How to avoid waking up with stress.
How you start your morning will often set the tone for your entire day. But many of use find that we’re often waking up feeling stressed, which can really turn the outlook on your day into mush. Want to avoid waking up stressed? Here are seven simple ways to reduce stress and anxiety at the start of your day by changing a few things in your morning routine.
1. Get a head start…
We can’t all be morning people. For some, mornings can be filled with lightening-speed showers, frantic searches for that missing shoe and taking the dog for more of a sprint than a walk. But a stress-filled start often sets you up for a whole day filled with worry. So before you start your next day, take some time to end the evening before in a way that sets you up for less stress in the morning tomorrow.
Before your head hits the pillow…
Now, I’m not saying that you should you sit on the couch and watch reruns of your favorite shows until midnight. But that said, there are small ways to ease into the evening before you retire to blissful dreamland. You could consider doing some light stretching, a few simple yoga poses, or even a few deep breaths. Studies have shown that doing yoga can help reduce anxiety and stress. And if you can’t find the time to do yoga in the evening, at least take a deep breath and relax for a few minutes.
Here’s another tip. Get things ready for the next day, the day before. Remember your mom when you were a kid setting out your outfit the night before? Ok, so maybe you were like me and the clothes were all over the floor. But you’re past that now, right? Right?? So, place everything from your shoes to your shirts, pants and undergarments in an easily accessible place. If you want to get extra-organized, you can even prep your meals for the week (or at least the next day) ahead with easy and long-lasting recipes like soups or breakfast bars.
2. Avoid shiny electronic objects.
When you first wake up, it’s tempting to open your phone or laptop and check your notifications or email. PLEASE – resist that temptation! That’s a sure-fire way to wake up and go directly to stress jail (do not pass go, do not collect calm).
The Meta doesn’t sleep
By far, one of best, greatest, most important, critical things you can do for yourself is to avoid looking at your phone and notifications when you first wake up in the morning. Because once you do, the stress cat is out of the bag and on top of your head. Meaning that it’s almost a given that you’ll have more stress and anxiety. Not just in the morning, but for the rest of the day.
Remember, the digital world doesn’t sleep. It doesn’t have to. But you do. So, instead of jumping on your phone or tablet, or turning on the tube, rise out of bed and enjoy the quiet. To make this a little easier, turn off your notifications in the evening, so that the next morning, you see nothing pop out of your phone but that funky jazz music from your alarm.
To make this super-easy, don’t even have your phone in the bedroom overnight. Yes, this might mean you’ll need to get one of those old-timey plug-in-the-wall alarm clocks (Gasp!). But my phone sleeps two rooms away from me at night. Seriously. It works.
3. Stay present.
When you first wake up in the morning, try to make a habit of spending 5 minutes (or more if you can) just being mindful of where you are, how you are, and what you are doing. In other words, just be still. If, during those few minutes your mind starts wandering off into thinking about what’s on the agenda for today, tomorrow or next week, just pause, and come back to the stillness.
Meditate or Pray
Meditation or pray first thing in the morning hours is great way to keep your stress levels low, not just in the morning but throughout the day. When you are feeling anxious in the morning, take some time to be still. Spending 5 minutes or as much time as you can meditating or praying is a great way to clear your mind and calm down.
There can many variations on this practice. For example, you can use a gratitude exercise or start journaling. These are all productive ways to keep your head in the present moment while wiping away stress and worry. To keep your focus, you can also choose a starting ritual that signals to your brain that it’s time to get up and on with it. It could be as simple as grabbing a cup of coffee to start your day. You can also be mindful while you’re making that cup of coffee too!
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4. Use the false alarm mind trick.
Here’s a trick you can play on yourself that can help with reducing your stress in the mornings. Try tricking yourself into thinking you need to be up earlier than you actually do. Yes, this means getting up a little earlier when you may not think you have to, but stay with me on this. It does get better.
Now that you have time…
If you wake up before you think you have to it will allow you to account for any inevitable unplanned slowdowns in your morning routine. It’s usually different every time. Maybe your rechargeable toothbrush dies on top on your upper left molar and needs to be recharged. Or it could be an undone errand from the nigh before. (wait, did I remember to take out the trash last night?). When these interruptions come then, guess what? Now you’ll have an extra 15 to 30 minutes to get everything done.
Don’t have any unplanned snafus on a particular morning? That’s even better! Because now you use them to accomplish something you enjoy. Try a yoga session, read a book, or play with the dog while getting ready for work. Your extra time is better spent doing things you like or even love. It’s a great way to ease your way into the day with less stress.
5. Feed your body while feeding your mind.
When we sleep, our bodies dehydrate, which can lead to feeling groggy when you awake. One way to counteract this is to drink a glass of warm water with a dash of fresh lemon juice the second you wake up. The lemon water will serve not only as a source of hydration but also a dose of vitamin C and can also help with digestion.
Start with a good quick meal.
It’s also important to make breakfast a priority. It doesn’t have to be a huge affair either. Just a bowl of cereal, a piece of fruit, or scrambled eggs will do. These take fewer than 10 minutes to prepare and will give you the boost of energy you need most.
Speaking of breakfast, while you’re enjoying your first meal of the day make sure that it doesn’t include things that could actually add to your stress and anxiety. If you plan to have a cup of coffee with breakfast, you should know that caffeine can make stress worse. That’s because it contricts the blood vessels (giving you the “jitters”) and can inhibit the absorption of vitamin C . If you love your cup of java like I do, then just make sure you don’t overdo your consumption. Maybe 8 ounces instead of 12.
Also try to stay away from refined flour and excessive sugar. These can also add to your stress levels both in the morning and during the day.
6. Use sound to calm your savage beast.
If and when you find that you need a bit more relaxation to avoid stress in the morning, try listening to some calming music or other sounds. This can come in many forms so it really depends on what you’re feeling, or how you want to feel as you start your day. It could be something low and melodic to feel relaxed as you start your day. Or it could something more upbeat to get you energized and ready to tackle your to-do list. There is no right or wrong answer here, as long as it helps reduce your stress.
The No-Stress Soundtrack
You can get strategic about this as well. One idea is to create a playlist the exact length of time that you want to spend decompressing in the morning. It could be 5 minutes or it could be the entire time you spend getting dressed and ready. Whether it’s 5 or 30 minutes, you can build multiple playlists that you can swap in and out to suit your mood.
This is one of the ways to reduce stress and anxiety because music helps stimulate brain waves—alerting your body it’s time to get up and get going without shocking your system. When the last song on the playlist fades away, this becomes a gentle reminder that it’s time to go forth with your day.
7. Train Your Mind
Avoiding or reducing stress and anxiety may mean challenging negative thinking, as well as training your mind towards optimism. An excellent activity for doing this in the morning is to write in a journal.
Morning journaling is not the same thing as journaling during the day or in the evening. One of the easiest stress reduction techniques with journaling is that – in the morning – you just write about 2-3 pages of just whatever is on your mind. This is normally called a stream of consciousness form of journaling. With this method, you don’t have to think about a specific topic. Instead you just want to get all those morning stresses and worries out of your head so you can clear your mind and focus on your day.
If you really want to be topic specific, then you can try making a daily gratitude journal. With this type of journaling, you jot down everything you’re grateful for. Another variation of this is to write down the things you’re looking forward to. This will help you focus on the positive as you start the day.
We’re talking about morning journaling here, but in reality doing Journaling in the evening is a great thing too. You could make it part of your evening routine (see number 1 above) that can help you ease into bedtime and get better sleep. And who doesn’t need that?
We’re all looking for ways to reduce stress and anxiety in our lives. And when you awake is one of the most important parts of the day, because it can be a barometer to how stressful the rest of your day will be. So following these simple tips can have a big impact on starting and moving forward through your day with less stress.
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