I’ve struggled with social anxiety throughout my adult life and depression at different points along the way. Healing from both began when I moved to a different country and felt compelled to establish a “new” routine. New was very new since I never really had a morning routine to begin with.
I’m someone that needs structure in my life, as well as flexibility. When I fell into a 5am morning routine, I was intentional with my thoughts toward it. In the past, when I tried to establish a morning routine, I would feel guilt and shame if I slept in. Feeling discouraged eventually lead to inconsistency and giving up on it altogether. Now, I give myself permission to start my morning routine whenever I wake up. These days, it just happens to be around 5am.
My cozy morning routine guides me towards healing pathways, and by the end of my morning practice, I feel peace, clarity and well–mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. I hope that by sharing my morning routine for anxiety and depression, it can sprinkle a little wellness in your life, too.
Wake Up Gently
I’m slow to wake up in the morning, so I don’t try to force myself out of bed immediately. Instead, I’ll find something thought-provoking to read before getting up. It’s a gentle way to awaken my conscious mind but also serves as a prompt for my journal work later in the morning.
Lately, I’m reading about ancestral healing and cultural reclamation. Certain topics will call to you. I believe exploring these topics (especially ones that bring up uncomfortable emotions) is integral to the healing process.
In the past, I would find myself recoiling from painful, uncomfortable subjects. But in my bed, snuggled inside a cocoon of blankets, I feel warm and held, and that creates a safe space for me to explore my internal discomfort more deeply.
Lighting & Fire
I’m learning to follow my body’s natural cycle of sleep and wakefulness. By allowing myself to awaken naturally (sans alarm clock) and sleep when I’m tired, I’m helping my mind and body align with my circadian rhythm.
Conditioning my brain to send the right signals to my body has been necessary. I moved to Italy at summer’s end and fell into an inconvenient sleep schedule. Sleeping through daylight and waking with the setting sun made me feel unwell. Our bodies respond to light (or the lack of it).
According to WebMD, your “master clock” is made up of roughly 20,000 nerve cells. So when it’s daylight, your nerves—which directly link your master clock and eyes—respond by sending signals to the brain so it can reduce melatonin (the sleep hormone) and create more of it when nightfall is upon us.
After disentangling from my cozy cocoon, I “light” a fire—sometimes a candle, a fireplace if one is available or, more recently, by turning on Netflix’s old-fashioned, wood-burning fireplace on the tele to imitate a real fire.
Fire holds symbolic meaning in many cultures and religions, and it also holds importance to me. Though before I attached any spiritual meaning to it, I associated fire with deep feelings of warmth, comfort and safety. Imitating the warm glow of firelight can be as simple as using yellow-colored lightbulbs which give off a soft, comforting glow.
Water is another natural element that holds symbolic meaning. Gently cleansing my face with water feels as if I’m washing away yesterday’s hardships, yet holding space for healing and wisdom to grow. I feel a sense of renewal from being clean-faced and bare; it’s one of wakefulness and vulnerability, but also of forgiveness. Those feelings carry me into the day and throughout my morning routine.
A single glass of room-temperature water is vitalizing in the morning. I prefer to drink it before any warm bevs enter my system, but I forget sometimes. This is why it’s important to become aware of your body and sensitive to the messages it’s sending you. Eventually, my body calls for hydration to be prioritized.
Warm Lemon Water
I have my husband to thank for this one. Every morning, he drinks a warm cup of lemon water and waxes poetic on the benefits of doing so: “Good for the immune system”, “improves digestion”, “rids your body of toxins”. Needless to say, he swears by it (and now, I do, too).
I’m no stranger to journaling (it’s my form of catharsis), but these days I’m journaling with more of a focus. I’ve been using my morning readings to prompt the narrative in my entries, and it’s been immensely satisfying. Prompts encourage deeper exploration into topics and themes, and is a useful tool to help you understand and sort your thoughts.
Yoga accidentally found a home for itself in my cozy morning routine.
My muscles were sore from lunges the night before, so I pulled out my yoga mat with the intention of a few simple leg stretches. I was savoring the sweet relief and found myself moving into the few poses I remembered from the yoga class I’d taken in school to fulfil a gym credit.
I use the Down Dog app, and it’s sensational. Now I look forward to my morning yoga session each morning. Not only does my body feel wonderful afterward, but I feel spiritually connected and more grounded in my physical body.
Concluding each yoga session, I lie in savasana and focus on relaxing my mind and body. It’s the perfect segue into my morning meditation practice. I’ve been meditating on and off for the last few years but was never consistent with it. Incorporating it into my morning routine felt natural, and I’m able to begin the day in a calm state of mind.
A family breakfast with my husband and son fills my heart with joy. Lately, I’ve been enjoying a kale salad in the morning with a Greek yogurt and an egg. My boys prefer chocolate (and banana) pancakes. Creating space in the morning for a family breakfast gives us a chance to giggle and banter, or even just sit together quietly enjoying the feeling of togetherness before everyone rushes off to school and the office.
Lemon Ginger Root Tea
Alas, I’m not the biggest fan of lemon ginger tea (yet), though I said the same when I first began drinking green tea which has become one of my cozy favorites. Lemon ginger tea is a warm and simple herbal drink with plenty of reasons to convince you to make it a part of your day (anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, reduces nasal congestion to name a few).
All you need is to boil some water, squeeze a lemon wedge, then add a teaspoon of grated ginger root (and a little honey, if you prefer a sweeter tonic).