Keep'er Fit

Gary Wallace

My 30-day morning mindset challenge

Monday was the start of my 30 Day Vegan Challenge and, yes, I’m going for a vegan Christmas.

Rather than believe the hype around the Netflix documentary ‘Game Changers’ I’m going to put it to the test.

I’ll be posting how I get on across our Core NI social media platforms. This challenge has come of the back of another 30-day challenge – Morning Mindset.

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For this challenge I wanted to set up a morning routine which would not only help me focus on the day ahead but help me find out more about myself.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go all cheesy and Disneyland on you, but I feel we don’t take enough time to ask ourselves questions about how we feel and try to get a better understanding and acceptance as to why we are feeling this way.

I have spoken before about my own experience of depression. It’s something which happened in my life and I feel I have better control of my own mood and what triggers it now.

My morning routine was a massive help during some of my darkest days. It was difficult at the start and I even thought it was worthless. Soon my mood started to get better, not just as a result of my morning routine, but it did help.

I was obsessed by self-help books and studying what successful people did for their morning routine. I would rise at 6am, then it went to 5am and even tried getting up at 4.30am for a period. This didn’t work. I soon realised that my biggest trigger for my mood was my sleep. I still get up most mornings at 6am, (5.15am on mornings when I am taking a boot camp), but I also listen to my body and if I feel like I need an extra 20 minutes in bed, then I take it.

Now all I needed to look at, was what to do when I got up.

One thing I still need to set a rule on is my phone. Going to bed that little bit earlier, may mean you wake up to a few more notifications on your phone. What should be a simple scan and reply could easily turn into 20-30 minutes looking through social media. Not the best start to the day.

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So I needed to be disciplined and also use my time productively in the mornings. I have been meditating, journalising and doing some form of movement each morning for a few years now, but it was starting to get sporadic. I wanted to use the 30-day challenge to see if it could get me back on track.

Here’s what my morning routine looked like and why I chose each one.

Meditate
Meditation can be enlightening but it can also be frustrating. Some mornings I would feel great after meditating and some days it would feel like a waste of time. The whole idea is that you are training the mind to be in a state of presence. Not thinking about the past or worrying about the future.

Training the mind to realise that ‘these are just thoughts’, will help us live a more fulfilling life. Trust me, it’s hard and I’m still working on it every day. Some days are good, others not so good.

I would recommend that you use a guided meditation app like ‘Headspace’ or ‘Calm’ to help you start your meditation journey.

Journal
Keep a diary, write in a book or whatever you want to call it, it’s not important. What is important is the content you write. Journalising for me is a great way to get those thoughts out of my head and onto paper. And even better when I ask myself questions as to why I’m feeling that way?

You don’t have to have the answers, but getting it down on paper may just give you a different perspective on your feelings and actions you take.

Movement
My 30 day challenges all started with morning movement. I don’t like to call it exercise because that puts people off. Instead movement could be a three minute stretching routine, a ten minute walk, a gym session or going out for a ten mile run. Whatever it is, as long as you can add some form of movement into your morning routine then go for it.

Cold shower
I wrote about the benefits of cold therapy in one of my previous articles. For me it’s a great way to wake my body up and get it used to the cold weather ahead of us. After you have finished your normal shower, turn it right down to the coldest it can go and stand there. You can start off with 20 seconds and don’t forget to breathe. Try to remain calm and let the cold water work its magic.

At the end of my 30 Days did I feel ‘enlightened’?
The answer is no. I wasn’t looking for that result either. It did bring up some questions that I needed to figure out for myself and rather than getting caught up on them, I used my morning routine to take the time to reflect and help train my mind to work better for me.

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