Waking up on the wrong side of the bed is an expression for a reason. Sometimes, it feels like nothing is going right from the second the sun comes up.
If this ever happens, don’t worry — you’re probably not morphing into a perma-grouch. You might just be a little stressed out, and that’s okay! But when you start the day already feeling overwhelmed, you’ll probably be stuck in a bit of a rut until the sun goes back down.
The good thing is that stress happens to everyone, so there’s tons of ways to combat it. Let’s take a look at some great ways to start your day on a high note and keep it there until your head hits the pillow.
Why is Stress Harmful?
The knot in your chest. The buzzing in your brain. The pitter patter of your heart. We know what stress feels like, and it’s not very fun. While stress every now and again is completely normal, and even beneficial, it’s not something you want to make a habit of feeling.
Your body’s autonomic nervous system is an unconscious control system that regulates heart-rate, digestion, respiratory rate, and much more. This is what triggers your fight or flight response when you feel stressed.
The fight or flight response is an innate reaction to stressful stimuli in which your body prepares to flee from danger or fight the danger head-on. Since it increases your heart rate and extra oxygen is sent to the brain, you’ll be more focused and alert. While this is great if you start getting chased by a bear, it’s not ideal when you’re just feeling a bit overwhelmed.
When stress becomes consistent over long periods of time, it might become chronic. Persistent surges in hormones and blood pressure during the stress response can cause damage to blood vessels, irritability and anxiety, lead to weight gain, and much more.
What Causes Stress?
Stress varies from person to person, and some people might be more prone to feeling stress than others. However, there are a number of stressors that are fairly universal throughout the American population. Identifying the causes of your own stress is essential for being able to remedy the problem.
In a survey by the American Psychological Association it was found that money is the most common stressor among Americans, with 76% of respondents saying that finances caused them stress. Following closely behind were work, the economy, family responsibilities, and relationships.
There’s lots to be stressed about, no doubt. But feelings of stress and anxiety aren’t going to make these stressors disappear.
Starting your day in a positive headspace will give you the charisma to tackle the toughest obstacles that life throws in your path.
Waking Up Without Feeling Down
Sometimes, getting a good night’s sleep can hit the reset button, letting us naturally release whatever’s been keeping us overwhelmed. But more often than not, feelings of worry will persist until resolved. And if stressors go unaddressed, they might become the first thing you think about when you open your eyes.
This will start your day off on the wrong note. It can make you feel on-edge, irritable, or anxious all day long. Here are some ways to start your day off by putting your best foot forward.
Address Your Stress
There’s no reason to be ashamed if you feel worried about an upcoming assignment or a rocky relationship with a friend. When you feel stressed, it means you care about the quality of whatever you’re working towards. It shows that you care, and that’s pretty cool!
Of course, you can care without feeling like the world is crumbling around you. This is why it’s important to acknowledge your stress right when you feel it so that you can counter it right away.
If you start to perspire because that due date is coming up fast, take a moment to allow yourself to feel the stress. Recognize what’s causing it, and know that your feeling is valid.
Then, it’s time to start using a stress reduction technique to get those feelings out of your head.
Here are a few things to try:
- Deep Breathing: During the stress response, your breathing becomes quicker and shortened. You can manually help to reset your body by taking long, deep, and gentle breaths. Keep doing this until you feel your heart rate even out and you’re back into a peaceful headspace.
- Physical Activity: Getting your blood pumping in a healthy way can be a great tactic for blowing some steam. Even something as simple as a walk around the block can alleviate stress. Yoga is a popular relaxation technique because it combines physical activity with deep breathing exercises. It’s the best of both worlds!
- Visualization: Close your eyes, sit in a comfy chair, and envision a calm, tranquil scene. Perhaps it’s the beach, a forest, or a mountaintop. Regardless, let yourself be in this happy zone for as long as you need. Then, you’ll be ready to get back into the real world.
Cutting out stress right when it occurs is key, because it won’t allow the feeling to become persistent or chronic. If you can alleviate your stressors before ever going to bed, then there’s no way you’ll wake up with anxious thoughts in mind!
Practice Attitude of Gratitude
Having an attitude of gratitude means you look at everything you do have rather than everything you don’t. It’s seeing the glass as half full and reminding yourself that life is awesome! This is a great way to eliminate feelings of stress.
While you can practice this all day long, it’s great to start right when you open your eyes. Give yourself a compliment, congratulate yourself for something you did the day before, or remind yourself of the amazing people in your life.
Just tell yourself something that will give you a reason to smile.
When you start your day by telling yourself you matter, or giving yourself a pat on the back for finishing those to-do tasks yesterday, you’re setting positivity as the foundation for the rest of the day. Since you started off so strong, you’ll be inclined to keep yourself there the rest of the day.
Consider Alternative Alarms
The blaring horns of the iPhone alarm aren’t going to get you smiling when the sun comes up. Being awoken so violently with traditional alarm systems can be stressful, and it might put you in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
Consider setting your alarm to play your favorite song so the first thing you hear in the morning is a pumped-up jam to get the blood flowing and the brain feeling energized.
Alternatively, you can try getting a smart light bulb that can be scheduled to turn on at specific times of day. Waking up from light is natural, as it emulates the sun. So it won’t feel as abrupt as the traditional alarm system.
Better yet, if your schedule allows, ditch the alarm as a whole! Let yourself sleep for as long as your body needs. When you wake up naturally, that’s your body’s way of telling you it’s time to start the day.
Spend Time With Yourself
Remember that work is one of the biggest stressors for Americans. When work consumes your life, it’ll naturally cause a bit of stress. And when the first thing you do in the morning is roll over and check some work emails, you’re starting the day with a stressful activity.
Try waking up at least an hour before you’d normally need to leave for work. Make yourself a hot cup of coffee and nice breakfast. Read the paper, your favorite book, or scroll through your phone before you have to get ready for the day.
Starting the day with calm and tranquil thoughts will set you on a positive path for the rest of the day ahead. Enjoying this time might even help to alleviate any leftover stress that stuck with you overnight.
Stress isn’t the best, but it happens to everyone. Money, work, relationships, and personal health are all huge stressors that follow us around every corner. And chronic stress can lead to physiological problems down the road.
But when you start the day off on a good note, you’ll reap the benefits right away. By confronting stress as it arises, ditching traditional alarm techniques, or giving yourself time to relax before work, you’ll never have any stress to even begin with!
Remember that feeling stress is okay, and there’s nothing wrong with being overwhelmed every now and again. Just don’t let it consume who you are as a person, because you’re awesome the way you are!
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