Conquering Stress with Early Morning Routine

I've been listening to a lot of really inspiring people recently in particular Pat Flynn's Smart Passive Income Podcast and Tim Ferriss' Podcast. Both really great shows and clearly guys who've really set the bar as far as productivity and life balance is concerned. I know that they like others get stressed from time-to-time and everyone struggles with life but some of the advice has started (early days yet) to have a really great impact on me.

What the Inspiring have in common

In particular in Tim Ferriss' Podcast, he interviews some of the world's most inspiring figures and thought leaders such as Peter Thiel and Arnold Schwarzenneger, Tony Robbins a multi award-winning author and Josh Waitzkin a former Chess Master and learning expert. One of things that Tim points out that all of these successful people have the same thing in common -- morning routines.

I've been plagued with a lot of personal stress recently which is insanely complex, mostly family related so I won't go into the details of it. Suffice to say though we all have our own sh*t to deal with, I'm not going to claim to be any different. However, we can't just blindly get by in life without having some sort of coping mechanisms and strategies - unless we're some sort of Wayne's World style surfer dude who doesn't have a care in the world, but then you wouldn't be reading this right? You'd be like this guy - pretty carefree and oblivious...

Trains, Planes and Automobile - great film - has me in stitches every time.

Acting like the tough guy

I vouch that most of us bottle it all up, don't talk about it and just hope things will get better. The problem is one of these days we'll explode like some giant ass volcano about to obliterate the planet, so there's nothing left but those darn cockroaches your can of detox spray (mace for you Americans!) failed to kill last week left (oh and Tardigrades don't forget those bad asses).

So I decided to be proactive rather than bottle things up or bury my head in the sand. Tim and Pat came up with some really great ideas I've thought about implementing. It is early days but so far I'm shocked by the results.

Mindfulness

They both suggested Meditation. Now I know what you're thinking, who does this guy think he is? Is he some sort of pariah or faith teacher? Actually, I'm neither I'm just some regular guy who wants to be good to his family and better to others.

So anyway, after trying meditation for just over a week I've seen a dramatic difference. I've slept better - not waking up once in the night, I've felt like my body has been in less pain. When pain has flared up it hasn't bothered me half as much as normal and I've felt myself far less quick to anger being more tolerant when things just don't go my way.

But how does meditation even work? I won't lie to you. It's hard. Trying to get your mind in a state where you can concentrate purely on sensations, whether that's listening to sounds outside, observing your breathing with the rising and falling of your chest or simply absorbing your bodies senses, is really really hard and takes a lot of practise. That's why I've been trying it every morning at 5am, getting up an hour before I need to get ready for work. Same place, same time every day, no excuses.

The mind will wander that's natural, in fact while meditating to start off with just let it. Observe your thoughts and let them wander but don't interfere, then bring your focus back to your senses. A good example of this is a person sat in the middle of traffic. Watching the cars and vehicles go by but not making any conscious decision about what traffic we're witnessing or stepping in to change the direction.

In fact, many recent studies have backed this up suggesting that regular meditation re-wires the brain and provides additional benefits.

If you're interested in trying to work Meditation into your routine, I strongly suggest you check out Headspace as a really great place to start. To get you started the first 10 lessons are free.

Keeping a Journal

Another common thing successful people do is to keep a journal. Journals could be a scribbling of your thoughts and aspirations for the day or mechanisms for planning out your day in just 5 minutes. Not only will this help keep you organised but it'll also keep your mind on task so it doesn't wander.

Now, I'm not much for writing a journal, partly because I don't always have something unique to say every single day (plus I prefer a little bit more structure), but I was intrigued by the concept of the 5-minute Journal. It gives you a thought provoking quote each day and an opportunity to write down your thought, why you're thankful every day, what amazing things happened that day and maybe how the day could have been better.

Exercise is food for the brain

Probably THE most overused advice is that we all should exercise more. When I had my daughter over 2 years ago I was massively guilty of falling off the wagon - I'm happy to say I'm back on it again. What I would say is exercise is great on it's own but in combination with meditation and journalling, I can see it's a great compliment. You'll be relaxed straight after your meditation session, meaning your run will iron out any remaining stresses you may have had. I normally go for a pretty short run, maybe 20-30 minutes or so for between 2-3 miles. Running is a great way to get time for yourself to just think and think about the challenges ahead.

Look after yourself - Quote

I heard something similar to this quote a while back. On the surface it seems kind of a selfish thing to say, putting yourself before others. If you think about it closely it actually makes total sense. By putting yourself in a positive mindset you put yourself in the best position to help others and pass on that contagious positive mentality.

Morning Routine

Taking in all this advice, my morning routine now looks as follows:

  • 5am - Meditation for 10-15 minutes
  • 5.15am - Out for a jog
  • 5.45am - Get Ready
  • 6.15am - Plan out the day

One of Tim's advice was that you should leave at least 1 hour after you get up before you hit the keyboard. I think this is great advice. You can often have some of your greatest ideas when you're not even at the keyboard so maximising this thinking time gives you that creative opportunity you need.

If you're interested in learning more about morning routines, you can check out The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.

What are your morning habits? Feel free to try it out for a while and let me know if it works for you!

Thanks for reading.

James Murphy

Java dev by day, entrepreneur by night. James has 10+ years experience working with some of the largest UK businesses ranging from the BBC, to The Hut Group finally finding a home at Rentalcars.

Manchester, UK
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