Leadership Blog

5 Secrets for Less Stressful Mornings From a Working Mom and CEO

Obviously, life doesn’t have a “refresh” button. However, you can still make sure that your tomorrow — and all your tomorrows after — start on a positive note. How? Here’s a hint: It has nothing to do with how many hours of rest you get. (Although I do recommend trying for the elusive eight hours as often as possible.)

No, the secret to mastering mornings is to hold tight to a routine.

What’s the big deal about being consistent? First and foremost, the structure helps you focus your attention on the right places from the get-go. Second, when you do something over and over, you become good at it. You can enjoy the freedom of being on autopilot, which allows your mind to ease into waking up instead of being jolted into action.

Of course, what “routine” means to you will differ from what it means to me. Nevertheless, I can give you a few hints about developing a personalized routine that will help you start your days off right.

To be fair, a morning routine won’t take away the stressors in life. Some mornings are just destined to be bananas. But starting your morning off with good intentions can help take the sting out of daybreak stressors, leaving you more ready for what the rest of the day will bring.

  1. Get your house in order before turning in for the night.

    I don’t mean this literally — you shouldn’t burn the midnight oil washing dishes or scrubbing the bathroom sink. Rather, I’m suggesting you plan out your next day. Jot down important tasks you want to finish and then prioritize them because you know something’s probably going to give. You’ll snooze easier knowing things are sorted for the following day.

  2. Resist checking emails first thing.

    Nothing can send you into chaos mode like groggily scrolling through emails. Even if you use your phone as an alarm clock, avoid looking at emails or text messages first thing in the morning. Set a time to do that later, either while you’re still at home or when you get to your desk. Better yet, if you’re an executive, hire an assistant to organize them for you so you don’t waste time scrolling through spam or clutter.

  3. Bake a little ‘me time’ into your morning.

    Stephen R. Covey writes about a term he calls “sharpening the saw.” He uses the illustrative phrase to describe the process of honing your skills by focusing on personal enhancement. After all, a woodcutter with a dull ax blade can’t work efficiently or productively. If your “blade” (i.e., your talents) aren’t whetted, too, you’ll falter. Consequently, spend a few minutes every morning doing something for your brain — think reading, journaling, or practicing an instrument.

  4. Engage in physical activity.

    I can hear you now: “Alison! You expect me to jog every morning? I can’t do that.” No problem. You don’t have to leave your living room to be active. A simple morning routine of deep breathing and some yoga poses can activate your brain and body. Additionally, you’ll have time to engage in some thoughtful reflection while you’re exercising. (This isn’t to suggest you shouldn’t go outside for a jog, walk, or bike ride if you’re so inclined. It’s up to you to choose your athletic adventures!)

  5. Extend your morning routine to the workplace.

    Some of us have gone back to the office. Others have set up at-home workstations. Either way, pay attention to routines after you clock in. As an example, I like to touch base with employees first thing when I get to work. This allows me to connect with my colleagues and drive meaningful conversations. Even if you’re separated from co-workers by distance, a quick email, text, or ping saying, “Good morning!” can set your day off in a positive direction.

    To be fair... a morning routine won’t take away the stressors in life. Some mornings are just destined to be bananas. But starting your morning off with good intentions can help take the sting out of daybreak stressors, leaving you more ready for what the rest of the day will bring.

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