6 Morning Habits That Reduce Stress

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Mornings are always a chance for a fresh start, but sometimes everything can go haywire within an hour of waking up. However, to best prevent ourselves from starting our day on the wrong foot, we can practice various morning habits that can help reduce stress. Whether you want to carve out 10 minutes before the chaos of your day begins or you have a long and vigorous day ahead of you, starting your morning off on the right foot can make all the difference of how it progresses.

A study published in the Academy of Management Journal found that when employees began their day in a good mood, they rated feeling more positively throughout the day, both about themselves and others.

"When we enter a day with ritual that enlivens us, strengthens us, or positively impacts our health we give ourselves the best chance of having a day that is sustaining," says Maria Sirois, PsyD, a clinical psychologist at the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health over email. "The morning can set the flow for the day, certainly, and also serve as a touchstone for renewal. Should the previous evening have gone badly, we can use the following morning as a recommitment to our wellbeing."

If you want to start your day off calm and relaxed, try adopting these six morning habits that can help you reduce stress.

1. Meditate

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"[Meditation] not only reduces physiological stress, but it increases optimism, self-esteem, a sense of inner control, and the ability to innovate,' says Sirois. Studies show that meditation decreases anxiety as well as improves cognitive abilities, making it a great choice to kickstart your day.

2. Express Gratitude

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Acknowledging what you are thankful for can not only help you better cope with your daily problems, but it can help you more easily form new relationships and improve your physical health. "Gratitude practice [can be] either what I am looking forward to, or what I am grateful for in this moment," says Sirois.

3. Exercise

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Waking up early for a workout can do more than just your body good. As little as a ten minute walk can help release endorphins and quickly elevate your mood. Exercise can also help your brain cope with stress and lower your chances of anxiety and depression over the next five years, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

4. Write In A Journal

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"Two minutes of mindful journaling clarifies the mind, increases optimism, can help shift perspective toward the good, increases agency, and in some cases ameliorates trauma," says Sirois. A study in the journal Behavioral Therapy found that college students who wrote in a journal for six months alleviated their depressive symptoms and showed improved mood.

5. Practice Yoga

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According to Harvard Health, practicing yoga helps modulate the stress the stress response systems, decreasing physical arousal. "Placing oneself in poses that are inspiring and strengthening can elevate competency and calm and induce mental states that optimize energy and optimism," says Sirois.

6. Focus On Your "Signature Strength"

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Instead of fixating on what worries you about the day, focus on one of your personal strengths, such as creativity, honesty, compassion, etc. Studies show that people who use their strengths more are happier, experience less stress, have more energy, and increase confidence along with the ability to improve.

These habits can help everyone across the board, but if you have a morning activity that works for you, you should make an effort to include it in your daily routine.

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