By Kim Girard
Morning anxiety is something I have dealt with for most of my life. Waking up with a feeling of dread for the day to come is no stranger to me. Throughout my life, there have been mornings where I just want to crawl back into bed and not face the unknown challenges of the day. There is always an overwhelming sense of nervous energy going on inside me–essentially, this is what anxiety is for me.
That energy needs to be put to good use, so instead of wallowing in my own imagined world of despair, I decided to take matters into my own hands and gradually take on these anxious episodes, one at a time.
That leads me here. There are so many ways that you can work to alleviate your morning anxiety. Have patience, be consistent, and remember that no one is perfect. Everyone has their own set of worries, but it’s key that we learn to manage them in our own unique ways. I hope my strategies can help you create some of your own.
- Get out of bed
There is no better way to start your day than on your feet. There were mornings when I wouldn’t get out of bed. I would delay the beginning of my day by looking at my phone or just staying curled up under the sheets. It honestly felt like a form of self-sabotage. My bed is a safe spot, so I had to break out of that bad habit by getting up the moment I awoke. 8:00 AM is my usual wake-up time; anything earlier and I’ll probably end up tired in the afternoon.
Part of getting up lends itself to creating a morning routine for yourself. There are so many things you can do beyond this point. It’s all up to you and the kind of life you want to create for yourself. Whatever your schedule, make sure you’re breaking free of that safety net and encouraging yourself to start moving.
- Reassure yourself
There were days right up until attending university when I would feel enormous amounts of pressure and an overwhelming sense of anxiety. One of the best ways I managed to reassure myself was to repeat, “If I make it through the day, I’m going to be okay.” I began telling myself this when I was in middle school and had a presentation to do in front of my whole class. Try to find ways to talk to yourself in a positive light and be pragmatic in how you look at whatever is filling you with that feeling of dread for the day.
Another good mantra is to diminish troubling thoughts with questions like, “will this matter in a year?”– the answer is usually no. This way, you can let the anxious thoughts move along, and carry on with your day with greater peace of mind.
- Move your body
There’s no denying that exercise is a great way to start one’s day. Yes, it can be daunting to go from being comfortable in bed to suddenly breaking out a sweat, but there’s no need to force yourself to do anything too extreme. You can always start easy with short walks in the morning around your neighbourhood or a quick 10-minute cardio session. There are so many YouTube workout videos that you can follow along with.
Being an accountability partner to a family member or friend is also a great way to stay committed to your routine and keep on track. If your schedules don’t match up, check in with one another virtually to make sure they’ve met a certain goal for the day, like getting some stretching in or going for a jog.
- Tidy up
As mentioned before, I often feel like my anxiety comes from having a bunch of nervous energy with nowhere to go. It stays inside of me, aching to come out and, in turn, transforming me into somewhat of an emotional wreck. I find that doing something productive in the morning helps a lot – for me, that thing is tidying up. I often make my way to the kitchen and clean up whatever dishes were left out. My mother always told me that “a clean space leads to a clean mind.”
- Focus on creating a new habit
Creating a new habit can go in so many directions. It all depends on the kind of lifestyle you lead and where you can involve some improvement. I spend way too much time staring at screens, whether it’s my phone, laptop or television. As cliché as it sounds, I’ve realized that unplugging is something we can all benefit from, honestly. The noise on social media and the constant barrage of news stories that do not offer the most optimistic outlook on our future can be detrimental to our mental health.
My new habit is to read more books that genuinely interest me. I like to get out of bed, grab a good book and read in a cozy spot in my home.
- Create a morning routine
Much of my anxiety stems from not working with a concrete plan in place. Being directionless is genuinely troublesome to me, and the best way to fight it is to follow a proper morning routine. Getting out of bed, taking a shower, getting dressed, applying my skincare, wearing makeup and eating a nutritious breakfast is a routine I try to follow daily, but no one is perfect. Sometimes I do things differently, but it’s the trying that counts.
In addition, you can even plan your day the evening before. That way, you know where you’re headed, and the anxiety won’t be as intense the next day.
As helpful as these tips can be, no one can follow a flawless routine every single day of the year. Don’t beat yourself up for falling off track sometimes – instead, pick up where you left off and motivate yourself to keep going. I promise that with the right mindset, support and self-care techniques, managing anxiety feels a whole lot easier.
You don’t need to battle feelings like stress, anxiety and worry all alone. Be sure to talk to a family member, a friend, or a teacher if you’re feeling overwhelmed by what’s in your mind.