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6 Reasons Morning Routines Make You Anxious

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I’ve always wanted to be a morning person. Over the years, I’ve tried to create countless morning routines and every time, I’ve gotten the same result: one day I wake up with a knot in my stomach, a weight on my chest, and I’m just … stuck in bed.

I’ve failed, again.

Or that’s what I would think at the time anyway. Eventually, I forget about the failed morning routine and I try again, only to end up feeling the exact same way: Anxious, frustrated and disappointed in myself.

Then I created my current morning routine. I started this routine at the beginning of October 2020, and since then, I’ve stuck to it every single weekday, except for three or four days. That’s 49 days, including today. And most days, I get out of bed with little to no anxiety.

It might not sound like much, but if you’ve ever tried to establish a new morning routine only to have it fizzle out after a week or two, this is magnificent progress, and I’m going to celebrate it, dammit.

I’d like to celebrate by sharing with you what I’ve learned about morning routines and how I managed to turn things around. First, let’s talk about why morning routines make you anxious. Once we understand the “why,” we can actually deal with it.

1. You’re afraid of failing, and thus becoming a failure.

Oof, this is a big one for me, and for a lot of others too. Any time we try something new, we risk failing, and that can be hugely intimidating. I’m not going to sugarcoat it, there is a chance that if you start a morning routine, you might fail. But here’s where the good news comes in: failing doesn’t make you a failure. You are so much more than your struggles, and who knows, maybe you didn’t really fail at all. Maybe just trying something is an accomplishment worth celebrating. Maybe that first attempt at a morning routine will inspire you to try other morning routines until you find the right morning routine a few weeks or months or years down the road. It’s hard to accept sometimes, but all things in time.

2. You don’t know how to create your morning routine.

Not knowing how to do something is a huge source of anxiety. If you don’t know how you’re going to do something, then your brain has to constantly work to come up with different possible scenarios. This is nightmare fuel for people with anxiety. Making a plan can help tremendously with this type of anxiety around morning routines (more on that later!).

3. You’re intimidated by all the perfect people on Instagram with their perfect morning routines.

Even though you know no one is perfect, and you know social media only presents one side of a person’s life, it’s so hard not to feel a bit envious and inferior when looking at photos of these beautiful women with beautiful morning routines, all taken in beautiful lighting. Part of you can’t help but feel like you’re behind or failing because if you’re being honest, that all looks like a lot of work and part of you doesn’t think you can do it. But here’s the thing: you don’t have to do all that. You can have a morning routine that works for you, not one that looks perfect on Instagram.

4. You hate mornings and you feel bad for not being a morning person.

I feel you on this one. I absolutely loathe mornings. Ask my husband, I am not a morning person at all. That hasn’t necessarily changed with the implementation of my morning routine, but I have lost the unnecessary shame around not being a morning person. I used to think that it was way better to be a morning person, that really productive (and thus “good”) people always got up early, and I was a lazy couch potato for sleeping in. But now that I’m getting up early, it’s clear to me that morning routines don’t make you a better person, they just mean you get up early. If you can, try to let go of that shame around hating mornings. It’s OK to value your rest and hate the sunrise.

5. You know you shouldn’t waste your morning on your phone, but you can’t seem to help it.

OK, if you spend all morning scrolling through your phone and by the time you actually get up you feel like absolute trash, you are so not alone. I do this, my friends do this, I honestly don’t think I’ve ever met a person who doesn’t do this at least sometimes. But I’ve found that my anxious friends and I do it a lot. I think this scrolling, even though it feels really crappy, fulfills some kind of purpose for us. It’s something to do without the pressure to actually accomplish anything. It keeps our brains distracted. Even though it doesn’t feel good, this is our brains’ way of protecting us from anxiety. The best way to change this habit isn’t to shame ourselves for it, it’s to find a new way to meet that need. If we need to protect ourselves from anxiety, maybe we need to make sure our morning routines include something genuinely calming.

6. You’re afraid of change, even if it’s change you really want.

Maybe you know you want to create a morning routine, maybe you know it would help you be more productive, maybe you know all of this, and it still isn’t enough. I’ll be the first to admit how much that sucks, but I also want to say: it’s OK. Fear of change can hold us back in some big ways, and it’s important to work through it, but we need to work through it with compassion for ourselves, not shame. It’s OK to be afraid of things changing. Let’s be afraid and do it anyway.

How to Create Morning Routines Without the Anxiety

This is a pretty tall order, and I’ll be the first to admit that there will be some anxious mornings no matter what kind of morning routine you create. But I have found some ways to help create more anxiety-free mornings.

That’s why I created the Anxiety-Proof Mornings eCourse: How to Create a Morning Routine, Even If Routines Make You Anxious.

This course includes a deep dive into the internal work necessary to face the fears we talked about above, but it also includes a practical guide to creating your own morning routine and a workbook with all kinds of helpful pages, including a morning routine template. Plus, if you purchase the course before December 19th, you can get limited-time bonuses, like morning routine examples and guided meditations to help reduce anxiety.

If you’re interested in more info, here’s a great resource where you can read all about the Anxiety-Proof Mornings eCourse.

A version of this article was previously published on the author’s blog, Healing Unscripted.

Getty Images photo via franz12

Originally published: December 17, 2020
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