Starting your morning from a good place can be extra challenging when you deal with anxiety. You likely feel extra sensitive to environmental triggers and other stressors that come from a new day. Some habits are easy to fall into, becoming determinantal to the anxious mind and worsening your worries.
Luckily, there are steps to take to quiet your anxieties and set the right mood for your day. Even small practices can greatly affect your mood and stress levels. You might also find comfort in the predictability that comes with routine. Here’s how to create a morning routine that helps your anxiety.
1. Resist Doom Scrolling
Reaching for your phone and mindlessly scrolling first thing in the morning feels automatic for many people these days. But checking social media or the news right away is risky, especially if you have anxiety. The habit leaves you vulnerable to reading or seeing something triggering while your brain is still in transition mode. It is also tempting to check work emails and start stressing before even getting out of bed.
Give yourself 30 minutes of phone-free time each morning or an hour if you can spare it. Spend that period waking up your mind in other calmer ways that set a better tone for the day. If it’s difficult to resist checking your phone after waking, try placing it on the opposite side of the room. This approach may require an old-school alarm clock, which is worth it to stop doom-scrolling the moment you awaken. You could also put your phone on airplane mode so the alarm works without dealing with distracting notifications.
2. Nourish Your Body
Breakfast is the day’s most important meal, and your food choices can majorly affect your mood. Carbs give your brain a boost of serotonin, which helps promote calmness. So choose breakfast options filled with complex carbs like quinoa, oatmeal, whole-grain cereals, or bread. Avoid choices high in fat or sugar, like red meat, sugary cereals, and baked goods filled with refined grains. These foods can spike your blood sugar, leading to an inevitable crash that worsens anxiety.
Proper hydration is another important way to nourish your body at the start of the day. Gulping down a glass of water first thing in the morning provides much-needed hydration. Water is vital to all parts of your well-being, including your mental health. Dehydration can throw your whole system off and may lead to feeling moody, anxious, and lethargic. A morning cup of tea can be a soothing ritual that also helps you stay hydrated.
3. Get Moving
Exercise is one of the most recommended ways to battle anxiety and keep yourself healthy. Including physical activity in your morning routine can clear your mind and let you work out anxious energy. Hitting the gym or running outdoors helps you start the day feeling energized and accomplished. At-home yoga is another wonderful way to get your body moving early in the day, and it can be calming.
Anxiety often manifests physically with tense muscles, clenched teeth, and stomach pains. Instead of storing all that heavy worry in your body, exercising is an excellent outlet for release. Morning exercise also promotes better sleep and healthier decision-making throughout your day. These beneficial side effects can positively affect your anxiety levels.
4. Take a Moment to Reflect
Using the early morning hours to reflect and set intentions is a wonderfully peaceful way to greet the day. Blocking off half an hour or even just a few minutes to reflect allows you to feel more grounded and calm. A gratitude journal is particularly useful for starting off on the right foot and improving your mood. If journaling isn’t your thing, consider setting aside the same amount of time to read instead.
Meditation is another great practice for feeling centered and quieting anxious thoughts. The ancient practice reduces stress and promotes tranquility, a welcome experience for anyone affected by anxiety. You could meditate in bed right after waking or use any part of the morning where you have a few spare minutes. Allow yourself to get comfortable and fully settle into the moment while concentrating on your breath. Use guided meditation apps if you’re new to meditation or struggle to focus.
5. Write a To-Do List
Creating a check-off list of the day’s duties can help you feel more prepared for the time ahead. Start by listing your biggest tasks first and gradually get more detailed. Tackling the most challenging thing first lets you begin the day with a sense of accomplishment. In addition, you won’t have to spend valuable time stressing over huge looming tasks.
Make writing out your to-do list an enjoyable and peaceful experience. Sit in your most comfortable chair with a warm cup of tea or coffee and thoughtfully plan your day. Be realistic with your goals, and try not to feel pressured to do it all. Show yourself some grace and pace yourself.
Starting the Day the Right Way
Routines allow you to control your day and handle your anxiety in a healthy way. However, forming nurturing habits that stick takes time and intention, so be patient with yourself. Your brain will eventually become accustomed to activities that bring peace and clarity. You just have to approach it a day at a time.
Allow space to discover the practices that promote your well-being and be mindful of the triggers that fuel your worries. Finding what works best for you and your mental health may require some trial and error. Self-kindness is one of the best gifts you can give yourself if you struggle with anxiety. Make sure to always show yourself some love during every part of your daily routine.