Tulane Lakeside Hospital - December 26, 2016

This year, resolve to decrease your morning stress, manage time and create a positive mindset for the day! If mornings at your house resemble small-scale natural disasters, then it’s time to get a handle on it. The good 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 help your day start right:

Smooth the transition. It’s 5:59 a.m. and you’re asleep, your brain is bathed in relaxing melatonin, lost in a dream. Suddenly it’s 6 a.m. and AAA! It’s an air raid! It’s your toddler! It’s an air raid of toddlers! Or maybe it’s just your blaring alarm clock. Either way, it’s triggering cortisol to be released and shooting up your heart rate and blood pressure. Try a calmer transition with a lighted wake-up clock (that slowly brightens until it’s time to wake up), an app that awakens you during your lightest sleep based on your preset wake-up window or even a less “alarming” alarm tone.

Decrease 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 everyone’s daily “must-do” tasks. 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 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/run. Do yoga. Take five minutes for some self-affirmations such as saying to yourself, “When [something concerning you that day] happens, I will be able to handle it with [a successful response].”

Stay out of the cell-phone 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 your phone before you get to the office. If you must, respond only to “emergencies.” You’ll save yourself time in the morning and be able to craft a better response later anyway, once your brain is awake.