Sandeep Mall : Wildlife Photography, Fitness Mantras, Travel Diaries and Life Tales

The Importance of Establishing a Morning Routine

How I utilise my mornings and why you need to claim yours too

“If you win the morning, you win the day.”

– Tim Ferris

It was 6 am when I wrote this newsletter from the enchanting village of Chumathang, nestled alongside the serene Indus river, one of the most breath-taking destinations in our country. My maiden journey to Ladakh has left me speechless; no words can adequately capture the sheer magnificence of this place.

I have always been an early riser. It began during my boarding school days. And for the last few years I have been waking up at around 4.30 am. Waking up early has transformed my life. I wake up this early every single day. The average wake up time of Indians is 7:15 am. Guatemala citizens wake up the earliest in the world on average at 6:15 AM and Greece wakes up last at 8:29 AM. Therefore, my early wake-up grants me an advantageous time surplus of nearly three hours compared to my fellow countrymen. Time is the lifeblood of our modern world, and these additional hours yield extraordinary benefits. Time boost is truly powerful

My five morning habits

Hydrate– Given that around 60% of the total human bodyweight is water, there’s no surprise that adequate intake is essential for optimal performance. As soon as I wake up, I drink almost 500 ml of water mixed with lemon and rock salt. Salt is rich in minerals and electrolytes and aids in water absorption, digestion and facilitates bowel movement. Due to its high Vitamin C content, lemon helps boost immunity. No honey or sugar. Never.

Mobility– Movement is a powerful tool, and I take pride in saying that this is the most valuable habit of my morning routine. And I do my mobility routine in the kitchen when my coffee is brewing. By actively moving joints through their ranges of motion, your muscles will be activated and circulation is improved. Tissue flexibility is also enhanced and joints are prepared to function properly. Any muscular stiffness, aches and lethargy are quickly eliminated and you’ll feel supple and full of vitality. And when you feel good physically, you’re going to feel good mentally too! In the long run, this habit will go a long way to helping maintain joint health. It will help prevent fibrotic changes in the muscle fibres that can hinder movement and lead to pain and dysfunction. A typical ten minute mobility routine is demonstrated below.

(Lockdown time old video but demonstrates the routine well)

Me Time– I have half an hour of ‘Me Time’ every morning as I sip my coffee. I work on my to-do list for the day, respond to emails and assign tasks to my team. I am able to achieve at least three hours’ worth of work in this morning half hour as there are no distractions. I also use this time to do work that earns me some extra money. Work, that can’t be done during office hours like managing my personal finances, processing images from my many photography trips, which I sell through stock photos or send to publishers or writing this newsletter. That earns me some extra money. There are various ways you can generate some income working online in these extra morning hours. I also maintain a journal. I make notes. I write things that I didn’t like about my activities from the previous day. Ever since I started weaving these activities into my morning routine, I have been more mindful and clear headed. It sets a more positive tone for the day, first thing.

My Morning Coffee– I take my coffee pre-workout. This has been a long-standing habit since I got rid of those chemical-laden pre-workout powders from my life. A good dose of caffeine makes me feel alert and focused. If you want that little extra boost, consider having your coffee before you begin your fitness routine. Studies have shown that 3 mg/kg of body weight works perfectly. I enjoy my black coffee in a sizable mug, equipped with a lid to prolong its warmth and prevent it from cooling too quickly.Experiment to find for what works best for you. Caffeine is absorbed in our body quickly, reaching its peak within 30-60 minutes. Bear this in mind to get the best effects. And also remember you may get a coffee crash 6-8 hours later. To avoid that it’s advisable to wait at least an hour after you wake up to allow for the clearance of melatonin from your system before you have your coffee.

Exercise– Many people prefer to do their fitness routine after a hard day’s work at office. It’s not easy. You are tired and hungry and your motivation levels are down. By waking up early, we have that extra time boost to be regular in the gym. I have realised that, by waking up early, I am consistent in my fitness routine and have achieved my fitness goals. Workout enhances your metabolism. Morning workout routine helps you cultivate consistency. Morning exercise has been shown to improve focus and mental abilities all day long. It helps develop strong self-discipline. Waking up early in the morning to exercise will, in turn, help you sleep better at night. Your body will enjoy a healthy sense of fatigue at the end of the day and will be ready to sleep. Say goodbye to all the tossing and turning when your body is restless! Nobody wants to wake up early every morning to exercise if they aren’t going to see results. This sacrifice will subconsciously prompt you to work harder and find ways to improve your exercise results. It will help you commit to the process over a longer period of time. Hopefully for life. Exercise has been touted as a cure for just about everything that ails you. Frequent colds? Exercise. Poor digestion? Exercise. Feel depressed? Exercise.

After 10 pm hours are wasted hours. Early morning hours are creative hours.

I go to bed at around 9:30 pm. India average is 12:15 am. Journal for few days how do you spend your time after 10 pm? Most of the time it will be doing things that does not grow you. The truth is, the later hours of the day are never spent productively. They are spent to do things which do not require much effort. Whereas when you wake up early, your mind is fresh. The early hours are most ideal for solving complex issues.

Another big advantage of early hours is you are alone and undisturbed. No distractions. No one is awake to call you or text you. No TV shows to watch. The world is sleeping at 4.30 am so the distractions will be significantly low. A carefully choreographed morning routine is the key to a productive day. It is the only time of the whole day which is yours– for your own priorities, before anybody else in the world claims their piece of you. The early morning is the time for you.

I truly enjoy my early morning time of peace, that time to myself, when I can think, when I can do creative things. And every day I get to see the greatest spectacle of nature– the Sunrise. I go for my early morning run as the sun rises and the sky turns from dark blue to orange to light blue. What a glorious morning it is, every day.

Pause & Reflect:

  • Howdoes your morning routine set the tone for the rest of your day?
  • Whatchallenges do you face in maintaining an early rising routine, and how can you address them?
  • Howhas your productivity or focus changed since you started waking up early?

All illustrations are by Kratika Singhal

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