It turns out it all came down to something very natural: blood flow. Commonly used by professional athletes around the world, these strategies are not only equally effective for entrepreneurs, but anyone looking to jumpstart their day. Here are the three crazy things that I do every day to start my day off with energy and clarity:
- Take a contrast shower. Nothing like starting the day with a nice hot shower, right? Think again. Instead of taking a hot shower like most normal people do, I start with hot water, but then quickly crank the knob to make the water as icy as it gets. I alternate from as hot as I can stand for two minutes, then to as cold as the shower goes for the next two minutes. I repeat for three intervals, always ending in cold water. Why put my warm-blooded 26-year-old body through this polar plunge first thing in the morning? Contrast showers (a classic hot-cold water therapy for marathoners) improve circulation because the cold exposure causes your blood flow to be re-directed inward to your vital organs. As the hot water hits your body, your heart rate increases and causes the blood to flow outward toward the skin, opening up your vessels. Alternating the hot and cold water causes the circulation to move rhythmically, like an accordion, giving your body an early-morning detox. More invigorating than a cup of coffee, the effect is both immediate and sustained: a clear head, better mood and heightened focus. Besides exercise, this has been my number one secret to a productive day since I was in the first grade.
- Get vertical. I’m no yogi, but you don’t have to be to enjoy the benefits of starting your day upside down. Get your head below your heart by choosing a position you’re comfortable with. A “bridge” pose or shoulderstand are perfect starters if you’ve never done something like this before (or do a wheel or handstand if you want something more intense). What matters is that you (safely) get your head below your heart, and you breathe deeply. By reversing the flow of gravity, you are flushing fresh nutrients, blood, & oxygen to your head, giving yourself a full-body cleanse.
- Roll it out. After lying in bed for 8-10 hours straight, no wonder the body feels tight and tense. It hasn’t moved in almost half a day. I release this pent-up tension with a foam roller. Using your own body weight to mimic a gliding, deep-tissue massage, foam rollers work out the kinks in your lower back, shoulders, neck, arms, and legs by loosening your muscles and increasing your circulation. It’s the best (free) self-massage there is. And while it’s true that many Olympians swear by foam rollers, I promise that you don’t have to be a gold medalist to enjoy the benefits of renewed flexibility and agility before you start your day.
Final tip: after you’ve done these three tactics and you’re feeling fresh, don’t check your email or look at your phone. Before I get sucked into the whirlwind of response mode (answering emails, listening to voicemails, returning calls), I take my time to very deliberately plan my goals for the day. Doing this when your head is fresh ensures a clear plan for the day. It safeguards you against the whims that may attempt to derail you later.
Up for the challenge? Tomorrow morning, I warmly invite you to experiment with these three tactics and experience the difference they make. I fully expect you to swear my name when the first drop of icy water hits your skin, but be prepared to start your day with more energy and clarity than ever before.
Note: The information contained in this article is not medical advice, nor is it intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice.
Phil Dumontet is the CEO of DASHED, the #119th fastest-growing private company on the 2013 Inc. 500|5000. Phil recently did a headstand, rolled out his legs, & took a contrast shower before running the New York Marathon in under 4 hours.
Article originally published by Forbes.