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Daily Rituals

My Morning Routine with Meditation, Deep Breathing, Journaling, Ice Baths and More

By November 20, 2018 May 15th, 2019 3 Comments

WARNING – Do not do the Wim Hof breathing exercise in water, while driving or in other critical situations. If there is a short loss of consciousness, this can be deadly! 

My morning routine to start the day happy and energized

Over the past years I have been experimenting with a lot of different ways to start your day, what works and what doesn’t work. A good morning routine makes you feel in control and this sets the tone for the rest of your day. For the first hour of my day I will make it a clear point to NOT get on my phone. Instead I focus every day on meditation, Wim Hof inspired deep breathing, journaling, ice baths and a few other routines. The 3 minute video below shows the first 30 minutes of my day. The rest of this post includes details about each practice and the benefits.

4:58am alarm to start my day

Almost every night before I go to sleep, I set my alarm for 4:58am using the Fitbit Charge 2 . This heart rate + fitness wristband has many great functions, such as sleep stage tracking, all-day activity tracking, and heart rate analysis. The alarm function on this watch is awesome, it vibrates and wakes me up, while my wife and kids stay asleep. Within a few seconds of the alarm going off, I get out of bed. The longer you stay in bed after your alarm goes off, the harder it is to get out. The more often you get up right away, the easier it gets. If you need an additional push to get up, you can set your phone alarm and leave it next to the door so you are forced to get up.

Morning meditation to clear my mind and stay focused

My morning starts with a 10 minute guided meditation. I listen to different meditation programs, using the Calm app. They have a free and paid version, I use the paid version for $60 a year, it’s well worth it! There are 100+ guided meditations covering focus, stress, sleep, anxiety, relationships and more. Some of my favorite guided Calm programs are Body Scan, Staying on Track, Emotions Series and Deep Concentration. I love the friendly calm voice of the meditation teacher Tamara Levitt. She is on my wishlist of future guests for The Extramilest Podcast 🙂

The many benefits of meditations:

  • Improves your focus, attention and ability to work under stress
  • Improves information processing and decision-making
  • Gives you mental strength, resilience and emotional intelligence
  • Makes you stronger against pain and relieves pain
  • Improves learning, memory and self-awareness
  • Improves your mood and psychological well-being
  • Increases awareness of your unconscious mind
  • Fosters creativity
  • Reduces risk of heart diseases and stroke
  • Affects genes that control higher immunity = less illness
  • Decreases inflammatory disorders + cellular-level inflammation
  • Reduces risk of Alzheimer’s and premature death
  • Helps manage the heart rate and respiratory rate
  • Makes you live longer
  • Improves empathy and positive relationships
  • Reduces social isolation, decreases feeling of loneliness
  • Plus much more, proven by 1000+ studies

Wim Hof breathing technique to energize my body and brain

Up next I lay down for a short deep breathing exercise on my rug in the living room. I calm my mind and begin to breath consciously. Taking deep breaths, filling the lungs completely with air. Every 3 seconds, fully in, then letting the air go out. This goes on for 30 to 40 deep breaths in a row, 90 to 120 seconds. Your body becomes fully oxygenated, all the cells in your body get fully charged, you feel tingling in your face and hands, sometimes a bit lightheaded. After the final exhale, hold your breath. I usually hold it for 2:30 to 3:00 minutes, yes much longer than you initially think is possible. At that point, the urge to breath arises, you take one more deep breath and hold for 15 seconds, then breath normal again. Your oxygen levels come down during the retention and shoot back up to 98-100% on the inhales, giving a very intense sensation throughout your entire body.

The benefits of the Wim Hof Method through breathing, cold therapy and mindset are backed by scientific proof from several studies. These studies confirm that Wim and other participants can voluntary influence their autonomic nervous system. This had never been shown possible before in research.

The benefits of the Wim Hof breathing technique:

  • More resilience towards everyday stress mentally and physiologically
  • Increases your energy levels throughout the day
  • Feeling more in control
  • Positively influencing your nervous system = less illness
  • More focus and mental clarity
  • Faster recovery from physical exertion
  • Better sleep
  • Learn more details at wimhofmethod.com

5 Minute Journal to start your day happy

Every morning I take 5 minutes to write in my 5 Minutes Morning Journal. They also have a mobile app, however I feel more mindful by sitting down and writing with pen and paper. The journal lets you fill out 3 simple questions in the morning: what am I grateful for, what would make today great and daily affirmations.

The benefits of writing in a gratitude journal:

  • Become happier and begin each day on a positive note
  • Focus on the good in your life
  • Become more mindful and live with intention
  • Better relationships
  • Complain less, become more optimistic

Below is an example of how I filled out my 5 Minute Journal the day I made this video.

Daily ice bath to increase energy and relieve stress

2 years ago I started taking daily cold showers and occasional ice baths after hard workouts. The main reason I started cold therapy was to boost my immune system. My two young daughters (age 2 and 5) bring home occasional colds. They gave me colds several times a year, which set back my marathon training. Cold therapy and breathing exercises, inspired by Wim Hof, have been scientifically shown to control your immune system. After starting daily cold showers, I have not been getting colds or sicknesses, and I feel really energized after.

One thing led to another and 8 months ago I bought a large deep chest freezer that is filled with water that turns into ice, for my daily ice baths. Before I get in, I know it’s going to be intense. I take a few deep breaths to focus on my body and mind. When you first get in, there is an initial shock reaction to your body, every cell and nerve ending in your body gets activated. Your mind tells you to get out and you can overwrite this by telling yourself that everything is ok. Your breathing is heavy. After a minute a sense of calm comes over me, I feel really alive and strong, with an intense feeling of happiness. After 2 1/2 minutes I get out of the ice bath. You are feeling more alive than you’ve ever been. The happiness hormones throughout your body are absolutely on fire. The more you take these ice baths, the easier they get. It is a mental muscle that you can train. It gives you confidence that you are in charge. A daily ice bath will tackle any other challenge you will come across throughout your day.

** slowly ease into cold therapy over time with medium cold showers first. Never do breathing exercises in the water or you risk drowning **

The benefits of ice baths and cold showers

  • Boost your immune system
  • Increases your energy throughout the day
  • Produces endorphins in your brain, similar to a runner’s high, which makes you feel very happy
  • Increase will power
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Improved cardiovascular health
  • Increased muscular endurance
  • Balances hormone levels
  • Reduces inflammation
  • Increases your brown fat and results in fat loss
  • See detailed breakdown of the benefits of the Wim Hof Method

In closing

This is my morning routine for most days of the week, some days I start my routine after my early morning run. Setting aside 30 minutes in the mornings will positively influence the rest of your day. Consistency is key in developing a morning routine that works for you and actually sticking to it. Meditation, deep breathing, gratitude journaling and cold therapy bring me tremendous health benefits, physically, mentally and spiritually. If you are developing your own morning routine, I suggest trying different things for several days and asking yourself “how am I currently feeling”? Write down your experiences and use tools like the Fitbit to track body markers such as resting heart rate, sleep stages, etc over time to notice differences. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, start for example with a 5 minutes daily meditation for a week. Be kind to yourself and have fun!

What morning routine have you used or are you looking to start with? Please let me know in the comments below! 

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