From The Straits Times    |
tips for a stress-free morning THUMBNAIL

tips for a stress-free morning DECOR
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It’s all too tempting to hit the snooze button when your alarm goes off. But studies have shown that stealing an extra 10 or 15 minutes of sleep can mess up your entire day. Drockling, an old-fashioned term that refers to dipping in and out of sleep, can make you feel groggy and fuzzy-headed, long after you’ve actually gotten out of bed. The reason: this bad habit confuses your brain, so when it comes time to really wake up, your brain will think that you want to go back to sleep and remain in a sleepy state. You can stop the madness by setting your alarm at an appropriate time so that you get enough sleep (not 7am if you know that you can stretch it to 7:30am). And, when your alarm sounds, turn it off immediately and get out of bed. 

If you always wake up feeling anxious about work or telling yourself that you don’t know how you’re going to put up with another 24 hours of this, you’re only setting yourself up for a lousy day ahead. We’re not saying that you should always wake up with a big smile on your face, but if you just swapped those early-morning negative thoughts for more positive ones, you will definitely feel more upbeat. So instead of swearing at your alarm clock when it goes off, open your eyes and give yourself a mini pep talk. Remind yourself that you’re going to have an awesome day no matter what you have to deal with. After a while, these positive thoughts will come naturally to you and you’ll begin to notice a difference in your daily outlook.

This is hard to resist first thing in morning, when you’re dying to know everything that happened in the world while you were asleep. But for your own benefit, you have to exert a little self-control. You know that late-night screen time can disrupt your sleep, but your early-morning gadget habit can leave you scrambling to get ready for work and distract you from important AM tasks. Think about how much screen time you get in the mornings: 10 minutes on your smartphone when you wake up, and another 10 to 15 minutes on your tablet during breakfast, perhaps? You could spend that extra time sleeping or getting a workout in! Save the screen time for that long train journey to work.

Waking up to a dirty house and unwashed laundry can really put a damper on your day. The mess isn’t only gross to look at; it can also stress you out when you realise that you have no more clean cups, plates or undies to wear. You’ll have a more pleasant and productive morning if you take care of all these chores the night before.

Eating breakfast is said to rev up your metabolism, give you energy, and improve your concentration and alertness, at least until lunchtime. But instead of grabbing something unhealthy like greasy fried noodles or sugary pastries on your way to work, set aside time to have a nutritious breakfast at home. Cereal with milk, yogurt with fruit, toast with cheese and tomato slices, hardboiled eggs and protein smoothies are all wonderful, tasty and filling options. If you can’t stomach the thought of eating first thing in the morning (because we’re not all breakfast people), at least have a glass of milk or sugar-free juice before leaving the house.

If you always start your day with a yoga class or a jog around the neighbourhood, you should be proud of yourself. Exercising first thing in the morning doesn’t just wake up your body, it also leaves you feeling energised and boosts your mood and metabolism. Not a morning-exercise kind of person? No problem. You don’t have to run around the block to enjoy the same benefits. Wake up 15 minutes earlier and spend that time doing a few simple stretches, lifting hand weights, and doing strengthening exercises like squats, planks, lunges and shoulder dips. You’ll kick off your day feeling a little stronger, and definitely heaps more vibrant and refreshed.

Do you spend precious minutes trying on everything in your closet before deciding what to wear? Or do you sometimes bring out an outfit that you want to wear, only to realise after you’ve left the house that it’s crinkly or stained? For drama-free weekday mornings, it’s a good idea to select your outfit, shoes and accessories the night before. Make sure everything is clean and that your outfit is pressed, so you can get dressed without thinking too much about it. If you want to be super-organised, set aside some time every Sunday to prepare your work outfits for the rest of the week. It’ll make getting dressed in the mornings a breeze and your outfits will look like you put some thought into them.

How many times have you rushed out of the house in the morning with one bag, only to discover that you left your EZ-Link card and wallet in another? If this is a regular occurrence for you, you will save heaps of time and stress by putting your stuff together the night before. It won’t take more than a few minutes, and if you wake up in the morning in a hurry, you can just grab your bag and go, without worrying that you may have left something important behind.

A messy and disorganised desk can set you up for a stressful day, especially if you’re someone who has a lot of files and paperwork to go through. (If you were called for an urgent meeting during which you had to pull out your files, it certainly helps to know where everything is!). Before leaving the office the day before, tidy up your desk a little – wash your coffee mug and put it away, organise your files and paperwork, put your stationery back in their holders, and give the table-top a quick clean. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.

It’s always good to start the morning knowing what your day is going to look like. You’ll feel more in control of your time and get more done. This is where setting up a daily schedule or To-do list comes in handy. Write out everything you plan to achieve during the day – not just work tasks but personal stuff too – and the time that you plan to do it. And then check each item off as you get it done. At the end of the day you’ll feel so accomplished!

Want some more tips to stop stress? Read our stories 5 easy ways to handle stress at work; 6 foods that can reduce your stress and 5 amazing ways to help you de-stress after work for good!