Our body's flight-or-fight response to stress is super handy in certain situations—other times, you just want to live your life without having anxious feelings creep up on you.
Anxiety is something everyone faces from time to time, and while we can't control how our bodies respond (thanks, evolution), there are a few things we can do to convince our brain that everything's gonna be alright. Read on for five things we can do to help our minds go from anxious to calm when we're starting out the day:
1. Practice gratitude.
Sounds simple, but the act of practicing gratitude helps put an end to anxious thoughts by forcing your brain to focus on the positive. Anxiety can often make you feel cut off from the world around you, and cultivating gratitude actively fights against that feeling. Plus, it works: Studies have shown that practicing gratitude daily positively affects mental health, reducing anxiety and stress and even making you a bit happier.
Here's an exercise to get you going: What three things are you grateful for today? Thinking small helps (hear us out) because it gets easy counting the same blessings, like your partner or your cat, every day. Instead, try this: Think of a quality or trait about your partner, a friend, or someone at work that you appreciate; think of something close by like the unparalleled smell of fresh coffee in the a.m. or the coziness of your bedroom; and think of something you'd miss if it were gone, like your cat's cuddly mood or your ability to go on a run. Your three things might be different every day, but the feeling you're after is always the same, and it's unmistakable—a positive change in your emotional state.
2. Start each day with intention.
Whether you're meditating, stating affirmations, or setting a daily intention, this short and sweet practice has one goal: to stop thoughts that lead to anxiety dead in their tracks.
You probably know that meditation has one of the highest positive effects on your brain and can help lower anxiety levels. So take a minute to clear the chatter in your mind and set the tone for your day. It helps to set a daily intention—something as simple as "I'll choose to spread kindness today" or whatever you want the day's purpose to be.
And any time a negative or scary thought creeps in, take a few deep breaths and replace it with two or three helpful and healthy thoughts to move in a better direction—say them out loud and really believe them! Here are some suggestions:
- Whatever I do today, it's enough. And so am I.
- I have the power to make changes.
- I decide how my story is told.
- Today, I choose joy.
3. Get CBD involved.
Ever heard of the endocannabinoid system? It's a network of cannabinoid receptors in the cells of our nervous system, immune system, digestive system, and many of the body's major organs. These receptors interact with the natural cannabinoid-like chemicals our bodies produce—and yes, the cannabinoid content from the cannabis plant—to help our systems keep calm and carry on under stress.
And it's why CBD—the nonpsychoactive hemp cannabinoid with anti-anxiety properties—is popping up in everything from beauty products to lattes to the gummies in your friend's gym bag. For calm mornings, Sunday Scaries' CBD Oil Tincture is a natural way to ease anxiety with just a few drops taken directly under the tongue, so the effects are noticeable in about half an hour or less. There's no THC, so you won't get high—their formula is vegan, includes vitamin B12 and vitamin D3, and uses coconut oil, so if you're wondering about taste, it's subtly sweet enough to drop into your morning coffee (the brand also makes vegan CBD Gummies if you're in the mood for something sweeter).
4. Move a little.
Walk, run, burpee, cat/cow—do whatever your body likes to do, and make it a habit: Research proves over and over that exercise can help your brain cope with stress because physically active people have lower rates of anxiety than more sedentary people.
Try a sequence of morning stretches to warm up your muscles, or spend a few minutes on some bodyweight movement to get your heart pumping. Even if you're just moving around to tidy up your space, these simple actions send a signal to yourself that says, "Hey, I care about you—you matter, your body matters, your home matters; let's live the best possible day!"
5. Get your internal dialogue on paper.
Keeping a bedside journal or thought diary is another useful way to manage stress and anxiety. Writing can be a healing practice, especially if you find it a bit difficult to talk about your anxious thoughts or are facing a new challenge or big decision that's causing overwhelm. Jotting down your thoughts on paper can give you clarity and a heightened view of your internal dialogue and release pent-up feelings and negative thoughts.
Get creative and don't censor yourself! Give yourself permission to openly and honestly express what you're feeling. You may even bring self-awareness to your anxiety triggers—and experience some awesome personal growth in the process. Who wouldn't want that?