I like to wake up decently early and spend the morning doing productive things. Walking the dogs, writing, working out, cleaning . . . it varies what I do, but I like to reach lunchtime feeling that I've done well so far.
This is basically impossible for me though when I'm dealing with morning anxiety.
When I've got it bad I will just lay in bed worrying about the day to come. I will think about the daunting tasks I need to do, that embarrassing thing I did last week, how I really should get out of bed and get things done, and agonize over how stressed I feel. And of course the physical response I have to stress that makes me feel nauseous.
Do you recognize yourself in this? If you're reading this, I'm assuming that you do. Know that you're not alone!
I haven't really had any morning anxiety lately, because I started doing small things here and there that helped shape how I perceive my mornings. If you always wake up anxious you will expect to feel that way. Expecting to be anxious can make you anxious in itself.
But if you start to infuse the time with things that make you relax, enjoy yourself, or maybe just help get you out of bed, you will have something to look forward to and your anxiety will lessen.
This will probably not happen in just two days. But every positive thing you do for yourself brings you toward who and how you want to be.
I don't do all of these things in the morning, god no. It varies on where I am in my life and what is most important to me at that point.
But by using the advice below I trained myself to not be anxious as soon as I open my eyes. By writing in my gratitude journal I taught myself to focus on the positive things in my life, by walking the dogs before breakfast I treated myself to exercise and fresh air, and by doing a few sun salutations when I left bed I told my body to relax and calm down.
Just because these things are super-easy to do doesn't mean that they are not effective. The fact that they are easy is why you have a bigger chance to succeed with them!
So find one or several things that you feel would make the biggest impact on you where you are right now. Maybe you store stress in your body; focus on physical relaxation and release. Or maybe it's your mind you need to quiet the most; see if journaling or meditation will help. Find what works for you, because we're all different!
1. Take a shower
Taking a long, warm shower is one of my favorite ways to relax and reset a bad day. The warmth calms you down, you can luxuriate in the scent of a good-smelling soap, and it literally refreshes you. Then put on clean clothes that make you feel good about yourself!
2. Use a jade roller for a quick face massage
This is a new favorite of mine that I included in my face-care routine! It helps with puffiness, the lymphatic system, stress, and gently massages your face and neck. If you get tension headaches it can really help! I didn't realize just how much tension I carry in my face muscles until I got one. It is such a nice routine that only takes a few minutes that I honestly look forward to do doing every day, it's so relaxing and pampering.
3. Work out
If you're gonna shower anyway, throw in a short workout! It will give you endorphins, a sense of accomplishment, and be a check off your to-do list. If it feels overwhelming, don't worry about doing a long and intensive workout. Just do 5-15 minutes of this body weight workout and you're good to go! :)
Meditating is something that's really good for me because it makes me overall calmer and helps me handle setbacks more rationally. I do struggle to keep up with it sometimes, but it's another really easy fast way to start your morning off right.
Start off with just meditating for one minute. That's right, one minute. Just sit or lay in bed and focus on your breath and maybe some calming music. That's all you have to do to start to reap the benefits. The free app Calm is great for guided meditations and timers with calming music, and Nerd Fitness wrote an excellent article about making meditation your superpower!
Update: I started taking tai chi lessons, and it is an awesome way to incorporate meditation in a physical way if you struggle with just sitting still!
5. Go for a walk or bike ride
I have two dogs, so a morning walk is pretty standard for me to get some crazy out of the puppy. But whether you have one or not, getting outside before work is a great way to start your day. You get low-key exercise, fresh air, and a change of scenery before you spend the next 8-9 hours at work. If it's possible for you to walk to work, I highly recommend it! When I lived in Ireland I would walk the 40 minutes to work or even run to get in a workout as well (we had a shower in the office, which was awesome), and I felt so refreshed and ready to tackle the workday.
Photo by Thought Catalog
6. Write in a journal
If I don't leave the bed as soon as I wake up, I run the risk of anxious thoughts creeping in and keeping me there for ages. Writing them down will help to get them out of your head. This is also a good exercise for trying to pinpoint WHAT exactly stresses you out, and if there's something you can do to fix it or take it away.
A gratitude journal is also a super-fast way to focus on the good things instead of the stressful ones! You can do it before bed to recap the day or in the morning to start the day on a positive note.
7. Play calming/upbeat music
The other day I was really struggling to leave the bed. I had gotten stuck in the deep Reddit hole, and I felt the minutes wasting away. Finally I opened my Spotify app and played Walk the moon's song One foot to psyche myself up and as I predicted, I couldn't just lay there with such upbeat music playing!
Playing music is in general a very effective tool to set the mood for your day. Turn on the radio or your favorite playlist and dance around in the kitchen making breakfast. It will transform your outlook on the coming day.
8. Snuggle for a while
If you have a pet or partner to cuddle with, do it! Set your alarm five minutes early so you have time to sleepily snuggle up to them and feel loved and comforted.
Photo by Yerlin Matu
9. Give yourself extra time to get ready
I have a big problem with leaving the house five-ten minutes later than I intend to. I think it's really disrespectful to be late, so you can imagine how much anxiety I feel when I do this myself!
I have worked hard on starting to get ready fifteen minutes earlier than I think I need to, because things always creep up like my hair being impossible to style into decency, dog toys needing to be filled with treats to keep the pupper occupied while I'm gone, or running around the house for things that I forgot to pack. So to avoid this extra stress on you in the morning, set the alarm earlier so you can get ready at your own pace and spend the journey to work peaceful, certain that you will arrive on time.
Read a chapter in your current book, either in bed or while eating breakfast. Immediately occupying your mind with a story will help crowd out the anxious thoughts.
11. Listen to podcasts
If you don't have time to read, listening to podcasts while you get dressed or clean up the kitchen is a great alternative. Pick something positive and inspirational to get into the right mindset for the day.
Photo by Kevin Grieve
Things to do the night before
12. Put out clothes
Sometimes deciding what to wear can be very time-consuming. Put clothes out the night before and you have eliminated one big decision to make when you're tired and trying to get out of the house. If you have a clothing steamer, do that in the evening too! I started feeling a lot more put together when my T-shirts and dresses weren't all wrinkly and looked like I took them straight out of the laundry basket, haha.
13. Prepare lunch and snacks
Pack a lunch and prepare some easy-to-grab snacks like carrot sticks or apple slices and peanut butter, or keep some Greek yogurts on hand. By doing this you save tons of time in the morning and you don't have to spend money on unhealthy foods during the day.
14. Make a to-do list
By knowing exactly what needs to be done and maybe even what time you'll do them will calm your mind. I'm easily overwhelmed so I love having a bullet journal which lets me mentally prepare for the tasks that need to be done and the social engagements I have. And I get the rush of endorphins every time I check off a box! You can put something small and achievable like making your bed so you can get a little win and feel productive first thing in the morning!
Hi, I'm Erika!
I know what it's like living with anxiety and depression, but living and living are very different things. I believe in practical tips and methods, and I will use them to help you be the brave, daring, darling individual you are.
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