Do you rush in the morning and already feel stressed before you’re even out the door?
Research indicates an early morning increase in stress can continue all the way into the afternoon or early evening. Yikes! Wouldn’t it be better to institute a calm morning routine?
Here are 3 steps you can take to outsmart morning stress and feel calmer all day.
1. Get up 10 - 30 minutes earlier.
Your body needs transition time from a sleep state to a waking state. Cortisol - the stress-related hormone - naturally rises in the morning to help you wake up, but you don’t want to kick it into high-gear - meaning stress mode - first thing. If you jump right out of bed and start rushing around, you could easily do just that.
If you find it difficult to wake up earlier, try giving yourself just an extra 10 minutes at first. If you can manage it, an extra 30 minutes will allow time for a nourishing activity like journaling, stretching, meditating, or deep breathing. Or, you can just go about your morning routine at a slower, more peaceful pace.
2. Let morning news, phone messages, and social media wait.
Any one of these activities can spike your stress level if you happen to witness distressing stories or receive a disturbing message or call for action.
Don’t grab for your phone as you roll out of bed or turn on the news first thing. Give your body and brain a chance to wake up first. Then give yourself some time to get centered before exposing yourself to the affairs of the day. If you can wait an hour or two before engaging in digital reality, all the better.
Remember digital engagement can be addictive for some of us. So don’t expect yourself to go cold turkey. Just take it one step and one day at a time.
3. Cut back on caffeine.
If over-consumed, caffeine can amplify stress by increasing the levels of cortisol and adrenaline in your body and suppressing a natural relaxation chemical.
According to a study reported in Science Daily:
People who drink four or five cups of coffee throughout the morning have slightly elevated blood pressure and higher levels of stress hormones all day and into the evening, creating a scenario in which the body acts like it is continually under stress, according to a group of Duke University Medical Center scientists.
On the other hand, the folks at Bullet Proof Coffee say:
...studies suggest that cortisol release from caffeine is mild if you drink it daily. For most of us, that little bump shouldn’t be a problem."
That's because most people build up a tolerance to caffeine when its taken regularly, presumably in reasonable doses.
So coffee lovers, you don't have to give up coffee entirely. Just avoid overdosing yourself with an infusion of too much coffee in the morning. And, as always, you know yourself best. If even one cup of coffee gives you the jitters, you know what to do.
If you need to reduce your coffee intake, be sure to taper off slowly to avoid negative side effects. And don't forget that caffeine is also present in black tea, some sodas, energy drinks like Red Bull and to a lesser extent in green tea and chocolate.
Develop these positive habits - one at a time - so you can feel a sense of equanimity in the morning that provides a calm and clear foundation for your entire day.
My e-course, Living with Ease, The Mindful Way to Less Stress, offers a complete roadmap for dissolving stress and preventing it from overwhelming you again. The course combines mindfulness, self-inquiry, and supportive stress reduction techniques to help you give stress the boot. Check out the course details here.
Thank you for reading! I appreciate your presence. Have you signed up for my monthly note – Wild Arisings – yet? Learn more and join here – you’ll get access to free resources in the Always Well Within Library too. May you be well, happy, and safe – always. With love, Sandra