I woke up so many mornings just feeling like crap!
Then I would have a crappy morning and then I’d have a crappy day and then I would go to bed feeling like crap.
Have you ever had days or weeks or months like that?
I finally decided it was time to change!
I started changing a couple of habits because I know that is the best way to make lasting change.
Primarily I focused in on three key morning habits, and I want to share these habits with you.
I’ll share a little bit of why I do them and the impact that they have. You can decide if you want these outcomes, too.
When you get a dog…
I’m lucky because we got a COVID dog.
During COVID we bought a dog, and despite the assurances, the numerous and consistent assurances from my children, that they would help…
My children surprisingly are remarkably unhelpful with puppy!
This leaves me to get up every single morning and I let the puppy out.
Everyday between 5:30 and 6:00. I let her out of her crate she goes outside.
Initially I thought, “This really stinks!”
I was negative and upset that I had to be the one that gets up and let the darn dog out EVERY morning!
Initially, this was part of my crappy morning! My mindset was not contributing to a more positive morning.
I decided it was time to change this!
I knew about the concept of course habit stacking.
That is where you “stack” your habits together. Take something you are already doing and “stack” something new you want to do on top of it.
Because I knew it was going to be a habit for me to get up and let the dog out, I tried to think of something I’ve been wanting to do and haven’t been successful.
This became the first habit that I implemented.
Morning Habit 1:
Writing 3 gratitude statements a day.
Th next morning, I let my dog out and right there sitting on the table, next to the door where my dog goes out, I had set my daily gratitude workbook.
I opened my notebook and I wrote down three things that I’m grateful for while my dog was outside!
What a difference in my morning!
And there is so much research to say why this is helpful.
I first started doing this because I’d read books, articles, and had listened to podcasts about gratitude.
One great resource is “The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathan Haidt on gratitude journaling.
And Paul Mills, professor at the University of California San Diego school of medicine also indicated that writing down something you’re grateful for helps fend off depression, stress, and anxiety. These are all things that can increase your risk of heart disease.
Mills did a study with 186 men and women who had gone through some level of high blood pressure, had a heart attack, or had some heart infection.
They went through a study where they wrote down things that they were grateful for.
Results indicated that the more grateful people were, the healthier they were. They had less depressed mood, slept better, and had more energy.
I found that in my own life!
As I started my day rather than feeling any level of sadness or frustration, or even a little bit of madness about why I had to be the one that gets up and let the dog out, instead my whole focus changed.
I even wrote down in my gratitude journal that I was grateful for cool mornings. I’ve written down in my gratitude journal that I’m grateful for the quiet alone time that I get.
Some of my gratitude writing is a prayer of gratitude.
I think about people in my life that I’m grateful for like my wife and kids. I’ll write down something about them and my mental state is immediately better now compared with what my morning used to be!
What morning used to look like.
My morning used to look something like:
Hit snooze for as many times as I could until the exact moment when I had to get up and I had to rush!
I had to get jump in the shower, and I had to get ready. I was rushing and I was anxious, and I was nervous wondering if this thing was going to get done, am I going to be done in time, am I going to get the kids up and help get them ready for school, etc., etc., etc.!
The comparison of the morning filled with anxiety and rush and hurry versus a much more calm, thoughtful and grateful morning.
All this was just the practice of getting up early spending a few minutes in quiet contemplation about things that I’m grateful for, people that I’m grateful for, experiences that I’m grateful for.
My personal experience backed up what I had seen in the research!
Gratitude Journal: Check
Food to the Dog: Check
The next habit I started is totally crazy!
I don’t know about this one, but man the impact it has had is incredible!
Something I’ve learned is when you want to grow and develop, when you want to get better, you need a mentor, someone that has done what you want to do that can guide you.
For me, a virtual mentor is Tony Robbins. I’ve never met him, never talked to him, never gone to one of his unleash the power within conferences.
But I’ve read his books, I read his articles and I listened to YouTube videos, and I’ve watched his Ted talks and listened to him on podcasts.
I love most of what he says, and I want to be just like him!
One of the things that Tony Robbins does every single morning is he takes a 43-degree bath!
Really cold water!
He recommends that all of us take a really cold bath first thing in the morning, too!
If you can’t do that, at least take a really cold shower.
Morning Habit 2:
A 30 to 60-second super cold shower.
I said, “Okay Tony, I don’t know if this works, I don’t know what this does, for me, but you do it and you’re super successful, I want to be more like you, so I’ll do it too!”
Boom, day 1 I give food to the dog and head upstairs to the shower!
I turned the water as cold as it would go. Counted down in my head: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and jumped in!
Oh my gosh! I hope Tony Robbins is right! Because if he’s not right, this is bad.
Not a lot of fun! Cold showers are not on many people’s list of morning routines for a reason! You need to be fully committed to get this done!
I figured I better start looking to see if there is anything behind this. Are there any good reasons why I should do this??!!
Turns out, there is!
There’s a whole series of research that shows that taking a cold shower, particularly first thing in the morning, has an impact!
One study showed that those that took a cold shower have a stronger immune system. People who take cold showers are 29% less likely to call in sick for work or call in sick to school.
And people who took cold showers report fewer sick days.
That’s pretty good! Okay, with this shower I’m healthier.
Another article in the Journal of Medical Hypothesis suggested that “cold showers activate the sympathetic nervous system and increase the availability of neurotransmitters. Those that take cold showers are less likely to experience depressive symptoms after a cold shower.”
So, cold showers boost your mood!
(It is noted, however, that you should not replace any prescribed depression medicine with cold showers)
So, take a cold shower and you’ll feel better!
I’ll tell you this is true!
I get up I write down my gratitude stuff and I’m feeling decent, but I’m still feeling kind of groggy. I could go lay down on the couch and I could go back to sleep for another half an hour. I could now go and snooze.
I’m not fully engaged in my day.
You hop in that cold shower you are fully engaged!
There’s no more going to go lay down!
No! Boom, you are in you are feeling it!
You are ready.
There are other medical benefits.
The North American Journal of Medical Sciences said that the application of cold water can have anesthetic-like effects for pain relief.
And there, it can also improve physical recovery.
A Meta analysis of 23 peer reviewed articles in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research found that cold water can help enhance recovery and reduce feelings of fatigue.
That’s why a lot of athletes will take a cold bath right after athletic events and while I’m not doing that, I do work out often, so that’s good for my old bones and muscles!
I know you’re thinking I would never do that.
Until a couple of weeks ago I would never do it either, but I’ve started doing it and I’m slowly becoming a convert to cold morning showers!
Now I wake up and that cold shower triggers the rest of my day.
Give it a try give it a try, you have to try it for a few days, though, and I tell you what, the first day you do it you’re going to see immediate impact!
Gratitude Journal: Check
Food to the Dog: Check
Cold Shower: Check
Morning Habit 3:
Drinking 16 oz of water.
I have a Yeti that is 40-ounces and boom within the first hour after waking up it’s 16-ounces of water.
All sorts of benefits to drinking water, particularly early in the morning.
It’s shown to aid in weight loss and weight control because higher fluid intake allows you to manage your eating better. Especially if you eat before meals.
There was a study in 2010 that found that middle aged adults (that’s me) lost more weight when they drink at least 500 milliliters of water between or before a meal over 12 weeks.
When you drink a big glass of water you’re likely to eat less, so that’s good!
Another study from 2013 found that if you drink cold water, it creates thermogenesis to warm up the water that enters your body and that burns calories.
So if you drink cold water you burn more calories because your body has to warm up that water.
Water can also have an impact on cognition and mental performance because dehydration reduces your mental performance.
We are slightly dehydrated after having slept. You lose a lot of fluid overnight that’s why you weigh the least amount often first thing in the morning because you haven’t eaten or drunk for hours.
Your body is slightly dehydrated and hitting your body with a little bit of water first thing in the morning starts to improve your mental cognition.
Just like that I’ve done three things first thing in the morning, all three of which scientifically boost my mood!
I’ve written down things I’m grateful for, I’ve taken a cold shower and I’ve started to drink water.
All three things specifically designed and scientifically proven to boost your mood.
And so, for me, I have gone from mornings of “This really sucks, this day sucks, this morning sucks. I’m not happy.”
To mornings of feeling more positive approach.
I’m still facing the same challenges. I’m still facing the same difficulties that I had before. But I sure feel like I’m in control of those. I’m in control of myself. I can do the things necessary to overcome any challenges that I face, I have the mood, the mental and physical alertness and positivity.
Those three simple things have made all the difference.
How do you start?
If you want to implement those three simple things in your day, one thing that really makes it easier, is a tracker. I track these things and I write down when I’ve done them. I check a little box.
You can get the tracker here as part of the Happily Ever Habits Guide. You’ll get the free tracker to track your habits as well as some tips around making sure you make these your morning habits.
Implementing one of these habits would be good. Two is a little better…
All three of them!
I know you’re thinking “I’m not going to do the cold shower! Drinking water fine, writing down something I’m grateful for fine. Cold shower, not gonna do it!”
I’m telling you of the three, I think it has the biggest impact on me personally, because from where I’m at physiologically and mentally and emotionally before I get into that cold shower and where I’m at after…
There is a big difference!
Give it a try! Let’s I’ll see if Tony Robbins knows what he’s talking about!
Start with the Happily Ever Habit guide and let’s get your morning routine going!