Recently, it’s been all too easy to just roll out of bed five minutes before the working-from-home day begins and, before you know it, you’re at your desk without having had a minute to yourself. It’s crucial to create as much time in the morning for yourself, to set you up for a day without stress, as this can cause both mental and physical damage to the body.
Kiran Bhondi, Founder of wellness-focused start-up www.OsenaLondon.com, has listed ten small changes we can all make to our morning routine that will help to reduce the physical effects of stress.
A sunrise alarm clock will change your life
No more heart rate spikes listening to the god-awful phone alarm, but rather being naturally awoken with light, like a sunrise. Light significantly influences our cortisol levels, which should follow a circadian rhythm – peaking in the morning and decreasing over the course of the day. Stress can cause irregular cortisol spikes and deplete its production, making it even more important to make sure our wake up is as subtle and natural as possible.
Start the day off with some lemon water
Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning not only helps to spike your energy levels, but also helps to improve nutrition absorption throughout the day, meaning energy from your food will be released steadily and naturally. Drink it first thing and wait half an hour before eating. If you’re really not a morning person, leave some lemon water on your bedside table to have when you wake up (only if it remains cold though – nobody likes warm lemon water).
Squeeze a little bit of exercise in (especially outdoors)
It can be hard to find motivation to get outside in the morning, particularly if the weather is miserable. However, many studies have in fact proven that proximity to green space has been associated with lower levels of stress. If you’re not one for running, just a walk will do; perhaps listen to a feel-good podcast along the way or enjoy the sounds of nature, even if it’s with an umbrella.
No screen time, just you time
As tempting as it is to catch up on any notifications you missed overnight (probably not actually that many), it’s important you reduce screen time wherever possible, otherwise you’ll find yourself at the hands of demands from other people, which can be really stressful when you’ve not had some you time.
Take a minute to appreciate what you have
We humans are terrible at noticing and appreciating what we have and instead look ahead to what we want, which can be an unconscious yet stressful underlying activity for the brain. Some people like to journal three things they’re thankful for, others just like to simply sit and think about what makes them grateful. It’s whatever works for you and, most importantly, what will stick in your routine.
Clean your space
Cluttered space can have a negative effect on our stress and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to focus, our eating choices, and even our sleep – not a great way to start the day eh? Have a quick tidy-up of your desk and be sure to make your bed; that way you have reset for the day ahead and it makes it easier when it comes to bedtime too.
Get breakfast right
Get your breakfast prepared in order to ensure that firstly, you’re not skipping it and secondly, you’re not rushing around and making yourself stressed in the process. Overnight oats are great, as these can be prepped the night before, taking the hassle and stress away from your morning.
Start your day the night before
Such as making your breakfast or laying out your clothes, planning the night before means that you remove some of the decision-making from the next day, which can help to reduce feelings of stress when you wake up. By making your morning routine as simple as possible, you’ll actually be more likely to stick to it as well.
Meditation can help you to relax and stay grounded
If you’re new to meditation, simply start small with a session of two or three minutes, increasing this week by week if you feel ready to. There are apps that can guide you if necessary, otherwise it’s simply a case of sitting in silence or listening to music and finding some peace and a break from your thoughts.
If you’re still left stressed after a morning routine
If you still find you’re stressed after solidifying your morning routine, perhaps look at other areas of your life. Don’t be afraid to try some natural remedies that can help to calm the physical effects of stress; if you find that you’re still suffering, seek medical advice.
There’s a lot in this list, but that doesn’t mean you have to do every single one to make sure your morning routine is perfect, as this is different for everyone. Even if you just take one thing from this list, make sure you stick to it. Consistency is key to solidifying a routine and seeing a difference in yourself.