During the day there are many times that you might be gripped by emotions, often without noticing it.
Rushing to the car, anxious about being late and frustrated with traffic
Irritated with a computer that doesn’t start soon enough, rejected when colleagues are not friendly or guilty about being
When the morning is so stressful, you might feel exhausted and overwhelmed before we start, let alone perform high-demand duties.
Here are 7 ways you can reduce your morning overwhelm.
1. Better morning routine
In recent years, an explosion of suggestions focused on making the most of our mornings. In fact, one author has made 10+ books about something he calls Miracle Morning – a routine to follow to prepare you for the day. The routine is called S.A.V.E.R.S. and includes practicing Silence first thing (whether through prayer or meditation), making Affirmations about the day second, Visualising your day third, followed by Exercise to get your blood flowing, Reading to be more inspired, and Scribing to process your thoughts.
While you don’t have to go through all of them, there is nothing like a good acronym to help remember the key steps.
2. Remove emotional triggers
While mastering your emotions will require working through them, you should not underestimate the power of avoiding the highly emotional triggers in the first place. If you can remove the trigger that you know hurts you without undermining your life, do it!
I personally am not a big fan of crowds – I get easily overstimulated to the point of feeling sick. When I have to go to Melbourne’s CBD for work, I simply choose to leave early to avoid the crowds, get my seat, prepare my audiobook, etc. This eliminates most of the feeling of discomfort and unease.
If you have a choice, think of triggers in your morning to eliminate or avoid.
3. Prepare: change perception about emotional trigger
In the trailer of Kominsky method on Netflix one of the key characters meet interesting women in a funeral and in the car after the event says ‘what a great funeral’!
What a great example of perception power over a situation. I can’t imagine being in a funeral that I would call great, but for an older person whose social life depends on how many funerals he attends, the funeral where he meets women is a great one indeed.
See if you can think of the upcoming trigger during your day in this context – is there any chance this could be framed as more pleasant? Maybe anxiety related to seeing your judgmental family member over Christmas could become your ‘emotional management project’. Or maybe the presentation you are dreading could become as the exciting event to show off your skills.
4. Prepare: visualize the upcoming emotional trigger
Some things cannot or should not be avoided nor they will become pleasant, so the next best thing is to be prepared. By visualizing the event and anticipating what will give you the most trouble, you will reduce emotional intensity surrounding it. Recently, I went to a conference and the crowds, the anxiety related to meeting new people, the noise were so overwhelming that I had to leave early. The next day, however, I could visualise the day, think and plan for the most stressful parts and my responses and I had a great time.
5. Learn a breathing technique
Honestly, there is nothing like a good old breathing exercise to help you calm down.
One of the best things about breathing is that you can use it at the moment and during the event of overwhelm, not just after like with many of the emotion management tools that can only be applied after emotions ran their course.
Ironically, there are so many breathing exercises advised that I sometimes feel overwhelmed just thinking about which one I need.
The basics are simple – breath consciously and deeper than usual, ideally, with an intent (say, to relax). First, inhale to a count of 4 and then exhale to the count of 6. When your body slows down, you can increase the numbers accordingly.
There is solid science supporting this – breathing out as much as possible ensures better oxygen exchange and forces your body to switch between the sympathetic nervous system (the one that helps you manage stress by pumping adrenalin, etc) to the parasympathetic (the one that kicks in the restful phase of your body).
It’s simple and powerful!
6. Delay your caffeine intake
There is a good chance you, like most of us mortals, feel more alert – more ‘wired’ after your caffeine intake. I can honestly say I feel not just more energetic, but also more positive about the upcoming day and more confident about my abilities after my 2 shots of coffee.
And yet it also brings problems.
I am definitely more irritable and quicker to judge, dismiss, or get agitated.
It might be worth considering delaying your cafeine intake to make sure you don’t come to work agitated and overwhelmed.
7. Make your environment work for you
Managing external triggers has its limitations, however, they are still powerful tools that we could engage when we need to reduce our emotional turmoil. This includes audio, visual, taste and other clues that you know are working for you to make you calmer and reduce your negative states.
Think about how to master your external environment to reduce your emotional triggers.
Listening to calm music is one such way to reduce anxiety, but be careful with your choices!
You know what they say – music can either make you forget anything or remember everything – so make sure whatever you put on brings you more peace.
You know what the entrepreneur Jim Rohn said:
“Either you run the day or the day runs you”.