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The 20-Minute Morning Routine That Relieves Anxiety

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The 20-Minute Morning Routine That Relieves Anxiety

Anxiety. I call it a brick wall.

I want to enjoy time with my friends and family… Brick wall.

I want to go to work… Brick wall.

I want to go on holiday… Brick wall.

I want to enjoy my life… Brick wall.

Constantly hitting this brick wall gets exhausting and makes things in life very difficult.

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When you suffer from anxiety, everything you used to do that you once enjoyed feels impossible. There’s a great big brick wall in the way, which makes everything feel out of reach and difficult to obtain. This brick wall is filled with an overload of stress hormones, crippling symptoms, and debilitating thoughts.

Now, I could talk all day about the symptoms and how tough it is, but that’s not going to get me anywhere, or you for that matter. There’s one question we need to talk ask ourselves: What actions can you take to relieve anxiety?

What if I told you that you can make this wall a lot easier to get over? Not through therapy or medication, but with your own specific actions that I call “Lifestyle Triggers”. Stick with me, I’m going to teach you what these lifestyle triggers are and how they fit into the perfect morning routine that truly relieves anxiety.

Sounds good, right? Let’s get to it.

The Biological Problem and Lifestyle Triggers

Everyone looks at anxiety as a psychological problem. This is most people’s first mistake.

Sure, anxiety can be triggered by negative thoughts and thought cycles, but the body is designed to be able to endure negative thoughts. The problems and symptoms really start when it turns into a physical, biological problem.

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Normally, there is a good balance between stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) and feel-good neurotransmitters (chemical messengers in the brain). These complement each other and they create what I call a “Hormone Harmony”, as this balance creates serenity throughout the body.

With me so far? Good, let’s keep going.

The uncontrollable symptoms of anxiety start when the adrenaline and cortisol stress hormones are too high. In combination with that, the feel-good neurotransmitters are too low. To put it simply, your anxiety symptoms are caused by a hormone disharmony.

This is good news, believe it or not. Let me explain.

Now that you know what the physical problem is, you just need to know how to reverse it. Let’s start with your morning routine. Remember earlier when I spoke about lifestyle triggers? What are they exactly?

Lifestyle triggers are small daily actions that can reverse the damage done to your overall hormone harmony. Then, hey presto! Your stress hormones and anxiety will start to decrease.

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The Morning Routine

The morning routine consists of three of these lifestyle triggers that work to help improve your hormone harmony. They are as follows:

1. Ten Minutes Of Flexible Exercise

I call this flexible exercise because it’s so short that it can fit in with any lifestyle. It’s far better to exercise in this way if you’re anxious. Why? Because if your stress hormones are already higher than they should be (due to anxiety), normal exercise will increase them further. It’s very important to remember exercise is a stress to the mind and body itself.[1]

Because flexible exercise is so brief, it allows the body to adapt to the stress of exercise. This has a normalizing effect on your stress hormones adrenaline/cortisol and reduces them when you’re at rest. I call this effect creating a “Positive Exercise-Stress Axis”.

2. Five Minutes Of Calm Breathing

After the flexible exercise burst, perform five minutes of calm breathing. This is a very simple but crucial lifestyle trigger that, when performed daily, trains your body to breathe correctly. This helps to calm your nervous system and ultimately continues to reduce those anxiety-causing hormones.

To practice calm breathing, follow these steps:

  • Sit in a quiet place with good posture
  • Keep your head up and shoulders back, so your airway is open
  • Slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth
  • Ensure your stomach extends with each breath, to ensure deep breathing
  • Repeat these actions for five minutes

3. Eat A Complete Meal

The last lifestyle trigger is to eat a complete meal. In the mornings, this means eating breakfast. To decrease any anxiety, take it a step further to mean a complete meal. So what is a complete meal? A complete meal is a meal that has the a balance of all three of the macronutrients that the body needs. These are your fats, proteins, and carbohydrates.[2]

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Traditional breakfasts tend to be imbalanced with refined carbohydrates. An imbalanced breakfast like this creates an up and down effect on sugar levels. This makes your body release even more stress hormones. It does this to try and stabilize your sugar levels.

Eating a complete meal stops this problem and reduces stress hormones. A good complete meal to try would be: a high protein yogurt, whole oats, blueberries, and almonds.

So there they are, the three lifestyle triggers that create the 20-minute morning routine that relieves anxiety. As you can see, they all complement each other and help to restore balance of the body’s hormone harmony.

Motivational Energy

Now, if what I have spoken about makes sense to you, you probably have some motivational energy. This is that little light bulb moment you get when something makes sense and you get a burst of motivation and you’re like, Right! I’m going to do this.

But the problem is, the light bulb isn’t on for long and the odds are you will wake up tomorrow not feeling motivated and you will end up not trying the routine.

So what’s important is what you do right now! Allow routine to fuel your motivation, alleviate anxiety, and thereby revitalize your life.

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Remember, if you are experiencing symptoms of stress or anxiety, always seek medical advice and talk to a doctor. These things are nothing to be ashamed of. If you found these strategies useful, please like and share, as it might help someone else going through the same thing. We can beat things like stress and anxiety together.

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Ben Jones

Fitness Coordinator

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Published on January 18, 2022

How to Stop Being Anxious And Regain Your Calm

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How to Stop Being Anxious And Regain Your Calm

Are you sick and tired of wasting your mental and emotional energy worrying about (and replaying) events in your mind? Even sabotaging yourself, your performance, and your relationships, at times? Constantly playing the “what if” game in your mind?

Let’s be honest, feeling anxious is miserable and unequivocally sucks the enjoyment out of life. It does this because it is impossible to be in the present moment when you are constantly worried about the future or past events. Here’s the deal—it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s talk about some tips on how to stop being anxious and get your calm back.

The Difference Between Feeling Anxious and Having Anxiety

Feeling anxious is just part of the human experience and is a normal stress response. When the stress is removed, the anxiety usually goes away, too. With an anxiety disorder, the stressful trigger is removed but the anxiety can still be present.[1]

There are multiple anxiety disorders with varying characteristics. If you are concerned that you may have one of them, it is best to be evaluated by your doctor, especially since anxiety is very common. According to research, up to 33% of all Americans will experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime.[2]

What Can You Do to Manage Feeling Anxious?

The good news is there’s a lot that you can do to stop being anxious. Science is learning more and more every day about ways we can manage feeling anxious.

I am a strong believer in being proactive and preventative. If you have a lot of stress in your life or are prone to feeling anxious, I always recommend establishing a foundation of good daily habits. That way, when something happens to poke the anxiety bear, you are already in a position to handle things.

Twenty tips may be overwhelming for some people but remember: you are not expected to incorporate every tip on this list. Look at it as a menu of potential helpful options. You can pick and choose whatever you want and leave the rest.

Here are 20 tips on how to stop being anxious:

1. Eat the Right Food

It might come as a surprise to some, but certain foods can make anxiety worse, such as sugary foods, processed foods, alcohol, caffeine, and artificial sweeteners.[3]

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Here are some foods you can try instead that can help reduce anxiety: Brazil nuts, fatty fish, eggs, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, Turmeric, Chamomile, yogurt, and green tea.[4]

2. Stay Hydrated

One simple tip to help you stop being anxious is by staying hydrated. Even being mildly dehydrated has been shown to worsen anxiety.[5] So, drink up! Water, that is.

3. Work Some Mindfulness Into Your Day

This one shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Meditation and diaphragmatic breathing (breathing into your belly and engaging your abdominals upon exhale) are what usually come to mind, but there are some other fast and easy exercises that can help calm you down almost immediately.

One of my favorites is called Five Things, and it’s based upon our five senses (sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch). It can be done in any order.

For example, you might start by picking five things you can see. As you list each item, it’s important to take in the detail of each one. Next, you pick four things you can feel, noting each item with the same attention to detail. Work your way down to one item accompanying your last sense.

4. Get Some Exercise

Completing 30 minutes of exercise three to five days a week may significantly improve symptoms of anxiety. Even as little as 10 minutes has a positive impact.[6]

In one study, exercise was shown to be as effective as medication in the treatment of symptoms of anxiety, with higher intensity exercise more effective than lower intensity exercise.[7]

5. Sit With It/Observe It

Dr. Judson Brewer recently penned a book (and an app) entitled Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind in which he discusses turning toward our emotions as a way to process them rather than distracting ourselves or bottling things up (turning away).

He encourages people to be an observer of the emotional response in their bodies, almost as if conducting a research project in great detail and noting the exact location of physical sensations (stomach, right or left side, front or back) with as much detail as possible.

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6. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an approach that utilizes the cyclical connection between our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors as a means to control unwanted (anxious) thoughts.

One exercise to stop ruminating thoughts includes picturing a stop sign in great detail, instructing yourself to “stop,” and then changing the narrative to something positive, encouraging, or even more realistic or likely.

Another CBT exercise involves challenging negative thought patterns and beliefs for validity by asking yourself:

  • Is there evidence for my thought or am I making assumptions?
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Is this likely?
  • What’s the best that could happen?
  • What’s most likely to happen?
  • Will this matter in a week, a year, or five years from now?

7. Realize What You Can and Can’t Control

Take action where you can. Many of us spend time worrying and feeling anxious over things we can’t control.

Figure out what you can do and take action from there. Studies show that taking action reduces anxiety.[8]

8. Gratitude

Reminding ourselves of the good things in our lives not only brings positivity to us but also reduces anxiety. This is because it is neurologically impossible for our brain to focus on negative and positive information at the same time.[9]

9. Volunteer or Do Something for Someone Else

Helping others feels good. It also reduces stress, boosts our immune system, and can help us live longer.[10]

10. Journal in the 3rd Person

The practice of journaling has long been known as a valuable tool to help us manage our emotions, and it can also help us stop being anxious and regain our calm.

Making a point to name the emotions you are experiencing (“name it to tame it”) is a principle Dr. Dan Siegel discovered that heightens the value of journaling. More recently, Dr. Kross, in his book, Chatter: The Voice in Our Head, Why It Matters, and How to Harness It, noted that journaling in the 3rd person (as if narrating your life) creates further value by creating some distance between you and the emotion you are experiencing, thus allowing you to breathe easier and gain perspective.

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11. Go Out Into Nature

Spending time in nature has been shown to improve attention, lower stress, improve mood, reduce the risk of psychiatric disorders, and even cause upticks in empathy and cooperation.[11]

12. Spend Time With Animals

Dogs are not only your best friend, but it turns out they are good for your mental and emotional health, too. The fact that cats just allow you to live with them as their servant doesn’t detract from the positive impact they also have on our emotional well-being.

Spending time cuddling with your pet on the couch can decrease levels of cortisol (a stress-related hormone) and lower blood pressure. Other studies have also found that animals can reduce loneliness, increase feelings of social support, and boost your mood.[12]

13. Get Good Sleep

Getting good sleep can be difficult when we feel anxious, but being tired can worsen the issue. Try sticking to a consistent bedtime, make your bedroom dark, the temperature cool, and limit screen time before going to sleep.

14. Limit Alcohol and Caffeine

Alcohol changes the level of neurotransmitters in our brain. This can lead to a heightened sense of anxiety. Caffeine is a stimulant, specifically stimulating our fight or flight response, which is already more sensitive for those struggling with anxiety. Use both in moderation.

15. Show Yourself Compassion and Encouragement

What would you say to your best friend? Many times we make things worse by shaming or berating ourselves for feeling anxious because we fear it makes us appear weak or vulnerable. This makes the problem worse.

What would your best friend say to you? Stop beating yourself up and be your own best friend.

16. Spend Time With Friends

Healthy friendships make us feel included, improve self-confidence and self-esteem, and thus, help reduce anxiety.[13]

17. Create Balance in Your Life

Set healthy boundaries and priorities, and don’t be afraid to enforce them. Nobody else can do this for you. Value yourself. You are worth it.

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18. Have a Plan

Another tip to help you stop being anxious is to have a plan. Knowing what you will do takes away a lot of the “what if” thoughts in your mind. Being certain about some things and managing your expectations can help give you peace of mind.

19. Remind Yourself of a Past Event

You can also try to remind yourself of a past event in your life that you were anxious about but still ended up okay. Have confidence that you will make it through this situation, too.

20. Have Some Structure or Routine in Your Day

Knowing what to expect can significantly reduce anxiety and the fear that can accompany uncertainty.[14] Give yourself as much structure as you need. You’ll thank yourself for it.

Final Thoughts

It can be difficult to manage feelings of being anxious. Take charge and pick a few of these to try out. Be consistent, and see how you feel.

You can always discard what doesn’t work for you, and pick something else to try. Confide in a friend that you are implementing some new strategies, and get some support.

Always tell your doctor your concerns, and don’t hesitate to get help if you are having difficulty managing things on your own. Good luck!

More Tips for Calming Your Mind

Featured photo credit: Ben White via unsplash.com

Reference

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