Slide out of bed and, as your toes touch the floor, imagine all the other people sliding out of bed with you. The doctor on your block, the young mother four states down, the teenager halfway across the world. Take comfort in this quiet solidarity—the thousand other bodies padding to the shower, squeaking on the water, examining their early morning faces in the mirror. Know you’re not alone.
As you get ready, give yourself time. Turn on your shower and wait until steam is curling around the curtain before you get in. Let your skin warm, your shoulders loosen and your mind go blank. Stand there for a few moments longer than you have to. Squeeze your eyes shut.
When you climb out, stop. Observe something subtle that only you, someone in your body, can know — like how the heat feels still clinging to your skin, or how the cold air feels starting to suck your hair dry.
As you get dressed, treat yourself like someone you’d take care of. Open a window and fill your chest with the fresh air, feeling the goosebumps crawl down your back. Light a candle and smooth lotion onto your ankles. Move deliberately. When you look at your face in the mirror—the face that’s broken for your laughter and absorbed your tears fifteen thousand times—admire it. Choose to wear a color that brings out the light in your cheeks.
Next, treat your breakfast like an occasion. Nourish yourself with every scent, sight and sound. Brew a strong cup of coffee; let the kitchen fill with its oaky tendrils. Drink each sip slowly, letting yourself sink into the ritual of it. Feel your veins start to open. Crack an egg and watch as it crawls sleepily across the pan, or cut up a peach and stop to marvel at its sunset of colors; its sweetness. Arrange your food on your favorite dish: your mother’s faded blue wedding china or the chipped yellow bowl you stole from a roommate. Taste every bite.
When you step outside, take something in—whether it’s the electric green grass, a crust of snow, or the half open curtain in the window across the way. If the air is cool, let it awaken you. If it’s hot, relax into its heat. Keep going.
On your commute, feel, again, the solidarity with all the other tired morning faces just trying to get to where they’re going. Appreciate the earnestness in it, how each person spent a few moments choosing the shirt they felt looked best in that morning. The last uncertain glance they took in the mirror before rushing out the door. The knot of personhood they have inside that looks just like your own—the last words swirling from a fight with a spouse, the anticipation for a first day or a first date, the hope that someone’s looking at them or that they aren’t. Feel a little bit more united with your fellow humans as you squeeze in next to the man who’s fallen asleep against the subway window or catch a glimpse of a woman trying to put on mascara in between red lights.
By the time you get to work, you’ve already lived a full day in your mind, your perspective slowly altered with each thought, each slow, careful movement. By the time you sit down at your desk, you might be smiling. It’s almost Tuesday.