Do you feel like you’ve stepped onto a roller coaster as soon as your morning alarm goes off? Are your days akin to whirlwinds, spinning you into a dervish fueled by stress? Create small yet mindful rituals throughout the course of the day and you can learn to lower stress levels all day long.
1. Wake Up: Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than usual. and avoid the stressful morning rush in favor of a round of stretching, meditation, reading or reflection. Name ten things you are grateful for every morning to help keep perspective on your life.
Eat breakfast or you are just setting yourself up for a grouchy morning. Enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and try to include fresh fruits and vegetables with your morning meal. Chronic breakfast skippers may want to have mobile food items on hand that can be tossed in a bag such as granola bars, hard-boiled eggs or fruit.
2. Get to Work: Whether you drive or take public transportation to get to work, plan on listening to a playlist of relaxing music or an audio book to deliver you there with a calm head. The longer your commute, the more it can negatively affect your health, so be proactive about the time you spend on the road, and reduce stress in positive ways.
Before hitting the stack of messages in your inbox, take a few moments (30 seconds is all you need) to calm your mind and decide your intention for the day. Do you want to get a lot of work done, stay relaxed, clock out early or keep a smile on your face all day long? Clarify your top intention for the day and write it down on a note if that helps. Now, you are ready to work.
Wrangle your email by answering messages only at select times of the day; for example, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Having to constantly recognize and respond to incoming messages (many of which are inconsequential) can set you up for stress.
3. Lunch: Eat lunch! Crazy idea, huh? Whether you brown-bagged it (smart girl!) or are planning on eating out, step away from your desk, go outdoors, find a peaceful environment and nourish your body. Take time out of your day to treat yourself well with real food, and you’ll return to your desk much more inspired and invigorated than if you had stayed.
Squeeze in some exercise on your real lunch break for a two-for-one health boost. Even if you are just walking to the restaurant three blocks away, you’re doing something. Stroll around the block, take time for some stretching or hit the gym if you have enough time.
4. Afternoon: As energy levels dip in the afternoon, be ready to fight fatigue with a healthy snack like roasted almonds, baked pita chips with hummus or apple slices with walnut butter.
Volunteer for any errands or outside missions at your office and venture outdoors as often as possible. Even if you are just running to the bank, imagine yourself on a mission, drive a new route and try to have a new experience to wake up your brain.
5. Evening: Stretch! You’ve been sitting all day. Reach up to the sky, turn your head side to side and stretch your arms wide to open up your back. Walk around your office as often as possible and keep your body limber.
Hit up happy hour! A healthy social life can reduce stress in amazing ways. Blow off some steam and chat with your friends – just don’t overdo it with the alcohol.
6. Night: Once you’re at home, institute a time to turn things off and follow it. At least one hour before bedtime, turn off your TV, your tablet and your laptop; turn the sound down on your phone and create a peaceful environment in which to end your relaxing day. Make sure your bedroom is as dark as possible, and get in bed at a normal time.