Believe it or not, there are ways you can start your week stress free. In all the work I have done in the wellness industry to date, the number one thing people tell me they wish they could do is decrease the level of stress in their life. Stress truly is a disease in our society and it can affect us profoundly. I am no exception. Despite having daily yoga and meditation practices, stress can still creep in. I am human after all.
One key lesson that yoga and meditation have taught me is that although there are external factors that can cause stress, we have the power to decide how we deal with those outside events. We can react to them and be the victim or, we can use resources to feel more at peace and take life’s little (and sometimes bigger) annoyances with a grain of salt.
I thought it would be fitting that on a Monday (a day that is tough for many people), I share some of the things I do to keep calm and not loose it. These are actually specific to the morning as the actions you take as you start your day, set your state of mind for the hours that follow. By adopting even just one of the tips listed below, you should see an improvement in your mood and how you deal with stress triggers. If you don’t, report back to me and we’ll see what we can do about that. ;)
The power of our thoughts
What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up? Yes, probably yawn and stretch but even before that those little wheels in your head have probably started turning and you are thinking of all that you need to get done today. Of course, this is normal and you shouldn’t get upset with yourself when this happens but keep a close eye on those thoughts and notice if they are positive, negative, full of worry or perhaps neutral.
Instead of focusing on worry thoughts or projecting yourself into the future (when you will get to work, that meeting on Wednesday, etc), enjoy the present moment if only for a minute or two. Appreciate the comfort of your bed, the good night of sleep you had, perhaps the presence of your better half next to you or your beloved pet sleeping at your feet. Cultivate gratitude for having a roof over your head, food in the fridge for breakfast, a nice hot shower. Starting your day by focusing on all the positive elements in your life will put you in a good mood and set the right tone for your day.
Watch what you feed your mind
This is closely related to the above point as it has to do with that noggin’ of yours. Your mind is like a sponge especially just as you wake up in the morning and right before you go to bed so be very careful what you expose it to. There seems to be a generalized habit to watch the news during these “vulnerable” moments of our day and it’s honestly one of the worst things you can do since what is presented is most often negative.
Instead, wait a good hour before turning on the TV in the a.m. and don’t let the news be the last thing you view before hitting the sack. Since I understand that we like to keep our brains entertained as we get ready, try tuning in to a positive morning show on the radio, read a page or two of your favourite book (my current bedside table read is Mastin Kipp’s Daily Love Growing Into Grace and it truly is food for my soul) or even put on an inspiring podcast (Gabrielle Bernstein, Jillian Michaels, Oprah) or video on You Tube (Wayne Dyer, Arianna Huffington, Marie Forleo, Mastin Kipp). Basically, feed your brain something GOOD that will guide you towards a positive mood.
Take time for breakfast
I know some of you skip breakfast and I’m not here to judge but starting the day on an empty stomach is really hard on your body. If eating solid foods first thing in the morning makes you feel nauseous, either try making breakfast the very last thing you do before leaving home or make yourself a smoothie which goes down easier on the tummy. Which brings me to my second tip…
Something as simple as treating yourself to a delicious healthy smoothie or fresh juice can have surprising relaxing effects. Because you are doing something good for yourself you are proud of your actions and it sets the tone for how you will treat your body the rest of the day.
Get in touch with nature (whatever way you can)
Sure, we would all love to live some place where we are surrounded with nature’s beauty as soon as we set foot outdoors but that’s not necessarily everyone’s reality. If you don’t have a park or green space that you can enjoy before work (or even on your way to the office), you can add some nature therapy indoors by including plants in your home environment.
If you already do have have plants, take the time to admire them. This might sound cheesy but when you sit down for breakfast, make it a point to “notice” one of your plants and be grateful for its presence. Appreciate its beauty and the clean oxygen it’s bringing into the room. If plants really aren’t your thing, even listening to sounds of nature like birds or a creek can help you relax and reconnect to your inner resource. And if you really don’t have time for any of this because you are rushing to get ready, try to load up on mother nature on the weekends or during the evening.
I’m really insisting on this one as it’s one of the most important stress reducers and that’s not just my personal opinion. As this Chatelaine article points out, research has proven the health benefits of spending time in nature. Elizabeth Nisbet, a researcher in the psychology department at Ottawa’s Carleton University explains: “People who can say they’re connected to nature report having more energy, feeling happier and enjoying a greater sense of purpose and meaning in their lives”.
Get that body moving!
I kept this one for last because I know that morning exercise can be seen like be torture. Getting up early to go to work can already be difficult but getting up to go run, do burpies or workout can be compared by some to trying to scale mount Everest as you have just climbed out of bed. I get it. I was once one of those people who could not rise before 10:00 a.m. on the weekends so hitting the gym before work was not even on my radar.
That was until I got a dog that I had to go walk for an hour each morning before heading to the office. My lovely Lab Maverick had so much energy that a simple 60 minute walk wasn’t enough to exhaust him so that’s when I started my morning runs. Believe or not, I eventually became a morning person and now even without a pup to wake me up at early dawn, I still get up around 6:30 am to go for a run. Craziness I know but if I did it, so can you.
A great thing about getting your exercise in first thing is that it’s done for the day. If you finish work late or decide to go have drinks with friends, you don’t have the guilt of having to skip your workout. Now, if doing intense cardio in the morning just seems too “agressive”, you can always get your body moving with a quick yoga routine. These 10 minute yoga flow videos are great to wake yourself up, stretch and put you in a relaxed state of mind.
One final note before I let you get on with your day. Just as we take our daily vitamins, we should take a daily dose of kindness towards ourselves and others of course. I mention towards ourselves because this is another issue that comes up a lot in the coaching sessions I do. We can be so hard on ourselves sometimes. It’s like we think we aren’t allowed to make mistakes but in fact, being human is all about making mistakes and learning. When I need to be reminded of this, I love this quote by Mastin Kipp of The Daily Love:
“Success is what happens after you’ve survived all of your mistakes. So the more mistakes you make, the more you are learning and if you are making mistakes it means you’re in the game, you’re trying, it means you’re putting yourself out there.”
As a perfectionist, it was such a relief when I started viewing life this way! I probably wouldn’t have launched this blog or my wellness business if I hadn’t adopted this philosophy.
If you have any questions about the tips I shared above, don’t hesitate to reach out to me either in the comment section below or directly by email at genevieve@redfairyproject. To dive deeper into the tools that can help you start your week stress free, continue reading below. Have a great week!