After many years of struggling with anxiety, I’ve certainly learned that some days I’m just going to wake up and feel more anxious than others.
However, I’ve also learned, that the things I do in the morning time, can set the tone for my day, and have a HUGE impact on my anxiety levels!
In this blog post I’m going to sharing some of my most favourite morning practices to make for a less anxious day, along with explaining some of the many reasons as to why they can actually help!
Morning Practices for a Less Anxious Day:
Keep your Phone on Airplane Mode (or off) for at least the First 15-30 Minutes of the Day:
The time when you’re waking up can be very informative moments of the day. When you check your phone first thing and read your email, texts, social media accounts, and the news, it can send your body into ‘alert mode’ and can potentially trigger a cortisol release, along with other hormonal or emotional responses within your body (1) along with a whole other host of potential thoughts and/ or worries.
Instead of checking your phone – it can be super helpful to think (or journal) about what you want to focus on for the day, how you want to feel, and spend sometime grounding yourself in your environment – before inviting information in from the ‘external world’.
Swap to Decaf or an Herbal Drink of your Choice:
This one was SO helpful for me at my most anxious times! Although it can be extremely challenging to give up your beloved caffeinated coffee (I totally get it) – opting for a decaf instead, or another herbal drink can be incredibly beneficial for helping to curb anxiety levels. In fact, one study done on the impact caffeine has on the body, found that 3.5 mg of caffeine per kg of body weight (which for the average person is around one cup of brewed coffee) can actually double cortisol and epinephrine blood levels! (2)
When I was first transitioning off caffeinated coffee, I found decaf to be an incredible alternative. However, as time went on I came to love trying other alternatives like cacao carob lattes, or other warm creamy caffeine free beverages.
If you have trouble going fully caffeine free – I recommend matcha as an alternative to coffee. Despite containing caffeine, the l-theanine (an amino acid found in the tea leaves) in it has been found to have a calming effect on the brain.
Get Moving your Body – Preferably Outside in Nature:
Inviting some movement into your morning can be an incredibly helpful way to ground into your day. I personally love walking or light running outside, as I find the combination of movement and fresh air to be incredibly beneficial!
As outlined by Harvard Health (3), exercise can be supportive for anxiety by helping to:
- Get the mind off of anxious thoughts
- Decrease muscle tension, further decreasing bodily sensations often present with anxiety
- Increase the heart rate (through activity) which can help to increase the availability of important mood regulating neurotransmitters such as serotonin and GABA
Meditate (even for 5 minutes!):
Okay, so I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard at least one time or another that we should start meditating. The truth is – there’s a reason it’s touted by so many! Meditation really can be amazing for stress reduction and anxiety (4). It can do so by helping to increase the grey matter in the brain which is associated with learning, memory, controlling emotions and even compassion (5).
One of the best parts about meditating is that it trains your brain to focus more on the present moment (such as your breath). Of course your thoughts will still come and go, however meditation can get you more comfortable with being the observer of your thoughts – as opposed to the experiencer of all the waves/ ‘turmoil’ going on within the mind.
I always remind myself (and others) that you don’t need to start with hours of meditation to get some benefits. Starting out with just 5 minutes and working your way up is incredible! I love trying to do a morning meditation after a warm cup of tea, and before I do my outdoor exercise.
In all honesty, I think journaling is one of the most underrated activities for anxiety! In my most anxious of times, journaling was one of the few ways I was able to distill my extremely anxious thoughts from my true inner knowing and desires.
If you don’t know where to start with journaling, below are a few prompts:
- “What do I want to embody more of today?”
- “What are some things I am grateful for?”
- “Where is my anxiety holding me back, and what can I do to move forward?”
- “What are some things I love about myself?”
- “What fears am I leaving behind today?”
- “What are my intentions for the day?”
Eat a Balanced Nourishing Breakfast:
This one is SO important! As we all likely know the age old saying, ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day‘ – this really is SO true when it comes to eating for anxiety!
Eating a blood sugar balancing breakfast can help to keep cortisol levels at bay, provide your brain with the nutrients it needs to thrive, support hormone balance, and give you the energy you need to get through your day with peace (because we all know some days this can take a lot of energy out of us!).
Below are a few of my favourite anxiety supporting breakfasts:
- 2 egg omelette made with pasture raised eggs, sautéd onion & cabbage, avocado, and a sprinkle of hemp hearts (pictured)
- A bowl of oatmeal with banana, raisins, hemp hearts, walnuts, and nut butter of choice
- Tofu scramble with sautéd onion and pepper, baked yams, and tahini drizzle
Alright, so for a quick recap, here are the 6 practices I recommend for a less anxious morning:
- Keep your phone on airplane mode for the first 15-30 minutes
- Swap to decaf
- Get moving (preferably outside in nature)
- Eat a Balanced Nourishing Breakfast
Of course you don’t need to integrate all of these overnight! Do your best to pick one to start with each week, and see how you feel! Hoping this post can help you to create a beautiful morning routine in order to cultivate more peaceful days <3