How Nature and Overcoming the “Bad Days” are Connected

We all have those days. You know, the nights where you told yourself you’d be in bed by 10 PM only to lie sleepless until well past 1 AM. That was how my day went today.

I plan to wake up at 5:30 every morning of my life. This is the only way I know to create true personal time. Whether you write, play guitar, exercise, read, or whatever. The early morning hours before most of America is awake have proven to be my BEST times of the day. Maybe you are the same.

But… today was different. This was no ordinary day. I’ve been in NC for around two months. I can count on ONE hand the number of times I’ve slept past 7 AM.

It’s four, well now five.

Today – it was 9:30 AM. What in the hell happened? I could’ve stayed negative and dreaded doing anything, watched TV and sat on my ass all day.

Instead what I did, was start my day as if it were 5:30 AM after taking care of pressing obligations for the day. I exercised, ate a healthy breakfast, meditated, wrote my journal and morning pages, and read for 15 minutes.

See, for most of you, this isn’t a problem. For me, however, my off-days crush me. I feel defeated and vulnerable. These aren’t good feelings.

Exercise is the FIRST way I combat any signs of mental overwhelm or anxiety. Second, it is to write. I write every morning. I consider this my mental therapy. I get my cluttered morning thoughts onto paper and organize my day. Therapy one day, goal setting the next – this writing organizes my day and adds structure to a life where most of us are highly over stimulated.

Why did I choose this photo?

For one, I made a commitment to write, schedule, or publish a blog every day. I wasn’t sure what to write about today so I figured I’d pick a nice photo.

Secondly, this photo was a great day and it reminded me of how much I love nature.

I spent a portion of my afternoon today walking through this amazing park near me to clear my mind. Again, today was NOT my day. I walked with no music or audio book for the first few minutes to connect with nature.

From the trees, birds, and insects to the children and families playing in the playground laughing. Walking amongst Mossy Oaks and large Pines while soaking in the sun and enjoying the fresh air. It is intoxicating!

Sometimes – all we need is some exercise, fresh air, to bring us back to our prime. Our best self.

Final Thoughts

Before I head to bed for the evening and get some MUCH NEEDED rest, I want to share something.

I listen to an audio book everywhere that I go. In my car, walking or running around my neighborhood, folding laundry, basically anytime I can or find myself idle.

This lifted my spirits and changed my mood. I was uplifted by a new sense of wonder and possibility. The sun, the air, and nature helped me overcome one of my least productive days since I’ve lived in North Carolina.

Audio books have changed my life and inspired me in more ways that I can begin to describe. Instead of watching TV or playing a video game, try to find more constructive ways to be inspired. Throw on some headphones, go for a walk, while getting lost in an amazing audio book. I never regret learning, but I always regret the hours of my life spent binge watching a show or plain sitting on my ass.

Here are a few in my library:

How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, by Mark Manson

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

For you fiction lovers:

The Absent Mind, by Eric Rill

The Cold Dish, by Craig Johnson

The pressures of Social Media (Overcoming the stimulation of checking your phone) – How to get back to reality!

Why are we all addicted to social media?

Is it the stimulation of technology that we require the constant ‘high’ from scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and others? I want to engage in more deep, meaningful conversations to enhance the quality of life in those around us. Not spend them constantly and quite frankly rudely interrupted by social media, email and more. Don’t get me wrong, they are important and have their place, but knowing that place is vital.

Use social media with discipline!

Social media has completely transformed the world as we know it. Our days are overtaken by the countless time spent on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, only to name a few. I say overtaken because maybe you are like me. Maybe you are puzzled at the lack of interaction in our daily lives. Maybe it’s the lack of engagement in people to have a meaningful discussion. What bothers me most (and probably you too) is when in the middle of a conversation with family, friends or colleagues is that their phone seems to get all the attention. Have you ever had someone check their phone and completely ignore you, right in the middle of a discussion? Why are people so preoccupied with the lives of others on social media? So much so to neglect the human interaction and relationships right in front of them. This seems to be a trend that most are unhappy about. It’s time we take control of the precious time of our lives we spend on social media and focus on what we can actually control. Our time. So what can we do? Let’s start with listening to each other more!

What does your morning look like?

How many of you wake up each morning and mindlessly swipe through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and then watch everything your friends were doing on Snapchat from the day before? Be honest. This is important. I use to be this person until I realized the impact it was having on my life.

I ask this because I found myself in the same predicament. I began each day focused on the lives of other people instead of myself. What they were doing, who they were with, the things they have, people they know, you get the point. If you were to transition that energy towards yourself and what you wanted, who you wanted in your life, where you wanted to live, and what you wanted to accomplish, you’d be impressed with the results. To start and end each day staring a screen, disengaging from reality, and focusing on other people’s lives is no way to achieve your dreams and spend your time.

Enough is enough!

I woke up three months ago and gave myself a reality check. I told myself that it was time to go on an information diet and start reading and writing every day. The results have been immeasurably positive. I replaced my morning rituals of social media and hitting the snooze button with exercise, reading, and writing. This usually includes audio books depending on the day, journaling and reading books of quality substance. Nightly reading/writing as well to decompress from the day and recall all of the amazing experiences that had occurred. I am a firm believer that being proactive is critical to each of these habits for the day to be a success. Be proactive on your day, wake up early, and focus on what is important in your life!

What we feed our minds deeply impacts our lives. How we feel emotionally and the state we live in each day is affected by what we put into our bodies (physically, mentally and spiritually). I started researching ways to discipline my time and increase productivity to take control of my bad habits. We are lucky to wake up each day and have another opportunity for life. Instead of using my precious mental capacity for mostly useless information, I changed my life. Overwhelming feelings of anxiety, stress, jealousy, envy, regret, and more were affecting my life and I was blind to this. I realized that my actions each day were not only having a large impact on my personal happiness but the happiness of those around me. To all those affected, my bad. I won’t let it happen again!

Here are five tips that help me overcome the negative impact of social media, “win my mornings” and most importantly win back my time.

How I stopped occupying my precious brain capacity with mental activity on social media that added little substance of my existence:

Turn off social media notifications

  • Eliminate the need or temptation of social media triggers by turning off all notifications that would cause you anxiety. If you don’t see them immediately, you’ll be less tempted to check them.
  • Schedule specific time throughout the day that is scheduled for social media. This can be to make your posts, respond to others, share with your friends, or take a break from work. Limit this to as few time-blocks as possible to increase efficiency.
  • How to turn off notifications for Android
  • How to manage iPhone notifications

What are the benefits you think this could have in your life? Are you willing to try it?

Place your phone/alarm across the room

  • Force yourself out of bed. Don’t give yourself the chance to roll over and hit that damn snooze button.
  • This will stimulate your nervous system and allow your body and mind to start working together to get your day started.
  • Resist the temptation of checking social media and convince yourself it can wait. You won’t regret waiting. You’re not missing anything at 5-6AM when the rest of the world is sleeping.
  • Here are some biological reasons and analysis summarizing why the snooze button could be ruining your sleep.

Have you tried this before? How has it helped you to be more proactive in your life?

Why I stopped listening to music in the morning

  • For me, music was similar to social media in the way it was affecting my mental capacity. Try listening to Audible books instead to start the day feeding your mind with valuable information. If some noise is required early in the morning it’s fine, but I sometimes will leave my phone behind during my morning workout or listen to a meditation playlist that helps keep the mental stimulation to a minimum.
  • An alternative completely is trying to exercise or workout without any headphones or noise at all. This varies day to day for me. Some days I want some noise, others nature will handle it quite well for me.

What do you listen to during your morning rituals? Does music distract you? Is there a connection between headphones, music, and energy in the morning?

Meditation/Breathing Exercises

  • 5-10 minutes of either lying or seated meditation. Still, with no social media connection, I allow my mind and body to be present and aware of all pain, stress, anxiety, aches and relax
    • I highly recommend meditation for anyone who is considering it but hasn’t tried. Headspace and Calm are great for beginners.
  • If you are unsure of meditation, check out Wim Hof and his incredible breathing exercises. I do this every morning before I workout and it has helped me consistently run further with less struggle early in the morning.
  • 10-15 minutes of yoga can also be a good way to relax, stretch out your muscles and quiet the mind.
  • Allow your mind to be present and think about the important things for the day and the priorities in your life. This is a good time for thoughts of gratitude and appreciation.

How have yoga, meditation, or breathing exercises helped your morning routine? Which do you find best prepare your body and mind for the day?

Morning Pages or 5MJ – Thank you, Tim Ferriss, this is my favorite part of the day.

  • The first three hours of the day are claimed to be the best and most productive of the entire day. Focus on what you are most hoping to accomplish in your future and how you are going to do it!
  • This is a great time to express gratitude and understand how lucky we are. We can achieve our greatest desires in life by focusing on what is vital to our purpose in life.
  • Ask yourself questions. What do you want out of the day? What are you grateful for? What would make today a success? Are you going to give today your best possible effort?

What you focus on, you become. Focus on your greatest desires in life and cultivate the ability to think big. Think about your life, don’t daydream about other people’s lives. Visualize what you want your life to look like. Where do you want to live? Who do you want in your life? What do you want to have? This way you can start your day with an increasingly more clear picture of how you are going to accomplish your goals and become the best possible person you are destined to be. To achieve the things you desire most in the one life we are lucky to have.

Do you journal now? How has this helped your life? What do you write about that others may benefit from?

Let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute. We are all far to overtaken by social media stimulation. It is just as much of a habit as is brushing your teeth, taking a shower, putting on your shoes or anything else. These are not always good habits as we’ve come to learn. What I do is schedule time for checking emails (2-3 times a day) as well as social media outlets for a set amount of time, depending on the level of engagement necessary. Typically after my morning routine to make sure I’m not missing any important business connections, messages, or important commitments that require my attention. For more science and extensive research on habits, I highly recommend everyone either read or listen to “The Power of Habit”, by Charles Duhigg. It will help you understand why humans do exactly what we do not only in life but in business as well. It will certainly not disappoint.

How can I improve?

I hope you enjoyed my post and found valuable information here!

Any questions, advice, topic suggestions, or feedback please comment below! I will be posting weekly on Thursdays’ with a new topic that may help guide us through life sharing my experiences along the way. Feel free to add me on all media outlets to follow my journey and subscribe to be notified of my weekly updates!

Take action to get what you want!|Mel Robbins – “The 5 Second Rule”

Hello everyone – I need to share the insight I’ve gained from such an incredible book by Mel Robbins, “The 5 Second Rule”. I added it to my Audible library after it was recommended to me at a book publishing seminar where I was lucky to meet some truly inspirational people last weekend. I made a decision and showed up! I won’t get into too much detail, but I will summarize the book and my thoughts on how the book could help so many of you that have suffered as I have. Check out her site and page for more details. https://melrobbins.com/the-5-second-rule/

We are all the same in the sense that we only get one life and like many I’ve also experienced loads of stress, anxiety, fear, regret, and more – you get the picture. The concept is opposed to waiting, thinking and debating what could possibly go wrong or right with a decision, to count backward from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and go. Take action, physically move your body to take the decision from your subconscious mind to your prefrontal cortex. You begin the process of creating new habits that will indeed change your life whether you realize it or not. Listen to her book for more scientific research, evidence, testimonials, studies, and more around how applying this rule or ‘tool’ can and will benefit your life. What I found most interesting in her research and explanations was how a 5-second decision has been responsible for some of the greatest discoveries in the world. This includes businesses, ideas, products, services, books, relationships and so much more. The decision to talk to that girl at the bar or at the coffee shop. The decision to eat healthily or raise your hand with an idea in a business meeting. We’ve all been there. I’ve been the guy sitting there, palms sweating, heart racing, waiting to share my great idea or insight with the company. Only to wait until the meeting is over, tell a colleague that I had this idea and wished I said something, only to regret not speaking up. Life is about showing up and making decisions. Don’t let life control you, take control of the decisions you make and put yourself out there, you’ll be glad you did!

Also, I’d challenge you to attempt her 90-day challenge. 90 days of getting out of bed when your alarm goes off! No snooze, no waiting, no falling back to sleep, just get up and go move. I’d recommend using her tool to move your body first thing in the morning. Get the blood flowing through your body and mind, awaken your spirit and get ready to take charge of your day. As Jim Rohn famously said, “Either you run the day or the day runs you.” Research and studies have shown that the most productive hours of the day are the first three hours after you wake up. Make those hours count. Don’t waste them in bed, watching Netflix, scrolling through Facebook or Instagram or worse, watching what all of the people you follow on Snapchat did the night before. This won’t help motivate you. This will provoke negative thoughts of jealousy, envy, regret, anxiety and more. Where you COULD have been or who you COULD have seen. Take control, make a decision, and most importantly SHOW UP!

Most importantly, this book has worked. I’ve met 5 CEO’s and Business Executives specifically at Starbucks in the last 3 days from the application of this, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 ‘tool’. It has helped me engage in conversation with strangers while eliminating any doubt my mind might throw at me. When your heart starts racing, chest beating, palms sweating, that is the time to count down and leverage the excitement that is building opposed to letting your mind convince you otherwise. Follow the inspiration of life and when it feels right, don’t think, act. I’ve engaged woman way out of my league and had a date with someone incredible using this ‘tool’. Have you read or listening to her book yet? If you have I’d love to hear how it has helped you. As Tony Robbins said, “At any moment, the decision you make can change the course of your life FOREVER.” It is in the key moments of making decisions that your destiny is shaped. If you have even slightly struggled with decision making this book will dramatically benefit your personal life, career, relationships and more! So get out of your own head, follow your inspiration, your gut, and most importantly take MASSIVE ACTION!