If you typically worry or plan tomorrow while lying in bed at night, taking care of some things before you hit the sack can help you reduce stress naturally and lead to faster sleep.
Here are 10 ideas you experiment with to have a calmer evening, a more restful night, and smoother, stress-free morning.
Note: Try just one of these ideas and see how they affect your stress level. Said another way: I’m NOT suggesting you do them all!
In the bedroom . . .
- Pick out your morning clothes —whether you’re dressing up for the office, complete with shoes, a bag, jewelry, jacket or simply laying out your workout ensemble, this is one less decision to make in the morning!
- Stop using screens at least an hour before bed. Have a paper and pen on your nightstand in case you have thoughts your mind is trying to hold on to or to do’s you’ve forgotten until your brain settled a bit. If you don’t write them down, your mind might stay busy, and that doesn’t help you get to sleep. You can always digitize the thoughts later, when you choose to look at a screen.
Reduce stress naturally: in the kitchen . . .
- Decide what you’re going to have for breakfast, based on what’s in the fridge and how long your food needs to sustain you. For example: if I know I’m going to be out and about, I’ll make a high-protein breakfast. You may set out something that reminds you what you planned on eating, like a pan or a plate (often helpful before your brain gets working!).
- Prep the coffee maker: set the timer so that when you’re ready for that first cup it will already be available. I doubt there’s anything as fabulous as the smell of fresh coffee made — without any effort —for you in the morning!
- If you know you’re going to be running around or busy right up until lunch, have something available to eat (without a lot of cooking fuss) when you get home, or a plan to eat a healthy lunch out. This can mean there’s a plate of leftovers from dinner in the fridge with your name on it. Or possibly a lunch date at a restaurant with a friend. You can use this type of plan for dinner too.
In the office . . .
- Calculate how much time you need in the morning. For me everything is about a half hour: my yoga practice is 30 minutes, getting ready takes 30 minutes, breakfast is 30 minutes. Personally, I make a little extra “me time” so I add 15–30 minutes. I set my alarm to wake me exactly at the time I need to; then I don’t have to second guess (or do math about) whether I can snooze and still do what I wanted.
- If you’re leaving the house for work, ensure your bag is as packed as it can be and place it near the door. Check the weather so you have an umbrella or sunglasses handy too.
- When taking public transportation, locate any fobs or cards you might need; if you’re driving, find your keys. If you have to drive take a bus or train to a new place, know exactly where you have to be, and how you will get there. Use Google maps, check bus apps / routes. View being early as an opportunity: pack a book or plan to listen to a podcast.
- Make sure there is space in your day’s schedule. I find I do best in two hour blocks, and then I need to switch tasks. It might be computer work vs. movement, social vs. alone time, whatever. But I get cranky and less fun to be around if I fail to follow this advice!
Reduce stress naturally: wherever!
- Straighten up whatever area you’re going to encounter first thing in the morning. Maybe that means the kitchen sink is clean and free of dishes. If your desk is neat and tidy when you set out to work, don’t be agitated by clutter. (This is especially useful if you work from home.)
I certainly don’t ALWAYS do these things. But the busier I know my day is going to be, the more likely I am to do some of them the night before. Why? Because even if I do just one, I leave my house or set out to work feeling more calm, more centered, and more ready to face whatever happens (that I haven’t prepared for)! And, I can stop my mind from worrying about tomorrow when I should be getting some much needed rest.