Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

How to Outsmart Morning Stress & Feel More Ease All Day Long

A spike in morning stress can last till the late afternoon!

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

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19 Comments

  1. Betsy

    I always love reading these little articles. This week, I’ll cut back from 2 cups of coffee in the morning to one and see how I feel. Very gradually, I’d like to eliminate the coffee and switch to green tea as my morning drink.

    • Thanks, Betsy! I’m glad it helps and you have a practical plan for reducing your caffeine. Always lovely to hear from you.

  2. When I do get up earlier, the morning is much more peaceful! Which means I need to go to bed earlier! 🙂 Working on it and having some success!
    I don’t drink coffee (drops my blood sugar and I am hungry all day) but I am thinking about saving the tea for lunch or mid-afternoon slump—–same problem with tea as with coffee, just not as strong, but I can feel it.
    I do get the computer going while I am waiting for whatever is cooking to cook and that gets me started for the day. When I don’t have time for that, I have more time for everything else. But I really enjoy the people on FB and my groups. But I do think I should consider limiting it!
    Thanks for a very helpful reminder of things I already knew but have not really been serious about.

    • So many good insights, Jean! Good luck with bringing these to fruition. Yes, it’s interesting about Facebook. There’s so much goodness here too and it can be hard to balance it with time for myself. Thanks for sharing your challenges and insights.

  3. I am always very thankful that I just walk into my front room in my bathrobe to start my work day, on my own schedule. I don’t feel much morning stress, but I do very often seem to say to myself “How in the heck did it get to be 10:00 already?”

    I’m going to try waking up a earlier this week. I need to anyway because the times for the yoga classes I like changed. It’s going to shake up my whole schedule. Not a bad thing!

    • Isn’t that marvelous, Debbie! It does have the potential to cut out a lot of stress – no morning commute, yeah. When I sleep later, I also have that feeling around 10:00 am, but I’m okay with that. I want to get up earlier too but since I’ve been sick with a cold, I’m allowing myself extra rest.

      Have fun shaking up our schedule!

  4. Thanks Sandra – I agree so much with number 2 – I do morning pages every morning after my shower, and I don’t turn my wifi on until it’s done. I’ve also found getting an app that wakes up up in the lightest part of your sleep cycle, such as ‘Sleep Cycle’ very useful for supporting with #1.

    • I love your joyful discipline for doing Morning Pages, Ellen. I’ve always heard that it’s such a rewarding practice. What a great idea to use a Sleep Cycle app. Since I don’t use a phone, I rarely think of these things but it would probably work on my I-Pad. Thanks for this idea.

  5. Thanks for this Sandra…it sounds like a wonderful course.

    I have my first cup of tea of the day, and sit and write in my contemplation journal and do fulfilled desires of the day with my husband before doing anything else.

    I’m a bit like Debbie. Don’t have to leave the house first thing most days and can get to 10am and wonder what the heck happened since 6.30?

    • What a lovely morning routine, Elle! Thanks for sharing that with us. It feels very cozy. Time can go by quickly, doesn’t it.

  6. That extra time in the mornings makes all the difference! These are 3 important adjustments. It’s interesting how our society is so reliant on caffeine to feel awake… For me a little goes a long way.

  7. I’ve stopped coffee all together and now enjoy a cup of green tea in the morning and I do find that it helps with my stress. I also like your ideas in #2. Easing into the morning, technology free always helps me feel less stressed. Your course sounds wonderful. Thanks Sandra!

    • What a great inspiration to hear that you’ve switched to green tea, Cathy! You’re showing us it’s possible. Thank you. I think the technology free morning is a big one.

  8. Hi, Sandra

    I believe step #1 can help the night owls to reduce their morning stresses. I feel luck now I am working at home.

    All these TV news, e-mails, SM, Text messages are all intruders of our morning routine. Sometimes, the messages cause us to be upset or stressful that our whole days are ruined.

    I believe mild intake of coffee is not totally bad (it is proved scientifically to help people relax a little be). In a personal level, a good cup of coffee can really put the person in positive mood for that day.

    Enjoy this post, Sandra!

    Stella Chiu

    • Stella,

      This is just so true: “All these TV news, e-mails, SM, Text messages are all intruders of our morning routine. Sometimes, the messages cause us to be upset or stressful that our whole days are ruined.”

      You’re right, there can be some benefits to coffee in small amounts. Thanks for mentioning that.

      I’m glad you liked the post.

  9. Hi Sandra:

    Short and spicy post!

    Our mornings can become stressful real fast when having to get the kids ready for school. It’s getting the kids dressed, breakfast, and all the last minutes prep before heading for the door.

    I started waking them up 10 minutes earlier and it’s helped. So your 30 minute suggestion is gold as it confirms what I’ve been thinking all along.

    When we are all less stressed, we all do better throughout the day. That is in school or at work for us as adults.

    Thanks,

    • Oh yes, Kevin, it’s a whole different ball game with kids, isn’t it. I’m glad waking up earlier is helping. It’s amazing how even 10 minutes can make a difference. I’m sure this is true for everyone, that when we’re less stressed we do better all around. Thanks for sharing your family perspective. That’s important.

  10. Hi Sandra! Great post. As a night owl, I sometimes struggle finding motivation to get up earlier than I really need, and it even makes me more stressed out. I do stay away from social media and news until I get to work. That’s also where I drink my morning coffee, while I have a glass of water in the morning at home. Also, my psychologist thought me that deep breaths in bed in the morning help you feel less anxious about the day.

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