Alleviate Anxious Feelings By Establishing A Healthy Morning Routine

Are you waking up in the morning with your brain abuzz, anxious thoughts and dream snippets racing through your consciousness, your heart pounding like a metronome on a 120bpm setting? Are you overcome by a sense of dread instead of the serenity and joy you assume everyone should be experiencing after a night’s rest? Not to worry – you are not alone and your experience is much more common than you think.
Chief Editor Insight Timer Blog
a healthy morning routine sets the tone of the day
Chief Editor Insight Timer Blog

Learn what effects a healthy morning routine can have on people commonly experiencing morning anxiety. Which components even make a morning routine ‘healthy’?

It Is An Age-Old Problem

A thousand years ago a Saxon poem already described “dawn care” or uhtcearu. The exiled wanderer in the poem had reason to be worried and stressed during the early morning hours – his world collapsed when he lost his lord, his family, and his comrades in battle. What the Saxon narrator did not realize, though, was that the morning anxiety he experienced did not just stem from catastrophe-induced stress, but was also brought on by his body’s own Circadian rhythms.

Cortisol is a stress hormone that primes you for action. And guess when the body’s cortisol release peaks? Around the time you are waking up. Combine this cortisol spike with stressful lives and the epidemic of generalized anxiety that marks the 21st century and many people start the day revving too high.

The Benefits Of A Healthy Morning Routine — And What Exactly Makes Them Healthy?

There is hope, though, for salvaging your mornings and placing yourself in a healthy mental space. A structured, healthy morning routine goes a long way towards alleviating the effects of high cortisol levels and prepares you for a productive, balanced day.

Morning routines are powerful mood modulators. Scientists say your morning mood affects your productivity and relationships for the rest of the day. It determines how you see and treat your colleagues and clients and how productive you are.

Planning And Executing A Healthy Morning Routine Is An Investment In Yourself

When you follow a sound morning routine, you are making an investment in your mental, emotional and physical health. Morning routines boost confidence and equilibrium and consequently prepare you for success. If practiced diligently, they focus your mind and break harmful habits such as lazily hitting the snooze button or reaching like an addict for the phone first thing in the morning.

Read more: A bedtime ritual is just as important as a healthy morning routine. Discover guidelines for your healthy evening routine to set the foundations for restorative sleep.

Stepping Towards Healthier Mornings

Here are five useful steps you can incorporate in your morning routine.

Step 1: Examine your thoughts

Very often the first thoughts that enter your mind when you wake up reveal your current preoccupations. If you are worried about your child’s test results, your spouse’s irritable behavior or a stressful project at work, these thoughts will probably rise to the surface first thing in the morning. They represent your mental pulse, in a way. It’s a good idea to take that mental pulse.

Scientists have found that CAR (cortisol awakening response) can help coping with stress during the day. In a way, your brain rehearses coping mechanisms by anticipating the demands of the day that lies ahead.

The best way to deal with anxious thoughts is therefore to acknowledge them. Engage your thoughts for about five minutes and analyze your concerns to get a sense of where you’re at. Try to come up with positive, constructive solutions to your problems, but avoid iterative force-thinking.

After five minutes of discipline yourself and make a conscious effort to replace these worrisome thoughts with self-care activities.

Step 2: Get up and hydrate

The best way to interrupt a negative stream of consciousness and a feeling of generalized anxiety in the morning is to get up. Do not give in to the temptation to stay put and cocoon under the warm covers while you’re stewing in anxiety and negativity. You have to ring-fence the negative thoughts.

Throw the covers off and do something completely practical and mundane. Go to the bathroom. Squeeze some lemon juice into a glass of water to hydrate your body and boost your immune system. Stretch! Bend down and try to touch your toes and reach your arms high above your head.

Step 3: Practise gratitude

Deliberately challenge negativity with gratitude. Keep a small dairy next to your bed in which you write down the things for which you are grateful every morning. Shawn Achor, bestselling author of The Happiness Advantage and a specialist in the relatively new field of happiness science, says that the simple act of writing down three things for which you are grateful every day for 21 days in a row increases your levels of optimism. The effect lasts for up to six months.

Expressing gratitude physically changes the brain. A study published in 2015 found that engaging in gratitude writing created lasting neural sensitivity to gratitude. The more you express gratitude, the more grateful you become. And the happier you are likely to be! So use gratitude writing to set your mood for the day.

Read more: Explore how to move beyond your gratitude journal and start living a life of gratitude.

Step 4: Breathe

Make a habit of breathing deeply for about three minutes every morning. Stand with your weight evenly distributed on both feet. Breathe deeply through your nose while supporting your breath with the muscles of your diaphragm.

Research published by the European Respiratory Society indicates that breathing six to ten deep, slow breaths per minute can promote ventilation, gas exchange, and oxygenation of the arteries, helps to maintain the parasympathetic-sympathetic balance in the body and optimizes the amount of cardiorespiratory reserve that could be called upon in times of intense physical or mental stress or activity.

In other words, taking the time to breathe deeply and deliberately every morning prepares your body and mind for the challenges the world might throw at you.

Read more: Psychotherapist Andrea Wachter outlines two self-care scenarios of dealing with morning anxiety. Which scenario reminds you of yourself?

Step 5: Meditate

Take time out to meditate, even if it is just ten minutes. There is no scientific doubt anymore that mindfulness meditation is a powerful anxiety buster. Numerous studies have found that meditation reduces anxiety and increases positive feelings. According to an article published in Nature, mindfulness meditation enhances attention, improves emotion regulation, and reduces stress.

Daily meditation practice as part of your healthy morning routine is, therefore, vital preparation for the day.

Start meditating now with the five most popular guided morning meditations on Insight Timer:

  1. Morning Meditation With Music - Happiness Affirmations Jonathan Lehmann 10:28
  2. Morning Ritual - Setting Daily Intentions Jason McGrice 10:03
  3. Morning Meditation - Guided Visualization Bethany Auriel-Hagan 6:01
  4. I AM Morning Affirmations: Happiness, Confidence, Freedom, Love, Passion & Purpose Kenneth Soares 15:01
  5. Good Morning Gratitude Practice David Gandelman 10:52

Read more: If you are new to meditation or feel your meditation practice could improve, discover the different types of meditation and learn how to meditate properly to truly experience the many health benefits.

Step 5: Exercise

Invigorate your body and your mind by doing fifteen minutes of exercise every morning while your body is in a fasting state. Choose your weapons: sit-ups and push push-ups, jumping jacks, brisk walking or jogging on the spot. As long as you get the blood flowing and the heart pumping. Moderate exercise energizes the body, and the energy you generate during your early, healthy morning routine will last well into the day.

Read more: Katie Estridge explains how professional yoga therapy can help to relieve pain, tension, and stiffness that have built up throughout the body.

Turn Dawn Dare Into Self-Care

A healthy morning routine has the power to change the nervous, exiled wanderer into a calm, grounded go-getter. It takes you on new paths of seeing and being. It changes uhtcearu into self-cearu.

Read more: When we love ourselves, it helps us feel our best, and when we feel our best, we can give more to the world. Discover six meaningful approaches of how to practice self-love.

Meditation. Free.
Always.