Own the morning, own the day.
Think of your morning as the first domino, and the dominos that proceed, as the rest of your day. They take on the momentum, allowing the magic to happen without greater effort, but strategically by using the energy of the domino before, for the next to fall.
The rise of cortisol, our body's primary stress-response hormone, wakes us each morning. This brings a rise in stress, and with it comes a natural negativity bias as we search for potential obstacles and dangers, which may come from your alarm, a deadline, a looming email, event or any of the endless barrage of to-dos we face in our interconnected lives.
Today I’ll share with you my insights and learnings for ‘My Mindful Morning Routine’, which I use to create momentum I take with me for the remainder of my day.
Up and at them!
Like most of us, my mornings more often than not start with an alarm and the first step to success is to resist the temptation to hit snooze. You snooze you lose!
When I set an alarm, I set an intent to wake up at a specific time. Respect that intention, and resist the urge to hit snooze.
Awakening from an alarm can bring on a rise of cortisol, the stress hormone. Hitting snooze allows us to rest temporarily before the alarm sounds again, waking us again and creating another rise of cortisol levels, which can reap havoc on our hormones much beyond the extra 15 minutes of beauty sleep.
When you set your alarm the night before, set it for a time you are committed to waking up at that time and following through. If you know you love a little extra sleep then set the time appropriately, with that you’ll experience less stress overall and start the day with your first win.
Put down technology
Our culture is designed to distract. We work on screens, they’re in schools, in elevators, and continually in our hands.
Emails, chats, texts, pads, pods, and clouds have become leashes jerking us out of our quiet time and making our days feel like an endless game of whack-a-mole, as we put away one thing, something just as urgent pops up. They demand our attention, leaving us no room for solitude or deep thought.
All the alerts release dopamine and cortisol which is highly addictive. Even though it can feel good in the buzz of it all for a fleeting moment it weakens our focus and leads to greater anxiety.
I always suggest switching off all your notifications on your phone especially during night time and switching off the blue light on the phone between sunset and sunrise to allow the body to follow a more natural circadian rhythm.
You can go through your days MIND FULL or MINDFUL, it really is a choice. The former is a default mode for many but there is work to be done if we’d like to proceed with the latter.
Have you ever driven your car somewhere and arrived at your destination only to realise you remember nothing about your journey? This is an example of being in autopilot and not living in the present.
In the lives we live being hyperconnected, we often go through our day in autopilot failing to notice the beauty of the day nor being aware and conscious. Meditation allows me to step away from the daily buzz and become more mindful.
Mindfulness is a way of living, the ability to acknowledge and accept without judgement and have the ability to live in the now. Being mindful allows you to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing. Mindfulness is about living with focus that is conscious and deliberate working towards the life that we want to live.
Being mindful can be as simple as going outside and feeling the air on the back of your neck for just two minutes, going for a walk and noticing every tree you see, sitting to meditate for 10 minutes and focusing on your breath or journalling to name a few. Start with a couple of minutes each morning, and build your practice from there.
Write it down.
Handwriting increases neural activity in certain sections of the brain, similar to meditation which allows us to focus and process information.
The same way physical exercise conditions our body, writing on paper conditions our mind through keeping us thinking, reasoning and reflecting. In today’s age where we are bombarded with infinite emails, notifications and to dos from computer screens and phones, there is power in taking a moment for ourselves, to put pen to paper. Check in with yourself, recognise challenges, celebrate success, practice all things mindful. This will help move you one step closer to a happy and fulfilled life.
Journaling is a way of practicing mindfulness in our everyday life, creating a better sense of awareness, reflecting on our journey and being more present and positive day to day. It helps to process daily thoughts, create clarity and gain insight and self awareness to ensure we are moving towards what we value most.
A great starting point that worked for me is to begin with 3 things I’m grateful for and 3 things that would make today great (priorities).
I never thought a cold shower would ever become a part of my mindful morning routine - it never made any sense to me. I’m lucky enough to have warm water readily available and the idea of jumping in a cold shower seemed ridiculous and rather stressful. That said, I was also once the guy who believed I didn't have 5 minutes to meditate.
With a long list of amazing claims for the benefits of cold showers, being reduced inflammation, improved circulation, improved immune system, and increased testosterone (just to name a few), I thought I’d give it a try.
To my surprise, I soon came to learn to love it! Through connecting my body and mind, I’ve found the practice most powerful to build willpower and resilience which I carry with me into other parts of my life.
All the above practices look to minimise stressors, but with cold showers, I’ve learnt to adapt, to accept and to tolerate what was to come my way.
Give it a try.
These practices I’ve personally found most beneficial while getting the greatest return on my investment. Starting the morning with practices that shift my focus to the now and what’s good in my life already, shifts my perception to benefit me.
Mindfulness can come in so many ways and with any habit, behaviour or skill I recommend starting small. Repetition is the mother of all skills. Create a practice that is repeatable, sustainable and easy to begin with. Consider this - If you wanted to train for a marathon you most likely wouldn’t start by running 42.2 kms. The same principles apply here. Start small and select a practice which resonates with you and that you can absolutely commit to, then build from there.
The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step but what happens when you take a step in the wrong direction? Two thousand miles is a much longer way to go.
Creating a mindful morning routine can help you create focus in the direction you wish to go and set you up to get the most out of your day.
Now let’s set up those dominos.