| cognitive support

Try This Morning Routine To Help Ease Anxiety And Depression

By Sara Novak

Anxiety and depression have become more common than ever. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18 percent of Americans suffer from a generalized anxiety disorder and 16 percent suffer from depression. It’s gotten even worse as a result of COVID. The anxieties of keeping your family safe along with financial concerns, and being isolated from the rest of the world for over a year. Not to mention that our daily habits often contribute to poor mental health. Not exercising enough, poor diet, poor routine, hormone imbalances, poor self esteem, overworking, and the list goes on. If you want to feel happier, you need to do the things in life that contribute to that happiness. Here’s a daily routine that promotes happiness. However, this is not a doctor’s advice. If you’re suffering for major anxiety or depression, see your doctor.

Table Of Contents:

Why Routine Matters:

why routine matters

I’ve always been torn between the need for routine and the need to not feel so ordinary. But in the end, the more you try and stick to some sort of routine, the better you’ll feel. If you’re routine is always changing then you’re more likely not to do the things that contribute to an over all better quality of life and better mental health. Your daily routine gives you a sense of control over your life and your life’s responsibilities. It’s also closely tied to your sleep cycle. 

Read More: How To Get A Prefect Night Of Sleep

How To Get Into A Good Routine:

how to get into a routine

Good routines don’t happen overnight. They take work to cultivate. Don’t get too frustrated if you’re trying to establish a good routine and you keep falling short. Just take small steps because in my experience, these are the steps that are long lasting. My yoga and meditation routine took a year to become almost daily but now 14 years later, I’m still holding to it. Add one thing at a time. If you’re trying to adjust your bedtime, do a little at a time. 

Try This Daily Routine To Improve Your Mental Health:

1. Wake Up Early (5:30 a.m.)

wake up early

The earlier you wake up, the more freedom you have in your day to do the things that make you tick. Early risers have more time for yoga, meditation, journaling, tea, and the list goes on. Yogis call this time in the morning before the sun has risen “the magic hour” because it’s calm and much easier to meditate. Research has shown that night owls are more likely to have depression. Another study, published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences correlated personality traits to circadian rhythms and found that those who were early risers were more likely to be agreeable, conscientious, and less neurotic. If you’re trying to wake up earlier, the best way to make the transition is by moving up your bedtime 15 minutes a night and setting your alarm clock 15 minutes earlier each morning until you get to your desired time.  If you sleep in once in a while, no big deal. But early risers tend to be happier. 

2. Meditate (5:30-6 a.m.)

meditate

First things first. Meditation is one of the best ways to get your day started right. It organizes your thoughts, helps you to be less reactionary, and even changes your brain. Research has shown over and over again that those who meditate on a regular basis are much less likely to have depression. A study published in the journal American Family Physician found that regular meditation positively impacted those with depression for up to six months. While the benefits were not as noticeable in patients with anxiety, it was still effective. The authors write “there are no apparent negative effects of mindfulness-based interventions, and their general health benefits justify their use as adjunctive therapy for patients with depression and anxiety disorders.” Another study published in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education found that “adopting a mindfulness practice for as little as once per week may reduce stress and anxiety in college students.” And finally, a study published in the journal Nursing Education Perspectives found that “anxiety may decrease with mindfulness meditation.” 

3. Yoga (6-6:30 a.m.)

yoga

Yoga is so good for your endocrine system which helps to balance your hormones. Hormones have a lot to do with our mental health and that may be an important reason why the poses have such an impact on our happiness. Doing yoga first thing in the morning means you get the positive hormonal boost throughout the day. Poses like sun salutations, headstand, and backbends are a great way to promote a sense of wellbeing. I have my yoga mat at the edge of my bed so I remember to hit my mat each and every morning. A study published in the journal Depression and Anxiety found that “yoga could be considered an ancillary treatment option for patients with depressive disorders and individuals with elevated levels of depression.” A review published in Alternative Medicine Review found that “evaluation of the current primary literature is suggestive of benefits of yoga in relieving stress and anxiety.”

4. Journaling (6:30-6:45 a.m.)

journaling

This doesn’t have to take a long time, but like meditation, journaling is an excellent way to organize your day. It’s also a great tool for noting what’s working and not working in your life. Writing down a few lines about how your day is going has also been shown to promote happiness. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to be a habit. A study published in the journal JMIR Mental Health found that an online journaling program “mitigated mental distress”  in a medical population. A study published in the journal Archives of Psychiatric Nursing found that “implementing a positive writing intervention is a practical means of promoting psychological well-being as a self-care strategy for this population.” Take it a step further by doing what’s called “gratitude journaling” or writing down a list of things that you’re thankful for each day. This helps remind us to have a glass half-full perspective rather than a glass half-empty. 

5. Detox Treatments (6:45-7 a.m.)

detox

Now it’s time for a little detoxification. This means using a tongue scraper to remove the ama (the nasty white build up) on your tongue. Your tongue is one of the ways that your body pushes toxins out from the inside. Dry brushing to remove dry skin is also a great way to get the body’s lymphatic system moving to push toxins out of the body. The better we feel physically, the less likely we are to deal with anxiety and depression. 

Read More: How To Detox Your Liver

6. Chanting In The Shower (7-7:30 a.m.)

shower chanting

Instead of singing in the shower as you get ready for work, chant instead. Consider a call and response sesh with Krishna Das playing in the background. Chanting is uplifting and it’s thought to unlock your throat chakra so you’re better able to say what you mean and mean what you say. Chanting helps us open to compassion and feel more connected to one another rather than more isolated. When we’re by ourselves for too long, it can sometimes make us think that the world is out to get us, but connection through chanting can help bring us back. A study published in the journal Scientific Reports found that religious chanting was “associated with feelings of transcendental bliss and decreased self-oriented cognition” in other words, those doing the chanting were more likely to feel like they were connected to something larger than themselves. 

7. Morning Pick-Me-Up (7:30-8:30 a.m.)

morning pick me up

Whether you start your day with coffee or tea, know that either one is good for your mental health. A study published in the journal Molecular Nutrition & Food Research “suggests a protective effect of coffee and, partially, of tea and caffeine on risk of depression.” Additionally, data obtained from a review of 11 studies that included 330,677 participants was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. The authors write that “coffee and caffeine consumption were significantly associated with decreased risk of depression.” However, excessive caffeine can also cause jitters and might not be the best choice in those with anxiety. 

Need a caffeine boost without the anxiety? Try a cleaner version.

miracle morning

UMZU’s Miracle Morning is another great way to get your morning started right. It’s all about getting up and going with the cleanest sources of energy available. Feel better all day long, get more done, be more productive, and improve your mood using all-natural ingredients backed by clinical research. With Miracle Morning, you get: All-natural caffeine from two potent sources L-Theanine and Theacrine. It’s organically-sourced from both pure caffeine and guarana seed extract, so you’ll enjoy a clean rush of energy. It contains L-Theanine which has been shown to improve mood. Research has shown that symptoms of depression, anxiety, and sleep issues decreased with the use of L-Theanine while cognitive function increased. Theacrine is also shown in clinical studies to enhance your mood. Research has shown that it clears brain fog and makes you feel balanced. The bottom line is that it’s an ideal way to start your day.

8. Exercise (10 a.m.)

exercise

At around 10 a.m. in the morning cortisol levels are at their highest. You may have noticed that as you come down from your morning caffeine boost and cortisol levels are spiking, you’re starting to feel anxious and sometimes out of control. That’s why 10 a.m. is a great time to exercise and boost those feel good hormones once again. Exercise is a great tool for combatting heightened cortisol levels because it releases dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin. A study published in The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine found that “exercise compares favorably to antidepressant medications as a first-line treatment for mild to moderate depression and has also been shown to improve depressive symptoms when used as an adjunct to medications.” Another study published in the Journal of Neural Transmission found that “the evidence for positive effects of exercise and exercise training on depression and anxiety is growing.” Research shows that midmorning is a great time to take a break from work and break a sweat. 

9. Have Happy Hour With A Friend (5 p.m.)

happy hour with a friend

After work, it’s time to tend to your relationships. As mentioned above, connection is one of the most important aspects of happiness. The more isolated we are, the more likely we’ll suffer from anxiety and depression. Again, this is why COVID has been so hard on so many of us. Of course, you don’t want to overdo alcohol. Keep it to one to two drinks considering that once you move past moderation, alcohol becomes a depressant. Choose a biodynamic wine or a clean alcohol like high quality, organic tequila. Or if you’re not into having a drink enjoy a kombucha or healthy mocktail. It’s not about the drink, it’s about building and maintaining those bonds. A study published in The British Journal of Psychiatry found that “both size of social network were significant predictors of depressive symptoms.” Another study published in the journal Development and Psychopathology “support the importance of efforts to strengthen social support networks to offset risk as well as potentially treat depression.”

10. Wind Down Effectively (8 p.m.)

wind down effectively

Your nightly routine is just as important as your morning routine because if you can’t wake up early enough in the morning, you won’t have time for all the activities that stave off anxiety and depression. At night, don’t watch emotional television or read upsetting books that might wake you up instead of allowing you to wind down. Play soft music, take a warm bath, spray lavender essential oil on your pillow, listen to a sound bath, and put on comfy pajamas. Winding down at night might be the most important aspect of a strong mental health routine because almost immediately a lack of sleep increases your risk of depression and anxiety.