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Now, before you panic, this isn’t a follow on from our last post about New Year’s resolutions... We’re not going to advocate a 5 mile run followed by a bracing cold shower and finished off with carrot sticks for breakfast (!). That’s unless you want to, of course!?! 
 
So what are we going to talk about? 
 
Well, in fact, almost the opposite. A gentler start to the day. One which sees you leaving home feeling calm, relaxed and ready for the day; rather than frazzled and, probably, bad tempered too. 
 
 
Like much of what happens in our daily lives, most of our morning routine takes place on autopilot, without any conscious thought on our behalf. It’s the way we‘ve always done it. And, probably, how our parents / rest of the family / friends do it too. 
 
The question we’d like to pose today is whether this approach still works for you? 
 
Might there be another – less stressful – way to start the day? 
 
Let’s take a quick look at the all too common way of starting the day. With an alarm clock. Followed by the snooze button. And the “Oh my ……………………………….. – fill in the blanks – is that the time already?” 
 
Then there’s the dash round the house to get showered and dressed for the day ahead. And, finally, grabbing some breakfast as you dash out of the door. Or, perhaps, making a pit stop on the way to work for a sugary snack and expresso. Maybe even worse, a cigarette and can of red bull. 
 
By the time you arrive at work is it any wonder that you’re completely hyper, bad tempered and want to go back to bed? 
 
Now how about a gentler start to the day? 
 
But, before we do that, let’s go back to the night before and make sure you get a decent night’s sleep first. And we’re not going to talk about all the usual things. Making sure you have some wind down time. Giving the caffeine and alcohol a miss before you go to bed. Etc. Etc.  
 
Instead, we’re going to mention a very simple thing a lot of people have forgotten about. And here it is: 
 
Make sure your bedroom is quiet and dark 
 
A pitch black bedroom is essential for good quality sleep. Darkness helps to set the body rhythms and body clock – particularly hormones – which all affect how well we function in our day to day lives. 
 
Set your alarm clock earlier 
 
We know it seems radical and, possibly counter intuitive, but how about giving yourself at least an hour between getting up and leaving the house? And then setting your alarm clock a few minutes earlier than this, giving yourself time to gently wake up before getting out of bed. 
 
Staying in bed until the last possible minute doesn’t give your body any more rest. In fact it’s likely to make you feel groggier, as well as throwing your body clock off schedule. Waking up at the same time of day is the simplest way to feel much more alert first thing, regardless of whether you’re a lark or an owl. 
 
Even better, after a few days you’ll find that your own body clock sets itself for this regular time. You’ll wake up naturally a few minutes beforehand, without any need for an alarm clock, feeling alert and rested. 
 
If you’re not a lark – or suffer from the “winter blues” – you may want to consider replacing your alarm clock with a SAD light / alarm clock. Rather than the alarm clock going off without warning; the SAD light gradually lights up over a few minutes, so simulating a natural dawn. This slowly wakes you up and by the time the alarm goes off you’re awake and alert. A much gentler way to start the day. 
 
Pace yourself 
 
When you do get up, pace yourself. Rushing round like a headless chicken really doesn’t get things done any quicker or set you up for a good day. Take your time. And stop clock watching. You’ll find things get done much more easily and faster. Trust us, it works. 
 
Spend a few minutes doing something you enjoy – and going back to bed doesn’t count (!) – to help set you up for the day. Have a potter. Read a book. Get some fresh air. Meditate or cloud watch. Think of it as helping to top your batteries up before you leave home. 
 
Make time for breakfast 
 
Skipping breakfast is like starting the day with an empty tank. Is it any wonder that so many people reach for the biscuit tin as soon as they get to work? Breakfast really doesn’t need to be complicated or take long to prepare. Muesli, porridge, a smoothie or boiled egg. 
 
And don’t forget to hydrate yourself with a glass of warm water – with lemon if you want – to help replace the water you lost overnight. Your first cup of caffeine will taste so much better and will help stop you getting into the day long caffeine cycle. 
 
And when you arrive at work / college / somewhere else (!) 
 
Don’t dive straight into e mails / phone calls / etc. Give yourself a few minutes to catch up with friends and colleagues. Get yourself a hot drink, not forgetting some water too! 
 
And when you get to your desk, spend a few minutes organising your day – as far as you ever can (!) – before you get started. Ten minutes of organisation first thing can save you a huge amount of time later, as well as reducing stress levels significantly. 
 
Doesn’t this sound like a simpler and less stressful way to start the day? 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
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