my morning routine

My Morning Routine: My Intentional Routine To Start The Day

Today I am going to share with you my current morning routine. I don’t think routines should be set in stone but rather something that can be remoulded as life and circumstances change. 

I also don’t see these as a template that is one size fits all but I am sharing what is currently working for me. A lot of what I incorporated into my routine, I had come across from others I follow who shared their routines. Your mileage may vary.

Upon waking

I wake up and the first thing I see is a framed quote on my bedside table (designed and printed by my dear wife) by Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius;

“Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man’s two hands, feet or eyelids, or the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature’s law – and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction.”

Marcus Aurelius, The Meditations

So much of our suffering is from our expectations of other people’s behaviour, something we have little to no control over. This is a core concept of Stoicism

When we’ve primed our mind for these eventualities and they do occur, it is less of a jolt and easier to accept. When the opposite happens and someone is nice, it’s a nice surprise.

Coffee or tea

Based on my own experience – as someone with IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) – I can’t have coffee everyday. 

I also don’t want to for two other reasons.

  1. I don’t want to feel dependent on a substance I don’t actually need, in order to function ‘normally’, whether it’s just to work without brain fog or tap into my nervous system to train intensely. 
  2. The ergogenic effects of caffeine are severely dampened as your body gets used to it. 

While I enjoy green, jasmine, and oolong tea, I only have them at most twice a week for the same reasons noted above. 

Most of my training has me training legs (squats and deadlifts) twice a week and that is when I want to utilize the caffeine boost the most. I don’t use pre-workout, but coffee on leg days is my pre-workout. I want to be able to train intensely without ‘needing’ caffeine to do so.  

I alternate with herbal infusions on the days that I don’t go to gym. On weekends I may get a decaf coffee (which – I admit – is not entirely caffeine free).

In the summer months I overheat very easily, so instead of hot coffee I often make cold brew coffee at home. I use our Chemex (one of our favorite thrift store hauls) and add cold milk. For non-coffee days I make tea to let it get cold before drinking it.

McGill Big 3

I used to regularly do pilates and yoga, but now I don’t believe in stretching just for the sake of mobility. 

I stretch to the degree that I need for my sport (powerlifting) to be able to have a good range of motion to carry out the exercises that I do. 

One of the world’s foremost experts of spinal mechanics, with over 30 years of experience, Stuart McGill, advises these simple short and effective exercises to prevent and rehabilitate back injuries. We use them now before every workout right before going to the gym.

  • Curl-Up
  • Side Plank
  • Bird-Dog

 

Reading

In the mornings I keep this short at just 5-10 minutes. I usually read two books concurrently, one in the morning and one in the evening. Unless it is a particularly difficult book – like the one that I am currently reading, Ernest Becker’s, The Denial of Death. In this case I’ll just focus on the one.

Affirmations

I never used to believe in affirmations, but after following Scott Adams for several years, I changed my mind.

This is what Scott has to say about affirmations:

“The idea behind writing affirmations is that you simply write down your goals 15 times a day and somehow, as if by magic, coincidences start to build until you achieve your objective against all odds.” 

“Skeptics have suggested — and reasonably so — that this is a classic case of selective memory. Perhaps I tried affirmations a bunch of times and only remember the times it seemed to work. That’s exactly what I would assume if someone told me the stories I’ve told others. But working against this theory is the fact that affirmations leave a substantial paper trail. It would be hard to forget writing something 15 times a day for six months. And if it turns out that this is what happened to me, it’s fascinating still, because it says a lot about how the mind works.” 

– Scott Adams

I have one specific affirmation, and I write out 10 times each morning.

I highly recommend listening to his episode on affirmations: Episode 971 Scott Adams: A Micro Lesson on Affirmations. Can You Program Your Reality?

Scott Adams Affirmations For Morning Routine

No phone

Most of us spend too much time on our phones, and few actually track their weekly screen time (which is a good recommendation).

I am definitely one of those, and am working to reduce my screen time (especially on social media). In our current climate, social media and online spaces in general can be quite toxic. 

I don’t pick up my phone until I have been up for around half an hour. While hard initially to get used to, it just gives me that 30 minute window to wake up and not have my mindset affected negatively by stuff outside of it. 

You might say; ‘But you still go on after 30 minutes so what’s the point?’ On days when I do it, I’m less on edge. There’s something about having the time alone and with your own thoughts – even if you’re not really thinking anything and enjoying the silence. 

I think of it like hugs. You could say, ‘what is the point of a hug, you go back to not hugging after?’ It’s a small thing that makes a difference. 

Walk

We do a 10 minute walk outside and in the fresh air on days we don’t go to gym. Of course, it is difficult in the winter (our winters are wet) but weather permitting, there’s just something about starting the day with some activity/exercise in the fresh air. 

On gym days we walk on the treadmill, and then outside later in the day. You can read my previous post about the benefits of 10 minute walks and what makes them unique here

Morning Routine In Summary

After waking up:

  • No phone
  • Make coffee/tea
  • Affirmations
  • Read a book
  • McGill Big Three
  • Walk

What does your morning routine look like?

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