Morning Rituals to Aid Anxiety
Updated: Oct 8, 2018
As someone who personally deals with anxiety and the constant struggle to finding what works and doesn't, I can truly say finding a routine that works for me is not easy. Whether you're a morning person or a night owl, schedules can be tough and often if you have issues with anxiety or have in the past, things can be overwhelming at times.
When traveling, I notice I am less anxious, as I envelope myself into the culture of where I am and take on new adventures every day that usually won't even let me have the time to feel anxious. The more stress I take on however, the more I realize that it's something I struggle with in my life and affects the relationships I have.
There are a few steps to finding what works for you. I decided on these five, because everyone is different, but I believe that once you focus on bettering yourself and motivating yourself to stay positive things will change. Focusing inward to affect outward change.
1) Take a step back from technology
Studies actually show that being on your phone right when you wake up and before bed leave more of a negative impact on you, especially if that is a part of your normal routine. You are more likely to struggle from mental health issues being exposed to so much right away and often times we don't like to say it but social media has to do with a lot of comparison, everywhere. We want what we don't have and its a sickness. I mean I love Instagram as much as the next girl but I definitely see a difference between me scrolling for fun and me getting overwhelmed with all I need to do to look a certain way or live a certain lifestyle.
I made the decision to do this every morning and every night and stay off the tech for a hot sec so I could pay attention to how I was doing, mentally. This meant putting my phone on airplane mode or setting it in the next room over so I wouldn't check anything and just...breathe. Take the day in and relax, sit with yourself and realize you don't need to have the world in your face at 7 a.m in the morning. It's exhausting and not a way to live your life.
Taking some time for myself everyday also said that I cared enough about my own mental health to make my routine and stick to it. Some start a gratefulness journal, others read or listen to music and meditate, whatever it is for you I say to try it out. If you're not into writing or reading don't force yourself into it, this is your time. So spend it doing something you would actually enjoy taking the time for. That is the only way it'll last.
2) Early Bird Gets the Worm
Seems like a no brainer here but I want to explain this one a bit. As someone who struggles with anxiety I think things can become overwhelming all too easily so I live to appreciate those moments when I can relax and take a second to breathe. Early mornings are those moments for me, I like that no one is up yet and that its silent as early risers head to work in the morning and the sounds of the city surrounding me just barely start to awaken. Sometimes I run out to the water and watch the sun rise, other times I head to a coffee shop and listen to the espresso machines go off. Sometimes these are the mornings that I didn't realize I needed. I go into a few days where maybe my sleep schedule gets a bit screwed up and something seems off about me, then I realize that it's because I started to treasure that time for myself.
It's a time to clear my head, listen to what my mind, body and spirit needs most from me to be successful and continuously motivate myself to be better. Without adding pressure to myself, its a way for me to kind of "plan things out" and I say that in quotes because it's great to plan but it's also more realistic to know it might not go the way you think. It is life after all.
If you're not a morning person, I challenge you to try it at least one morning out of the week (preferably at the beginning but again, up to you!) Try something new and take some time to listen to the world around you. Listen to your mind, maybe you actually needed some time to realize what has been going on in your life or maybe it's that life gets too hectic and you don't really get a lot of me time anymore. Whatever the reason, taking the time to meditate and be with yourself can make all the difference.
3) Limit Your Caffeine Intake
Okay this one...is a difficult one. It is not something I have mastered myself but I notice the difference when I am on top of it.
Studies do show however, that anxiety often goes hand in hand with caffeine. If you are anything like me, you probably love coffee, and often drink way too much of it because well, you want to get shit done and often feel there aren't enough hours in the day (and you love the taste of course) but you've also experienced what too much caffeine does. Your hand starts shaking, maybe you get too hyper and eventually gain a headache (hint: drink more water, less coffee). Maybe you even forget to eat breakfast or lunch, because coffee is actually a known food suppressant. Overall, you definitely need to shake the unhealthy habit.
Well too much of anything is never good, and caffeine definitely can become addicting and lead to more issues with your anxiety. Anxiety is known for often being overwhelmed with everything going on in your life, whether its overwhelming events, emotions, people, all the above... Whatever it is, it's not great and often times we seek out caffeine to stay on top of everything. I have some sad news for you though, it usually just continues the cycle of not getting everything done. Don't get me wrong, my love for coffee is so intense I've put some serious dents in my bank account for it but I can't deny that it becomes a problem when it affects my health. Reminder: your mental health should ALWAYS be looked at in the same level of importance as any other health issue.
I've been (working on) sticking to 1 cup of coffee a day. That's it. If you are an extreme coffee drinker, perhaps try and wane yourself off a little slower. Going cold turkey is not the most fun option but if you believe that is the best way to move forward and cleanse your body anew, go for it dude. If you really want to follow through however and make sure it sticks long-term, go a little slower to where your body doesn't feel its having something taken away. Ease your way into what you can compromise with.
In this process Matcha has been really helping with the transition so definitely find what works for you. Continuously look at your mental health however, use that to motivate you to do better for yourself.
4) Spiritual Awareness
Now I'm not going to go into a specific religion or anything since this isn't really about my story or where I am faith wise. But I am going to say that everyone. has. a spiritual side. Some of you might be saying no to that, but you're just the people I would say that haven't found it yet. We all believe in something, even if that something is no God.
Whether it be Buddha, Jesus, Allah, whatever. There is some form of belief and putting more time into that has shown to aid in mental health issues. It is the spirituality that leaves you feeling full of light and warmth and that it why I'm going to ask, why can't we focus more of our lives on that if it feels so good to be a part of it?
If you're only experience with spirituality is being forced to go to church with your parents when you were younger, I'm sorry but that is not spiritual to me at all. Erase that from your mind and moving forward, find your own path. Seek out different religious practices, try a meditation podcast or head to a yin class. Whatever ends up being your spiritual practice, or whatever makes you happy and brings you peace, that is what you should be taking some time in your week for. The more you are making that effort and putting that positivity into the universe, the more internally aware you become and with that comes an understanding that you aren't going to struggle through anything alone. Whether you believe in a God or not, you are never alone. There are people like you dealing with similar issues and that means you have people to talk to. End of story, you are not alone.
5) Eat a Healthy Breakfast. Drink Water.
Another thing that may sound like an obvious to some of you but I can't tell you how many people I've met who don't eat breakfast! Drives me insane, because all we've heard our whole life is to eat it, it's the most important meal of the day, it fires up your brain, it gets you going. If you are someone that grabs coffee and says thats a meal, I'm sorry to break it to you but that is not the way to go through life. Eating healthy foods actually aid in fighting your mental illness, and while it can't get rid of anxiety altogether it can really give you what you need to take on the day with your full strength.
Foods that help reduce anxiety you ask?
Here is a short and sweet list of a few options for ya (there are more, so please research and look into it because I am no expert, I'm just here to tell you what might work)
- Brazil nuts/most nuts (contain antioxidants that improve mood)
- Eggs (protein, +amino acids that improve serotonin levels)
- Seeds (Pumpkin is a rich one to have, mainly for added potassium and zinc)
- Bananas (Potassium and Zinc)
- Dark Chocolate (has been shown in a few studies done 2013-14 that dark c. elevates mood and reduce neuro-inflammation, and cell death as well as improve blood flow)
- Turmeric (if you follow me on social media, you know I have this in every healthy shot, I'm obsessed, well its actually known for helping to reduce stress levels. Start your day off right by topping your drink or morning meal with this!)
Mainly, just know that there are always options for you, and eating the right foods can really make an impact. Drinking more water also goes into this because often times we wake up and go about our day forgetting to start off with the most important life force here. Water is our life, and making it a part of your routine can only benefit you.
Using your mental health as a major motivator is helpful to try these steps out. Never force yourself to the point where you're not happy with your routine, but also know change isn't easy and some adjustments might not be easy. In the end however, your goal should always be a happier, healthier you.