Does your morning routine leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed and anxious? Follow these 7 science-backed tips to hack your way to a happier day.
We all have a lot to be stressed about right now. Whether it’s return-anxiety, trying to work at home with your partner or struggling to juggle kids/pets/work/a social life/all of the above, it’s safe to say that our collective cortisol levels are peaking.
But when you start and end the day on a high-alert, your health takes a hit, and that’s what makes cultivating a calming morning routine so important. Once you’ve tailored your morning activities to your star sign, try these seven other tips for a stress-free day.
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1. Prep the night before
If you’re sick of splitting your mornings between deciding what to wear, what to eat and looking under your couch for your keys, put in some work the night before. Productivity experts recommend laying out your clothes before you go to bed, and prepping overnight breakfasts (like overnight oats or chia pudding) is an easy way to carve out more time for your mornings. As well as prepping all the material things you’ll need for the day ahead, spend 10 to 15 minutes writing out tomorrow’s to-do list or jotting down anything that’s bothering you. This is called a “mental dump” and can help stop you from overthinking, which in turn helps you score a better night’s snooze.
2. Sleep on your right side
A study by Turkish researchers found that people who sleep on their left side experience more nightmares, while people who sleep on their right side have more positive dreams about happiness, joy, excitement, hope and peace. They also have better sleep quality, so if you’re looking to start your day off on the right foot, try sleeping on your right side tonight.
3.Wake up with flowers
Feel all kinds of ‘blah’ in the morning? Place some fresh blooms on your bedside table or kitchen counter. According to research from Harvard University and the University of Michigan, people who see flowers during their morning routine report feeling less anxious. “What I find interesting is that by starting the day in a more positive mood, you are likely to transfer those happier feelings to others – it’s what is called mood contagion,” says lead researcher Nancy Etcoff. “And, the kitchen is the place where families tend to gather in the morning – imagine how big a difference a better morning mood can make.”
4. Soak up the sun
Whether it’s on your morning walk or as you eat breakfast by a window, be sure to score some sunlight shortly after you wake up. Exposure to morning light can help stop production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which helps you feel more alert, and studies show those morning rays can also increase your ability to handle anxiety-provoking situations throughout the day.
5. Get a move on
It could be the aforementioned morning walk, a quickie yoga sesh or simply stretching in bed, but whatever you do – be sure to move. Your cortisol levels (aka, stress levels) are higher just after you wake up, which means if you don’t take some time to burn off the excess energy, you could spend the rest of the day feeling out of sorts. Not only is movement great for getting your endorphins flowing, it’s a great way to spark your metabolism and lower your blood pressure, too.
6. Delay your caffeine fix
Remember how your cortisol levels are higher in the morning? Reach for your cup of coffee as soon as you wake up and not only will you desensitise yourself to its effects, you’ll also wind up more jittery and agitated. Instead, time your coffee for when your cortisol levels begin to drop – say around 9:30am if you wake up after 6 – and you’ll feel alert but not antsy.
7. Schedule some ‘selfish time’
If you’re still working from home, you can take advantage of your lack of commute by creating a full-blown wellness routine. Even if you are back on the clock, though, waking up 15 minutes earlier, or finding a spare 15 minutes in the morning by prepping the night before, can lay the foundation for a perfect, calmer day. Try your hand at meditation, take a warm shower with essential oils like lavender or mandarin or read a chapter of your current book.