Ever feel when you wake up on the wrong side of the bed, everything seems to go downhill from there? A healthy morning routine can make all the difference.
That’s why I’ve invested a lot of time into developing a proper morning routine.
At the beginning of the summer, I started incorporating a quick cold shower as part of my morning. I know, cold shower – who the hell wants to do that?!?
But I’ve found it beneficial in starting my day, building willpower and most of all – controlling the brain, but more on that later.
I can’t make claims to all the health benefits of a cold shower. When googled you’ll easily find the top 7 benefits of a cold shower or 5 reasons you should take cold showers.
Although these lists sound great, I don’t know if these claims can be achieved by standing under cold water for a few minutes. Most research is based on 30-60 minute cold-water submersion therapy or something similar.
Although here are the benefits that I experienced:
1. Feel more alert: Pretty obvious; cold water will jolt you from your morning haziness!
2. Help with anxiety or stress: Exposure to cold water encourages hardening, which increases your ability to handle stress and anxiety, similar to building willpower.
3. Improved blood circulation: Cold water induces deeper breathing which increases oxygen intake, blood flow throughout the body and provides a natural dose of energy. Which is good for your heart and immune system.
Cold Shower Routine
My morning cold shower process always starts with a mental argument about why I should take a cold shower or not. I always find a list of excuses why not and encourage myself to do it tomorrow, instead.
Has this ever happened to you when faced with the challenge of doing something hard? The brain is always trying to find ways out of what might be mentally or physically exhausting.
In the end, I succumb to my self-punishment and turn the shower on cold for 2-minutes, while brushing my teeth. This is one of the only situations I’ll advocate for multi-tasking.
But I always feel better afterward, more energized and ready to take on the day.
Willpower is like a muscle, which can be strengthened through use. And I’ve chosen to exercise my willpower each morning by committing to taking a cold shower.
Although draining at first, I’ve learned to honor the commitments I make to myself. This is one of the reasons I engage in these 30-day challenges. It’s a reminder that what is hard at first can become more comfortable over time, although not without effort.
Which brings us to the last point, about taking back control over the mind.
The Mind, Not Your Mind
Ever notice how you have no control over your thoughts? If you’ve ever tried meditating and clearing your mind of thought, you’ll soon realize this.
You can direct your thoughts, although for the most part, they appear from your conscious and sub-conscious mind, without provocation.
There to protect you from danger, discomfort or pain. But your thoughts are lazy and will want to take the easy route out. If you want to do what is hard you’ll have to go against your thoughts.
That is why I refer to my thoughts as coming from the mind rather than my mind – or in your case, your mind. When you separate yourself from your thoughts and frame it as coming from the mind, it can become easier to go against them.
Trying to create a pattern of, I want to do this – no matter what the mind has to say about it.
I will take this cold shower even though the mind is telling me otherwise.
I’ll go to the gym no matter how tired the mind, says I am.
I will not indulge in dessert tonight even though the mind, will remind me of what I’m missing out on.
If you could take action on everything you wanted to do, how much more would you accomplish? Often it is your thoughts, which create the excuses not to do something.
You don’t have the experience.
You’ll make a fool of yourself.
What if it doesn’t work out?
They go into explicit detail on all the things that can go wrong, how you’ll fail and regret it. This stems from a fear of failing, of embarrassment or pain.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Although the mind, will not shut off, go away or encourage you to put your ego on the line.
You have to make a conscious decision to STOP LISTENING TO IT!
Create a mindset that acknowledges the thoughts you have and pushes through them anyways. Make a habit of acting on your intentions regardless of what the mind tells you.
Try and follow these steps next time the mind, is telling you to avoid doing something:
1. Listen to the mind
2. Acknowledge the excuses, warnings and cautions it provides
3. Thank it for its input
4. Now take action regardless of the mind’s thoughts
How powerful would it be to act on your goals rather then talk about them?
This is where The 5 Second Rule, from Mel Robbins can come in handy. If you haven’t heard Mel’s Ted Talk, read her book or heard her on various podcasts – check her out.
The premise of the 5 second rule is that you have a 5 second window to take action on something before the mind, takes over. When faced with something hard, don’t think – rather count down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and leap into action.
Having trouble getting out of bed? 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -> jump out of bed!
Struggling to make a sales call? 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -> start dialling!
Worry about voicing your opinion? 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 -> speak up!
Your thoughts have the best intentions for you, to keep you safe and comfortable. Although to grow, and progress forward – you’ll have to do what is uncomfortable.
Where To Go From Here
Going against your thoughts will prove to be difficult. Although when accomplished once, it will show you that you don’t have to succumb to your every thought.
As you begin to make a habit of overcoming the thoughts, you’ll begin to gain more self-confidence. You’ll start to believe in your abilities and be willing to do what might be hard.
Now are you up to start challenging the mind? Begin by committing to a 30 second cold shower for the next 7 days. I guarantee you that the mind will come up with a list of excuses and reasons why you should not put yourself through this suffering.
But after you do, you’ll notice that it’s not so bad. You may even begin to wonder what else the mind is protecting you from that you can accomplish.