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The Power of a Morning Ritual
How you start your day in the morning sets the pace for the rest of the day. Here, I will discuss my morning ritual that gets me started every day and how you can design your own morning routine.
Every person has a certain amount of willpower. Willpower is the ability to resist short-term temptations to meet long-term goals. You need willpower to resist candy when you are hungry, or to exercise when you are tired. Research (Baumeister, et al. (1998)) shows that resisting repeated temptations takes a mental toll. You can compare it with a muscle that can get fatigued from overuse.
The idea is that when you wake up you have several units of willpower. During the day you will use it. The more you use it in the morning, the less you’ll have left for the evening. That’s why most of the procrastination happens at the end of the day. So you better spread out the use of your willpower over the course of the day. That’s where the power of morning routine comes in.
A routine is something that you do over and over again at a specific time each day. The more often you do it, the easier it becomes. It takes 66 days on average to make something a habit. Once it is a habit, you don’t need willpower anymore to do it and you can save your willpower for other challenges later in the day.
My morning ritual
I want to share my morning ritual with you because it has been very beneficial for me. As you will see there are many items in it that you will skip if you are not feeling like it. I will list the items in chronical order and explain the reason why it is part of my morning ritual:
5.30-6.30 Wake up. Depending on the sleep I need, I set my alarm at 6.30. When I wake up earlier I wait for 10 minutes to see I fall asleep again. If I don’t, I get out of my bed. Normally, when I wake up in the morning, my brain turns on and thoughts start coming up. Then it makes more sense to get out of my bed and start the day instead of fighting the thoughts, which is useless in my case.
I keep my phone in flight mode (all night till the end of my morning routine). At night, I use the phone to track my sleep and as an alarm clock. When I wake up, I don’t want the adrenaline of all the to-do’s and emails that are waiting for me.
5.30 I drink a huge glass of luke warm water with 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tbsp Apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp sea salt and a pinch of cayenne pepper.
The warm water is for rehydration and promotes "regular" digestion.
The lemon juice helps neutralise the body’s pH by making it more alkaline. pH imbalance has been attributed to numerous disorders and chronic illness. Lemon also stimulates the secretion of gastric juices, aiding in the digestion of your breakfast. And it contains d-limeone that helps flush toxins from the liver.
The apple cider vinegar flushes the liver, controls blood sugar, boosts your immune system, and alkalizes your body to balance pH levels.
The salt helps to up-regulate morning blood pressure and supports the adrenal glands, especially when your cortisol level is elevated.
The cayenne pepper stimulates the circulatory system by opening the capillaries, aids digestion, and helps regulate blood sugar.
You may wonder how acidic foods like lemon and apple cider vinegar are alkalizing. While the foods themselves are acidic when you eat them, they allow your body to absorb or hold onto alkalizing minerals and other compounds. The kidneys regulate your body’s pH by excreting or retaining acidic and alkaline compounds. Modern diets tend to produce more acidic compounds in the body, so drinking lemon juice and apple cider vinegar somewhat reduces the load on the kidneys by aiding in pH balancing.
5.35-6.15 Wim Hof Method. I start with 4 cycles of breathing exercises. It makes my body more oxygenised and alkaline. After the last round of breathing, I do 30-40 push-ups without inhaling. This trains your muscles to become more oxygen efficient. I experienced this summer that I can now do longer rounds when waterskiing, probably due to this practice (without exercising more). Then I do stretching exercises and yoga poses. Lastly, I meditate for 10-15 minutes. If you don’t like to meditate, you can use an app to help you with it.
6.15-6.20 Gratitude practice with my five-minute journal. I live a hectic life with an infinite to-do list every day. Sometimes I forget that I am a lucky guy to live the life that I live. Thanks to the five-minute journal I start each day with a smile. Also, the five minute journal encourages you to think about the 3 most important tasks of the day. These are the tasks that will bring you closer to your goals in your life and make your day great. It is incredibly powerful to think each day about the very small step you can make to reach your goals. A 0,01% increase per day will lead to a 144% increase in a year!
6.20-6.30 Cold shower. If I am not awake already by this point, I definitely will be after taking a cold shower. I don’t count the minutes, although I want to be pink when I quit the shower. It supports your cardiovascular system.
6.30-6.40 After the cold shower, I use my (near) infrared light. It energises my mitochondria and promotes the production of collagen in my skin. I use the red lamp of Leanne Venier, but there are many cheaper alternatives available in Europe.
6.40-6.45 30 kettlebell swings in my garden with 24 kg. It gets the blood flowing and kick starts my metabolism. It also helps me to maintain my lean muscle mass.
6.45-6.50 Bulletproof Coffee: Coffee with grass-fed butter and Octane oil. It fills me up and gives me a lot of energy. One cup of Bulletproof coffee is all I need to get through the morning. I vary a lot with all kind of recipes. The 5Am coffee is my new favourite. I learned this from Tomi Kokko. He is a Finish health coach and a very nice guy I met at the Biohacking Summit in Helsinki. This is his recipe:
- 1 cup of high-quality coffee
- 1-2 tsp grass fed butter or ghee
- 1-2 tsp MCT Oil
- 1-2 tsp Coconut oil
- 1-4 tsp Maca
- 1 tsp Lucuma
- 1 dash of cayenne pepper
- Just blend all the ingredients for 20 seconds and enjoy!
6.50-7.45 Writing a blog post, reviewing content of the LiveHelfi team, reading articles, any critical activity that should be done to make the day successful.
7.45-8.00 Reading the newspaper.
8.00 Turning flight mode off on my smartphone.
8.00-8.45 Checking emails, answering question from customers, ordering new products.
9.00 Ready for the day!
When I tell someone about my morning ritual they are often overwhelmed by the schedule and number of activities. However, once you have ingrained these activities in your morning routine it is not hard anymore to stick with it. It becomes the same habit as brushing your teeth. I consider this to be 3 hours of quality time for myself. The rest of the day I am run by my schedule, customers and colleagues. And when I am tired in the evening, I don’t feel guilty if I don’t exercise or do other useful things, because I already did the most important things at the start of my day!
How to create your own morning routine
I didn’t just one day decide to make this my morning routine. I started with a few morning habits and gradually added more and more, until I arrived at my current routine. Here are some tips on how you can create your own empowering morning routine:
1) Start with the habit that makes all other habits easier to learn
Start by learning habits that will give you more willpower and energy in the morning, so that your willpower battery receives a net charge instead of a net loss. For example, drinking Bulletproof coffee in the morning boosts your energy and reduces hunger, making it easier to eat the right foods. By taking a cold shower or exercising, your entire body becomes awake and alert. Energizing habits will give you both immediate and long-term benefits, which can motivate you to learn habits that take longer to pay off, like meditation.
2) Focus on 1 new habit at a time
It takes a while to establish habits and they are easy to break when we are still learning them. That’s why you should start building your habits one by one, only starting with a new one when the previous habit is firmly ingrained into you. Some habits are easier to establish than others. You might want to spend 90 days or more leaning a new habit if you still need willpower to build it. Or the habit may be so easy for you that it only takes 30 days to establish. Keep going until it becomes a routine. Only then can you move on to the next habit.
3) Practice the habit as consistently as possible
Habits are easier to learn when you do them frequently and at a set time. When you are learning a new habit, practice it every day at the same time. Put up some reminders, so you won’t forget and keep track of how long you have practiced the habit. If you have trouble with learning a new habit, make a game out off it and reward yourself for daily and consistent practice.