For many women, your day starts running from the morning your alarm goes off.
Kids, breakfast, showers… Maybe you throw in some exercise and a few emails…
By the time you get to work, get the kids to school or start your official day, the few morning hours feel like a week.
But when you start your day in a frenzy, you set up your nervous system to be on overdrive. You train yourself to see daily activities as fires to put out. Your energy may hit a wall by mid-morning because you deplete your night’s rest so quickly.
Mornings are important.
You need to take time to refresh your body, set your intention for the day and begin a daily pace that is life-affirming, not life-draining.
This is not news. You are probably nodding in agreement. But when it comes to adding one more thing to your morning routine, it seems like more work and more craziness. You may imagine setting your alarm clock even earlier just to fit in “me-time.” Eventually you decide that stress relief activities add stress.
How do you find time to ground yourself without taxing yourself?
Take 10 Minutes for Stress Relief
10 minutes doesn’t seem like a lot.
In fact, most people would think that 10 minutes couldn’t relieve your stress at all.
But 10 minutes can make lot of difference.
In just 10 minutes, you can ground and center yourself. You can relax the places you chronically hold tension. You can set your day’s intention. You can remember to be present even if you are busy. With regular practice, you may find that taking 10 minutes to refresh yourself in the morning makes you more efficient the rest of the day. And you can feed your soul so you have the reserves to care for the people you love.
I recommend starting a 10 minute morning stress relief routine because finding 10 minutes is not impossible. With just this small time commitment, you’ll receive a lot of benefit.
To make the best of your 10 minutes, you need some ground rules.
- A “routine” is something that is done routinely. The trick to your stress relief routine is that you do it every day until it becomes a habit. In the beginning, you will have to discipline yourself. It’s good money that you’ll find many reasons to skip it “just this once.” If you can push past the temptation to skip your morning routine, you will find it getting easier and easier. You will do it automatically without thinking. Eventually, you’ll feel strange if you don’t do it.
- If you are short on time, use a timer. If you don’t have to worry that you’ll run late, you can relax and be present.
- Be present for the full 10 minutes. If you have thoughts or worries about your day, let your concerns go unattended. If you are worried you’ll forget something, have a notebook nearby and quickly jot down a reminder and then go back to your routine. Relax knowing that you won’t forget something important.
- If you have a partner, spouse, friend or relative to help you with the kids, pets, coffee making or other morning demands, take advantage of it. Negotiate to get 10 minutes uninterrupted. Let them take over. If they want time as well, you can take turns.
10 Minute Morning Stress Relief Activities
Pick one activity from this list and do it every morning for 2 weeks. Observe how it makes you feel and if your days feel less stressful.
Journal. Use stream-of-consciousness journaling and write for 10 minutes. Keep your hand moving and don’t worry about spelling, punctuation or grammar. Let your thoughts roll out unedited, in any order and on any topic. You may observe yourself processing your concerns or setting your intention for the day.
Stretch. Move your body. Use a stretching routine from your gym, personal trainer or yoga class. Sun salutations are a good way to start the day and give you a full body workout.
Meditate. Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Feel the support of the chair or floor beneath you. Check in with your body and notice where you are holding tension. Observe the tension and gently allow your breath to surround it. With compassionate curiosity, watch if your tension releases. There is no goal of relaxing—only an invitation to relax.
Massage Yourself. Give yourself a massage to get your blood flowing. Start at your feet and massage your feet, calves and thighs. Give each hand and arm a gentle massage. Massage your belly and torso, reaching as much of your back as possible. Give your shoulders, neck and scalp a good rub. Finish with your face. Aim to get your blood and lymph system flowing, your muscles relaxed but awake.
Breathe. Sit comfortably in a chair or on the floor. Gently focus your attention on your exhalation. Allow your exhalation to complete fully. There’s no need to force, extend or control the exhalation; simply allow yourself to release the air in your lungs naturally. Once you feel comfortable exhaling, release your tummy and allow your inhalation to gently fill your belly and chest. If you notice that you are controlling the breath, relax. Allow your torso to expand naturally as your breath enters your lungs.
Walk. Take a walk around the block. Notice the smell of the air, the quality of the light and the sounds of the morning. Feel the ground beneath your feet.
Sing. Turn on some music and sing with it. Enjoy the harmonies and feel the vibration of your voice. Let the music flow into your body.
By practicing morning stress relief activities, even if they are just 10 minutes a day, you’ll reset your nervous system to a calm, composed mode—rest and digest instead of fight or flight. You’ll face the day’s activities with efficiency but not franticness. And if your day brings a challenge, you’ll have the tools to face it with composure.