Mindful Structure Reduces Morning Anxiety
Are you one of the millions of people who suffer from anxiety regularly? Many people may be even suffering from mild anxiety and not even realize it. As a Highly Sensitive Person, anxiety and regular worrying was commonplace for me until I recognized I had the power to free myself from it or at least loosen the grip it had over me! Over the past few years, I started to recognize a pattern within myself–my anxiety would be the highest when waking up each morning. About nine months ago I gave up drinking and began my sober lifestyle thinking that would banish my anxiety for good. While I did find that sobriety helped reduce my anxiety a lot, there was something else missing from my daily routine and that was structure. Human beings naturally need structure to thrive. For so many years I was fearful that implementing structure in my life would restrict me or it would feel too rigid. The irony is–implementing structure or “chunking” one’s time does the exact opposite–it sets us up to get more done and to be more successful with our time. This reduces anxiety so the fear itself was not real and I found this false belief was holding me back from moving forward in my life. Here are two things you can do to facilitate structure in your life and reduce your morning anxiety now:
Use a Calendar
Whether you’re a fan of Google Calendar (like me), some other online calendar, or even an old-fashioned paper calendar, using this to setup your day can be very powerful. Every Sunday, I sit down for 20-30 minutes to plan out my week ahead. The funny thing is, I actually enjoy the planning process so this part is actually fun for me. Google calendar also allows you to color code different events on your calendar so that makes it more fun. Regardless, the key to successful calendar use is to plan out as much as possible from things like going to work, going out with friends, family, a trip to the grocery store, workouts, cleaning the house, or eating a meal. I know that can feel overwhelming at first–trust me a totally get it but stay with me here. You can setup your calendar with regular daily routines to make it less overwhelming. For example, you may go to work Monday through Friday from 9 am until 5 pm so this would be setup as a re-occuring appointment on your calendar and any online system should do this for you automatically. Just visually looking at having my week all figured out in advance is enough to help me feel less anxious immediately and the cool thing is, you can always make changes to your schedule along the way!
Start the day with “Morning Pages”
For those of you that have not heard of Julia Cameron’s, “Morning Pages,” it will change your life forever. Basically Morning Pages is setting aside about 45 minutes at the start of your day to journal anything that comes out of your mind onto paper. It is important, however for you to do this right after waking up in the morning because this is the time your subconscious mind is most active and your ego brain is quietest after a night of rest. The thoughts that you write on paper at this time are the most accurate and are usually the things you will find you need to work on or improve in your life in order to grow from a state of fear. I like to think of Morning Pages is answering the questions in the conscious that my subconscious mind already knows. It is also a great way to dump the thoughts from your head onto paper so they are no longer overwhelming your mind. The art of journaling first thing in the morning allows you to stop morning anxiety dead in its tracks and the fabulous thing is that whatever you write is for your eyes only! Morning Pages is not intended to be shared with anyone.
What do you think of these tips? What daily practices or structure do you implement in your life to reduce morning anxiety?