You’re reading First Thing, a weekly series on HuffPost UK helping to make your mornings happier and healthier.
Some mornings you wake up with darting thoughts and a crappy mood that just makes you want to crawl back under the covers.
It’s totally OK to feel stressed before the day has begun. We all have mornings like this from time to time. Even mental health professionals – who may seem like they have it all together – aren’t immune to them.
We asked therapists to share the tips that help them feel better when they’re having a stressful morning. Here’s what they do to de-stress and relax.
A journaling exercise
Jack Turban, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, says he starts the day off with a journaling exercise to decrease anxiety.
“First, I write out my tasks for the day, which helps alleviate any worries I have about forgetting something,” he says. “Next, I jot down a mantra – a short, positive phrase that I’m going to repeat to myself throughout the day. Lastly, I add a few things that I’m grateful for and a few things that I’m excited about to begin my day on a positive note.”
Journaling every morning can feel comforting as it offers a sense of routine, which may help alleviate the anxiety that comes with unpredictability. If Turban’s prompts don’t feel like a fit for you, spend a few minutes after you wake up to write down your thoughts, a to-do list or just whatever makes you happy.
Walk outside for a few minutes
Spending time outdoors can be profoundly calming and uplifting.
“When I wake up in the morning, I typically take my dog for a walk. We walk together for about 10 to 15 minutes, which is just enough to start the day with some activity and a good decompression,” says Jessica Gold, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, who also listens to podcasts on her walk, such as Lucy Kalanithi’s Gravity or Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert, to help her relax and de-stress.