Morning Routine (3rd Year of Medical School)

Maintaining a highly structured morning routine is essential to ensuring that my day is off to a good and productive start. My ADHD brain requires a tremendous amount of structure to keep it happy, ergo, if I am unable to follow my morning routine, my productivity for the rest of the day is completely shot. I feel unmotivated, despondent, and rather melancholy; it completely shifts my mood for the rest of the day, and I stumble around unsure of what to do next, and end up jumping from task to task, without ever feeling grounded. For the ADHD brain, establishing a morning routine is truly essential for laying the foundation for a successful, productive, and happy day.

To the extent that my productivity is highest in the morning, I am a morning person. Thus, my biggest priorities for the morning are the things that would otherwise not get done if I relegated them to a later time in the day, principally working out and studying.

I use a sunrise alarm clock which functions by emitting light thirty minutes before the scheduled time, progressively becoming brighter, and reaching 100% brightness at the scheduled time. This alarm has made getting up on those dreary Northeastern winter mornings much easier. My alarm wakes me up to NPR; I listen to the news while I make up my bed. Part and parcel of my need for structure, is my need for organization. Making my bed first thing in the morning also serves the dual purpose of making me feel accomplished before the day officially begins.

After making my bed, I run my daily mile. Then I hop in the shower for a ten minute steam. As soon as I return from my rotations in the evening, I take a proper shower; this  is when I wash my hair and use excessive amounts of soap, to appease my obsessive-compulsive disorder. Consequently, I only shower with hot water in the morning; I don’t use soap or wet my hair. The morning steam serves several purposes: 1. to freshen up after my quick run; 2. the humidity helps alleviate the dryness that plagues my nasal passages in these damn long Northeastern winters; 3. the steam functions as a facial; 4. it is just damn relaxing.

While studying, I prefer to be comfortable, so I usually don a pair of yoga pants and a sweater which will invariably need to be changed in a couple of hours when I get ready to go to my rotation. While my muscles are still warm from the steam, I do some yoga asanas, typically a few rounds of freestyle sun salutations (additional postures added to the traditional sun salutation sequence based on my mood) followed by a few minutes of meditation. Once I feel at ease and relatively relaxed, I turn on the Keurig and make a cup of coffee while I practice my Spanish. While waiting for the Keurig to heat up, I drink two glasses of water along with my daily multivitamin and fish oil supplements.

Insofar as I am in my third year of medical school, I try to prioritize my Step 2 studying for first thing in the morning; I only aim to complete 10 medicine questions in a sitting to appease my ADHD brain, and ensure that I don’t rush through the explanations to questions I missed. In reality, it often takes much less time than I plan for, but by overestimating the amount of time it will take, I buy myself some peace of mind when I am running behind. I try to get my prescribed shelf studying done in the morning as well, while sipping my morning cup of coffee.

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