Evaluating your employees. Leading meetings. Connecting with clients. As soon as your alarm clock goes off, your mind starts to race. And, while a leadership role can certainly cause you to sweat, it shouldn’t start as soon as you wake up!
In fact, there are several steps you can take to ensure your days always get off to a stress-free start. We can’t promise that your entire 24 hours will be smooth sailing, but your waking ones can be if you follow these seven tips.
That way, the next time you say, “Good morning” to your team, you’ll really mean it!
Don’t Press Snooze: In the moment, it feels great to go back to sleep for five or 10 more minutes. Once you get up, though, you’re sure to realize that your choice to catch a few more Z’s was a mistake. That’s because you’ll be trying to fit everything you need to do pre-work into less time and, needless to say, rushing isn’t quite ideal when trying to cultivate a stress-free vibe.
Grab a Glass of Water: For many, the first beverage that comes to mind in the morning is coffee. And, while your daily Joe is certainly vital to getting you going, a glass of water works wonders in ways that you may not feel as instantly as a caffeinated beverage.
The link between dehydration and stress exists: Being just a half-liter dehydrated can cause a boost in cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Of course, drinking water as soon as you wake up won’t erase any stressors that arise, but it will take an additional stressor out of the equation.
Don’t Check Your Email: If your alarm clock is attached to your phone, it’s so easy to make a virtual check-in the first thing you do in the morning. This is one of the best ways to kick-start your anxiety, though, as your freshly awakened brain will be forced to process everything that’s waiting for you at work.
It gets even worse if it also has to wrap itself around the overnight headlines, the Facebook posts you missed, the Tweets you slept through, etc. If you must check it before you reach your desk, give yourself a good amount of time to get your body and brain going first.
Time Your Routine — And Give Your Alarm Some Wiggle Room: We already told you not to press snooze, but it’s also important that the alarm you set gives you enough time to get through your entire AM routine. In order to make it happen, time yourself over a few mornings to see roughly how long it takes. Then, consider your commute and the average time of your routine.
Rather than setting your alarm for exactly the amount of time you’ll need, give yourself 10 to 30 minutes of wiggle room, depending on how extensive your routine is. That way, if something goes awry, you’ve got time — and zero stress.
Make a Few Shortcuts: Many before you have attempted to shorten their morning routines, with varying degrees of success. The trick is looking at everything with a critical lens and deciding if you can do any of it later, delegate it, shorten it or completely eliminate it from the routine.
As far as shortcuts go, there are plenty when it comes to getting ready in the morning, so borrow from others or come up with your own!
Enjoy the Extra Time: Whether you see a long line of cars, hear a cacophony of honks or feel yourself rocking back and forth as you brake with traffic, the first signs of a slow commute can cause your stress levels to spike. In fact, if you drive to work, it probably comes as no surprise that it’s the most stressful way to commute. In order to lessen these feelings when you’re behind the wheel, we suggest you start enjoying yourself in the process.
How should you do it? There are many answers to this question. If you drive, you could download an audiobook or podcast you’ve been meaning to read or listen to, but haven’t been able to fit into your schedule. That way, you’re entertained and engaged throughout the process.
The same goes for bus and train commuters who might feel stressed out by packed cars or, of course, traffic: Focus on the fact that you have time to do something you enjoy pre-work, and the minutes will fly by in the happiest way possible.
Start With a Spark: Your workday should begin much like your morning did. Don’t dilly-dally or press “snooze,” if you will, on what you need to tackle during the workday. Instead, enter your office each morning with a focus on productivity, and blow your first hour of work completely out of the water. With this precedent set, the rest of your day will fall into line, and you’ll be way more likely to be productive throughout than to procrastinate until 5 pm rolls around.
Need further inspiration? Think of it this way: If you know in your head that you’re completely crushing it day in and day out, you’ll probably notice your stress levels fizzling out over time. And, if you head into work knowing that your to-do list is no match for you, then your entire morning will be brighter: Waking up, getting ready, commuting and everything in between will feel a lot less stressful, too.
Aaah. We like the sound of that.