Struggling to get up in the morning and feeling anxious? Experiment with these 14 techniques to start the day strong.
What you do in the morning sets the tone for your day! It impacts how you feel, perform, and ultimately live.
Some clients I work with in my therapeutic practice start the morning in a rush, most often because they stayed up too late the night before and slept late the following morning. This immediately puts them behind schedule and creates stress.
Use Evening Strategies to Prepare for a Positive Morning
Good sleep hygiene is essential to having a positive morning. I suggest to clients that they “come in for a landing” in the evening by systematically winding things down around the same time each night. This includes putting away screens, dimming the lights, and preparing for bed long before your head hits the pillow.
You might consider developing soothing evening rituals to help you power down. Try writing a gratitude or joy list, taking a warm Epsom salt bath, or reading a comforting book.
When you’ve set the stage for high quality sleep, you’re much more likely to have the motivation and energy for a positive ritual the next morning. If you struggle with anxiety, being intentional with your evening and morning rituals will offer you a sense of calm.
Morning Rituals to Brighten Your Day and Soothe Anxiety
Upon awakening, take a few moments to enjoy the basics. Appreciate the comfort of your bed, the temperature of your room, or the sound of birds outside your window. You might even anticipate the pleasure of your morning coffee or tea. Keep it simple.
When you’re anxious, you may be holding your breath or breathing shallowly into the chest, unintentionally creating a stress response. Try deep belly breathing through the nose, like you’re inflating and deflating a balloon in your lower abdomen. You might also try box breathing. Inhale for four counts, then hold four counts. Exhale for four counts, then hold for four counts. Continue this cycle for a few minutes until you feel the mind calming.
If you’re feeling particularly anxious after rising, you can try the “purge” journaling technique. Take two minutes to write down everything on your mind as quickly as you can. Then tear it up and throw it away. Don’t re-read.
You might also try “scripting”: Write down how you would like your day to go, how you’d like to feel, and what you’d like to experience. This helps your mind focus on positive actions and will help you feel inspired.
When I deliver corporate keynotes, I often suggest the practice of appreciation notes in the workplace to generate positive regard for employees and to create a collaborative, compassionate culture. You can do this in the morning in both your personal and professional life.
Each morning, write a note of appreciation to someone. This can be sent via text or email, or can be handwritten. Send a note to a different person each day. Research in positive psychology suggests that if you practice this daily for 30 days, your happiness level increases significantly.
People often don’t meditate because they believe they aren’t good at it. I like to say that there is no meditation police, and there are many ways to meditate. You can practice sitting, standing, lying down, or even walking! Find what works for you.
You can practice silent or guided meditation, both of which have value. Quieting your mind allows your body to relax. When your body is relaxed, you are less anxious. The neuroreceptors in your body send a message to your brain that all is well when you’re relaxed.
Play Positive Music
Sing and dance along to your favorite tunes. Research suggests that listening to motivational music in the morning could contribute to a positive outlook throughout the day. Singing and dancing sends a signal of joy and inspiration to the brain, making you less likely to feel stressed and anxious.
Ensure that you’re getting enough fluids. So many people are dehydrated without knowing it! If you drink coffee and alcohol or take certain medications, you’re more prone to dehydration, which could contribute to anxiety. Your brain and body don’t feel or function optimally in this state. It may be helpful to add electrolytes to your water as well.
Sunlight and Movement
Stepping outside as the sun is rising is a wonderful way to stimulate the pineal gland and wake up the body. You may even choose to do sunrise yoga in an outdoor location. Moving the body in a gentle, fun way stimulates the nervous system, which helps you access energy and focus for the day.
Read or Listen to Something Inspirational
Neuroscience tells us that neurons that fire together wire together. When you consume positive material, it creates neuronal patterning in your brain to help you sustain that positive momentum. Try reading or listening to a variety of teachers and messages.
Keep a “Positives File”
When someone sends you a thank-you note, file it away either physically or digitally. If you wake up feeling anxious, grab the file and review. It’s so easy to overlook all the good and amplify the bad. Humans need reminders. Take the opportunity to remind yourself of all the good you’ve done and how appreciated you are.
Fast From the 3 C’s: Complaining, Competing, and Criticizing
Engaging in negative patterns sets up a negative habit in the brain. Much of the information we have easy access to online encourages complaining, competing, and criticizing. These mental habits quickly create stress and anxiety. Turn your attention away from these behaviors, and you’ll notice that you feel better.
Take Your Time
Hurrying is painful to the mind and body. Allot yourself plenty of time to thoroughly prepare for the day. When you hurry, you’re also more likely to make mistakes. Have you ever gotten to work only to realize you put on two different shoes? It’s funny, unless you’re scheduled to present at a meeting. Hurrying is a bad habit that can be broken. You’ll feel so much better when you don’t rush.
Dressing yourself well is very personal. What feels good to you may be completely different from what is right for someone else. Whatever your preference, make sure you’ve given yourself the time and preparation to wear clothes that help you feel confident and comfortable. This goes a long way in feeling steady and sure-footed during the day.
Invest in Your Self-Image
Tell yourself good things about you. Write them in your journal. Use affirmations. Invest in the activities that will have you feeling your best! The world around you senses how you feel about yourself and responds accordingly. You are the best investment you will ever make.
An Easy Way to Start Utilizing These Strategies
If you’re concerned about having the time to invest in some of these techniques, try this strategy: Pick three ideas from above (or something of your own you want to try), and practice each one for three minutes. In less than ten minutes, you will have initiated a positive morning ritual. Once you feel grounded in that practice, you can expand the time as well as the activities.
Consistency is key, and a little goes a long way. You’ll quickly notice yourself feeling, performing, and living better—with less anxiety and with greater ease and joy!
Try these three mindful CBT techniques for anxiety.