I am always open to new ideas for daily habits that I can incorporate to help me bring my best self to everything I do. Some practices stick because they're of high value to me and therefore worth the commitment of forming it as a habit. Others fall away over time based on priority shifts or because I've replaced them with something more effective.
I recently sat down and looked over all the daily habits I'm doing currently and realized there are quite a few of them. Some, like daily meditation, have been around for years, while others, like early-morning exercise, I've picked up more recently based on recent research on optimal sleep. If I had tried to implement all these practices all at once, I would have flat out failed. That being said, once I've done a practice long enough for it to be a habit, it's super easy for me to maintain. If anything it feels weird NOT to do it.
My Morning Routine
My morning routine is no longer a "power hour" as discussed in my previous blog post, Morning Power Hour: How I Start My day, as it is now longer than that incorporating new elements, but many of the same practices are still in place.
Wake up. I wake up around 5:00-5:30am, which gives me the opportunity to enjoy quiet solitude in the house before everyone else gets up. I try to get up at the same time every day to keep my sleep patterns consistent. If it's still dark out, I'll only use dim, warm lights, like Himalayan salt lamps or similar lighting, around the house so as to not shock my system awake. If I have to go into a room that only has a really bright light, I'll wear my twilight blue light blocker glasses, which cast a deep orange hue over everything to simulate early morning light.
Meditation. I do 15-20 minutes or so meditation depending on how much time I have. Lately, I have been exploring different types of meditation using the Insight Timer app. During my meditation, I focus on maintaining good standing or sitting posture, belly breathing, and tracing my energy from my body centre up and down my body. More on the benefits of meditation.
Drink hydrating drink and take morning supplements. After meditation, I down 500ml of my cider vinegar electrolyte drink recipe to help my body rehydrate after my night's sleep and help detoxify my body before I get on with my day. I also use this drink to wash down my morning supplements (i.e. vitamin D, K, C and B-complex).
Exercise. Right after drinking my water, I do some form of vigorous exercise for 45-75 minutes depending on what I have time for. This starts with some cardio on the elliptical or stationary bike to warm-up, incorporating HIIT training at least 3x a week. I then follow this up with 8 minutes of rebounding on a mini-tramp, which is great for working core, strengthening bones, improving balance and motor skills, and increases lymphatic circulation, which is good for the immune system. More about the health benefits of rebounding. I then finish with either strength training, martial arts training or dance workouts. I implemented early morning workouts after reading about how it helps raise cortisol levels earlier in the day to help you get you ready for your day and to set your circadian rhythms for sleep later on.
Personal Growth Reading. I always have a few personal growth books on the go. I find the best time to read daily is during my cardio training in the morning. I just throw my iPad on the reading stand and throw myself into one of my books. This guarantees that get at least 20-30 minutes of reading every day.
Energizing Drinks. After I finish exercising, I grind beans and brew coffee, to which I also add a few extras, including a small scoop of my adaptogen powder blend, a little matcha green tea powder, and ground turmeric. While the coffee is brewing, I make sure the kitchen is tidy and clean, so the space is ready for when I start cooking later. I follow up my coffee with an earl grey tea with a little activated charcoal. And my last morning beverage is a cup of regular green tea with fresh ginger added to it.
Journaling. Next I head to my desk and then do my morning journaling. This is a combination of gratitude journaling, writing out things I am grateful for in my personal and work lives. I also write out the things I plan to do that day, followed by free-flow writing to let myself get any thoughts I’m having out on paper so to speak. I actually use a digital journal called Day One.
Nature Walk. After I finish journalling, I go outside and head into the forest. There is a short nature trail in the woods next to my house that allows me to connect with the fresh air and trees, while exposing my eyes to the morning sun, which helps set my circadian rhythms in line with the sun to help my body fall asleep better at night. This short "forest bathing" session also allows me mentally hit the reset button giving me the feeling of greeting the day with a fresh perspective, while allowing me to observe the changes in the the nature of the trail as it progresses through the seasons. More about forest bathing.
Other Daily Habits
Daily Playtime with the Cats. Watching Jackson Galaxy's Cat Daddy YouTube channel, we learned that daily play right before their morning and evening feedings, helps you bond with your cats while giving them regular exercise, which they also associate with "hunting" for their food. We've seen the benefits of this practice affect all three of our cats. They are clearly more bonded with us, but also with each other as they have gained valuable social cues by "hunting" together and learning each others' body language. Ezri has gained more confidence and lost weight. Jimmy has learned to "play nice" with the other two, learning when to back down after they've had enough. And River, our senior lady, has had more of the playful spark from her youth return, after dealing with ongoing IBS issues for the past year or so.
Time-Restricted Eating. As a general rule, I fast somewhere between 19 and 23 hours per day, depending on what I'm doing that day. If I'm working a stunt day or doing something highly physical it'll be closer to 18 so I don't end up with a stuffed gut right before I have to perform, or so I don't run out of steam if I'm doing something that involves heavy exertion. I do this because my brain is sharper when I'm fasted thanks to the ketones being used for fuel, and because it helps me stay lean without wasting muscle away. It has also been widely lauded as being awesome for longevity through a wide array of scientific studies. I also try to make sure I'm done eating by 6:30pm unless work or some other engagement prevents it. Having your food further along your digestive tract makes it easier to sleep. I know that any time I've eaten late, particularly when it was a big meal, I'll wake up with my body pumping heat as its way of metabolizing the food that is not otherwise being used while I'm asleep. More on the benefits of time-restricted eating/intermittent fasting.
Desk Activity. Since I spend a significant part of my day working at my desk I decided to make that time more active since sitting is said to be the new smoking. As such, I bought a standing desk that allows me to shift from sitting to standing, but found I wanted more so last year I bought an under-desk elliptical so that even when I’m sitting, I keep moving. I don’t count this toward my daily exercise as it isn’t enough to get my heart rate up, but it does increase my NEET (Non Exercise Energy Expenditure) while increasing my body circulation too. All good things!
Foam Rolling and Yoga. I used to do this immediately after my morning workouts, but now put it in closer to the end of my day's activities. Since it's a restorative practice that helps keep my body and mind relax and stay limber. I like to use it to wind down before I break fast. More on the benefits of foam rolling and the benefits of yoga.
Afternoon Meditation, Breath Hold, and Cold Shower. These three habits I stacked together for convenience and because they are complementary. I do a shorter meditation, usually around 5-10 minutes, followed by a round of breath holds to keep my skills sharp for underwater work, but also because it's a positive stressor that offers health benefits. I then follow up with another positive stressor, a cold shower. Admittedly, it can be hard to muster up the willpower to take a cold shower, especially in the winter when the coldest setting for the water coming out of my shower is particularly cold, but it too has a lot of benefits for mind and body. I make sure I do this no later than 4pm though so it doesn't overstimulate me when I'm winding down for sleep. More on the benefits of breath holding and the benefits of cold showers
After Dinner Walk. After Chris and I are finished eating for the evening, we always go out for a walk around the neighbourhood. This helps lower blood glucose levels and encourage digestive processes. If the weather is really bad, we might make it a shorter one, but most of the time we do a leisurely 30-minute walk during which we enjoy a nice chat. Pairing it with connection time with my partner, also boosts the mental health benefits of the practice, though I still go for an after-dinner walk even when Chris isn't home.
Evening Light Reduction. Starting around 8pm, I try to only use dimmer lighting (some of these we have automated), and/or that are closer to the ground (i.e. not ceiling lights). If I do have to use a light that can't be dimmed, I throw on my twilight blue light blocker glasses to help prevent light stimulation when I want my body winding down for sleep, which again, circadian rhythms in line with my sleep cycle.
Screen Shutdown. For the last hour before I get into bed, I avoid being on any screens, whether it's my TV, phone, tablet, etc. I'm usually in bed and drifting off to sleep between 9:30 and 10:30pm, unless work or a special event prevents it. Staying off my screens is yet another strategy that helps people fall asleep more easily and get better quality sleep too.
Lights Out by 10:00pm. This one is a newer habit, and not fully dialled in just yet. Recent sleep research shows that the sleep between 10pm and 2am is when humans get the most beneficial hormonal secretions and recovery. Our stress glands (adrenals) rest and recharge the most from 11-1 and melatonin production is highest 10pm to 2am. So to optimize sleep, it's best to be asleep by 10pm. I don't have any trouble with generally, but sometimes I accidentally fall asleep on the couch watching TV well before my "bedtime" which causes me to have to wake up during that restorative sleep period, which isn't ideal. As such, I've been working on making it my habit to be in bed and fully ready for sleep no later than 10pm.
Daily Habits I've Sunsetted
Daily Keto. While I am still maintaining a low-carb "keto flex" lifestyle for the most part, my body has now been fat-adapted for years, so it's not necessary for me to eat super-low carb every day. I'm now more cyclical with my keto, especially during the times in my monthly cycle that benefit from having more healthy carbs, or when I have to perform something very high intensity. More about my low-carb diet evolution..
More Helpful Resources
I'm sure you noticed that a lot of my daily habits are related to eating and sleeping. Many of the practices I have undertaken are discussed in a pair of books that I read within the last year that mirror things I've read going back even further than that. Check out Eat Smarter and Sleep Smarter, both by Shawn Stevenson, if you're interested.
What habits do maintain on a daily basis? If so, what does it include? I invite you all to share in the comments so that we can all benefit from each others’ ideas. :)