Do you aspire to feel calm and focused each day? What you do when you wake up and how you spend your morning will set you up for a good or bad day. Due to our body’s clocks and hormone production in the morning, the complexion of your day is influenced by the kind of morning you have.
Around 30 minutes before we wake up each day we experience what’s called a cortisol (stress hormone) awakening response. We see a rise and peak of cortisol production to help us get up and ready for the day. Some of us wake up and are activated, go, go, go whilst some people hit the snooze button on the alarm and wake up feeling tired and then click into stressed mode and rush to get out the door. The parents of young children may experience a child screaming first thing in the morning for who knows what reason and that definitely gets the stress response firing.
What we want to do is focus on a healthy level of cortisol production when we wake up in order to avoid excessive or inadequate levels of stress being perceived by the body. It’s like Goldilocks, only it’s not too little and not too much cortisol; we’re looking for the perfect amount. What we do in the morning has a significant impact on how our bodies react.
Rushing to get ourselves and, for some of us, our children out the door in the morning is a familiar narrative. We don’t have time to sit down and eat a proper breakfast before work, so we grab something quick on the road. Some people skip morning exercise while others battle rush-hour traffic to get to work. All of these factors stress the body and cause it to be more anxious. Coffee revs up our adrenals and nerves, causing us to enter fight or flight mode, as do quick sugar white bread toast and cereal breakfasts.
When we begin our day in a calm and serene manner, it helps us to be less reactive to stress throughout the day. Ideally, rather of having our cortisol levels spiking, we will wake up and anchor or level them out. We also want to keep our blood sugar levels stable in order to maintain a consistent stress response.
Here are our three top tips for how you can balance your morning cortisol response and have a calmer start to your day:
1. Be organised
To avoid rushing around in the morning, prepare for the next day the night before. Know what you need to do on your list, arrange your clothing, make school lunch boxes the night before, and have breakfast prepared ahead of time.
2. Meditate on rising.
In today’s fast-paced world, meditation has become practically a requirement. We have to deliberately set aside time to relax and empty our minds of ideas due to the pressure of our hectic lives and internal dialogues. Try waking an extra 20 minutes earlier to start the day with a mindfulness practice.
3. Eat a protein containing breakfast
Choosing a protein-rich breakfast like eggs, protein powder in a smoothie or porridge loaded with nuts and seeds, helps to lower cortisol levels and keep blood sugar levels stable.
Just following these three tips is enough to set you up for a calm and focused day. And remember, when you win the morning, you win the day!
If you struggle with managing your stress and mood, book an initial appointment with one of the Radius Health practitioners to explore hormone testing and treatment options that are unique to you.