This Anti-Anxiety Morning Routine Is Like A Daily Dose Of Calm

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What's it like to start your day if you're mbg's food director, a yogi, or a food blogger/TV producer who wakes up at 3 a.m.? In this new series sponsored by Quaker® Old Fashioned Oats, nutrition and wellness enthusiasts let you in on their tried-and-true morning routines and all the nourishing habits that set them up for a feel-good day. Up today: yogi and entrepreneur Kate Van Horn.

As a wellness blogger, yoga instructor, and entrepreneur, I'm fortunate enough to work from home, but this wasn't always the case! I'd previously worked in marketing and advertising, where my morning routine was neglected. Frazzled and rushing to beat traffic, I'd throw an apple or muffin in my bag, pour a huge mug of coffee, and run mascara through my lashes at a stop light. This left me operating on less-restful sleep, feeling more irritable, and creating the tendency to feel scattered and overwhelmed throughout my workday. As 5 o'clock approached, I'd feel more and more anxious about the work that still needed to be completed yet frustrated because I didn't feel productive or creatively at my best.

I've experienced anxiety for many years and have learned to create routines and structure to empower myself rather than allow it to control me or my work. When I establish a foundation for my day, I set myself up for success. I've created a sacred, slow, and grounding morning routine as a way to practice mindfulness, tune into my creativity, and care for myself and my anxiety.

7:15 a.m.

I'm not an early riser, never have been. In fact, I'd probably stay in bed until 9:30 every morning if I could! My mood is best, and my anxiety decreases, when I prioritize seven to nine hours of sleep. So if I can feel that I need it, I take it! Most days I naturally wake up between 7 and 7:30 a.m. I sleep so soundly when I wear my eye mask.

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7:25 a.m.

First things first: skin care and self-care. Working from home, it's easy to get stuck in a rut and stay in PJs until noon, but I feel more confident throughout my day when I get up and get ready right away. First thing I do is tongue scrape, brush my teeth and wash my face, and apply an organic rosehip oil serum and SPF.

7:30 a.m.

I'll drink iced coffee (always iced) in the morning, but before I have caffeine, I make a warm lemon water with apple cider vinegar, or a turmeric latte with ashwagandha. Lately, it's been a huge glass of water with a spoonful of chia seeds. I've found that caffeine and my anxiety typically don't mix, so while I love my iced coffee VERY much, I also know when to take breaks from the cold brew. I've gone as long as three months without caffeine to help with my anxiety.

I’ve gone as long as three months without caffeine to help with my anxiety.

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7:40 a.m.

My meditation in the morning is fairly short—only about 10 to 15 minutes long—it's my favorite part of my routine. I light palo santo or sage, grab my journal, and sit in my living room quietly. Sometimes I play music softly, but usually I relish in the silence and focus on my breath. If I'm feeling particularly anxious or worried about something, I'll repeat a short and sweet mantra to myself as a way to set an intention for the day. Something like "I am capable." "I have everything I need." "I am strong." Oftentimes the most simple mantras are the easiest to connect with.

7:50 a.m.

I enjoy journaling in the morning right after my meditation practice. But journaling does not have to feel like a "Dear Diary" entry. In fact, my writing tends to be a stream of consciousness. If I wake up with all the feels, I write what's on my mind. If a dream I had is ruminating, I jot down what happened. If I just want to write down everything I feel needs to get done, I'll bullet journal the list of to-do's. This clearing of the mind feels liberating. Seeing my thoughts fill the pages lessens my anxiety and becomes a new home for them outside of my mind.

8 a.m.

Finally—time to get outdoors! My beagle, Ralph, has been waiting. Apartment living means multiple dog walks a day, and the morning is no exception! I have grown to love the ritual of heading outside within the first hour of waking with my pup. It's extremely grounding. I feel the sunshine and get a bit of movement in. For the 30 to 40 minutes we walk, I listen to a podcast. I used to scroll my inbox, but now I leave that for when I get to my laptop and instead try to enjoy myself and learn something new.

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8:45 a.m.

I'm back home and it's time to set the work scene. To make my screen time feel more joyful, I light a candle on my desk or diffuse essential oils. I've been loving citrus scents and lemongrass lately—they smell cheerful! I'm always listening to music as well, so I'll blast the tunes to keep the creative juices flowing.

To make my screen time feel more joyful, I light a candle on my desk or diffuse essential oils.

9 a.m.

The first 60 to 90 minutes of my day are dedicated to the task I least want to do. This could be an inbox I've let pile up, invoicing/accounting things, or other not so fun stuff. The minute that is complete, I do something I love and look forward to. This could be writing, putting together a yoga sequence or playlist for my next workshop, or scouting out retreat locations. I feel better about myself because I not only tackled something I was procrastinating on, but I also prioritized the work that lights me up.

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10:15 a.m.

I am rarely hungry during the first two to three hours after waking up. I used to think I had to eat immediately, but now I listen to my hunger cues. Rather than force a meal, I'll eat when I'm ACTUALLY hungry. But I'll stop working and fully enjoy a nourishing breakfast. Doing one task at a time is a great habit to get into if you suffer from anxiety. It helps me practice mindfulness and becomes a form of self-care!

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