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4 Things I Started Doing to Reduce Stress in the Mornings

So, let’s be real. I am very high anxiety. I freak out about pretty much everything and always have to stop and remind myself that it’s not the end of the world when something goes wrong. I’m always running at a hundred miles an hour and flying out the door only minutes before I have to be at work. My normal routine was waking up, getting ready, taking the dog out, packing lunch and snacks, making coffee and then shoving food down my throat before I run out the door. This left absolutely ZERO time for me to just relax, breathe in the moment and prepare myself for the day.

That kind of lifestyle benefits nobody. It left me stressed out and it left my boyfriend stressed out for me, so I decided to sit down and reevaluate my morning routine. These 4 changes have helped immensely in reducing my anxiety and making me feel way less stressed as I start my day.

Prepare the night before

Lunch and snacks I have started putting together before I go to bed at night. They all go in a bag in the fridge so I can just grab it. I’ve also started figuring out what I am going to where and setting it on my closet shelf. That way I don’t have to try on and take off 3 or 4 different outfits before I decide on the right one. You’d be surprised (or you may already know) how much time that saves!

Hand over responsibilities

My dog is very high energy. He NEEDS to go for long walks at least once if not more every day. I was trying to fit a 30 minute walk in with him when I barely had any time to spare. So, instead of walking him every morning, I now share the responsibility with my boyfriend. He takes him out a majority of time during the day because he’s home a bit more, so I felt guilty not doing the morning walks, but the truth is, he has more time and doesn’t actually mind sharing in the morning walks with me. Now, the days I do walk him are the days I go into work a little later in the day, so I feel as if I’m on less of a time crunch.

This one was hard for me. I’m very independent and feel the need to do everything myself. The truth though is I’m not alone. Don’t feel as if everything needs to fall on your shoulders. Look around you and ask for help. Sharing daily responsibilities lightens the load. Don’t be afraid to try it!

Set an alarm for bedtime 

It’s always been a struggle for me to get up in the morning because I’m a night owl. Switching to an early bird lifestyle has been an adjustment, but I am improving! I realized that if I want to get up earlier, I need to go to bed earlier. That’s why I set an alarm to remind me one hour before bedtime. In that one hour, I prefer for the next day, get myself ready for bed and then wind down before pulling up the covers.

Let the world be still

The one thing I always find very hard is making time for myself. Spending just 5-10 minutes a day doing absolutely nothing but taking care of me. It’s so freaking hard, but recently I was reminded that if I don’t take care of myself, how am I going to be well enough to take care of anyone else. Meditation has been such and amazing insertion into my life this past year. It’s something I try to do regularly before bed, but it’s also something I try to find just a moment for each morning. Meditation can be different for everyone. For me, it’s sitting on the couch in peace and quiet with my eyes closed. I don’t think about yesterday or the day ahead, but the simple sound of my breath.

Life can be hard, sometimes seriously overwhelming, but life is also a blessing. We were given this amazing opportunity to make memories, explore and live every single day as if it was our last because we never know when that might be. It’s too short to be stressed out, so if you are feeling like me, sit down. Take a look at everything around you and try to figure out where you can incorporate changes to take a little bit of the load off. Start small, even the littlest steps in the right direction will make a huge difference.


Power of the Mind

I began adding meditation into my nightly routine about a year ago. Back then I didn’t truly understand it and it was incredibly hard for me. “Start with just 30 seconds and go from there,” they said. “Let your mind go blank.”

30 seconds, I thought. I can do anything for 30 seconds. It turns out, 30 seconds of meditation was impossible for me. I tried not to think about anything. I tried to put my mind at complete silence, but failed, so I gave up. Meditation just isn’t for me, I thought.

Then began the panic attacks. They started off maybe once a month and after 6 or 7 months it became weekly. Weekly turned into not sleeping for days at a time. Just as I was about to fall asleep, I would shoot back up again in bed, barely able to catch my breath. My heart was pounding out of my chest and my body shaking.

I went to the doctor and she told me that the panic attacks stem from my mind not being able to succumb to sleep. That I had so much running through my mind at night, it didn’t know how to stop. She put me on anxiety medication. It took about a week, but the panic attacks began to lessen and eventually they disappeared. It took about 3 months to get the dosage just right where I wasn’t falling asleep in my chair during the day or feeling nauseous.

I hated it, taking a pill every day. It wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to make a lifelong commitment to a pill. I didn’t want to rely on a pill to fix me. I wanted to fix myself. My Dr. recommended I introduce some sort of relaxation into my nightly routine using an app, so I downloaded Calm.

First I started out with their adult sleep stories. I focused hard on making sure to follow along instead of being interrupted by my own thoughts. It was hard at first. If I caught myself being distracted, I would quickly refocus. After a few nights, I found myself falling asleep before the stories were even over. Now, I alternate between nightly sleep stories and meditation.

Those 30 minutes before bedtime have become my solace. During that time I wash away the day’s stress. I forget about what I have to do tomorrow and lie still. I check in with myself and what really matters — me. It wasn’t easy. I am always going a hundred miles an hour. Taking time for myself was always on the backburner, but for my well-being and truthfully, the sanity of others, it was time.

We deal with so much pressure on a daily basis. We’re constantly judging ourselves, climbing on our pedestals and falling off them. Who we’re suppose to be and what we’re supposed to do is constantly hanging over our heads. All of that took it’s toll on me. So much was being thrown at me and I didn’t have the right tools to handle it.

Meditation has given me those tools to take control of it all. To reevaluate my priorities and to truly understand the power of the mind and the healing ability of a single breath. We cannot carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. We have to learn to let go. To inhale the positive and exhale the negative.

It’s been 3 months without medication. 3 months with daily meditation. I haven’t had a single panic attack. A direct result, I believe, of slowing down, showing up for myself and saying, I’m here.