Quarantine Morning Routine – How to Reduce Anxiety and Increase Energy in Uncertain Times
Reading Time: 5 minutes
With all of the physical, economic, and social uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve felt unusually anxious and ungrounded.
After weeks of feeling on edge, I returned to an old practice that has helped me tremendously – the morning routine. I’ve used morning routines at various points in my life to work toward goals, increase clarity, and so on.
I designed the below routine to help with a new goal – to reduce my anxiety and increase my energy in the face of uncertain and fast-changing times. I do this routine before checking my phone, email, or any news.
In addition to the article, I recorded a podcast that goes into more detail about the routine.
1. Prepare Immunity + Energy Tea (5 minutes)
As a lifelong coffee drinker, I recently cut my caffeine intake to reduce anxiety and improve sleep. I’ve replaced my morning cup of coffee with a tasty, immunity-boosting and energizing tea.
The immunity + energy tea has 6 simple ingredients – water, ginger, lemon, honey, cayenne, and turmeric.
You can make two servings of the tea by doing the following:
- Add an inch of freshly sliced ginger to hot water. Wait three minutes.
- Squeeze half of a fresh lemon into the water.
- Add a tablespoon of honey.
- Add a few dashes of turmeric and cayenne.
- Stir for 15 seconds, and enjoy!
Let me know if you have any ideas about how to improve the tea!
2. Morning Pages (5-10 minutes)
With my tea in hand, I head to my desk to write my morning pages. Morning pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing.
With morning pages, you don’t have to do any thinking. You just write. You write until you fill three pages, and that’s it. I fill my morning pages with nonsensical garbage and pointless ramblings. Lots of what I have to say these days is about uncertainties related to COVID-19.
Your goal is not to write perfect prose; it’s to fill three pages without thinking. Morning pages clear your mind of the mud and crazy thoughts. Taking anxiety and fear out of your head and putting it onto paper allows you to have a calmer and less anxiety-ridden day. It’s magical.
You can learn more about morning pages in The Artist’s Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron.
3. Yoga (10 minutes)
After clearing my mind with morning pages, I take out a yoga mat and do this 10-minute full-body flexibility flow.
I’ve never been able to get in the habit of doing 60-90 minute yoga sessions on the regular. While I feel amazing after these long sessions, I rarely go. I don’t go because I’m lazy. So for my morning routine, I need something with a much lower barrier to entry. Otherwise, I won’t do it.
The 10-minute flexibility flow is perfect. It’s easy and short enough for me to do. And it works. In loosening up my body, I feel less anxious and more grounded.
You can find tons of different flows out there. The point is to get your body moving and opening up, which helps reduce built up tension and stiffness.
4. Meditation (5 minutes)
Feeling grounded and calm after the 10-minute yoga flow, I began a short meditation. I use the Insight Timer iPhone app. The app has guided meditations and other features, but I just use the timer and guide myself through the session.
I set up a 5-minute timer with gongs that go off at the top of every minute. You can do the same by setting your app up like the screenshot below.
For the self-guided meditation, I keep it simple. I start by scanning my body, noting how I feel from my head, down through my arms, through my legs, and down to the bottom of my feet.
Then, I start focusing on the inhalation and exhalation of my breath. To keep myself anchored, I count up to ten. “One” with the inhale. “Two with the exhale.” “Three” with the inhale. “Four” with the exhale. Once I get to ten, I begin again. Counting helps me stay focused.
If my mind wanders and I get distracted, I mentally note that I was distracted and begin counting my breaths again. You WILL get distracted.
I also recently bought a meditation cushion, which I’m really digging. The cushion makes sitting more comfortable, and it helps me maintain good posture. I’m also more likely to meditate because I invested in a cushion. This “buy to encourage behaviors” strategy is a hack that works well for me.
I use a crescent cushion like the below. There are lots of different cushions options.
If you’ve never meditated before and don’t know how to do it, you can start with Headspace, Calm, Waking Up, or Youtube videos.
5. (Optional) Reading
Reading doesn’t reliably help me to reduce anxiety or increase energy. That said, when I read, I feel good. I’m learning, getting engrossed in a story, or appreciating the life experiences of another person. It’s great. So instead of reading news, I stick to books.
If you have time, reading is a nice addition to the morning routine.
Right now, I’m reading The Wisdom of Insecurity, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, and Let My People Go Surfing.
If you’re short on book ideas, you can check out my vetted reading list.
Other Tactics to Add to Your Routine
Turns out that coloring is not just for kids! It helps boost creativity while reducing stress and anxiety.
I like the Calm the F*ck Down coloring book. You can color your heart out while enjoying some NSFW adult humor.
The five-minute journal allows you to practice gratitude, clarify your priorities, set a personal vision, celebrate victories, and identify improvements with a few minutes of effort every day. It’s a great journal for anyone looking to improve their life.
The sun is your reliable partner in crime. It energizes you and helps regulate your circadian cycle, alerting your body that it’s time to wake up! I enjoy soaking in the sunshine whenever I can.
Unless you wake up every hour during the night to drink water, you’re going to wake up at least slightly dehydrated. Instead of experiencing the fatigue, headaches, anxiety, and moodiness that dehydration causes, reward your body the hydration bath it deserves.
I often make a cocktail with 16 ounces of water, one-quarter fresh-squeezed lemon, and a pinch of pink Himalayan salt. The lemon and sea salt replace the minerals and electrolytes I’ve lost while sleeping. Shake it up in a blender and drink at your leisure.
The morning sets the tone for your day. When you have a good morning, you have a good day.
This morning routine has helped me reduce anxiety and feel more energized in the shifting and uncertain times. It gives me something to hold onto when the rest of the world feels like it’s falling apart.
With any morning routine, it’s all about what works for you.
If you have any ideas about what I can add to my routine, feel free to email me at [email protected]!