You might be wondering:
What’s the big deal about morning rituals?
Well, they’re habit inducing activities that will better your life.
They aid in increasing daily efficiency.
And efficiency is highly correlated with happiness, and vice versa.
Below, I’ll outline the top morning rituals that my peers, colleagues, friends and I use to biohack our lives.
What is biohacking?
Biohacking is a systems-thinking approach to our own biology.
According to Mark Moschel, the CTO at Factor 75:
If we want better outputs—to have more energy and focus, to be free of disease, to have a better memory, to perform optimally in business and athletics—then let’s tweak the things we put into our body and mind to stack the deck in our favor (emphasis mine).
And tweaking the body and mind in order to optimize efficiency and happiness begins with morning rituals!
Just a note before I begin:
You don’t have to implement all of these morning rituals into your life at once. Focus on one of these morning rituals and as you become more efficient with it you’ll witness the positive benefits. This micro-situation will allow you to witness how adding one morning ritual can drastically aid in increasing your efficiency and happiness.
1) Write out your daily schedule the night before
Alright, I cheated.
This isn’t a morning ritual per se, but in order to start your morning off right you should create a schedule of your activities, meetings, commitments, and anything else that is important for your upcoming day.
Having a plan ready for the morning allows you to hit the ground running, and for me this pre-game ritual lessens my anxiety and increases my confidence.
Your schedule should be specific to the events in your daily life, which is why I, in particular, always write down the three top tasks I’d like to accomplish before noon.
Obviously, if you work nights then you’ll have to do alter your schedule to fit your specific lifestyle. Most people, but definitely not everyone, have their highest levels of energy first thing in the morning.
2) Wake up earlier
Waking up early helps with:
- Increased productivity.
- Increased creativity.
- Decreased stress.
- Increased fitness.
Also, waking up earlier allows you to:
- Prepare for your workout.
- Have enough time to eat a quality post workout meal.
- Have enough time for your spine to dehydrate (I go into more detail about this in ritual #10).
- Prepare your meals.
You’ll have time to prepare a nutritious lunch and healthy snacks, which will satisfy those afternoon cravings for sugary treats.
- Add more morning rituals to your life!
3) Refrain from accessing your mobile device
Many of us spend most of our days looking down into a mobile device and that tends to leaves us a bit zombified.
Begin your mornings by fighting off the urge to check your messages and emails. Take time to focus on yourself and your goals for the day. Your mornings are prime opportunities to optimize the rest of your day. Allow yourself the opportunity to make your mornings more fruitful and productive.
It should also be noted that our mobile devices can make us less productive and also have the ability produce feelings of loneliness. According to Sherry Turkle, a Professor at MIT, we spend most of our days “always on.” She goes on to say that,
“We are alone but receive the signals that tell us we are together. Networked, we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we can feel utterly alone.”
Want to be more productive and happier?
Then leave your mobile device untouched in the mornings, and try to lessen your reliance on it.
More importantly, don’t be a digital zombie!
4) Make your bed
The first task I complete once I get out of bed is making my bed.
Actively moving your body by realigning your bed sheets, folding your blankets, and straightening out your pillows allows you to shake off the grogginess of sleep. For me, it is a task that clears my mind and primes me for a productive day.
5) Drink 500 ML of water
Hopefully you’ve been sleeping for at least 7 hours which means your body will be slightly dehydrated and craving water when you awake.
I always keep a full 500 mL glass of water by my bedside. That way when I get out of bed I allow myself the opportunity to start my morning off right.
According to the Journal of Critical Endocrinology and Metabolism, “Drinking 500 ml of water increased metabolic rate by 30%,” which aids in jump starting your bodily functions.
I, personally, drink my 500 mL of water while making my bed in the morning.
That way, I complete two morning rituals in the time it takes to do one.
Efficiency, my friends, efficiency!
6) Eat a nutritious first meal
You know the old saying: “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”?
Not entirely true.
Your first meal of the day, whether you consume it at 6 AM, 12 PM, or 5 PM, is the most important meal of the day.
Although, most people will consume their first meal within a few hours of getting out of bed.
Based on the nutritional value inherent in your first meal of the day, you’re mind and body will either reap positive benefits or move in the other direction.
The kind of food you put into your body upon waking is a crucial aspect of the morning ritual. I find it’s best to stay away from insulin producing foods, such as starchy carbohydrates, so stick to a meal that consists of protein and healthy fats.
That brings us to…
7) Lower your carbohydrate intake and increase the fats in the mornings
Good fats to consume in the morning (not an exhaustive list):
– Coconut oil or coconut butter (more of a spread).
– Natural peanut butter.
– Lean cuts of steak.
A dietary intake of cholesterol is important as cholesterol is a precursor to all sex hormones, which includes testosterone.
A diet rich in healthy fats will increase the testosterone levels of males, and will positively affect the testosterone levels of females.
This regulation of testosterone will lead to higher levels of energy and that will contribute to higher levels of efficiency as well.
8) Eat your first meal standing up
Some of us work very passive jobs that require long durations of sitting. All of this sitting is horrible for your lower back and health.
I find that a good way to lessen the act of sitting is to stand at meal times. I know, I know, what kind of person eats standing up while the person, or persons, around them sit?
Well, this morning ritual is more viable for someone who is eating alone, and less for a person who is eating with a group of individuals.
Brett McKay, from The Art of Manliness, posted an excellent article about the history and benefits of standing:
“Excessive sitting is slowly killing you. I know. It seems like hyperbole. But it’s not. A study found that men who sit for more than six hours of their leisure time each day had a 20% higher death rate than those who sat for three hours or less. The epidemiologist who conducted the study, Alpha Patel, concluded that excessive sitting literally shortens a person’s life by several years. Another study showed that men who sat for 23 or more hours a week had a 64% greater chance of dying from heart disease than those who sat for 11 hours per week or less.
So why is sitting so frighteningly bad for you?
Well sitting is the ultimate passive activity; you burn more calories chewing gum than you do slouching in your chair.
When you sit, the electrical activity in your muscles flat lines, and your body uses very little energy. Powering down your body like that for long periods of time leads to a cascade of negative effects. Your heart rate, calorie burn, insulin effectiveness, and levels of good cholesterol all drop. Your body also stops producing lipoprotein lipase and other molecules that are only released when you flex your muscles, such as when you are standing and walking. These molecules play an important role in processing fats and sugars; without them, your metabolism suffers. Add these factors up, and it’s no wonder that those who sit for long periods of time each day have larger waistlines and worse blood sugar and blood pressure profiles and are at higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and cancer than who sit less.
And if you think you’re off the hook because you get in a bout of vigorous exercise each day…you’re not. Studies have shown that exercise does not counteract the negative effects of sitting. It’s like thinking you can snack on Twinkies all day, and then offset that by running for an hour.”
9) Consume Vitamins
I make sure I consume the following vitamins every morning in order to have my mind and body working at optimal levels:
It’s extremely difficult to eat enough food to reach the minimum daily intake of required vitamins and minerals, which is why I supplement my diet with a multivitamin. I use Opti-Men Multivitamin from Optimum Nutrition, but you should choose a multivitamin based on your own age and exercise levels. If you need any help finding the perfect vitamin for yourself, simply ask your healthcare professional and they will send you in the right direction.
Also, I recommend doing some thorough research online!
Omega 3 Fish Oil
Omega 3 fatty acids are Essential Fatty Acids that are important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function, and they also help to reduce inflammation.
I take two fish oil capsules a day. One in the morning, and one with my lunch.
Vitamin D is important because it helps the body absorb calcium. Also, Vitamin D deficiency is linked to depression, but correlation does not equal causation. Although, this study does strengthen the link between depression and Vitamin D deficiency.
I consume 3 tablets (3000 IU) in the summer and 4-5 tablets during the winter (5000 IU). I consume more Vitamin D during the winter due to my decreased exposure to sunlight.
10) Don’t stretch or workout right when you wake up
Numerous individuals will recommend working out right when you get out of bed.
“Bottom line is that you should never do any kind of exercise during the first hour after waking up. Here’s why: when you’re lying horizontally for hours, like when you’re sleeping, your back has no compressive loading. As a result, water fills back into your discs to nourish them. That’s the nightly hydration.
Now imagine your discs are water balloons. If they’re half full and you push one side, the water will move around and return when you let go. But if they’re full of water, they can burst when you push. Well this is exactly what can happen to your spine if you do any kind of heavy bending first thing in the morning.
The good news as Dr Stuart McGill explained in his book “Low Back Disorders” is that after the first hour of being up, your spine dehydrates by about 90% of what it will for that day (this is why you’re taller in the morning). So the risk of lower back injuries plummets after that first hour.
I’m a big proponent of Dr. Stuart McGill’s ideas on spine biomechanics, which is why I recommend waiting at least one hour before working out in the mornings.
If you’re working on becoming an early riser as I explained above, then you will have enough time to eat a quality pre-workout meal, and allow yourself the appropriate amount of time for your spine to dehydrate.
If you don’t have an hour in the morning to allow your spine to dehydrate then keep your workout extremely light. Heavy compound lifts will cause damage to your spine over time.
The spine is like a hanger. If you bend it once there’s not much damage, but if you continue to bend it over a prolonged period of time then you’ll be visiting “snap city” sooner rather than later.
11) Drink a Kale Shake
An earthy kale shake is the best smoothie to jump start your morning. It invigorates your mind and body.
I usually prepare all of the ingredients the night before and quickly blend them together in the morning. I follow the “Joe Rogan Kale Shake Recipe”.
This recipe contains:
– 4 kale leaves
– 4 stalks of celery
– 1 cucumber
– 2 tbsp of ginger
– 2 cloves of garlic
– 1 pear
Remember, you don’t have to follow this recipe to the tee. Experiment with it yourself, but make sure to include a few leaves of kale!
12) Drink coffee that contains grass-fed butter and coconut oil
Drinking coffee that contains unsalted grass-fed butter and coconut oil/MCT oil has been said to aid in increasing brain efficiency and weight loss.
13) Take a cold shower
A cold shower is extremely unappealing, but the benefits are amazing. For me, personally, cold showers have produced the following effects:
- A healthier head of hair.
- Higher mental acuity and energy.
- Increased mental strength.
14) Apply your favorite fragrance
Right after my cold shower I apply my favorite fragrance.
The scent of my favorite fragrance brings a smile to my face and increases my mood bright and early!
Your mornings are the perfect time to experiment with different fragrances.
BUT, before you start experimenting , check out Scent Trunk’s frequently asked questions video to get a better idea on how to apply fragrance!
15) Practice gratitude exercises
Once I’m ready to leave the house, I always sit down for 10 minutes and practice gratitude exercises. There are many different methods that you can use to practice these exercises, but I like to use the The Art of Manliness’ technique:
Make a list of 10 things that you’re grateful for.
When you start, big things will probably come to mind first: health, family, job, kids ect. But remember gratitude will really work its magic in your life when you start taking notice of the great layers of pleasure present in everyday things. We often walk around like zombies, totally numb to the great beauty and joy we experience each day. So think about really specific things. Not just “I’m thankful for my wife, but, “I’m thankful that my wife makes me laugh every day.” Not just, “I’m thankful for my kids,” but “I’m thankful for how happy it makes me when my kids rush to the door when I come home from work.” It doesn’t have to be deep stuff. You can be thankful for a delicious meal of beer and pizza or how fresh the house smells when the windows are open. Really take some time to think about the stuff that gives your pleasure and happiness. And don’t feel like being grateful for material things is superficial; it’s great to take time to reflect on how thankful you are for your 350Z.
(via Scent Truck)