7 Steps for an Anxiety Free Day
Mornings can make or break your day. No matter if you are a student, stay at home mom, or entrepreneur, the tone that you first engage the world with each day will affect how the rest goes. Let us look at two different scenarios:
You wake up from a deep slumber and stretch, hearing birds chirping peacefully outside of your window. Standing up you cross the room to turn off your still silent alarm (you naturally woke up before it, score!!) After a quick bit of stretching and exercise you are able to enjoy some reading and writing while eating a nourishing breakfast and sipping on a hot cup of coffee. After you finish you are able to jump into work with a clear head and full belly!
BEEP BEEP BEEP your final (and most obtrusive) alarm is blaring at you. After snoozing 4 times it was left with no choice but to give you it’s loudest warning bells which signal that you must get up now or you will be late. You stumble out of bed and barely have time to brush your teeth and choose an outfit. Scrambling to assemble your work bag you quickly grab a granola bar and rush out the door.
Whew!! I can feel the anxiety bubbling.
It is irreplaceably important to have a morning routine to stick to. This might seem counterintuitive but routine and structure are what actually create the most space and freedom in our lives. If you do not have clear guidelines and goals for your day then you turn reactive to life as it is thrown at you, which heightens your anxiety. Parkinson’s law famously states, “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” I find this to be especially true on days when I neglect to start off on the best possible foot by not setting my intentions and goals. If I wake up late and rush around, the rest of my day feels frazzled and I am far less productive. I find that giving myself enough time in the mornings is crucial to keeping me in a good headspace for the remainder of the day.
1. Wake Up Right Away – Snooze is not your friend. If you snooze your alarm and fall back to sleep, you confuse your brain on if you should actually wake up the next time the alarm goes off. Causing you to feel groggier once you do wake up.
2. Drink Water – A great way to ease your body into waking up is by drinking water first thing. I fill up a reusable bottle every evening and keep it on my bedside table to grab before I am even out of bed.
3. Wash Your Face – Nothing wakes me up more than splashing some cool water on my skin. Though sometimes a bit jarring it feels instantly refreshing.
4. Stretch/Workout – If you enjoy morning workouts then do your thing! If you are in the afternoon workout crowd though, a few simple stretches to wake up the body are a must, especially if you sit at a desk all day. I typically spend 10-15 minutes doing some active stretching while I listen to an audiobook, (currently I’m going through Waking the Dead by John Eldridge, and it’s incredible.)
5. Lay Out Your Clothes – I find it easiest to get ready if I lay out clothes the night before. The fewer decisions you have to make on menial tasks, the more cognitive resources you save for the important stuff. “Without realizing it, you can fritter away a fair portion of your mental energy on the day’s minor choices: what to eat, what to wear, when to exercise, when to sleep,” writes Executive Coach Caroline Webb.
6. Pre-Prep Your Breakfast – Every night I aim for pre-prepping my breakfast for the next day, for me that means overnight oats with chia seeds, flax, cinnamon, collagen powder, and some sort of fruit. Simple, delicious, and easy to customize. I grab it out of the fridge and enjoy it with a matcha while journaling and filling out my planner for the day.
7. Everything Easy to Go – Though I now work from home, I previously worked in an office and found a few habits incredibly helpful. First, always pre-pack your lunch and keep everything in one spot of your fridge to make it incredibly easy to transfer to your lunch box. Second, keep anything you need for the day in a specific bag and double-check it the night before. The last thing you want is to have a peaceful morning and then realize you misplaced your car keys.
These are the seven steps I include each morning to lower anxiety and give myself a solid foundation for the rest of the day. But I love seeing what works best for other people, so if you have a morning ritual you swear by, please let me know. It is also important to note that if you do miss an alarm or wake up late, the best thing to do is to not stress. If you prepped for the day the night before it should still be seamless to get out the door on time. Even if you have to eat your overnight oats in the car!