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The 20-Minute Morning Routine That Relieves Anxiety

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.

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.

Reference

More by this author

Ben Jones

Fitness Coordinator

We Feel Empty Because Our Bodies Aren’t Evolved to Cope With the Current Lifestyle How Not to Let Negative Thoughts Trump the Positive Vibes The 20-Minute Morning Routine That Relieves Anxiety The 10-Minute Daily “Lifestyle Trigger” That Relieves Anxiety and Depression 2 Major Flaws in Your Diet That Cause Stress and Anxiety

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Published on October 11, 2018

7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

7 Killer Upper Back Stretches to Reduce Pain and Boost Endurance

Building and maintaining a strong upper back depends not only on strength-training, but stretching and nutrition as well. Stretching the upper back muscles, along with a healthy diet can help alleviate pain while improving endurance.

Did you know that stretching your upper back builds endurance for sports, your job – which may require heavy lifting – and simple, everyday activities? Many people who exercise don’t recognize the importance of having a strong upper back, and often neglect this part of the body, focusing more on the lower back where injuries are more prone to occur.

Upper back endurance is necessary for runners, hikers, golfers, tennis players, bowlers, cyclists; the list goes on and on. If saving time is important to you, you want to reduce chronic back pain, boost your energy levels, or you simply need ways to get through a day at the office while confined to a computer, you’ll begin to understand why the following upper back stretches and exercises are necessary.

Here are seven stretches, combined with exercises, to help you maintain a strong upper back:

1. Lat Pull-Downs

By contracting and lengthening your latissimus dorsi muscles, trapezius, deltoids, rhomboids, teres major, along with the other muscles groups in and around your upper back, you are building muscle endurance and increasing mobility.

Seated at a lat pull-down machine, select a weight stack that is comfortable. Remember, you’re not preparing for a bodybuilding competition, you just want to exercise the back, so heavy weight is unnecessary.

Grab the wide bar above your head, palms down, and using a wide grip, pull the bar down to your chest and contract your upper back muscles.

Keep your head up, looking at the bar. This also helps keep your spine straight and provides a clearance so that the bar doesn’t hit your face. Slowly return the bar to the top and repeat for 15 reps. Do three to four sets.

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Here’s the correct technique by Denice Moberg:

2. Indoor Rowing

If upright exercises like walking on the treadmill or running outdoors bore you, you can strengthen your core using a rowing machine. Not only will you chisel your back, but the elongation of the upper back during the stroke motion creates a good stretch.

First, select a tension that is challenging but not a struggle. Make sure that your feet are securely placed in the machine’s foot straps, nice and tight to prevent the feet from moving while rowing.

Next, slide yourself in the rowing saddle forward toward the row bar and pull the bar toward the mid-section of your trunk area, which is the finish. Pulling the bar, bring your elbows beyond your back while contracting your upper muscles and rear shoulders.

Your back should be straight with a slight angle of around 100 degrees. Do not hunch.

During the catch, your legs should be at a 90 degree angle while locking out your arms completely. As a stretching exercise, repeat this motion for five minutes.

Here’s how you can do it:

3. Side Plank Rotation

If you’re short on time, floor exercises such as planks strengthen your core and can be done at home or during your lunch break at work. They can be done in 30 to 60 second increments.

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There are a few plank variations:

The low-position forearm plank in which your body weight is supported by your elbows; the straight-arm plank, which is a high-position plank; side plank in which your body is turned to one side and supported by one straightened arm; the stability-ball plank which is more challenging for your trunk; and the plank that gives you a good stretch is the side plank rotation.

To begin the side plank rotation, begin in the high plank position. Slowly turn your body to one side while stacking one foot on top of the other. Extend the opposite arm toward the ceiling and as you lower your arm, reaching underneath your body and rotating your trunk.

Done properly, you will feel the stretch along your rhomboids and shoulders. Repeat the rotation – reaching and tucking – 10 times. Switch sides.

Here’s a Side Plank Rotation demonstrated by Train Aggressive:

4. Yoga Stretches

A good way to incorporate breathing with stretching and gain flexibility in your core is Kundalini yoga – an intense yoga practice – gets your blood flowing and works wonders for the spine and posture.

The “Cat-Cow” pose is a great upper back warm-up, and when combined with the “Breath Of Fire”[1] or “fast breathing,” energy is sent through the entire body which stimulates the flow of cell activity and increases lung capacity.

On all fours, arms straight and directly below your shoulders, and knees directly below your hips, hunch your back, inhaling as you tuck your head into your chest, then exhale while arching your back and raise your head toward to sky.

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The rapid inhaling and exhaling in this exercise is known as the “Breath Of Fire,” as mentioned above. Increase the pace of both the “Cat-Cow” and “Breath Of Fire” and repeat this movement for up to five minutes.

This is how to do a Cat-Cow pose for energy:

5. Side Bends

This is a simple stretch to elongate the space between your ribs and increase range of motion, which helps achieve flexibility in the abdominals, spine, and lateral core.

Seated or standing with your back straight, raise your arms above your head and firmly hold your wrist. Gently pull your trunk to one side and hold for 20 to 30 seconds. When finished, repeat on opposite side.

Note: If standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart, if seated keep your feet flat on the floor.

Let’s take a look at how to do a standing side bend:

6. Pole Stretch

By creating opposing force and pulling on a stationary object, you are stretching your lats. The upper sides of your back. Here, you are performing a static stretch which is a stretch held beyond its normal range.

Find a pole, mounted gym apparatus, or other floor-affixed object and, while standing, pull on the object with slightly bent knees and back flat at a 45-degree angle.

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Continue to pull while extending your arms, feeling the stretch in your lats and rhomboid muscles. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat if needed.

7. Shoulder Blade Stretch

The shoulder blades are connected to the rhomboid muscles in the upper back. Sudden, quick movements like pulling a heavy object or even tossing a near-weightless object overhead, like a tennis ball during a serve, can strain the unstretched muscles between your shoulder blades, causing spasms.

Here’s how to avoid muscle strain:

Standing tall with feet shoulder width apart, gently pull your elbow across your chest, just beneath your chin, and hold for 15 seconds. If you do not feel immediate relief, try lowering or raising the elbow and perform the stretch again. Different angles can make a big difference.

There you have it – Seven upper back stretches and exercises to reduce pain and improve endurance. But while upper back stretches are important, a diet rich in antioxidants is equally key.

Bonus Tip: Getting a Diet Rich in Antioxidants

Antioxidants, also known as “Super Foods,” prevent the build up of free radicals in your body and control oxidative stress. These free radicals are toxins that get in the way of endurance, flexibility, and cause inflammation, among other fitness obstacles.

How do you incorporate antioxidants into your diet? Here are some common foods and beverages rich in antioxidants:

A good combination of quick and easy targeted cardiovascular exercises, static stretches, range-of-motion stretches, and yoga poses can increase upper back endurance and boost your energy levels, making your activities – both sedentary and active – manageable and fun.

Once you begin to incorporate these methods of relief into your routine, you will begin to walk taller, run farther, and hike longer!

Featured photo credit: Geert Pieters via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Yogapedia: Breath of Fire

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