Mornings have never been my favorite thing to go through. First, I have insomnia, so starting your morning routine between the hours of 3-4 AM is not the greatest. You would think I could be productive at that time and do house chores or go to the gym, but the reason I woke up so early is that I have anxiety, and it is almost impossible for me to do anything functional when I have that much anxiety. Secondly, I generally had to be in the office by 6-6:30 AM for 7 AM calls, so even if I wanted to get more sleep, it was not a possibility for me.
With all that being said, I made it my mission to get better sleep, and to start my day in a more positive tone. Because I was so negative, and that set the scene for my entire day. Plainly, I was sick and tired of starting my day in a bad mood…everyday!
I started by addressing my insomnia and sleep issues. For years, I suffered with this affliction, and I tried all of the things over the counter or homeopathic before I conceded and went to a doctor for sleeping medication. You can see some of my tried and reviewed sleeping aids. Some of them worked for a time, but not a very long time and many are not marketed or recommended for extended use for insomnia. WIth saying that, if you are like me, do not suffer for years with insomnia before you go to a doctor. It was so worth it when I finally had a good night’s sleep, and in partnership with my doctors, I was able to find medication that was as close to a natural sleep as possible.
Once my sleep issue had been resolved, I could then focus on brightening my morning routine which was much easier with a solid 6-8 hours of sleep vs. 2-3 hours. The morning can be fraught with stress or anxiety for the day, to get everyone ready and out of the house on time, and to somehow feed yourself and others. It is hard to take the extra time to invest in centering yourself before the start of your day. I know! I have really worked on my morning routine to ensure a happy and healthy day.
Here are the things that I began doing in the morning that are simple, do not take up much of your precious time, and can help brighten your day.
- Wake-up right. I am guilty of not doing this on the weekend, but hey, no one is perfect. I like to wake up 30 minutes before my anticipated time needed to get ready and go to work. Make the time to give yourself extra space to not rush. Rushing is the opposite of a relaxed morning, and when you start behind, you will be behind all day which is a terrible and stressful feeling.
- Stretch. When I wake up every morning, I stretch before I get out of bed. Not just a casual stretch, but a big arms high and extended, legs and toes pointed stretch. My therapist told me to do this years ago to ease my body awak and relax my mind, and believe it or not, it works. It immediately invigorates your muscles and body from the stationary position it has been in all night. Try it, it takes 30 seconds and will make a difference in your alertness.
- Meditate. This sounds like a task, and in a way it is…it is a task to grant for yourself. For years, people, therapists, doctors, family, and friends told me to meditate to help my anxiety. Well, I tried. I put on soothing music, sat on my yoga mat, and closed my eyes and tried to meditate. It lasted all of 5 minutes. Then, I took a meditation class. I had been doing it all wrong. Your mind is supposed to wonder…what? Yes, your mind is meant and should be free to wonder where it wants. You just accept the thoughts you are having and acknowledge them then refocus your mind. I also used to think that it had to be this long event. In reality, the majority of meditation is meant to be about 10 minutes. You are there to set your intention for the day. I use this fantastic youtube channel called Daily Meditation. It is a guided medication that will help you focus and set your intentions for the day.
- Limit your caffeine intake. I used to have 3+ cups of coffee in the morning before going to work. Well, when you have anxiety, this tends to be a poor choice. My recommendation here based on what works for me is to limit your caffeine intake by drinking it slowly. You want enough coffee to wake you up, but not enough that it will speed up your heart rate and make you more on edge and anxious. Stick to 0-2 cups if you can. I’ll admit, this one is hard for me.
- Eat something healthy. For years and maybe even the majority of my life, I would never eat breakfast. Everyone would tell me it is the most important meal of the day, but my anxiety would be so bad in the mornings that I had an upset stomach and just was not hungry. Over the past year, I have made it my mission in life to eat something for breakfast. I have noticed that eating consistently and healthy really helps my blood sugar levels to stay maintained and it truly helps with anxiety, my metabolism, and my energy levels throughout the day. My go to is yogurt with fruit or granola because it is quick and nutritious.
- Wear day clothes versus night clothes. Last and certainly not a must, but something that I personally like to do especially now that we are working from home in the pandemic. That is to get out of my PJs, even if that is only to put on different yoga pants, and do my make-up lightly, as well as, my hair. I have found that the effort to do those simple things makes my mind focus on starting the day and not crawling back to bed. It also helps with my nighttime routine because I am forced to get into different PJs and to take my make-up off. Even the smallest things like this help you stick to a normal schedule when working from home and help you focus your mind.
Certainly, there are other things that I like to do when I have time in the morning, but these are simple and fast tasks that you can do for yourself to help you have a brighter and more structured day. If changing your current routine and trying new things may set off your anxiety (which I totally get) try one thing and then another, but please find what works for you to be calm and collected in the morning to set the tone for the rest of your day. I hope you all have a bright and lovely day!