Morning Routine For Anxiety & Stress: 10 Steps to Start Your Day Right

November 17, 2021

What if I told you that I have a great morning routine for anxiety? That's right—it's taken me years to perfect it, but I have discovered and regularly practice a specific morning routine that sets me up for a stress-free day.

The best part? I've shared it with my friends, family, and patients, and it's worked for them, too!

Take a moment and ask yourself what kind of day you want to have—and if you're willing to adjust your morning regimen to set yourself up for a day of minimal stress and anxiety.

If the answer is yes, keep reading this article, where I lay out this exact routine for you! Here's to more peaceful, calming days for us all!


Have a Stress-Free Day: Dr. Pingel’s Morning Routine for Anxiety

Simply put, the way you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of your day. So, ask yourself this: What do you want your day to bring?

If you find that your day are filled with anxiety and stress, it may be time to over haul how you’re starting each day. Ready for some tips? Read on for my morning routine for anxiety.


Morning routine for anxiety - Dr. Pingel


Step 1: Wake up naturally with the sun. 

Did you know that, according to Ayurveda, it’s best to wake up by 6 a.m., so that you rise with the sun and take advantage of its naturally energy?

Now, of course, this means you’ll have to reset your internal clock and go to bed earlier, but the truth of the matter is that this is the first tip off my morning routine for anxiety because it’s so effective and an absolute must for reducing stress and anxiety throughout your day.

By waking up with the sunrise, you’re not only giving yourself more time to go through your newly established morning routine for anxiety,  but you’re also supporting your health in other ways.

In fact, studies have shown that early risers improves both attention and ability to recall information. [1]

Additional research also linked those who got to bed and rise at later times with poorer health outcomes.

According to one study, adolescents who went to bed and woke up at later times were 1.47 times more likely to be overweight, 2.16 times more likely to be obese, 1.77 times more likely to have less movement throughout the day, and 2.92 times more likely to have high screen time than those who went to bed and woke up earlier. [2]

I don’t know about you, but worrying about gaining unhealthy amounts of weight and suffering from memory lags is enough to stress me out, so it’s just easier to adjust my bedtime to allow or earlier mornings.

So, where do you start? Begin by moving your bedtime up by 15- to 30-minute increments as needed until you’re getting enough sleep that you naturally wake up by 6 a.m. without your alarm clock. It may take a week or two, but you’ll be amazed at how much better you feel when you get there.

Step 2: Don’t check your phone.

When it comes to my morning routine for anxiety, I have one must-do, no exceptions rule: No smartphone until work hours. In fact, leave it out of your bedroom altogether.

When I pitch this to my patients, I’m often met with this simple statement: “But, Dr. Pingel, I use my smartphone as an alarm clock!”

Fortunately, by learning to wake up with the sun, you won’t need that alarm clock any longer!

To really get the most out of this morning routine for anxiety, try to go at least a solid hour before checking your phone. Even better? Think back to the "old days" when you didn't check your messages until you got to your desk at the office.

For more information on why I recommend putting off checking your smart phone and how it impacts anxiety and stress, check out my article: Ditch Your Phone.

Step 3: Make your bed.

My next tip in my morning routine for anxiety is a simple one: Make your bed.

I don’t know about you, but when I make my bed in the mornings before leaving my room, it helps me to feel more organized and prepared for the day.

Plus, it gives you an immediate small win by giving you a bit of tangible control over at least a small part of your life. While minor, this, in turn, could set you up for taking control of the rest of your morning and entire day, which will help to alleviate some stress and anxiety.

Step 4: Drink water.

We’ve discussed the benefits of staying hydrated, but did you know that research has shown that drinking water before breakfast can do wonders not only for your physical health but also your mental health?

According to a 2018 study on 3,327 people, those who drank the least amount of water experienced double the risk for depression and anxiety. Meanwhile, those who drank more water experienced a decreased risk of depression. [3]

Specifically, the men’s risk decreased by 73 percent while women experienced a 54 percent decreased risk.

Plus, there’s the added benefit of what it does for your health. Studies have shown that drinking just two cups of water can increase your metabolism by 24 percent over the next hour. [4]

I recommend drinking at least one full cup (8 ounces) of water before breakfast to help kickstart your metabolism and also help put you in the right mindset for the day.

Make it the very next thing you after making your bed, so that you’ve accomplished two goals back-to-back, which is a great positive way to start your day.

Step 5: Walk outside.

The next step in my morning routine for anxiety is to get outside for a relaxing stroll. Not only has walking been shown to relieve stress, but the simple act of going outside can relieve both stress and anxiety.

Now, you can take your coffee or tea along with you. And if you’re not up for a morning stroll for whatever reason, you can simply sit outside and enjoy the natural elements of your yard.

If it’s too cold, try sitting by a window in a comfortable chair with a blanket and just enjoy the silence.

Alternatively, you could take this time to catch up with a family member such as your partner or child—device free! Remember, spending time with those you love most has also been shown to relieve stress and anxiety and even support longevity!

Step 6: Think of what you’re thankful for.

Regardless of whether you spend this time alone or with company, this is a great time to also practice gratitude, reframe your mind to positive thoughts, and mentally plan your day.

When I get my mind into a positive place, I am able to accomplish so much more! In fact, some of my very best ideas come during this time during my morning routine for anxiety.

You can take turns sharing what you’re thankful for with your family member or spend time meditating, praying, reading devotionals or inspirational quotes, or even writing what you’re grateful for in a journal.

If you need actionable tips to get started, check out my five tips for practicing gratitude.

Step 7: Eat a healthy breakfast.

After I enjoy my time outdoors with my cup of coffee, I make sure to prioritize eating a healthy breakfast. Here’s why …

When you’re under stress and feeling anxious, your body naturally depletes certain nutrients. (B vitamins are a great example of this.)

So, eating a nutrient-rich breakfast is a key step in my morning routine for anxiety.

Some of my easy go-to breakfasts include this Collagen-Boosting Smoothie Bowl with Kiwi and Berries, a delicious Blueberry Vanilla Quinoa Bowl, and this family-favorite Simple Chia Seed Pudding with Strawberry Kiwi Compote.

I also make sure to take stress-fighting supplements as needed.

Step 8: Visualize what your day should look like.

Next, it’s time to get ready. You likely already have a set routine for this, but just keep this one element in mind: As you’re showering, getting dressed, etc., purposefully visualize what your day should look like.

This not only includes what you want to accomplish, but also how you want to feel at the end of the day. Imagine yourself having some big wins, some quiet moments, and time to rest and restore while you stay hydrated and eat a nutritious lunch.

Thinking though my day and visualizing it in my head is a huge part of my morning routine for anxiety and helps me feel like I have control over what’s coming my way.

Step 9: Go to work.

Finally, it’s time to go to work. Whether you work from home or travel to an office, allow yourself to be fully present with your work. This will help to reduce any anxiety that can by trying to multitask with personal commitments.

This is the perfect time to pull out that smartphone and dive into whatever the day brings you. And by taking adequate time to follow steps one through eight of my morning routine for anxiety, you’re mentally prepared to handle the day’s work demands.

Step 10: Experiment to see what works for you.

Finally, it’s worth noting that while my morning routine for anxiety has worked wonders for me and many people I know, everyone is different. Accordingly, you may need to make a few adjustments for this routine to work best for you.

Perhaps you need to change up the order of these steps or add a couple more into it to make it truly customized for your lifestyle. The important thing to remember is the goal: To emerge from your morning routine for anxiety feeling calm and restored so that your body is prepared to handle any stress that comes your way during the day.

So, take a deep breath and give this routine a try. You’ve got this!

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