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Unhustle for Work-Life Balance

The Unhustle Morning Rituals That Changed My Life

Milena Regos

In a world obsessed with busyness and chasing success at all costs, we end up burnt out, stressed out, and lonely. At Unhustle, my vision is to shift this paradigm. It’s about finding the sweet spot between doing and real living, embracing a lifestyle that balances life enjoyment with purposeful achievement. This is the future I’m creating with Unhustle—a sustainable, prosperous future for ourselves, our families, communities, teams, companies, and the planet.

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Begin Every Day with a S.U.N.R.I.S.E. – The Unhustle Morning™ Rituals

Unhustle Morning in Baja

I sat in a beach bungalow off the coast of Baja California Sur

Listening to the wind whooshing in the palm leaves roof seems like the most natural thing in the world. Doves call each other lovingly from the lush palm trees outside the big windows. The big blue Sea of Cortez in front of me spotted with whitecaps from the strong Norte wind. Palms and Palo de Blanco trees sway in the breeze. Colorful kites play in the turquoise water. The hustle and bustle of the city life seem so distant at the moment. I’ve been here for three months now living the life I believe in, and I still have to pinch myself every single day. My life used to be very different. Now, every morning starts with watching the sunrise. And this has turned into the best morning practices I know.

sunrise method

Emails. Text Messages. Social Media. The News.

Before I even got out of bed, my brain had turned to scrambled eggs. My days used to only to go downhill from there. My quest to find more time in the day, to get more done, got me nowhere. I tried every performance hack, every time management tip, every morning practices I could find, every meditation app I could get my hands on, and still felt like I couldn’t get ahead of my todo list. I wasn’t able to think clearly throughout the day. By the time the day was over, I didn’t feel happy. I felt exhausted, agitated, empty. 

 I felt something was missing in my life.

“In the war against the cult of speed, the front line is inside our heads. Acceleration will remain our default setting until attitudes change. But changing what we think is just the beginning… We have to change the way we think.” – says Carl Honore in his book “In Praise of Slowness.”

We rush all day long

We rush to get the kids out the door, rush to get to work, rush through your day. Sit in meetings, check emails, Slack. We fill every single minute of our days with some mental activity, to avoid boredom. From the minute we wake up and look at our phones, we get into reactive mode. We don’t leave a minute in our days to reflect. Our brains accelerate to keep up with the never-ending information. Our projects and todos are never-ending.

And at the end of the day, we wonder why we didn’t get anything done.

Don’t you think that we would have caught up by now if we were able to catch up?

We get home exhausted and watch TV until we fall asleep. Rinse and repeat the next day. Our brains resting only at night leave us with no inspiration, no time to sit still, no place for new ideas to be born except for when we are in the shower.

Keeping the mind active without giving it a chance to rest is exhausting our most precious resource. The brain needs time to recover every once and a while so it can perform better. Periods of doing nothing, allow for more calm, more creativity, better focus, and health. But how often do we do nothing?

I decided to start my days differently. The Unhustle Morning™ Rituals were born.

I knew I couldn’t keep going through life like this anymore. I decided to implement a new way of starting my day to give me more time and space, more creativity, and contentment. I researched and read every book and article I could lay my hands on.

I studied high performing individuals, top athletes, entrepreneurs, billionaires, and creatives. I looked at old practices. I looked at the new science.

I read about Chronotypes. I studied Biohacks. And I created my very own set of the best morning practices that I know. I called them The Unhustle Morning, using the S.U.N.R.I.S.E Method. 

The Unhustle Morning™ consists of seven practices under the S.U.N.R.I.S.E. Method inspired from Baja.

“S” Stands for Sleep.

I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?” ― Ernest Hemingway

You can’t get through your days if you are sleep deprived. Period. Your morning starts the night before. Turning off your tech devices have a lot to do with the quality of your sleep.

When 70% of all Americans have insomnia at least once a month, insufficient sleep becomes a public health epidemic. Improving your sleep is the first thing you can do to live a healthier life, improve your brain function, balance hormones, protect your heart, fight fat, and boost your longevity.

If you live in the city, minimize light at night, especially blue light. The blue light emitting from your screens changes melatonin levels, which keeps you awake. Some studies show up to 3 hours. Protect your eyes from blue light with blue light blocking glasses, install F.lux on your computer or better yet, turn off all your devices and read a book, stretch, and simply chill.

A few more ideas for better sleep include making your room as dark as possible, even if this includes wearing an eye mask. Drinking only one cup of coffee a day in the morning. Not exercising before bed. Not eating at least 2 hours before bedtime. And, taking supplements like Magnesium. Research shows that it’s not the hours you sleep but the quality of hours you sleep. I still like to get 7 – 8 hours of sleep and wake up without an alarm.

Living in harmony with nature and paying close attention to sunsets and sunrises helps to get circadian rhythms in sync. So the best thing you can do to improve your sleep is to go outside in the morning and watch the sunrise. It will help you normalize your hormone levels and help you fall asleep by regulating the sleep-wake cycle. It took me walking barefoot in Baja for three months to sync my circadian rhythm when my sleep was so poor from spending 16 hours stuck to a screen.

social media addiction

“U” Stands for Unplug.

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” – Anne Lamott

What if we commit to starting our days without looking at that little smartphone that hijacks our attention and time.

The minute we do, our brain turns into reactive mode, and our focus gets sucked into a video, a post, breaking news, or what our friends did over the weekend. We start commenting, liking, sharing, and moving our attention from us to them.

Then we check emails and immediately become obliged to start responding and adding more things to our already full day. Someone else’s priorities turn into yours in a matter of minutes.

All of a sudden, that super important project you wanted to start today gets pushed to tomorrow to accommodate a more urgent demand.

Except that, tomorrow never comes, and so our business keeps staying stuck in reaction mode, and we wonder why we can never get out of the rat race.

Countless studies show that looking at your phone first thing in the morning is bad for focus and concentration, puts you in a bad mood, and increases stress.

Yet, we continue to do it. Day after day. Morning after morning. We are addicted to these little devices like a honey bee to a flower.

What if we said Enough.

What if we took a little bit of time in the morning to tend to our own needs. Give or brains a chance to recalibrate. Give our minds a little bit of recovery. Keep the airplane mode on until you are ready to face the world and save your morning and day for the essential things that will propel you forward.

But we are creatures of habit. And most of us are addicted to our phones. Take slow steps and observe how you feel, what emotions and thoughts arise when you check your emails, the news, and social media. Write them down.

Then try a morning without your phone and see if you feel any different.

How do you feel now? What’s different?

It’s not easy to get used to this habit, it’s taken me years, and I still have mornings when I grab my phone right away. By being aware of how it changes my mood and focus, I’m more inclined to stick to my commitment. Be gentle and patient with yourself.

Albert Einstein understood the power of doing nothing, spending hours looking at space. We may not have his abilities and intelligence, but we can give our brain time to do nothing. And who knows something brilliant may spark.

I know from experience that my best ideas have come not while being glued to my emails but rather from taking a walk outside without my phone, drinking my tea in the morning in solitude, or while in the shower.

I’m willing to bet it’s the same with you.

“N” Stands for Nature.

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home. Wilderness is a necessity.” – John Muir

Take time to go outside and connect with nature in the morning or on your way to work. Instead of looking at your phone, observe everything around you. Even a walk in your city park or time on your balcony or back yard will do. Look at the sky, the trees, the grass as this is your first time seeing them. I like these moments of silence as they give me a chance to be in harmony with our biggest teacher of all. Combining these moments with gratitude and movement shortens my morning practices.

In our fast-paced world, few people can afford to take a few hours in the morning for themselves, and I’m no exception.

But how many of us take time to be still and curious in the morning?

If it’s cold outside, being more active helps me get my energy and blood going, so I’d accelerate my walk. If it’s warm, I like to get sunlight on my face, maybe even on my whole body, do some stretching, yoga or QiGong or meditate outside while listening to the birds, the wind, the ocean or the lake.

Nature is a powerful healer.

The practice of forest medicine was created in Japan, and it’s called “shinrin-yoku.” It’s a term that means taking in the forest atmosphere. It’s proven to reduce stress, increase your immune system, improve mood and creativity, increase energy, and focus. Take a little bit of time in the morning to connect with nature – it’s good for the body, mind, and spirit.

“R” Stands for Read and Write.

Think before you speak. Read before you think.” – Fran Lebowitz, American author

Reading provides mental stimulation and knowledge you can apply in everyday scenarios. Reading also improves your memory and strengthens your analytical skills.

Reading improves focus and communication- very needed skills in our internet-crazed world of diminishing attention span.

Reading a good book can increase your vocabulary and writing skills, and so many of us can improve our communication skills – with our families and at work.

Getting fully engaged in the book’s story will minimize your stress and add tranquility to your day. Even a 5 min read in the morning can benefit your mind and your mood.

Pick a few good books and dedicate 5 or 10 min every morning to reading and in the words of Dr. Seuss: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

“I” Stands for Intention & Inspiration.

Envision your ideal day unfold with segments of activities.

Every journey begins with the first step of articulating the intention, and then becoming the intention.”― Bryant McGill, Voice of Reason

I have found that setting my intention for the day in the morning has the most significant impact on my life and work.

I limit my goals for the day to three.

I commit to doing the most challenging of them first, thus eliminating decision fatigue settling in later in the day.

Focusing on the hardest project first has transformed my days from the old way of checking emails first and jumping into putting out fires. We have a limited amount of decision-making in our brains each day.

By taking the time to think and write down your most critical projects for the day, you can establish your priorities before someone else does.

Take a minute to look at your long todo list and pick the three most important things for the day.

Adding awareness and intention to your morning will help you stay calm and clear throughout the day.

This is your superpower – a highly focused mind in a world of distractions.

You won’t find a better productivity tool out there than merely working with focus and intention. Don’t waste a good day because of a lack of intention.

Then throughout the day, when your mind starts to wander again from project to project, you can incorporate these five steps process from Larry Rosenberg, the author of the Buddhist book Breath by Breath:

  1. When possible, do just one thing
  2. Pay full attention
  3. When your mind wanders, bring it back
  4. Repeat step 3, several billion times
  5. Investigate your distractions

My training is based on the MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) principles from Jon Kabat-Zinn, an American professor emeritus of medicine, considered to have introduced mindfulness into the Western world. It was during my mindfulness training that I realized how transformative mindfulness could be for living and working. Mindfulness is defined as: “the awareness that arises from paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.” 

I have found out that you can practice mindfulness in everything you do.

Find joy in the simple things – like making your coffee, or preparing your breakfast, or peeling an orange, or applying your makeup or meditating. At work, mindfulness can be used while listening to other people, responding to an email, being fully present, and focusing on a project.

Take the time to write your top three most important things each day, and you’ll find out that you have more time, feel more productive, and feel more accomplished.

Then, throughout the day, continue your intentional way of working, and you will experience the powerful effects of mindfulness.

“S” Stands for Stillness.

Meditation, Mindfulness and Gratitude.

The inspiration you seek is already within you. Be silent and listen.” – Rumi

Practicing meditation or finding time to sit in silence can add more calm and focus to your days, and enrich your life.

A lot has been written about the benefits of meditation and silence. Yet, only 14% of Americans have tried meditation (at least once). If you already meditate, then you know the benefits from it, and you probably experience more bliss, space, focus, and calm in your life. But what if you don’t have a consistent meditation practice?

From a physiological standpoint, there are a few benefits to silence: lower blood pressure, which can help prevent heart attack. Boost the body’s immune system.

Scientifically proven, meditation can reduce stress, control anxiety, fight addiction, lengthen attention span, enhance self-awareness, promote emotional health, and help combat addictions.

Although meditation has become trendy, few people can commit to a daily routine.


Because there’s a myth associated with meditation that we need to sit on the floor cross-legged like a monk with our fingers touching and focus on the third eye (which eye?), it took me a long time to get this, but your body needs to be comfortable when you meditate.

Sit like you are going to binge-watch Netflix, close your eyes if you want to or stare at the space in front of you, and just sit there for a bit. Don’t worry about “not thinking.” You are going to think. Period.

Our minds process 60,000-80,000 thoughts per day.

You can’t shut off your brain. It doesn’t work. But you can sit for a little bit, pay attention to your breathing, and know that this is time for you.

The benefits of meditation and silence are an add-on to the 10 -15 min you are giving your mind a much-needed break from the constant flow of information and the busyness of our lives.

If you need a meditation app, Insight Timer is a great free app you can download.

Sitting in meditation is nourishment for your spirit and nourishment for your body, as well.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“E” Stands for Energy.

You need energy to perform throughout the day. A few ways to get energized are through movement, cold shower, breathing, high-performance drink and a few more ways.

For exercise, I like some gentle stretching in the morning to wake up my body. I love yoga and QiGong and find free videos on YouTube – Yoga With Adriene is very helpful. For QiGong, I like Lee Holden’s videos.

I prefer to keep my morning for my creative time and push my long workouts to the afternoons when my body is more awake. So if I feel like a workout in the morning, I do a 7-min HIIT workout, which consists of some pushups, squats, planks, and jumping jacks. A pretty basic workout you can do in a matter of minutes. If the day gets away from me, at least I feel like I did the minimum, I want to keep my body strong.

Doing pranayama breathing or Wim Hof method breathing is another way to energize your body. I finish my morning practices with a bulletproof coffee or a matcha moringa latte. I load both with healthy fats like MCT oil, coconut butter, or grass-fed butter. I skip breakfast and eat later in the morning or at lunchtime. This gives me a solid window to get my most important work first, and the intermittent fasting has helped my digestive system. I’m all for feeding my brain with high-quality fats so it can perform better throughout the day.

A cold shower finishes off my morning practices. Cold is good for your body, makes you stronger, fights inflammation, and gives you energy. It can even boost your creativity. Cold is good for you. You can read more about why it’s good for you on my blog post here.

If I can swim in an ocean or a lake, I prefer to do that, but most mornings, I’m happy with a cold shower.

The easiest thing to do every day to make sure your mind, body, and spirit are in alignment, is to start with a S.U.N.R.I.S.E. 

Top of the mornin’ to you.

Do these practices for 14 days and feel the difference.

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