“Morning is an important time of day, because how you spend your morning can often tell you what kind of day you are going to have”
The human brain likes routines.
Do any routine (as long as it’s fairly simple to do) for long enough and it becomes habit.
Habits are what helps reduce stress and make life a little easier as you don’t have to constantly consciously think about what you are doing.
Now of course not all habits are good, the anxiety habit is certainly one that needs to be broken and avoided.
Today I am going to be providing the best morning routine I know for starting the day off right and helping reduce your anxiety.
It combines a lot of points I wrote about in my article: The 10 best ways to start your day right and help prevent anxiety
The routine takes approximately one hour to complete, so you must make sure you wake up leaving enough time before you have to go about your day.
This is a guide and is what has worked best for me. You may have other things you want to add in which you know works well for you.
Before we begin we need to look at one important caveat:
You must follow the routine no matter how you feel
The aim therefore is not to do it without feeling anxious, but to do the routine not caring how you are feeling.
It doesn’t matter if you feel anxious or not. Don’t put yourself down if you do and don’t big yourself up if you don’t.
Either way…………It. Does. Not. Matter.
Anxiety only persists when you constantly care how you feel, good or bad.
Ok, so let’s get to it…..
Note: times provided are for timing guidelines only, you can start this routine and whatever time works for you.
1) Get up, make the bed and let the light in – 7:00am
When you wake up the worst thing you can do is fester in bed.
A lie in on a Sunday, fine, but frequent lying in bed with just your thoughts is never a good way for those with anxiety to begin their day.
When you get up and get going within a minute or two of waking up, you quickly feel more awake than if you lie there for another half and hour and slowly start your day.
It can be a shock to the system at first, but it works.
As soon as your are up, make the bed. This makes it much less tempting to crawl back into it five minutes later, it signals to your mind that the day has begun.
Next, let as much light in to your room and the rest of your home as possible. If it’s dark outside then artificial lighting will have to do.
Just don’t stumble around in the gloom.
2) Drink a cold glass of water – 7:05am
When you wake up you are often dehydrated as you haven’t drank for 7-8 hours.
A cold glass of water is not only refreshing but it will quickly rehydrate you, stoke your metabolism, flush out any toxins and give your brain fuel to function properly.
I drink a pint, roughly 500ml or 16oz, and use a Britta water filter jug stored in the fridge. If you live in a hard water area, as I do, it makes a huge difference to the taste.
3) Gentle exercise to stimulate the body and mind – 7:10am
10 minutes of exercise is all it takes to get the heart pumping and your mind stimulated.
The aim here is not to try and build muscle, just to get your muscle fibres activated and your body moving.
A brisk walk or run around the block is just as good, anything which raises your heart rate, if only by a little.
4) Breakfast Super Smoothie – 7:20am
After the exercise it’s time to get some food and nutrients inside you, and nothing is quicker or simpler to do than making a breakfast super smoothie.
A smoothie allows you to combine a variety of foods to get a great nutrient profile, best of all it takes minutes to make and can be consumed on the go.
The variety of combinations of food you can use is huge and this means it never gets boring.
I use the NutriBullet and for the price there is nothing better out there.
If you really get into your juicing, then you may want to invest in something more substantial like a Vitamix which is also great for making nutritious home made soups.
At the bottom of this article I have included my preferred recipe with some alternatives you can try out as well.
5) Meditation – 7:25am
Once you have drunk your smoothie it’s time to relax a little and let it digest, what better way than with 10 minutes of meditation.
People often view meditation as going into some deep spiritual trance.
For some this is true, but for most it is just the ability to relax your body and empty your mind so that when you are finished you feel calm and ready to go about your day.
I often use the Sahara Yoga Meditation course as it provides guided meditations and it’s free.
Once you have learnt the process it becomes easy to do without listening to the audio if you so wish.
It’s amazing how just a short period of meditation at the beginning of your day can get you in the right frame of mind to face what is ahead of you.
6) Shower, mental exercises and thanks – 7:35am
A shower helps refresh your body and awakens you mind, this is especially good to do straight after your relaxing meditation.
Cold or contrast showers (where you switch every 30 seconds between hot and cold) are even better, but before you dismiss these out of hand, read some more about their benefits here.
Once you get used to them, they really are not as bad as they sound.
While in the shower your mind is on auto pilot as you wash, so now is a great time to do a few mental exercises to further activate your brain.
I’m currently reading Gorilla Mindset, where the author suggests counting backwards from 100 as quickly as possible (it doesn’t matter if you miss a number out) and to see how quickly you can say 10 male and 10 female names (try to think of different ones each time).
These mental exercises seem very simplistic, but they do help to get those neurones firing and keep your mind away from any anxious thoughts.
Finally I like to finish with some thanks. To mentally go through two or three different things I can be thankful for, no matter how small they may be.
It can often really help put things into perspective and show you your life and your struggles could be a whole lot worse.
If you need some help with this, read my post on being thankful for the small things.
7) Groomed and dressed for success – 7:45am
Unless you are planning on doing the gardening or painting the house there really is no reason to dress like a slob.
Taking just 10 minutes to make an effort with how you look, both hair/face and clothes can make a big difference in the way you feel. Note: if this part takes longer to do for you, then please factor in more time to complete your routine.
This doesn’t necessarily mean always wearing your smartest suit or blouse, just clean, ironed, non-tatty, well fitting clothes will do.
When you are well presented and looking good you just feel more confident and ready for the day ahead.
You will notice the positive reactions from others too.
8) Write a daily to-do list – 7:55am
Now you are dressed for success, you’re ready to plan out your day ahead.
You’ve been fully focused on your routine for almost an hour and you want to take that momentum into the rest of the day.
I use to-do lists almost everyday without fail, partly because I’m prone to forget things, but mostly because it enables me to just focus on the 16 or so hours ahead and not the big worries of life that anxiety seems to bring.
If you often struggle with this, then read my post on learning to live day by day.
You may wish to create two lists, one for work/school/college items and one for personal items.
Setting out what you wish to achieve that day makes getting those things done a lot easier.
As you tick each thing off, no matter how small, and see the progress you are making it really can help install that sense of achievement and self-belief.
You’ll often find you can do a lot more than you ever believed and by keeping busy you’ll leave very little time to show your anxiety any care.
9) Leave the house or get stuck straight in to your to-do list – 8:00am
The hour is now up and it’s now time to get on with the rest of your day.
Be that heading out the door for work or meeting up with a friend for coffee, get out there and get to it.
No pressure, no stress and no worries about how you may feel.
It’s all about living life to the full and showing your anxiety no care because it never has to limit what you can do.
This routine is pretty jam packed, it’s quite a lot to fit into an hour I know, but that’s partly the point.
I often (as I have in this post) talk about showing your anxiety no care, but I am also well aware that this is easier said than done.
This routine is designed to not only help you with that, but to help set your body and mind up ready for the day ahead.
To show yourself that you can do it, and to enjoy the feelings of pride this can bring.
Give it a go, not just for a day or two, but at least a week or two to really let the process sink in.
Then let me know what you think in the comments below and, if you have any suggestions for improvements and/or what works for you, then let me know.
BONUS: Breakfast Super Smoothie Recipe
Below is my personal recipe for my breakfast super smoothie.
Its aim is as follows:
- To give your brain and body the nutrients it needs to function at optimum level
- To give you energy and and prevent sugar crashes
- To sate the appetite until lunch so that you do not snack
- To be tasty and refreshing
- To be quick and easy to do
The content should contain all of the following:
- A leafy green
- Fresh or frozen fruit
- Healthy oils
- Liquid base
- Any extras
My Breakfast Super smoothie recipe includes:
- Fresh kale (alternative: spinach)
- Mixed frozen summer fruits (including: strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, blackcurrants, red currants)
- Pineapple and avocado (alternatives: banana, apple, mango etc, any fruit you like)
- Goji berries and extra fresh blueberries (alternatives: acai berries, chia seeds)
- Seed mix (including: flaxseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pine nuts)
- Whey Protein Isolate (alternatives: whey protein, pea protein, casein protein)
- Almond milk (alternatives: water, milk, soya milk, coconut milk)
If I do not have any frozen fruit I often add a few ice cubes so that the smoothie is nice and cold.
Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend on full power for 30-60 seconds, pour into a large glass and enjoy.
Tip: Wash both glass and blender as soon as possible as the mixture can become very difficult to shift once it becomes dried on.
Have fun playing around with different ingredients to find a taste which works best for you, then……….Enjoy!
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