We’re all looking for ways to avoid stress. While stress at any time of day is bad for you, stress in the morning is awful. Your body is just waking from sleep (hopefully) and you’re beginning to focus on what you need to do for the day ahead. Stress in the morning can elevate your blood pressure, raise your heart rate, increase your breathing and sweating and put you in a bad mood.
There are lots of things we do unconsciously that contribute to stress in the morning. Here are ten things to avoid in order to start your day stress-free (or close to it):
Do not run to the bus, train or any form of public transportation. Ask yourself: What is the worse thing that will happen if I miss this train/bus/car? In most cases, the shocking impact of running, at top speed, while wearing work clothes, carrying bags and maybe even coffee, is so shocking to the system you’ll feel sick all day. Ask yourself: “If I don’t put my health first, who will? “
Don’t cut off anyone in traffic, curse them out for cutting you off or get all worked up while driving. While these are good things to avoid regardless of time of day, they can be especially stressful in the morning. Ask yourself: “I don’t even know this person. Why am I letting them upset me?”
Don’t pick a fight. I was running today and ran past a contractor’s truck. He was standing outside the truck, with a face as red as a brick, screaming at someone about not showing up for work. This was at 7:30 AM. Think twice about escalating something to red alert level before mid-day, and even then, think twice. Conflict is rarely solved through yelling.
Stay away from local and national news. In May of this year, I made the intentional switch from watching local news and a morning show to not watching anything on television as I was getting ready to start my day. I noticed it made a dramatic difference in the way I felt as I was getting ready. I was less stressed, took more deep breaths, had more time to calmly move around and I left the house feeling happier and more connected to my body. I got most of my news via online sources, which eliminate all the screaming and yelling. Much less stress!
Eat a sugary breakfast. While that crème filled donut looks great or that extra large coffee drink with whipped cream sounds like a wonderful pick-me-up, you’ll only suffer the consequences about an hour after you’re done. The sugar crash you’ll experience will leave you cranky and hungry. Pick something that has a little carbohydrate and protein instead. You’ll stay full longer and avoiding that sugar high and then crash will keep your mood steady.
Have that “big” conversation. Just as it doesn’t make sense to pick a fight with someone early on, neither does an attempt to have a deep conversation about relationships, intimacy or anything other emotionally heavy topic. Save those talks for later on when people have had a chance to wake up.
Wait in that long line for coffee. I know; you love (insert name here of favorite coffee stop). But if you’re in a rush, or you tend to get aggravated easily, one of the best ways to raise your blood pressure is to stand in line, waiting for (insert name of favorite morning drink here). Think about making a drink at home or just forgo it. When you walk in and see the line, think: “Who needs that stress?” and walk away. You’ll feel better for it.
Hitting the snooze. One of the worst times in the day to create stress is before you even get out of bed. Once your alarm goes off, face it; those last 10 or 15 minutes between the snooze and the alarm is hardly quality sleep. Save yourself the stress of being late or possibly oversleeping and get up with the first bell.
Checking email while still in bed or just before. One of the challenges of today’s workplace is the constant access to email. Set a time after which you will not check email. By the same token, set a start time and refrain from checking before. Try not to check mail while still in bed, upon waking in the morning. Take time for you. If you don’t, who will?
Text/Call and Drive. You may think you’re being efficient but you’re putting your life at risk if you text and you’re driving distracted if you are on the phone and driving. Further, time in the car can be used for planning, deep breathing, meditation, listening to peaceful music, learning a new language via CD or any other of a million things where you’d get some value from your drive.
Face it; we only have one life to live. We also only have a certain amount of energy to put towards each day. If you spend your day giving your energy away to others, you’ll be left feeling depleted, exhausted and resentful. Stress is an energy depleting feeling; feeling centered is a way to preserve your energy and decrease stress. How do you want to use your most valuable resource?