Get into a (realistic) morning routine

“I get up at 4am every morning, experience gratitude for precisely 3.2 minutes, do 850 push-ups (one-handed), then drink 7.8 litres of Yak’s milk, straight from the teat. I’m then ready to face the day and be awesome…

…Once I’ve spent twenty minutes throwing up and crying, obviously.”

“What’s your morning routine?”

Everyone who’s anyone has a morning routine. It’s now the second most often asked question of millionaires, after “can you lend me a fiver?”

Even if you don’t think you have a morning routine, you DO have a morning routine. Falling out of bed after hitting the snooze button 28 times and then yelling, “SHOES AND TEETH! “at your kids until they leave for school is still a routine, though probably not one that’s going to make you a viral superstar.

I used to be a mental health social worker in a previous life (I know! Talk about the blind leading the blind, right?) and, before that, used to be a psychiatric support worker at the local hospital.

Typically, hospital patients would be acutely ill, experiencing the most distressing and extreme symptoms of their illnesses. It was hard but satisfying work.

What I noticed early on was that one of the main interventions, besides medication and working towards a correct diagnosis, was getting patients into a proper daily routine.

No 5am HIIT training before meditating on a mountain top and no Yak’s milk; just what my Grandparents would call “starting your day off on a good footing”:

Starting your day off right

  • Get 8 hours sleep.
  • Get up before 8am.
  • Have a shower, wash and shave.
  • Get dressed into some clean clothes.
  • Make your bed.
  • Have breakfast.

I’ve never been in the Army (the Judge was quite clear about me and guns following “the incident”), but I imagine it’s pretty much the same routine as the hospital, only with more shouting and a less diverse collection of hairstyles.

Start your day off well and you’ve got a great chance of having a good day.

On the wards, we noticed that patients mood and general health (mental and physical) improved, often drastically.

Getting the basics right made a MASSIVE difference. In fact, everything else was so much harder if we didn’t get the basics right.

Enter Tony Robbins (not literally. That would be hideous)

I once heard Tony Robbins say that you can easily create the symptoms of depression just by acting depressed. Slumping in your chair, frowning, pretending to have no energy and talking in a depressed tone etc… can have you feeling depressed in minutes.

Similarly, if you’re sitting up late at night, alone in the darkness, thinking the worst and munching on unhealthy snacks, it’s pretty easy to see how you would begin to feel pretty shitty. I know that I have never known great personal joy in this kind of situation (though I am determined in continuing my testing of unhealthy snacks!).

Just like two plus two will always equal four, a day filled with unhealthy and depressing actions will always equal you feeling terrible.

Getting the basics right at the start of your day helps ensure that you don’t fall into these environmental traps (god, I wish I’d have said “environ — mental” there).

By doing the right things — eating, sleeping and starting your day right, you minimise the chance of falling into these traps and descending into the darkness. It’s like a positive jump start in the morning.

Is it a cure-all? Of course not, but, then again, what is?

If you feel low and/or daunted by what’s going on in your world, trying to make massive changes, such as those extreme morning routines we’re fond of reading about, can seem like a Herculean challenge, like scaling Everest or not wanting to punch Kanye West in the face. At times like these, when we don’t feel our best, just focus instead on getting the basics right, and go from there.

Concentrate on the basics

Go to bed at a decent time, get up early (between 7am and 8am), make your bed, have a shower and shave and then put on some clean clothes.

By getting ready to face the world, you actually feel more able to face the world.