On Daily Routines, we profile successful leaders, entrepreneurs, artists, executives and athletes to explore their routines, schedules, habits and day in the life.
These days, the quietest moments in Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s life, are the five minutes she spends drinking water in the morning. Before she has to go Congress to battle over legislation, before she has to face attacks in the media, before she has to work 12-14 hour days; for those five minutes, Ocasio-Cortez is focused on nothing, but drinking her water.
It’s one of the rare, still moments in her current daily routine; which turned into a whirlwind ever since she beat Joe Crowley during the Democratic Party’s primary election for New York’s 14th congressional district in 2018. At 29 years old when she took office, Ocasio-Cortez became the youngest woman ever to serve in the US Congress.
The 3-month campaign was physically and mentally taxing. Following her win, Ocasio-Cortez announced that she was taking some time off to avoid burning out. “I’m taking a few days to take care of myself before what is sure to be an eventful term,” she wrote on Twitter.
“Before the campaign, I used to practice yoga 3-4x a week, eat nutritiously, read and write for leisure. As soon as everything kicked up, that all went out the window,” she said on her Instagram. “I went from doing yoga and making wild rice and salmon dinners to eating fast food for dinner and falling asleep in my jeans and makeup.”
Since her catapult into the spotlight, Ocasio-Cortez has become one of the most popular politicians in America, next to Donald Trump of course. For the 2019 Time 100, where Ocasio-Cortez was included as one of the most influential people in the world, Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote:
A year ago, she was taking orders across a bar. Today, millions are taking cues from her. She reminds all of us that even while greed and corruption slow our progress, even while armies of lobbyists swarm Washington, in our democracy, true power still rests with the people. And she’s just getting started.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Is on the 2019 TIME 100 List | Time
On a typical day in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s life, she’s up at between 7-8am, usually cuddled up next to Deco, a French bulldog she and her partner Riley Roberts got earlier in 2020.
If it’s not a day where she needs to head out the door right way, Ocasio-Cortez will take her time to have some breakfast (“toast with a little bit of peanut butter or almond butter”), drink her matcha tea, and scan through the news on The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, and New Republic.
Then, she’ll drink her water, a meditation-like ritual that has become a vital part of her day. “The most important part of my morning routine has been drinking water. I like to put some lemon in my water and I try to drink it pretty slowly and mindfully,” she said. “I will look out my window. I will try to look at the clouds passing by just really slow down for even a minute, five minutes in the morning and that has been my little meditative practice recently.”
When it comes to her makeup routine, some days she’ll go bare face and some days she’ll go glam. “Just being a woman is quite politicized here in Washington,” she told Vogue. “There’s this really false idea that if you care about makeup or if your interests are in beauty and fashion, that that’s somehow frivolous. But I actually think these are some of the most substantive decisions that we make — and we make them every morning.”
By 9-9.30am, she’s out the door. As a Congresswoman representing New York’s 14th congressional district, Ocasio-Cortez lives in The Bronx, as well as Washington. If she’s in New York, she’ll walk to her office, otherwise she’ll head to Capitol Hill for committee hearings and meetings.
I will also be heading team meetings internally, preparing and doing research for upcoming hearings, talking through and workshopping legislation that we are trying to roll out and also talking to other candidates for office and see how we can support other progressive folks to be able to run for office and be successful. A lot of what I do and how I prioritize has to do with what my community is prioritizing and asking for in a given moment.Everything Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Does In a Day | Vanity Fair
Ocasio-Cortez’s daily schedule is typically jam packed, leaving the Congresswoman little time for breaks. “Sometimes I have a break and then it ends up getting filled up with a meeting so it is really any time between meetings that I can squeeze in a little break that is when it happens,” she told Vanity Fair. It’s a point of worry for her family, who checks in with the AOC team to make sure she’s taking care of herself.
“Her mother will, on occasion, call me and be like, ‘Is she okay? Is she eating?’” says Rebecca Rodriguez, Ocasio-Cortez’s cousin and 2020 campaign manager. “We all know when she loses too much weight, it’s a sign that she is really stressed out.”
The adjustment to her new life was especially stressful in the earlier days. “The first three months or so of my term were just emotionally exhausting, like I was worried sick every single day,” she told Vogue. “It was like pure exhaustion. I would go 12 hours without eating.”
Ocasio-Cortez is more settled in Congress life these days, and has found herself a groove. She’s also discovered gardening as a useful self-care routine. “I garden, I’ve discovered gardening, which has been really rewarding,” she told The New Yorker’s David Remnick. “It’s really healing. It is. It really is, to just forget everything and just have your hands in the dirt. That’s, you know, it’s one of the best parts of my day.”
On most nights she tries to set a hard finish time for work at 6pm, otherwise there’s a chance she’ll end up spending all night in the office.
“My job is responsive to what the public and what our communities and people need. Work never really stops,” she told Vanity Fair. “As a member of Congress you have to be on call 24/7, especially for rapid response in breaking news. You have to kind of set hard rules for yourself, even though there is no off.”
When she gets home, she’ll have dinner with Roberts, or some friends, and then, the pair will go for a long walk around the neighbourhood with Deco. To unplug from her day, Ocasio-Cortez enjoys watching bad reality TV to forget about the pressures of the office; her latest favourite is Netflix’s Selling Sunset.
At 10pm, she’ll do a last check on social media for any news or developments, “I will kind of check in, make sure if it needs to be responded to right now, or if it can wait until the morning.” After that, she’ll turn off her phone and be asleep by 11.30-midnight.
Following her re-election in the 2020 campaign, when she defeated John Cummings, Ocasio-Cortez admitted to Astead W. Herndon during a New York Times interview that she was actually questioning whether or not to run again due to the stress and lack of support from her own party.
I chose to run for re-election because I felt like I had to prove that this is real. That this movement was real. That I wasn’t a fluke. That people really want guaranteed health care and that people really want the Democratic Party to fight for them.Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Biden’s Win, House Losses, and What’s Next for the Left | The New York Times
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Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Joe Rogan, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.