Routines are very simple ways of keeping us in the correct emotional and cognitive zones.
A routine can be 15 minutes or 30 seconds in length. Routines shift our mental focus and emotional state and can include changes in our physical and environmental space. All athletes I work with have specific routines they use to prepare for performance. The key to performance is being present, mindful and fully engaged in the moment.
We are all aware of the expression 'You've no point closing the stable door after the horse has left'. Imagine the time you will spend chasing a wild horse to get him back in the stable when a single second would have closed the door before he left. The reason I say this is that your mindset in the first 15 minutes of the day greatly contributes to how you feel and perform in the first hour and the first hour greatly decides how the rest of the day goes. If we control the first 15 minutes we have a far greater chance of having a great day. Yet many of us "fall" into the day or even worse, start off in a negative mindset.
Most people wake to an alarm on their phone and hit snooze. This is saying 'I'm not ready for the day, please go away'. Imagine a boxer responding like this when the bell goes. If for a second they showed this hesitation or this negative mindset when the bell rings, the fight immediately becomes harder and they have far less chance of winning.
It's laughable to think of an athlete doing this at the start of their performance and yet we allow ourselves to start our daily performance like this, even though the game of life is so important.
Think about the thoughts that fill your mind when your alarm goes off. Before we get out of bed we may even check an email or message. This shifts your cognitive arousal too fast.
Think about getting an alarm clock that doesn't have all your stressful emails, deadlines and calendars on it. We all have music that we like why not wake up to that or, why don't we listen to it for five minutes in bed instead of waiting, dreading the snooze alarm?
How about our breakfast routines? Are we reading emails as we eat it? Worse still are we having it at our desk or in our car? You are better off eating breakfast in your toilet than in your car or at your desk.
How about lunch, we all know the value of good food and the role it plays in our wellness, our health and our performance. It's as important as the fuel they put into a Formula One car.
So imagine this, the Formula One driver pulls into the pit in the middle of the race, the cars needs the right fuel, fast, and the mechanic is trying to put the fuel in while sending text messages, checking Facebook and composing emails. It simply is not an acceptable way of refuelling the car, and yet it's the way many of us refuel our systems each day.
A big part of our ability to taste, to absorb and to digest the food correctly requires that we eat the food not just with our mouth but with our full system.
This leads to greater digestion, greater absorption of the nutrients leading to greater personal health.
In an Olympic games an athlete may compete and deliver an amazing performance on day one, they can beat the world champion in their first event.
The world is at their fingertips, suddenly everything is possible and yet it's simply just day one. They go back to the apartment, unwind and get a good night's sleep so they can deliver an even better performance the following day. It's vital they have sleep and relaxation routines.
We started this article by thinking about how we wake up and most of us wake up feeling tired. A lot of this is because we don't prepare for sleep, we don't get ourselves mentally and emotionally ready to sleep. One hour before we want to sleep we need to prepare for sleep. Put away electronic devices, stop checking emails, why not turn off the TV and enjoy the calm and listen to some music?
A good idea is to keep a journal. Spend a little time writing the highs of the day, record the little things that went well. Write a gratitude list, list three things that make you happy. You control your mind. Learn to prepare it for sleep.
For each part of our day we can have very simple but powerful routines that keep us focused, listening to and looking at the things allowing us perform the right task, at the right time in the right way.
Health & Living