Day off to a bad start? Five ways to have a stress-free morning

Do what you can the night before, avoid gadgets – and don’t hit the snooze button

Prepare the night before

Prepare what you can the night before, says Dr Hazel Wallace, the author of The Food Medic – from your packed lunch to laying out your clothes. Vicky Silverthorn, a professional organiser, suggests leaving necessary items by the front door, or using sticky notes as reminders. Checking the weather forecast, keeping your calendar up to date and taking care of any time-intensive grooming routines the night before will also help you feel more prepared.

Don’t hit snooze

Dr Matthew Walker, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley, advises against hitting the snooze button, as it disrupts uninterrupted, quality sleep; instead he suggests setting your alarm for when you actually need to wake up. The Sleep Council, which promotes healthy sleep habits, warns that your body experiences a spike in cortisol every time your alarm goes off. If you struggle not to press the button, leave the alarm across the room, so you have to walk over to silence it. You could also try one that eases you awake with light or vibrations.

Get breakfast ready

Hazel Wallace makes overnight oats most evenings and takes them with her to work the next day. Silverthorn says it is useful to have systems in place, such as checklists or a tea and coffee station in the kitchen, but she warns against anything complicated, as it has less chance of sticking long term. If your children are old enough to make their own breakfast, leave bowls and food within their reach, to encourage independence. “The kitchen is the hub of the home. If that’s in the right place, as it were, then everything runs more smoothly,” she says.


Vicky Silverthorn advocates getting into a routine of placing your keys and other essential items in the same place each time you get in, be it on a hook or in a tray or a drawer: “Have a home for everything.” Decluttering your home can also lead to a more streamlined routine. “The less you have, the easier it is to be in charge of your home, rather than it being in charge of you.”

Take a few minutes

Many of us make the mistake of reaching for our phones first thing. Instead, Silverthorn encourages starting the day with at least five minutes away from gadgets, perhaps spent making a cup of tea and sitting down to drink it in peace. “That is vital for me every morning. It’s five minutes to get your head together. You can say it’s hard, but five minutes is doable.” The daily commute can also be made less stressful with a few tweaks, says Wallace. Check for delays, leave in plenty of time, wear comfortable shoes and have a book or a podcast ready for your journey. – Guardian