I repeat, it is okay. The whole point of an AIP morning routine is not to be a drill sergeant with yourself!
It is to lovingly help yourself feel the best you can! And sometimes, that may include starting your morning routine later than usual so you can get the extra sleep you need. Or, it may include prioritizing and forgoing a part of your routine so you can get to work on time after resting in bed for longer than expected. Be kind to yourself, and make adjustments as needed.
Progress, Not Perfection
Anyone else out there a perfectionist? I love to create daily checklists. Actually, I loved it before hitting my rock bottom.
Living with autoimmune disease can make checklists frustrating at times! It felt frustrating on days when I felt too unwell to check off the items on my endless to do list! In time, I learned to care more about how my body feels, and self-care, than checking items off a list.
While creating a check list for your morning routine can be beneficial, and I do recommend it, I encourage you to focus on progress, not perfection. Think about where you are, as well as how you are feeling, and design your morning routine checklist from there. Perhaps focus on adding just one item to your morning routine at a time each week, or each month, to avoid feelings of overwhelm.
This is not a race. Give yourself permission to take as much time as you need. Remember, the goal is to reduce stress and improve wellness, not increase stress and worsen wellness.
My AIP Morning Routine
When I have all of my ducks in a row, this is my AIP morning routine. Please keep in mind, I am human, and I am not perfect at it day in and day out. Also, I change up my morning routine as I feel inspired to.
Next to each of my morning routine habits, I included an estimated time range I spend on the habit. With that said, each day I spend a different amount of time on each habit, depending on how I feel, what I need, and my schedule for the day.
While most days I keep my routine on the shorter side of things, during a flare or when I feel off, I spend more time on my morning routine.
Drink 8-16 Ounces of Water
The first thing I do when I sit up in the morning is drink 8-16 ounces of water. Water not only flushes toxins from the body, it also supports the healing process and improves cellular communication among other important roles.
Gratitude Journal (about 3 minutes)
I simply list 5 things I am grateful for, and take a moment to FEEL gratitude.
It can be anything at all – shallow or deep. Big or small. I simply think of what I am grateful for in that moment, without judgement.
Meditation (between 5 and 20 minutes)
“Meditation” sounds so fancy to me. Really, I am just taking slow, deep, belly breathes and focusing on breathing.
Sometimes I listen to meditation music while breathing, sometimes I do alternate nostril breathing if I am stressed, and sometimes I do a guided meditation on the Headspace app.
Just a heads up – meditation takes practice. I still often get distracted while meditating, but even then I still find it incredibly beneficial. So go easy on yourself if you are new to meditating!
Prayer and Scripture Study (between 5 and 15 minutes)
Taking time for a spiritual practice in the morning helps to ground me, overcome fear, find peace, and remember what is truly important to me. Whatever your belief system is, I encourage you to cultivate a spiritual practice in the morning to start your day in a peaceful way.
Also, our family does family scripture study and prayer together during breakfast around the table (the time spent varies). Family prayer and scripture study is my favorite! I love to hear my kids’ thoughts on various scriptures, and although we try to keep it spiritual, it usually leads to one of us saying something funny towards the end, and we end up laughing…and laughter is great for wellness too!
I change up what I eat for breakfast depending on how I feel, and the time of year. Some of my favorite AIP breakfast ideas include homemade hashes, green smoothies, and leftovers.
Whether you are on AIP or not, starting the day with a properly prepared, nutrient dense, macro balanced breakfast can improve and balance energy levels and help you feel your best. Try to include a protein, healthy fats, and carbs in the form of veggies.
Rebounding (between 3 and 10 minutes)
This is one of my more recent habits, and it boasts a variety of health benefits including improving digestion, boosting lymphatic drainage, and improving immune function. You can read more about the science behind and benefits of rebounding here.
There are many different options if you are looking to purchase a rebounder, in a variety of prices. This is the one I have. The rebounding article I linked above also includes recommendations for rebounders.
Walking (preferably in nature – between 10 minutes and an hour)
I typically do not aim for a certain distance or amount of time, I simply listen to my body depending on the day, and do what feels best. Sometimes it’s a simple 10 minute stroll. Other times it’s up to an hour at a brisk pace.
Oil pulling (between 3 and 5 minutes)
Oil pulling with coconut oil is another part of my morning routine, but I did not like it at all at first. In fact, I literally gagged the first number of times I tried oil pulling!
However, oil pulling offers a variety of benefits, so I stuck with it, and now it does not bother me at all! Here is a great article about the ins and outs of oil pulling.
Dry Brushing (2-3 minutes)
I dry brush every morning before taking a shower or bath. I personally love the way it feels, and how invigorating it is!
Joovv Red Light Therapy (around 15 minutes)
This is the newest addition to my morning routine! I first learned about red light therapy through Dr. Sarah Ballantyne (The Paleo Mom). It’s been on my radar for well over a year, but I personally found it to be a big expense.
My husband and I would talk about it on and off every few months, and just a few months ago he bought me a red light therapy unit as an early birthday present. We’ve both been using it since, and we both love it!
Yoga (between 15 minutes and an hour)
I love starting my day with a gentle morning yoga practice!
Up until a couple of months ago, I simply did gentle yoga at home online in the morning. Then I found an incredible local yoga studio where I started attending restorative yoga classes and hatha yoga classes. Since then, I go to yoga later in day or in the evening a few days a week. My daughter comes with me sometimes too, and loves it, which I love!
My AIP Morning Routine: Challenges
I just had to say it one more time…I am human. I am SO not perfect. Sometimes I fall off the wagon. Sometimes I feel like a change. Sometimes I get tired of it all.
Inevitably, my body starts reminding me when I fall short. Little symptoms start popping up. I lose some of my positivity. I get “feedback” from my body reminding me to get back with the program. And of course, I change up my morning routine as I need to.
Cheering You On!
Please know none of this came easy to me. It felt SO hard. Changing is hard. Developing healthy habits is tough stuff. However, living with autoimmune symptoms is harder. My morning routine helps me feel my best.
After reading or watching my morning routine, you may think I am cray cray for doing everything I do in the morning. You know what? I agree with you. Well, the old me agrees with you. But I think if you are where I was at my rock bottom, you get it.
If you are struggling every single day to live, please know you are not alone! I feel you. My heart is with you. Please know I am not saying do ALL the things I am doing. I am simply saying, “Hey, I’ve been there too. This is what’s helped me. Maybe some of these things will help you.”
I know it seems hard. It is. But we can do hard things. And there’s a secret…what seems so hard today will grow easier with time.
I am sending you SO much love and support! I believe in you, and I love you!
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