Starting the day off right.

I wake up each day at least a couple of hours before I head off to work. Always have, and I suspect, until retirement, I always will. While I’ve occupied this time in different ways over the years, a couple of months ago I decided to start things off with an anti-Anxiety routine.

I launched most days with exercise, meditation, and then listing one thing I feel grateful for. I’ve kept it up, and it’s proven very helpful to beginning my day in a better place than it would naturally be. At a minimum, I don’t start the day with Anxiety hanging over me. At it’s best, it frames my whole day with a positive mindset.

Let me write a bit more about why each of the activities is helpful.

After my wife and I take care of puppy duties, I head down to the basement for a 30-minute workout. The workouts are good for at least two reasons. First and foremost, I fatigue my muscles. That makes it hard for Anxiety to latch on to my muscles as a source of tension for at least a few hours, if not more. I cannot emphasize this point enough. Exercise is great for reducing the bodily pain that Anxiety likes to create; the muscles simply cannot cooperate. Secondly, exercise often puts my mind in a zone. I find it hard to think about much else when I’m doing chest presses or squats.

Body taken care of, I then take care of the mind. Using a mobile app I cannot say enough about (i.e. Headspace), I meditate for at least 10 minutes each morning. Truth be told, I suck at meditation; my mind does lots of wandering. But, at a minimum, the closed eyes with slow, controlled breathing in and of itself is a great way to start the day. At it’s best, I actually clear my mind, and focus it on the breathing. Either way, I end the practice with a relaxed brain.

Lastly, each day I list something I’m grateful for (e.g. for one of my friends; for my collection of garden photos; or, when the weather cooperates, the beautiful day that has just begun). Expressing gratitude is a proven method to stave off Anxiety; and it’s such an easy thing to do. Beyond the simple initial expression, I find myself thinking more about the object of my daily gratitude many times during the day. Additionally, I then compile all my expressions of gratitude into a journal so I can read through them all when I need a pick-me-up. To date I have more than 60 expressions of gratitude. Reading through the list with slow, intention is also a great way to lessen Anxiety when It has reared Its ugly head.

On the weekend I add another practice to my morning routine. I write. Writing is very therapeutic to me. In fact, as followers of this blog know, at times I also write during the week. If I’m experiencing Anxiety, it is one of the best ways for me to calm my mind and body down.

So, I realize that not everyone has time in the morning to do all that I do. I have one suggestion. Practice expressing gratitude. It doesn’t take long, and it works wonders. And, by all means, write it down, so you refer to the list later.

Do you have suggestions for other morning routines to stave off Anxiety? I’d love to read them.

In any case, I hope this post was helpful.