If you ask around or flip through some historical autobiographies, you’d find that a common practice of the doers, makers and thinkers of the world is a guarded morning ritual. Not guarded as in secret, but as protected from the disruptions and distractions of public life. The morning (or whenever you first wake up) is a pretty delicate and important part of your day. The way you choose to spend your time in the first precious minutes after waking can set the stone and expectations for the rest of your day, and as with any daily committed activity (such as exercising, reading, practicing the piano or making tacos…) begins to have larger influence over your life.

It’s a really personal thing, how you spend time with your groggy self every single day. For many, journalling of some sort plays an important role. If you’re goal oriented and have dreams you want to begin achieving, journalling or writing “morning pages” is in dispensable in my opinion. I’ve found this to be immensely helpful to me, but I admit that I’ve been having difficulty making it a long-term habit. Perhaps a commitment to 21 days of morning pages will make it happen? Sure. Why not, let’s go. Below is what I have managed to make habitual, in the order I do it, and the reasons I stick with them. I do all of this before anything else other than drink water. I have a bottle next to where I sleep and the moment I’m up I’m already slurping it.

1. Stretching – Sun Salutations

I came to learn a particular version of this yoga stretching routine from an instructor at the YMCA I go to. I always like it in class. It’s a fluid mix of reaching, bending and core engagement that feels great for my body, warms me up and feels great when you synchronize your breathing with it. I do 6-10 of these, and it’s become almost automatic. My brain is engaged only as much as focusing on my breathing and feeling the pull and stretch. My routine is like the one pictured.

2. A Cold Shower

I’ve told many people about this practice since I started about 18 months ago. The response is always the same:

A: I take a cold shower each morning.

B: Like…. COLD?

A: Yes. Just the cold faucet on.

B: *Shudder. I could never do that

The worst part of the cold shower is the moment of time before you step into it, followed by the instant the water hits you. The best part? Everything after that feels amazing, stimulates your immune system, relieves depression, eases stress, revitalizes your skin and hair, and activates “brown” fat – the good fat that produces heat to keep our bodies warm. To top it off, when you finish a cold shower, not only have you used much less water and no electricity, but you feelĀ warm. I’m a very skinny person, and I love hot showers – they’re very relaxing, and then I feel cold when I get out. Conversely, the cold shower invigorates me and I feel warm when I get out. Even a luke-warm shower as opposed to a hot one is very beneficial comparatively. I love them so much sometimes I take one before I go to bed as well!

 

3. Meditation – 10 Minutes.

10 minutes spent with an easy focus on the breath and body can do you wonders. This helps me train my focus so I’m more effective at ignoring or dealing with distractions for the rest of the day, and also better at recognizing and accepting my emotional state at any given time. I personally practice Vipassena meditation, but others have found success with Transcendental Meditation, although you don’t need to drop $$$ to learn Vipassena – it’s free! A great way to get started is the Headspace app or website – their Take 10 Program gets you 10 free 10-minute meditations. You can read more about my use of meditation in my previous post 5 Things That Help Me Thrive With Depression.

4. Breakfast

For me this is usually oatmeal or what I call epic oats – oatmeal with lots of extras including fruit, nuts, seeds, almond or help-sunflower seed milk and usually pure maple syrup if I can – and a cup of tea or more water. It’s fun to improvise when creating, fast to make, high in fibre and protein and can be either hot or, if you prepare it the night before, cold. I’ve got a big weak spot for pancakes though… so around once a week I like to have pancakes instead – usually on a Saturday. Oh cake, why you gotta be like that. So delicious.


 

What’s your routine? Get at me on Twitter @aaron_collier