By Miranda Rios
My alarm goes off. My body instantly springs into alert mode twisting, limbs flailing, eyes dry looking, scrambling, searching trying to find the button to make the madness stop! Like the average millennial, my cell phone has become a handy alternative to that old thing, what was it called? An alarm clock? Now that I have my phone in hand, why not check to see what I’ve been missing for the past 8 hours? I check my email to find that I didn’t get accepted to the freelance job board I’ve been waiting for.
Brain: “You’re a loser”
Me: “You’re right, Brain. I’m probably a loser, I should just stop now.”
I continue to scroll in hopes of some positive news only to find another email from my boss requesting a mandatory 1-on-1 meeting for 8:00 AM.
Brain: “This is it, you might as well pack your stuff when you get to the office. What did you do now? What is she mad at you for?”
Me: “I don’t know, Brain!! It must have been that pricing proposal, I knew she didn’t like it. If I Iose my job how will I pay bills? I’m going to have to start selling blood and plasma!”
While my brain is busy convincing me that I am useless, my body begins to listen.
My chest gets hot and red, my mouth gets dry, my stomach flips and starts making gurgling noises like a hungry English Bulldog. In a matter of minutes, my life is seemingly in shambles and my morning is ruined.
My anxiety has taken my brain to a dark place and I haven’t even gotten out of bed yet. For years I found myself waking up with morning anxiety day after day and I couldn’t seem to figure out why. Then I realized, I was doing it to myself. It was that morning that I decided there must be a better way to start my morning or this anxiety will start to control my life.
How you begin your morning sets the tone for your entire day.
Take the anxiety free morning challenge for 30 days and change your morning routine forever.
For 30 days, implement the following 5 Anxiety-Free Morning Laws:
Avoid your cell phone, email, and social media
I learned very quickly that social media, emails, texts, and missed calls were nothing but a source of anxiety for me first thing in the morning. If you are like me and use your phone as an alarm clock, condition yourself to snooze your alarm and put your phone down. To help me avoid temptation when I first started the challenge, I would drop my phone off the bed onto the floor out of reach. Let’s face it, most of us need to look at our phones for work, so it’s impossible to ignore your problems, but this suggests that we can calm our bodies to react better to those stresses when they inevitably occur. Try to complete Laws 2-4 before looking at your phone at all.
Lay in silence and take 10 deep breaths
I understand the fear here is the fear of falling back asleep, which can happen! Try using the snooze button, after you snooze, take your 10 deep breaths before doing anything else. Breathing deeply will activate a calming response allowing you to start your day off more relaxed.
- You will want to start thinking about work and errands and life and the craziness, but don’t! Focus your mind on keeping yourself calm and the rise and fall of your chest with each breath. Clear your mind and focus only on your relaxation
- When breathing, breath in through your nose until your lungs are full, and then breathe out through your mouth. Remember to smell the flowers, then blow out the candles.
Set a morning stretch routine
Don’t let this scare you. This does not have to be a serious yoga session. The 3 stretches below can be done in less than 4 minutes. The goal is to get your blood flowing and release anxiety causing tension you have in your body. Here are my 3 favorite morning stretches that get me up, out of bed, and thinking positively:
- Reclined Goddess Pose- (Supta Baddha Konasana) I love this pose because I do not have to get out of bed quite yet, but I still get the benefits of a great hip-opening pose to release tension. Read more about the benefits of hip-opening poses here: https://www.yogajournal.com/poses/qa-hip-openers-good Lie on your back and bring your heels together. Allow your knees to fall to the sides of the bed and feel the deep stretch in your hips. I like to combine Law #2 of deep breathing with this stretch for the ultimate morning anti-anxiety relaxation.
- Banana Stretch The banana stretch is a great way to give your upper body and torso a quick stretch. This will allow you to open your chest and lungs and get your blood flowing. Once you have risen from bed, stand with your feet together and lift your arms up high over your head. Take a bend to the left, and count to five. Bring yourself back up to center and take a small bend backward. Next, take a bend to the right and count to five.
- Hamstring stretch– Once you’ve finished your banana stretches, reach down to the floor in front of you for a stretch of your hamstrings and lower back. This pose has been proven to reduce fatigue and anxiety and improve digestion.
See? That was easy. Remember, this is not an exact science. The goal is ultimately to keep anxiety at bay and start your morning off right so I encourage you to add more of your favorite stretches to your routine.
Set the tone for your morning
Believe it or not, you are the one responsible for setting the tone for your morning. The moment you wake from sleeping is the moment you decide how you will face the day. Before you rise from bed, tell yourself outloud “It’s going to be a great day.” You have not had the chance to stub your toe, get road rage, or spill coffee on your shirt, and– if you follow Law #1– be bothered by social media and emails. So saying this outloud before all of these anxiety producing events happen will start your morning on a positive note. What I’ve learned is, since life is, well…. life, anxiety producing events unfortunately don’t keep themselves at bay just because you told yourself it’s going to be a great day. Wouldn’t that be nice?
To combat this, I’ve found that the more often you tell yourself something, the easier it is for you to believe it. Here are some great times to remind yourself that it’s going to be a great day:
- When you rise out of bed
- During your morning stretch routine
- Before you walk out the door
- When you arrive to work
- Before you walk into your building
- For those who work at home- before you login to your computer
Remember that this is a practice. Reducing your anxiety does not happen overnight which is why I urge you to commit to 30 days of practicing these laws. You must remind yourself that these actions can result in more positive mornings which lead to more positive days.
Miranda Rios is a Human Resources and Sales professional by day, freelance writer and blogger by night. She is a strong believer in women empowering women and specializes in writing about women in business, women’s health, Human Resources and Sales topics. When she’s not writing, you can find her on her yoga mat, biking, or at the beach with her boyfriend and two dogs