Monday, 19 August 2019

The surprising truth about getting out of bed on the wrong side

Have you ever wondered why we say feeling grumpy or out of sorts can be the result of ‘getting out of the wrong side of the bed’? A study has shown that it may be based in fact, although it’s less to do with which actual side of the bed you’re on, and more about your state of mind when you get up in the morning.
The more stress you’re anticipating over the day the more difficult your day is likely to be, even if the stressful event you were anticipating doesn’t happen.

Jinshil Hyun, a researcher at Pennsylvania State University, asked 240 people to use their smartphones to fill out stress surveys and complete working memory exercises seven times a day over a two-week period. Those who were the most stressed in the morning had the most difficulty learning and remembering information in the afternoon. Hyun suggested this is because their ‘working memory’ is affected.

Martin Sliwinski, also at Pennsylvania State University says that ‘A reduced working memory can make you more likely to make a mistake at work or maybe less able to focus’. All of which, of course, adds to your likelihood of having a 'bad day'.
 
So, if you want to make the most of every day, you need to start it with a positive attitude. Here are our tips for doing just that.

 
How to Reduce Morning Stress

Since mornings can be a busy time, you need to plan ahead and make some preparations in advance.
  1. Wake up just a few minutes earlier. Giving yourself a short time to enjoy a quiet space, meditate, exercise, or even having a drink in the garden on a warm day can help you feel calm and relaxed before everyone else gets up. And setting off for work just a few minutes earlier can sometimes make a big difference to traffic, so you arrive at work less frazzled.
     
  2. Prepare as much as you can the night before. Things like packing lunch, or sorting out your clothes, be done in advance and will save time in the mornings.
     
  3. Use affirmations. These work because repeated thoughts make reinforced neural pathways in our brain, so it's better to repeat positive thoughts than negative ones. Design a phrase that you find energizing or soothing. ‘I stay calm while chaos goes on around me’ is a good one for those with multiple demands on them in the mornings!
     
  4. Don’t rush to check your social media. Facing a flood of messages or news can be overwhelming. Leave it till later in the day when there are not so many demands on your attention.
     
  5. Have breakfast. According to the ‘Cognitive Effects of Eating Breakfast study’ carried out at the Sussex Innovation Centre, for the majority of us eating in the morning reduces stress, increases your concentration and cognitive abilities, improves problem-solving and hand-eye coordination, and reduces mistakes.  Slow energy release foods like eggs, nuts, or fruit, have the most positive effects.
     
  6. Have a non-caffeinated drink when you get up. Caffeine can increase anxiety, so wait a couple of hours before pouring your first cup of coffee or tea.
     
  7. Plan your day. Set priorities and work on the most urgent and important tasks first. Check out our blog on time management if you’re not sure how to do this. [HERE]
     
If, despite your preparations you still feel you have a difficult day ahead, you can use strategies to help you worry less:
  • Avoid dwelling on the negatives. Yes, this is sometimes easier said than done but it can stop the anticipation of an event being worse than the real thing. If you have a difficult meeting coming up, prepare as much in advance as you can. On the way there listen to some calming music so you arrive feeling calm and focussed.
     
  • Have something to look forward to. Plan something positive for the end of a challenging day; a meal out, a movie night, or spending quality time with the kids.
     
  • Look for another point of view. Our view of an event affects the way we feel about it. Take bungee jumping – some people’s ideal way to spend an afternoon, other people’s worst nightmare. There are often some positives in a situation if you look carefully enough, even if it’s just ‘by tonight that will be over with’.
     
  • Share your feelings with a friend. It’s not weak to ask for help if you need it, it’s sensible. You can support them when they have a ‘bad day’.
     

And finally, remember, if you feel you have more 'bad' days than good ones, you may be suffering from stress, anxiety or depression. See a medical professional, or consider enlisting the help of a stress management coach or therapist. 


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Author: is a professional stress management coach, specialising in working with individuals and smaller employers to minimise stress and maximise feeling in control. Debbie is the author of Their Worlds, Your Words and has co-written the Hypnotherapy Handbook both of which are available from Amazon.
Find out more about Debbie's services on www.yorkshirestressmanagement.com  or phone 01977 678593


References:
https://news.psu.edu/story/526774/2018/07/03/research/expecting-stressful-day-may-lower-cognitive-abilities-throughout
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2113120/Breakfast-makes-brainy-Morning-meal-reduces-stress-spurs-mental-physical-performance.html

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