5 Steps for a Stress-Free Morning
Do you find yourself struggling to “get it together” in the morning? Always find yourself rushing around, trying to get out of the door in time for work? Do you ever wish you were a happy riser? Check out these 5 tips for turning your mornings into something worthwhile.
Our brains lock onto patterns. The brain associates locations with activities and certain times of the day with specific behaviors. This can actually be helpful for us. The brain clocks our behaviors and then reacts accordingly, helping us prepare for that behavior or activity, such as bedtime, waking up, getting ready for work, etc. The brain knows that when you are brushing your teeth and getting into your PJ’s at night, this is the time to decompress and shut down. The brain knows when you are sitting down at that desk in the classroom, it is time to be alert and concentrated. So, if our brains are trying to help us in this way, let’s work with it and give it a healthy routine that will help us feel awake and refreshed in the morning rather than groggy and rushed.
A morning routine can help us set the tone for our day and can help us get in the right mindset to enjoy the journey of our day, no matter what it might bring. So many of us are trying to “just get through” the day, but what if we looked forward to our day?
What if we had even a small sense of excitement and gratitude at the very start of our day? How would that make a difference for the remainder of the day for you? Check out the tips below to help yourself get more into a morning routine that will help you greet the day with a sense of mindfulness, gratitude, and alertness.
1. Start the night before
- Having a healthy bedtime routine can help you get your mornings started on a great note. Take some time the night before to visualize your day tomorrow. What do you want to prioritize? What will help you feel even the slightest bit of accomplishment? Can you imagine yourself waking up and engaging in your healthy morning routine? How would you feel?
Visualization is powerful! Keeping a journal by your bed and taking some time to write out how you would like the following day to proceed can be a helpful way to do this.
2. Give yourself free time
- Not every person is an early riser, but if you can give yourself at least 30 minutes to an hour in the morning of free time, or time when you are not rushing, getting ready, or trying to get out of the door, it can give you a sense of peace and calm in the morning. How would you like to spend this time?
What would be most helpful for you? Some prefer to spend it reading quietly, praying, connecting with their spirituality, or meditating. Others prefer to spend that time leisurely enjoying their breakfast, listening to the birds’ morning song outside, stretching, or doing yoga. There are many activities we can do during this time, but what matters the most is how it impacts YOU and what gives you even a small sense of tranquility in the morning.
3. Be gentle with your body
- Just like it is not recommended to engage in screen time right before bed, this also applies to the morning. It can be quite harsh on our eyes and our minds to start scrolling through our phone first thing in the morning and can even cause headaches, unnecessary stress, or tension in the body….not the most preferable way to start our morning! If we can focus on being as gentle with our bodies as possible and listening to what our body needs in the morning, it will tell you what it needs to wake up.
Stretching in your bed or engaging in an awakening breathing practice before you get out, can be a great way to wake the body and the mind up. If we are giving ourselves enough time in the morning, we can continue to be gentle with our bodies as we take the morning at a more leisurely pace rather than rushing around and dragging our fatigued bodies along.
4. Wake up at around the same time every day
- Let’s be honest; the snooze button is our favorite! If hitting snooze is already a part of your routine, set it earlier and commit to waking up at roughly the same time every day. This, again, can be helpful for your mind to latch on to a routine and will tell your brain that it is time to start waking up and being alert.
5. Practice Gratitude
- While feeling grateful is an emotion, gratitude is also a skill we must practice if we want it to be more readily accessible in our lives. If you would like to progress towards being a more cheerful riser, gratitude is an excellent practice. This means that sometimes we must apply the “fake it til’ you make it” mindset. If we practice being grateful for what we have in our lives, the feelings will follow.
Keeping a journal by your bed or at the breakfast table can be useful to ensure you practice this every day. Commit to writing down 3 things you are grateful for that day and then see if you can expand your list as you go forward. You will find that it becomes more second-hand nature as you hone this skill. Practicing gratitude can be small such as: being grateful for the food you are eating, the bed you are in, or your pet, or it can be big such as being grateful for being alive, for having an able body, for your loved ones in your life, or for having a roof over your head. Challenge yourself to find something new every day!
Remember, small change leads to big change! What is one small thing you can do tonight or tomorrow morning to make small changes to your morning routine so that you may greet the day with more joy and gratitude?