Three Simple Ways to Start your Day Stress Free

Ok, the truth is I haven’t met too many people that are stress free ALL the time. Actually some stress can be good for you, but the chronic stress many of us feel daily can be harmful. Here are three ways to get your day started that can reduce your chronic stress.

1. Choose your perspective

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” ― Abraham Lincoln

When we are stressed we often find ourselves concentrating on what is not going right. Sometimes this can help us identify problems and come up with solutions, but often times, we simply end up getting stuck by focusing on the negative. This approach only manages to keep us stressed.

There are many things in life that we feel like we have no control over, hence the adage “it is what it is”. Yet the most powerful choice we can make each day is to have a positive outlook. The simple truth is that we get to choose every day from which perspective we want to look at our life.

Each day when you wake up you have a choice of how your day is going to feel. One option would be to wake up thinking negatively, expecting the worst and only looking forward to getting back into bed that coming night. This outlook sets you up for a stressful, miserable day. However, you do have the power to change that initial thought to something more positive. For instance, a simple statement can alter your perspective:

“This is going to be the best day of my life. Even if things are hard I will somehow figure out how to move through it smoothly.”

Research shows that however you choose to see your day from the start will shape the way you continue to look at your day throughout, much like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Armed with this knowledge, why not choose a more positive outlook.

Most importantly, this exercise is not about believing that this day will be the best of your life. It is about being open to having the best day of your life rather than convinced it will be terrible.

Does thinking that your day isn’t going to go well reduce any of your anxiety or overwhelm?  Sometimes we just need to allow some good to happen. Choosing a positive perspective doesn’t mean you won’t be challenged. It will however, help you navigate those challenges in a more positive and self-empowered way allowing you to turn stress into motivation.

It all starts with choice. Seeing things from a more positive perspective is a learned skill, the more you practice it, the better you’ll get.

2. Show some gratitude for what is going well

“An attitude of gratitude brings great things.” ― Yogi Bhajan

What are you already grateful for in your life? Taking the time to notice the things you are grateful for helps to change your perspective and reduce your anxiety. You would be amazed by the way gratitude enhances our lives. On an emotional level, gratitude creates more good feelings, gives you happier memories, and makes you more relaxed, more resilient, and less envious. Amit Amin wrote a great article about the 31 Benefits of Gratitude on his blog, Happier Human (http://happierhuman.com/benefits-of-gratitude), which further demonstrates this point.

Tools for showing gratitude are unique for everyone. Some ideas that have worked for many of my clients, as well as myself, include:

  • Starting a gratitude journal
  • Looking at images or videos that inspire a feeling of gratitude
  • A simple internet search when you are already on your computer each morning can give you a fresh start and a new perspective
  • Have a picture that reminds you of something you are grateful for taped to your mirror
  • A quick glimpse that takes a second or two to feel that gratitude in your body

3. Eat a protein rich breakfast

I used to roll my eyes at my own mother when she would talk about having a good breakfast. The simple fact, however, is that your body can’t run efficiently when you don’t provide it with the fuel it needs. Having a high protein breakfast helps your brain and body work optimally, allowing you to better solve problems and manage your emotions.

I can speak from personal experience how different my days are when I eat a high protein breakfast and when I don’t. When I don’t it is much harder to self-regulate my emotions and think clearly.

What if you don’t have enough time to make or eat breakfast? A little prior planning does the trick. Choose things you like to eat and prepare ahead of time so you can have it precooked or easily accessible when you need it. We tell our kids to pack their book bags the night before so they don’t forget their work, and we prepack for vacations, it’s the same concept. Breakfast should be a priority and it doesn’t have to be a hassle. One technique I use is to do a lot of cooking on the weekends so I don’t have to worry about it during the week.

These three easy things you can do to help you start your day with a better handle on your stress. Give these a try a week and let me know how it goes! Good luck.

Renee McClure