Updated: May 27, 2020
I've talked about my history with anxiety in the past - and I have a video about my story coming soon - but I have struggled with severe anxiety and panic attacks for over 10 years. I remember one particularly bad panic attack that I experienced that lasted 2 hours. I was in a restaurant in Santa Barbara. I had just gotten back from traveling for 2 months in Europe with my boyfriend and I could feel the unease bubbling up. All of the sudden, a wave of panic rolled over me. It felt like I was breathing through a straw, my heart was stopping but simultaneously beating out of my chest, and I felt like I was going to die. And that's not an exaggeration. If you've experienced panic attacks before, you know how real and frightening they can be. You try and reason with yourself and say "this is a panic attack, I'm not actually dying", but then another voice in your head says "...but what if it isn't?". Thankfully that day, my dad was with me and he was able to bring me back to life. After that, I was sick of feeling anxious, sick of that constant knot in my stomach, and sick of the fear that I would slip into a panic attack at any moment. So I decided to do something about it.
One tool that has made all the difference in my life is nailing down my morning routine. As someone who struggles with anxiety, it used to be common for me to wake up and instantly feel anxious. This can set the tone for being on edge the rest of the day! That's why releasing that anxiety in the morning with effective tools is ESSENTIAL to help your body get out of fight or flight mode and become less reactive to situations.
Today, I'm sharing the 5 components of my morning routine that are non-negotiables for me now. These are tools that I utilize EVERY DAY because I know that my mentality will suffer if I don't.
#1: Meditate. Like, right NOW.
It's easy to jump into the day and get going then totally forget about taking care of yourself. Meditation has been proven to help decrease stress and anxiety, so it's an obvious addition to my routine. The key here is doing it RIGHT when you wake up. Even if you still feel a little sleepy/groggy, trust me, it's worth it. Make sure you do this out of your bed, or else there's a high chance that you will fall right back to sleep. I like to take my morning meditation outside. While still in my pajamas, I bring my phone with Headspace outside, sit in my garden, and meditate for 10 minutes. It doesn't have to be long, but I recommend at least 10 minutes to make sure you get the most out of it.
#2: Balance your blood glucose levels
Studies show that having spikes and falls in blood glucose levels caused by processed carbohydrates, sugar, or a high carbohydrate diet causes increased anxiety symptoms. That same study also shows that balancing blood sugar levels helps to get rid of those anxious feelings. The biggest game-changer for my anxiety levels has been stabilizing my blood glucose levels by tapping into fat burning mechanisms with the use of Intermittent Fasting. If you suffer from anxiety, I highly HIGHLY recommend you head over HERE and get started with Intermittent Fasting (the right way) and stabilize your blood glucose levels efficiently.
#3: On that note... get rid of sugar from your first meal
If unstable glucose levels is one of the problems, ditch the sugar from your brekky (or first meal) altogether! Stick to healthy fats and a moderate level of protein to keep your blood glucose levels stable and your anxiety low. Check out how to say bye-bye to sugar in your morning smoothie HERE.
#4: Get outside and take your shoes off
Yes - like, walk barefoot on the ground. You can take a shower after, but first I want you to get your feet grounded on earth. This may sound a little woo-woo, but there's actually science to back it up. This process helps to decrease cortisol (stress levels) which in turn helps to decrease anxiety. So take a walk outside, shoe-free. Your mental state will thank you.
#5: Top it off with natural anxiety remedies
Before I get into this one, let me be clear - you shouldn't use these unless you have already done the other steps. These aren't cure-alls, they are simply part of the entire equation. With that said... I end my morning routine with hemp oil and ashwagandha. These have both been found to help your body handle stressors more easily and not be as reactive. As a result, these naturally aid in reducing your anxiety levels.
Helping your anxiety isn't a "take one pill and it's gone" solution. It takes work, but it's 100000% worth it. If you have anxiety and you wake up with that knot in your tummy or have the occasional panic/anxiety attack, I want you to know that you certainly aren't alone and there are definitely steps you can take to naturally reduce the symptoms. It has been 4 years since my last panic attack and I rarely get anxiety anymore. The days that I do get anxiety, it's because I haven't followed the 5 steps above. So if you do have anxiety, take these steps today! Start your journey! Take the steps toward having your life, anxiety-free, back again. Every one of the tools above are important, but if you had to start with something today, start with #2. This one takes time, but there's no better time to feel GOOD than the present, right?!
Autumn Elle Nutrition