What is your morning routine?
I wake up anywhere between 5:00-7:00am. I have all the good intentions of getting up at 5:00am (and have written about this extensively), but sometimes, mostly during the winter, I find it hard to stick to the routine.
For this reason, I usually push my alarm back to 7:00am, which is early enough for me to get everything I need done but late enough that I feel like I’ve had a nice sleep in.
I’ll then down a pint of water. If you’re not getting that top-notch H2O in you from the off, you’re not doing it right. A big glass of cold water straight after getting up will wake you up quicker than anything else.
I then do an in-bed stretching routine I found on The Art of Manliness a few years ago. After that, I bend down to touch my toes for five deep breaths and then reach up to the ceiling for another five breaths. I follow that up with twenty resistance band shoulder dislocations. These sound painful but they’re really not. They’re such a great tool for keeping your shoulders healthy. I’ve been working out for about seven years now and haven’t had a single shoulder injury since I started doing them.
I then do the Wim Hof Method. It’s all about breathing (can you see a theme throughout my mornings yet?) and can help with immunity, fitness, anxiety, and a whole host of other modern-day ailments, apparently.
After that, I get dressed and head out for a forty-five-minute walk with a weighted vest on (I’ll skip this if I’m short on time). Weighted vests are a great way to make your walk an even more effective cardio workout without your even noticing. Because the weight is pretty evenly distributed, you barely notice a difference in difficulty while getting the added bonus over your standard walks. It can weigh up to 30kg (~66lbs), but I usually go with 10kg (~22lbs) so I’m not nearly dying halfway through.
Also, getting dressed signals that I need to stop being a big layabout and triggers me to take action. The simple act of getting out of my cute little jim jams makes me want to kickstart the day with a bang, which helps me to take action a lot easier.
When I return home, I inhale some essential oils diluted in a bowl of boiling water. This is like my own personal face sauna. I put a few drops of peppermint oil in a bowl, pour a load of boiling water into it, and cover my head and the bowl with a towel. Then I take about twenty deep breaths and get the good stuff flowing through my sinuses. I feel like this really wakes me up and relaxes me at the same time. It’s novel and I like it.
I then take an ice bath. This clears the cobwebs off just in case everything else fails. I try to do about fifty deep breaths while in there, which helps me to not freak out at the cold. The rush I feel when I get out is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
How long have you stuck with this routine so far?
I’ve stuck with various iterations of this routine for the past couple of years. I tend to add and remove things every month or so to experiment with different activities.
How has your morning routine changed over recent years?
I am currently experimenting with the aforementioned Wim Hof method, which is going really well so far. I often experiment with taking out the essential oil inhalation, as sometimes I just can’t be bothered to boil the kettle—extremely lazy, I know!
Things I have experimented with in the past are inversions, Kegel exercises (beneficial for men too, apparently…), affirmations, meditation (I now do this a bit later in the day), jump rope, and journaling.
What time do you go to sleep?
I try to get to bed before 10:00pm each night, which I’m usually pretty good about. I can’t remember the last time I went to bed past midnight except for the odd night out.
I’ve found that when I go to bed on the same day I wake up, I’m asking for trouble.
Do you do anything before going to bed to make your morning easier?
The biggest thing I do is avoid blue light. This basically means no phone, TV, or laptop an hour or so before bed. I also stretch, read, and take a cool shower to relax.
Once I’m in bed I try to focus on my breath. This gets me off to sleep in no time.
Do you use an alarm to wake you up in the morning, and if so do you ever hit the snooze button?
Unfortunately, I use an alarm every morning. I love the idea of waking up with the sun every day, but unless you’re Tarzan I don’t think this is truly feasible.
If I’m trying to get back into my routine, I might hit snooze for a bit. Deep down, though, I know that it’ll just make me more tired and groggy down the line, so I’m usually pretty good about getting up (even though I wouldn’t class myself as a morning person).
How soon after waking up do you have breakfast, and what do you typically have?
Most of the time I use intermittent fasting, but sometimes my schedule just doesn’t allow for it.
If I’m doing an early workout, I’ll go for some granola, berries, and yogurt—nothing too complex. If I’m not working out, I’ll go for more protein and fat, leaving carbs for later. This is usually some tuna, a couple of eggs, some spinach, and half an avocado.
Do you have a morning workout routine?
Most of the time I just go for a forty-five-minute walk to get some fresh air and get my steps in.
Sometimes I do a proper workout. It’ll either be a push workout (bench press, weighted dips, etc.) or a pull workout (deadlifts, squats, pull-ups, etc.). Getting some form of exercise in before the morning gets away from me is such a rush, and I feel like my work benefits from it big time.
Do you have a morning meditation routine?
I’m not going to pretend I’m any good at meditation—I’m really not. However, I bought a year-long subscription to the Calm app, which has helped me to be consistent with my practice.
I sit down around midday, throw a fifteen-minute meditation on, and settle down. I can’t always be bothered to do it, but when I do I never regret it. There’s such a sense of self control that it brings.
Do you answer email first thing in the morning or leave it until later in the day?
I try not to look at my emails until about 11:00am, as it distracts me from writing. I always fail though, as my emails excite me too much. Most of the time the inbox is empty, though, which makes me rather sad…
How soon do you check your phone in the morning?
I try to wait until 11:00am along with my emails. There’s no real point in checking before then, is there? What have I missed? If there was an emergency overnight, someone would have found a way to get in touch, and the only notifications I tend to have are new tweets from people I don’t really care about.
I find this time is best for concentrating on my own life before getting knee-deep in other people’s timelines later in the day.
What are your most important tasks in the morning?
Spending time with my thoughts and breath, free from the distractions of my phone and laptop, is a big thing for me each morning. It allows me to calm down before the hectic rush of the day hits me like a Mike Tyson uppercut.
What and when is your first drink in the morning?
Water. I find people who don’t hydrate first thing in the morning very strange. Are you not thirsty? When I don’t have a pint of water first thing, my breath feels like it could knock an elephant out and I feel so lethargic.
How does your partner fit into your morning routine?
I can’t do my stretches in bed because I’ll end up elbowing my partner’s head. She also makes it incredibly hard to get up. When she’s lying there all cozy and warm in the sheets, I can’t think of anything worse than getting up in our cold room and going about my business.
I just have to push past the intense jealousy and get on with things, though.
Do you also follow this routine on weekends, or do you change some steps?
I try to follow it as much as possible, but I cut myself a bit more slack. I also tend to sleep in until about 9:00am, as I don’t set an alarm.
I do have to be up and ready relatively early, as I play football (soccer) on Saturdays. The only day I fully get off to relax is Sunday. I still try to get out and about for my forty-five-minute walk, though.
What do you do if you fail to follow your morning routine, and how does this influence the rest of your day?
In addition to feeling like a bit of a lemon, missing my morning routine really sets me back. That’s why I try to make it as short and simple as possible. If I am really strapped for time, I’ll just do the hydration, stretches, and getting ready, which don’t take any longer than fifteen minutes, provided I’ve gotten all my clothes and things ready the night before.
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