Simple morning self-touch routine

What is a self-touch routine?

A self-touch routine is basically any kind practice, or time spent, intentionally touching oneself. It can serve different purposes such as:

  • muscular relaxation or repair
  • promoting a sense of calm before sleep
  • a self-soothing strategy during stress
  • a way to access pleasure or arousal
  • a practical bodily inspection for irregularities (e.g. regular breast massage or testicular massage to check for potentially cancerous lumps)
  • making moisturising a bit more exciting 😉
  • fostering a sense of self-care and body positivity
  • invigorating and waking the body up in the morning

The actual content of a self-touch routine can vary widely based on personal preference and need. It can be a quick 60 seconds, a full hour of invested time, or anywhere in between or beyond. It can include breath exercises, different types of touch and pressure, stretching and moving, props such as massage guns, foam rollers, soft fabrics or just the incredible tools at the ends of your arms – your hands! It can also be as simple as just holding your hands on specific parts of the body to provide comfort and relief.

Why is it good to do it in the morning?

You can build in some mindful self-touch time at any point in your day, but in this article we’ll focus on the benefits of starting your day with a simple self-touch practice. For almost a decade now I’ve been using this quick and easy routine immediately when I wake up, or at the very latest when I’m in my morning shower. I have found that it brings me immediately into the present moment, and helps me to take stock of my bodily sensations rather than just falling straight into stressful thoughts and plans for the day. It gently boosts my alertness and energy levels – no need for an immediate coffee hit! Self-touch releases mood-boosting endorphins – no more ‘getting out of bed on the wrong side’! This results in a balanced, confident and optimistic tone to the rest of my day. On the days I skip it I notice that I feel a bit less grounded, and as if I’ve missed a chat with a good friend. The cumulative effects of this morning routine have been plentiful:

  • I am far more loving and accepting of my body
  • I genuinely don’t need coffee first thing in the morning anymore (which has proven far healthier for my gut and nervous system)
  • I am better at managing my anxiety, depression and stress because I feel boosted by the touch
  • I’ve felt when things are ‘off’ in my body and have been able to seek support to heal

What hurdles might you face?

If you think you’re not a ‘morning person’ then you could face a lot of mental resistance to this idea! It’s much more appealing to just roll over and snuggle back into the duvet when you wake up – I get it! My top tip – try it once per week to begin with, you don’t need to force change on yourself every day. Observe the differences in yourself on the days you do it, and increase to twice, three times etc per week when you’re ready.

Sharing a bed can be an easy excuse to avoid this beneficial self-touch practice; not wanting to disturb your partner or feeling a bit self conscious can definitely get in the way of the process. When I’m sharing a bed with my partner, I just do a condensed version of the routine…but I still do it. I find a way to get my hands on my body in a mindful way and focus on the subtle sensations. You never know – your partner might get inspired and join you! 

If you have a hectic schedule, kids to manage, pets to feed and 100 tasks to get done before 9am then you’ll probably tell me you don’t have time to do a morning self-touch routine. Firstly, I’d encourage you to take a look at whether all those things are necessary, and try to figure out what you can drop and what you can delegate. Then, I can reassure you that this self-touch practice takes a maximum of 3 minutes and doesn’t even require you to get out of bed! All that’s required is for you to make a small interruption to your current actions between regaining consciousness after sleep and moving to an upright position.

If you struggle with negative body image, touching yourself first thing in the morning could feel like a very overwhelming prospect. Be gentle with yourself and start small. 10 seconds of intentionally holding your hands on your body and breathing might be enough to begin with. Regularly challenging your beliefs by mindfully connecting with your body can create huge shifts in the way you feel and perceive yourself. Believe me – I have been through it!

Overcoming these hurdles or resistance points starts with prioritising the benefits of the experience, starting with small achievable goals and creating a practice that resonates for you personally. You can use my framework below, but feel free to adjust it, expand it, condense it or do something completely different!

What to do: a simple morning self-touch practice

1.

As soon as you become awake and aware, take a few deeper breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.

2.

Lie on your back and tuck your knees in to your chest, holding the shins or the knees. Give yourself a little squeeze in this ball shape.

 

3.

Move the arms down so you can touch the feet in whatever way is comfortable for your body. Begin a light tapping or pattering touch with the fingers or the closed fists, moving from the feet up through the legs to the hips and pelvis, then gently over the belly through the chest and torso, from one hand up to the shoulder then the other hand to shoulder, over the collarbones and up onto the face and head.

4.

Move again to the feet, this time rubbing circles up through the same route, warming the skin and moving as fast or slow as you want.

5.

Let your hands rest somewhere on your body (I like to hold my breasts and/or hip bones) and give your whole body 10-20 seconds of gentle jiggling or shaking.

6.

Throughout the above steps, breath regularly (don’t hold your breath), in through the nose and out through the mouth.

7.

Notice points that feel pleasurable, sensitive, sore, numb, achey, delicious but don’t dwell on any one area for too long.

8.

Finish with a couple of moments of stillness to hold your awareness in your whole body, noticing any physical or emotional sensations, letting go of judgements or thoughts.

Swing your legs out of bed and up you get! Ready to start your day well and truly in your body.

Things to avoid with your morning self-touch practice

Don’t over-complicate it, it doesn’t have to be grand and complex with lots of variety. It should be simple enough that you can talk yourself out of any excuses not to do it, and interesting enough to keep you coming back to it!

Don’t make it too long. The idea in the morning is to wake you up and provide a way for you to touch as much of your body as possible in a light and balanced way. It doesn’t need to be an intense full body massage.

Don’t be too rigid. As I mentioned earlier, if I don’t do this in bed I sometimes do it in the shower or one-handed as I’m cleaning my teeth. Find a way to insert it into your morning with some flexibility.

If this has inspired you and you want to learn more about simple self-touch then check out my online course in mindful self-pleasure or drop me an email at elizabeth@touchofhappiness.co.uk

With Love,

Libby

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