When Is Your Most Stressful Time of Day?

When is the most stressful time of the day for you? A 2023 survey of 2000 people by Rescue Remedy has revealed that 7.23 am is the most stressful time for many. There are a multitude of reasons why this could be the case. It may be due to over-sleeping, concerns about work, dread about the day ahead, the commute or getting the children up and out of the house. All are valid and many could well be regular occurrences, filling each day with tension and stress.

Existing stress levels can be exacerbated if something sudden or unexpected occurs, like dropping or spilling something or when things don’t go to plan. Of course, there will be unavoidable situations that crop up from time to time; we can’t plan for a major traffic incident or a flat type. But constant low levels of stress don’t have to be lived with.

Let’s look at some ways to improve your stress levels when getting up in the morning.  

Start by going to bed at a time that allows you enough sleep. If you need to get up at 6 am and want eight hours sleep commit to going to bed at approximately 10 pm. Then calculate backwards from your intended bedtime, assessing what needs to be done before bed. Prioritise the items which can be done comfortably within that time.

If the morning journey is always stressful due to heavy traffic, might it be worth considering reorganising your day to alleviate that? Perhaps travel to work earlier and join a gym nearby, or take your breakfast with you to have at the office. If you’ve children, would it help if you booked them into an early morning club or shared drop-offs and pick-ups with another parent?

Prepare what you can the night before. Lay out your clothes, make your packed lunch, put kit and the next day’s bags near the front door, ready to go. Maybe write a list of what needs to be done each day, so that you sleep better, reassured in the knowledge that you won’t forget essential items.

Make sure to schedule breaks throughout your day. Rather than plough from one task to the next take regular breaks and acknowledge each achievement, no matter how small. A phone call, resolved query or answered email are all mini-successes that you can smile about, rather than simply dismiss as you move onto the next item on your ‘to do’ list.

Take a break every ninety minutes or so. A glass of water, piece of fruit or walk outside can be a good way to let your mind detach a little from being fully engaged in work mode. Unsurprisingly, people usually find that they’re less stressed, work better and are clearer-headed when they return to their work stations after a break.

Access to fresh air and daylight can improve our ability to cope with stress as it tops up our vitamin D levels. Going for a walk, run or bicycle ride can be positive ways to destress, exercise and provide healthy opportunities to take a break, all the better if you spend the time in the company of a pleasant friend or colleague.

Ensure there’s some fun in your diary to look forward to. Some times of the year can feel especially long and dark. Having a fun time scheduled can break the tedium. Even a phone call or catch-up with a friend over coffee or a light lunch can make a dull day brighter and is a good way to minimise stress.

Sharing and talking things through with friends or family can echo the sentiments of the saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. Feeling listened to and supported is an effective way to manage stress, thus enabling you to wake up with a clearer head, feeling more upbeat and in control.

Nutrition is important. If early mornings are not good times for you to eat then maybe take something to work or keep a bag of washed fruit in the car. ‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ was a slogan invented for a breakfast cereal company’s advertising campaign, which has since been perceived as a statement of truth. Even so, it’s important to kick start our metabolisms with healthy choices, rather than a diet of coffee and sugary snacks. Wholegrain toast, porridge and fruit are good ways to start the day.     

First thing in the morning should be, ideally, should be a time to awaken feeling rested, refreshed and eagerly anticipating the day that lies ahead, the opportunities that may well come our way. Yes, we may have to reschedule certain items or readjust our plans at times, but a little forward planning can manage stress and be a valuable investment in each day. It helps life become more positive and fulfilling.    


Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist, Altrincham, South Manchester    www.lifestyletherapy.net