Stop Morning Stress With These Healthy Habits

Start your day on a happier, more productive note by automating your a.m. routine.

Young woman raised arms morning wakeup

Medically reviewed in September 2021

Do you dread mornings? If the wake-up routine at your house resembles Black Friday, then it’s time to get a handle on it. The best news is that you can. No matter how crazy our mornings, we can all instill a little sanity—and create a positive feedback loop for the entire day. Try these tips to make mornings less madcap.

Smooth the transition 
It’s 5:59 a.m. and you’re asleep, your brain bathed in relaxing melatonin, lost in a dream about Idris Elba. Suddenly it’s 6 a.m. and OH NO! It’s an air raid! It’s your toddler! It’s an air raid of toddlers! Nope, it’s your blaring alarm clock, triggering the release of the stress hormone cortisol and escalating your heart rate and blood pressure.

Instead, try a calmer transition with a lighted alarm clock that slowly brightens until it’s time to wake up. Or, try an app that awakens you at your lightest sleep, within your set wake-up window or even with a less “alarming” alarm tone. Sadly, none of those bring back Idris.

Shrink the amount you have to think 
Make a morning routine that you and your family—with a little luck—use every day. The brain loves routines; they make mundane daily activities less stressful and free us to focus on more important things.

Put items you use every morning in the same spot. Make lists for children’s daily “must-do’s.” Prep lunch and gym bags the night before so they’re grab-and-go. The fewer spontaneous decisions you have to make to get out the door, the better.​

Get up 10 or 20 minutes early for a morning ritual 
This is one of the best ways to control the tone of your own day. Go for a quick walk or run. Do yoga. Take five minutes for some self-affirmations such as “When X (something concerning you that day) happens, I will be able to handle it with Y (a successful response).”

Stay out of smartphone response spiral
You get up. You check email on your phone, see five requests and spend the next 15 minutes responding. Now you’re both late and worried.

Try to avoid checking before you get to the office. If you must, respond only to “emergencies.” You’ll save yourself time in the morning and have a better response once you're fully awake and your brain is more alert.

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