I found routine incredibly important during Anxiety recovery. I wrote here about all the benefits of routine when you’re struggling with Anxiety, Depression or OCD – 5 Reasons Why Routine Improves Your Mental Health – and today’s post is the first in a series that focuses each time on a specific type of routine and time of day / week. Many people agree that mornings can be the most difficult time of day when you’re experiencing Anxiety, this was definitely my experience, so I’m focusing on morning routine first. Below you’ll find several ideas for helping to ease Anxiety during the mornings.
Get up straight away
The worst moment of any day when I was unwell was the first few minutes in bed after waking. I struggled with insomnia so often the only sleep I’d had was a fitful hour or two just before waking. The anxiety would rear up and consume me while I stared at the ceiling, frozen, wondering how I was going to cope with whatever I had to do that day.
Eventually, I learnt that laying there worrying about the day and how I felt, how many anxiety attacks I would have etc, only fed the beast. Instead I forced myself to get out of bed as soon as I woke and begin my routine and any tasks I’d set myself the night before (more on that when we do evening routine!)
Sometimes I do this in bed and sometimes just after waking. Mindful meditation is a brilliant habit to get into and can be incredibly soothing and calming. I use Headspace because I like the simplicity and practical nature of the meditations. If you have woken feeling panicked or full of adrenaline, meditation can be a great way to begin to counter these emotions.
An early, filling breakfast
This is something else I had to learn when I was poorly. When suffering from severe anxiety your appetite can diminish, leaving you skipping meals or saving your eating for when you may feel calmer later on in the day. However, having an empty stomach only exaggerates the physical symptoms caused by excess adrenaline so, if you can, eat early and eat well with something filling and comforting.
Take your medications
Everyone is different when it comes to medications so you need to find a time that suits your body and reduces any possible side effects. For me, this is with breakfast. For some reason taking my antidepressant in the morning helps my sleep at night. Plus, having your meds (or supplements if you aren’t taking meds) next to your tea mug or toothbrush or other mundane morning object acts as a good reminder to take them.
If I’m feeling particularly anxious in the morning, I find it’s a great time to read or say my affirmations. For more on this check out 10 Affirmations For Anxiety Sufferers.
Go for a walk
Long walks were extremely helpful during the early days of my recovery. When you’re struggling with Anxiety the days can feel so long and terrifying, so it’s important to have positive tasks to fill them with. Walking along the beach behind my house was really helpful, plus it’s good exercise too which burns up some of that unnecessary adrenaline.
Write a to do list of simple tasks
Anxiety can make you feel frozen with panic – both physically and within your mind. Every small tasks can feel like a mountain. The best way around this that I found was to write a short to do list, either the night before or in the morning, of extremely small, simple tasks such as brush my teeth, fold the laundry, buy bread etc. That way when you’re feeling overwhelmed you have a physical list to refer to when you need something to ground you and help you focus on the present. This is particularly helpful for the “green” section of the Traffic Light Technique For Anxiety.
Plan your daily self-care
Carve out a small portion of the day ahead for you to practice self-care – a vital part of recovery in my opinion. It’s important to decide early on in the day when you’re going to have this time to yourself so that you’re more inclined to prioritise yourself and carry it out. Read all my self-care content here.
I’ve created a printable to go with this post which contains reminders of these tasks and space to write notes and your to do list etc. You can access this printable, as well as four others (Affirmations For Anxiety, Mantras For Mums’ Mental Health, Anxiety Cheat Sheet & Traffic Light Technique Sheet) but entering your name and email below.