Hello Health and Wellness Seeker,
Do you know why a morning routine is essential for us?
Whether you’re looking to be more productive, get healthier, or just start the day in a generally better mood the secret key to success might not actually be a secret. A morning routine helps us set the tone for the day, better allowing us to control our schedules rather than our schedule controlling us. As we start each day fresh, we can better focus on what is in front of us, where to prioritize our time, and, ultimately, increase our productivity. The benefits of establishing an effective morning routine have been well documented. Since 2021, the benefits of actually creating and sticking with a morning routine might be even more important than ever. For the millions of people who will continue to work remotely or hybrid, it can be easy to fall out of habit with even the most fundamental morning tasks.
According to a new poll of more than 1,000 people conducted by ‘The Sleep Judge’ website, respondents who stuck to a strict morning routine earned a whopping $12,500 more per year than those who described a more casual approach to the morning.
It’s worth noting that those who spent their morning at the gym had the highest salary of all, at $51,802 per year.
Other popular morning habits associated with higher annual salaries included taking a cold shower (9.8 percent), writing in a journal (8.8 percent), recording one’s intentions for the day (14.8 percent), doing yoga (21. 8 percent), and meditating (16.2 percent).
It’s interesting to note that those respondents who reported lower-than-average salaries (under $45,000) said that they spent their mornings checking their email or scrolling through social media. Given that studies have linked social media with a rise in depression, I’m not at all surprised.
In a five-year study of self-made millionaires, author Tom Corley found that almost 50% of them woke up at least three hours before their workday began. Oprah Winfrey sets aside one hour every morning to exercise. She’ll go for a run or do some resistance flexibility training. Arianna Huffington begins her day with meditation and yoga. And the good news is that your morning routine doesn’t need to be more than an hour. A study from 2018 found that setting aside just 10 minutes for a light workout significantly improve your memory throughout the day.
Steve Jobs used to begin each day by asking himself, “If today was the last day of my life, would I be happy with what I’m about to do?” Tony Robbins does a 10-minute form of meditation called “priming,” which he defines as “the act of taking time to adjust your thoughts and emotions, so you can live your life in peak state.” Meditating, reading and enjoying a podcast are all ways to help reinvigorate your motivation.
Start the day by prioritizing the people you love. Richard Branson makes family time a morning commitment. Our relationships affect all aspects of our lives, and making time to cultivate and care for them will impact your success. A 75-year study led by Harvard Medical School found that life success depends more on warm relationships than anything else, including intelligence. The simple act of sharing coffee with a treasured person can make you feel more grounded and supported.
Elon Musk is extremely precise in how he plans his day, and schedules his activities in 5-minute blocks. Making a solid plan for your day can help you prioritize and stick to what you need to accomplish. Determining when during the day is the best time to tackle your toughest jobs can help reduce stress and increase performance.
Sending good vibes to others will not only create a positive start to your day, it will also boost your performance. A combined study published in 2011 by Wharton School and Fisher College found that people’s mood in the morning affects productivity throughout the day. Entrepreneur and investor Gary Vaynerchuk’s morning routine includes making a call to his family in the car on his way to work. “I catch up with them and catch up with them,” he wrote in an article for Business Insider. We must all really value these small moments.
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Robin Sharma calls the 5am the “magic hour” and I couldn’t agree more. There’s something special about those moments when it’s still dark out, silent and peaceful. Robin’s 5am morning routine is split into three twenty-minute increments, designed to get your body, brain, and mind ready for the day ahead. You’ll be shocked at the results you create. Here’s what his 5am morning routine looks like.
5:00 – 5:20am: Move
Kick off the first twenty minutes with some movement. Dance, walk, run, lift weights, prancercise — whatever gets your blood moving, heart pumping, and endorphins circulating. As Robin says, “The way you feel when you first wake up is not the way you’re going to feel at 5:20.”
Trust the process and move your body. In twenty minutes you’ll feel better and your brain will be primed for intense focus.
5:20 – 5:40am: Reflect
Your reflection time should be active. It’s a way to turn inward and connect to what’s most important to you. Some ways to dive into reflection are Journal, Visualize, Pray or Meditate. Do any practice that helps you connect with what’s most important to your heart and soul.
5:40 – 6:00am: Grow
Want to grow as a leader, parent, partner, entrepreneur, or human? Now’s your time to read, watch, and listen so you can learn.
What is our Circadian Rhythm?
Ok let me give you some background information to set the stage for some of my recommendations for optimal morning routine habits. Let’s begin with the Circadian rhythm, the Circadian Rhythm is the body’s biological clock programmed to guide us to eat and sleep at the right time throughout a 24-hour period. This biological clock is governed by light and darkness. It is controlled by the hypothalamus in the brain which translates light into information that coordinates all bodily functions and patterns. Getting exposed to the light frequencies emitted from ultraviolet, violet and blue in the morning is an important signal to our brain to wake up, inhibiting our melatonin production and increasing our cortisol, which makes us feel alert. When the sun sets, this change in the environment signals to our brain to produce melatonin, which triggers our sleep and rest response, while inhibiting cortisol production, the stress hormone. Recent studies have found that the body’s internal clock coordinates other systems such as hunger, metabolism, bodily temperature, hormonal production, stress, and immunity. Not only this, but every organ in the body has it’s own internal clocks that are programmed to know when and what to do every day. All these clocks function optimally once aligned and matching with the light and darkness cycles found in mother nature.
Our early ancestor’s success and productivity was determined by their ability to live in conformity with the rise and the fall of the sun. Throughout our human evolution, we rose with the sun and set with the sun. If our early ancestors wanted to be successful and productive hunters, they had to wake up at dawn and this gave them plenty of time to forage for food if they couldn’t hunt. They ate their last meal around twilight and at night, they rested in complete darkness for 12 to 15 hours. This enabled them to wake up feeling energized, light, refreshed and ready to go back to hunt, learn and create. The way modern humans are meant to function is mainly the same today as it was 2 million years ago. No matter who we are, where we are, and whether we lived 2 million years ago or now, we still undergo a daily unescapable change in our environment. The day must become night and this is governed by the universal Law of circadian rhythm. In order to adapt to this change, we have developed an internal clock that programmed us to optimally sleep and rejuvenate at night and work, learn, eat and exercise during the day. Also, in terms of food our early ancestors ate pretty much everything in their environment. They ate locally and with clock precision. Stone-age man didn’t have fridges in their kitchen that they could open at 10PM like us today! The essential learning is to live in harmony with the law & rhythm of nature.
The first thing in the morning when we wake up, we have a system that sums up photons from sunlight. Which means that if it’s a cloudy day, we need to spend more time outside. I don’t want to get too technically in terms of how much light we need to activate the system in the morning. So let’s make it simple – when the sun is rising and it’s blue skies, 10 minutes is enough to get this. On a cloudy day or overcast we need to expose ourselves anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes outside in order to activate the system in the proper way.
Roudy Nassif my podcast guest of the Self-Care Goddess podcast episode #33 explains that the fundamental reason why so many of the people experience a tremendous decline in their health such as chronic fatigue, depression & anxiety is because they lived most of their life experiencing a circadian rhythm disruption. When we start paying attention to the light nutrition and the light exposures throughout the day, we will be able to shift from a disrupted circadian rhythm to a harmonious one. An optimal daily rhythm is governed by our ability as human beings to live in harmony with the light information coming from the rise and the fall of the sun.
For some amazing tips and hacks on Light Nutrition listen to the Self-Care Goddess Podcast, episode #33.
I have spoken about the daily routines of athletes, CEOs, and entrepreneurs. But do you know a top Stanford neuroscientist — someone with the most detailed understanding of the human brain — also chooses to organize his day with an established morning routine. Let us answer this question with Professor Andrew Huberman and understand his daily routine. The secret sauce is all about using sleep, exercise, and sunlight, to get the day rolling with energy and focus. Then, once you get to know your energy rhythms, you can optimize your priorities around your morning and evening peaks, along with the afternoon lull. Finally, add some intentional rest and strategic nutrition into the mix, and you will set yourself up to get the most out of your day according to the latest revelations from neuroscience!
I also want to talk about studies by Satchidananda Panda, show that it’s not about what we eat, or how much we eat, it’s mostly about when we eat. And as human beings we are designed to eat during the day because all of our organs function optimally within the times when the sun is up. Whereas as soon as the sun sets our insulin is lower, or our pancreas don’t function as optimally as it would during the day and the same meal that we would eat early in the morning that will take one hour to digest, is probably going to take four or five hours to digest when we eat at night. This will take away from the time that our body allocates for cleansing, rejuvenating, repairing detoxing and burning fat as well. Right sleep and light is often overlooked in a lot of diet plans. 95% of diets don’t work is because they don’t incorporate this important element of light and sleep which are very related to each other. Without the light we won’t have proper sleep and without sleep we can’t go into the night-time detoxing restorative, replenishing fat burning processes. According to a new study led by Dr. Samer Hattar, chief of the Section on Light and Circadian Rhythms at the National Institute of Mental Health, artificial light at night affects a structure in the brain called the habenula. This centre is responsible for pro-depressive behaviours and is known as the center of sadness and dissatisfaction. When the habenula is activated by artificial lights at night, it lowers the production of dopamine the following morning. This is a major problem because dopamine is needed to achieve our aspiration, our purpose what we desire to achieve in our life. Thus an evening routine is equally important to set you up for a productive morning. John Maxwell says that it is important to Prepare the Night Before. To be successful, our day has to start the night before. Before John goes to sleep, he does two things. First, reflect on the day that’s ending. You will never make the most of the day that’s coming until you evaluate the day that has passed. Who did I help? What did I learn? Did I do my best? Second, look at the next day to see what we need to accomplish. We know we can’t be at the top of the game every minute of the day. So look at your schedule and to-do list and decide what will be the main event. Then make certain where you can give your all to that most important thing. Don’t try to prioritize your whole life. Just prioritize the day. If you can figure out the best possible way to spend four, eight or 12 hours, you can be successful.
Use the Eisenhower priority matrix to prioritize your tasks, check out my Workplace Wellness Tips videos on my Youtube channel here.
Remember, the goal is progress not perfection! I always advice my clients to meet yourself where you are and most importantly, remember to have fun!
I invite you to incorporate these 9 practical super-easy Self-Care tips to start your day for increased productivity.
- In-Bed Gratitude Meditation – when I first wake up I begin to slowly move my body and do some light stretching while still in bed, and then I put my left hand over my heart and I visualize someone I’m grateful for and send them love & appreciation for being in my life. And I express an abundance of gratitude for being alive and waking up to anther beautiful day. I avoid rushing to look at my phone.
- Make your bed. From military to monks they all recommend doing this and I’m so in agreement with this morning ritual. I know sounds odd but it does have its merits because you are accomplishing one thing at the end of the day no matter what happens with unforeseen variables for the rest of the day. It sets you up psychologically to be more productive, and also to feel better even if things go sideways later. In addition to that if you work at home in particular, it’s common that external mess creates internal mess in terms of mental state. So making your bed does not be in Hilton hotel level quality. It just means in my case, getting some fluff off the sheets, pulling up the sheets and blankets on so it looks like I haven’t had an horse rolling around my bed, the fluffing up the pillows and arranging them in a pretty way.
- Hydrate yourself first thing in the morning with good quality water. I also put a little bit of sea salt in the water because I fast until about 2pm. Neurons need sodium they need magnesium and they need potassium in order to function. We do tend to get dehydrated at night. Even if the day is not very hot. I try and top off or I try and make sure that I’m hydrated early in the day before I begin any work. So I make myself drink this water with a little bit of sea salt about half a teaspoon. It’s not much. That’s what I do. And I drink that more or less room temperature.
- Delay your caffeine intake for at least 60 to 90mins. Yes, I know you might think that not drinking caffeine close to bed time matters, which it does. But the reason I delay caffeine is because one of the factors that induces a sense of sleepiness, which is the buildup of adenosine. Here’s an interesting fact, as a build-up of adenosine accumulates, the longer we are awake. So when I wake up in the morning when you wake up in the morning, your adenosine levels are likely to be very low. However, caffeine is an adenosine blocker. The reason for delaying caffeine intake 90 minutes to two hours after waking is I want to make sure that I don’t have a late afternoon or even early afternoon crash from caffeine. One of the best ways to ensure a caffeine crash is to drink a bunch of caffeine block all those adenosine receptors and then by early or late afternoon when that caffeine starts to wear off and gets dislodged from the receptors. A lower level of adenosine is able to create a greater level of sleepiness. So by delaying the caffeine intake, I let my cortisol naturally come up in the morning and when I do that, I find that I don’t experience the afternoon crash.
- Getting sunlight in your eyes first thing in the morning is absolutely vital to mental and physical health. It is perhaps the most important thing that any of us can and should do in order to promote metabolic well-being, promote the positive functioning of our hormone system, and helps promote our mental health steering in the right direction. Ok, so I recommend getting outdoors, ideally, with no sunglasses, if you can do that safely. Even if there’s cloud cover, more photons light information are coming through that cloud cover then would be coming from a very bright indoor ball. Expose your eyes to early morning sunlight for at least 20 minutes every morning. This will increase dopamine, and productivity will skyrocket. If you can combine this with some sort of movement – GOLD! Movement in nature – PLATINUM! If you wake up before the sun comes out, it’s fine to turn on artificial lights but then you would want to get outside as soon as you can to get this natural light stimulation of your eyes and this is not about exposure of the skin to light this is about exposure of your eyes with your neural retinas to light, hence it’s recommended to not wear sunglasses.
- Movement, especially forward walking allows us to experience visual flow has a powerful effect on the nervous system. The effect it has is essentially to quiet or reduce the amount of neural activity in this brain structure called the amygdala. And many of you have probably heard about the amygdala for its role in anxiety and fear and threat detection. And indeed, the amygdala’s primary function in the brain is to generate feelings of fear and threat and anxiety. There are now at least half a dozen quality papers published in quality peer reviewed journals that show that forward walking or biking or running and generating optic flow in particular, has this incredible property of lowering activity in the amygdala and thereby reducing levels of anxiety. So for me, this process of taking a walk each morning isn’t about exercise. It’s not about burning calories. It’s not about any of that. It’s really about getting into optic flow, and reducing the levels of amygdala activation.
- Breathwork – I make sure I include anywhere from 10-30mins of breathwork in the morning whether that’s a stand-alone session or I combine with the movement, nature walks.
- Gratitude Journal – I usually complete my daily gratitude journal which is very similar to the 5min journal – I tend to do this outside in the sunlight. So I share 3 things I’m grateful for, 3 things that would make today great, and 3 daily affirmations to set me up for success.
- Fast until you feel hungry, but train your body to know how to fast. I usually don’t eat anything until 2pm but I have a black coffee about 60-90mins after I wake up and sometimes when I have a bulletproof coffee I can go even longer than 2pm.
All these tips ultimately lead to a wonderful night’s sleep, help stay asleep longer & deeper and then wake up the next morning feeling more energized, focused and ready for the day.
Do you have a morning routine? Watch my informative Workplace Wellness tip video here.
For more details on this amazing information shared listen to the full episode #39 on Self-Care Goddess Podcast.