Ten years ago, if you had asked me how I was feeling when I woke up in the morning, I would’ve ignored you and disappeared beneath the blankets. That was during my first year with ALS, a time when I felt the weight of worry and having a life disrupted by a disease I didn’t even understand.

Fast-forward to today, when my new morning routine has evolved into a daily ritual of mindful thinking and movement. One that helps me start the day feeling good and with a positive attitude.

What do I do and how does it help me? Let me tell you more.

How my routine came to be

Years ago, before my ALS appeared, I used to enjoy going for a quick jog, a long walk, or a vigorous yoga session. I could easily fit them into my busy day. And I’d look forward to those breaks as a way to reduce stress and relax.

But living with ALS was a new challenge. Suddenly, I was living in the slow lane of life; my body was stiff, and it took so much time to do simple things. I’d end the day feeling dejected that I couldn’t even find time to stop and give my body the stretching it needed.

That’s when it struck me: I had plenty of time in the morning that I was frittering away by lying in bed feeling sorry for myself.

The next morning, after my husband got up, I lingered in bed a few minutes longer. Then, I pulled my knees to my chest and slowly rocked side to side. That felt so good that I did several more spontaneous stretching movements. Happily, I felt refreshed all morning long.

When I first began this morning ritual, it took only five minutes. But as I’ve grown more adept and increased repetitions, it’s expanded to 20 minutes. Some days I add my mantra, while other days I think about the day ahead and the projects I’ll be focusing on.

And if my day becomes so jumbled that I miss one of my afternoon mini-exercise sessions, I remind myself that at least I did my morning moving routine.

The benefits of rituals

Research supports the use of rituals. Our rituals enhance confidence in our ability to accomplish goals and buffer us against uncertainty and anxiety.

Morning rituals are an opportunity for self-care, and with ALS, self-care is vital for our well-being.

If you want to create your own morning routine, there are lots of things you can include. Mine isn’t one-size-fits-all, but it might be a good place to begin.

Besides gentle movement, try singing, journaling, or meditation. It doesn’t even have to be the same thing every day; like mine, it can evolve and change. The key is to be consistent and intentional, and follow your intuition.

Having a morning routine wakes me up and gets me going. I feel good knowing that no matter what the day brings, I’ve given my body the gift of healthy movement. It’s a positive ritual that helps bring balance, meaning, and value to my life, and I hope it will do the same for yours as well. Let’s learn to live well while living with ALS.


Note: ALS News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of ALS News Today or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to ALS.

When Dagmar was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 59 in 2010, she tapped into her nearly 30 years of professional experience. She not only follows her own wellness and fitness advice but also inspires and teaches others to do the same. Dagmar is a patient columnist at BioNews, writing “Living Well with ALS.” In addition, she is one of the moderators for the ALS News Today Forum and writes a personal blog called “ALS and Wellness.” She lives in Arizona, enjoying finding humor in life’s situations, and spends her free time pursuing creative projects in fiber arts.

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