Living Well With ADHD Logo

The Recipe for Less Stressful Starts

How I start the day can be a game changer for the rest of the day. The key is to start on the things that get me into movement and an upward trajectory. 

Anything that is passive and can be done from a prone position will spell doom. I can check emails or scroll my phone lying in bed; before I know it, time has slipped away. And something about laying in bed longer than necessary creates more friction, decreasing my motivation substantially. 

The Recipe for Less Stressful Starts

Here are a few rules I have accumulated over the years to prevent the vortex of inertia that tends to hijack my day. 

1. Don’t give my brain time to come up with excuses

This is the whole snooze button routine on the alarm that had to be eliminated. Face it, ten minutes was not enough time to get back into restful sleep I was just procrastinating getting up. But ten minutes was plenty of time for my brain to start coming up with reasons as to why I did not want to get up. And the negative, whiny chatter was not helpful for how I wanted to feel about the coming day. So I use Mel Robbin’s 5 Second Rule as my guide, count down like a NASA space engineer at liftoff, and roll out of the bed. Nature will take over the reins, and I am headed to the shower like a rocket. 

2. Have some tiny routines to get me rolling

Performing certain tiny routines in the morning that are productive and give me a sense of accomplishment start the day rolling. Things like making my bed, taking a lovely warm shower, and taking vitamins are easy and don’t require much mental ability to make happen. What they do have is me moving around and waking up. I am like a car on the entrance ramp gaining speed so as to merge into the faster traffic. Surprisingly, the making of the bed also had another benefit. I have less of a desire to get back into a made bed, whereas an unmade bed looks way too inviting. That could be just the way my brain works, but you might give it a try should you have an addiction to sliding back under that comfy blanket. By the way, a made bed makes my room look cleaner for some weird reason. 

3. Have a really good reason to get moving early

Since I am more accountable to commitments made to other people, I hired a trainer for an early morning workout. I did this because history has shown I pretend there is an afternoon workout in my day, which rarely happens. The why has a lot of similarities to getting up in the morning. My brain has plenty of time to formulate reasons why I don’t feel like an afternoon workout as the day progresses. I catch my workout early before the day takes over. 

4. Listen to music that is upbeat and energizing

Music is the power plant of my day. I even have playlists created around the energy needed, whether it’s a mood booster, focus time, energy infusion, or something calming. Music has a positive, immediate impact on my mental state. 

5. Get up at about the same time every day 

Our bodies work better with some defined routines, including a bedtime routine. Your body clock, or circadian rhythm, is the system that regulates your sleep-wake cycle. So, I am essentially programming my body for better sleep when my wakeup time is like clockwork. Consistency will help to anchor that body clock, and over time, my body will automatically know when to stop producing melatonin (a sleep hormone) and when to start releasing cortisol (a wake-up hormone). Once my wakeup time got synchronized, I noticed how easy it was to wake up at the usual time without needing the alarm. And it feels like I gradually wake up versus being jerked out of sleep. This feels more calming and natural, so the day feels less jarring. 

6. Get some morning sunlight

Bright morning light tells your body to suppress melatonin production and increase serotonin and cortisol production (which is good for you in healthy amounts). Serotonin is our “feel good” hormone, so exposure to morning sunlight is a great way to enhance your mood. And I would highly recommend taking advantage of watching the sunrise whenever possible. As my grandpa always told me, “Never underestimate the beauty of a sunrise and never expect to see the exact same one.” 

My recipe for a lower-stress life starts each day with these simple elements. I encourage you to think about some simple strategies to enjoy a healthier, happier start to your day and see what a difference a few tweaks can make towards a better outcome.

Katherine Jahnke

Katherine Jahnke

ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach, Owner/Founder