Don’t panic! The morning rush doesn’t have to be stressful
What were you doing at 8.13am this morning? Feeling pretty stressed, if the latest research is anything to go by. It’s the time of the morning when our stress levels are at their peak, according to a study by Nissan Micra Elle into the ‘Great British Rush’ and the stats throw back the duvet and reveal the truth on morning stress.
The study revealed that our number one pressure every day is remembering what we have to take with us and that 50 per cent of us report morning ‘blunders’ like leaving the house without our phones. While 54 per cent of us have lost our keys in the morning rush. Try looking in the fridge, your bed and the bin – strange places that keys are regularly found. Then there’s the journey to work, commuters also find cars stressful, nearly half of us wish they’d clear themselves of our clutter, park themselves or let us in without insisting on actual keys.
So why are the mornings such a pressure keg? Well in my house it’s all about deadlines. You’ve been awake 30 seconds and already you’ve got somewhere to be – whether that’s getting to work or dropping the kids to school. The clock is ticking. You’re still in your jim-jams.
You’ve got very little room for error at this stage, and yet errors are abound, around 42 per cent of parents, for example, say that getting the kids ready for school is the most stressful part of their morning. I must mention that to my kids – three-year-old Dylan and five-year-old Daisy. We have this exact conversation 365 days of the year: “Yes, you need to have breakfast. Yes, you need to get dressed. Yes, you do need to wear shoes.” Why all this is quite such a surprise to them every 24 hours is anyone’s guess.
But the good news is that stress isn’t inevitable. In fact there are tools all around you that you can use right now to help you manage your stress and skip off to your first appointment feeling very zen-like. This is the ‘Ruby Slippers Protocol’. You don’t need to travel to the Emerald City and seek out a mysterious gentleman in a long dress to find out the secret of how to get back to stress-free Kansas. Just as Dorothy discovered, the answers are already at your feet – you just need to understand how to click your heels together and access a stress-free way of life.
Of course it may be too late for today – 8.13am may already have come and gone. But in case you want tomorrow to be a little better, here’s how to do it:
1. Go to bed at a reasonable time tonight. Earlier than you did last night. Make sure you don’t have any light sources in your room. If your brain registers light, it thinks it’s not really night-time and won’t let you have the deepest and most relaxing type of sleep that your body craves. Also, leave your mobile phone outside to avoid its electromagnetic waves that interfere with your brain’s sleep patterns.
2. Wake up and breathe. Sit for 10 minutes with your eyes shut, back straight, feet on the floor and palms up on your knees. Breathe in through your nose. Feel the breath filling your abdomen. Concentrate on the breath in… and out… After 10 minutes of this you’ll feel fantastic. Get step by step guidance on this at www.stress.org.uk with the free ‘10 minute holiday’ mp3 download.
3. Eat a slow-release breakfast. Porridge is good, as are bananas. Avoid sugary snacks – they lead your blood sugar levels on rollercoaster highs and lows that will leave you tired.
4. Use technology to tackle your personal stress points. Forgot your USB stick? Store work in applications like Dropbox which you can access remotely wherever you are in the world on any device. Clip recipes, web pages, phone numbers into a cloud-based memory bank like Evernote – all taggable and searchable for easy retrieval. Don’t like getting wet? Check your smart phone’s weather app to see if you have to take a brolly today.
5. Exercise. To shift stress, you’ve got to get moving. It’s a highly effective way to bust the stress hormones like cortisol out of your system. Exercise will also release your happy hormones – endorphins – that improve your sense of wellbeing. Even regular brisk walks will help.
Good luck for tomorrow 8.13am. Leave me a comment below at 8.14am to tell me how it went…
Andrea Sangster is a director at the Stress Management Society, the UK’s foremost advice agency on stress management at home and work. For more information visit www.stress.org.ukTagged in: coping with stress, health, stress, wellbeing
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