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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Waller

Refreshing Your Routine for Less Stress

What is the first thing that you did this morning?

I'll be honest, the first thing I did this morning was reach for my phone and begin scrolling through emails, and I know better.

I know that what we do first thing in the morning sets the tone for our entire day, and tuning into the news or checking email is far from the calm, centered foundation I am actually going for. I know that if I pickup my phone before I do the things that set me up for a successful day- I'm going to hit the ground running and have a more difficult time making space for those things later in the day.

And, unfortunately, our brain remembers the behavior that we tend to choose.

If you're like me and have gotten into the bad habit of looking at your phone or doing something stressful first thing in the morning, you may start feeling anxious or have physical symptoms as soon as you wake up. In fact, it may feel like your stress wakes you up.

Is this true for you?

Whether or not you're experiencing negative symptoms or stress related to your routine, I find there is usually room for additional positive or mindful activities in all of our routines and this week I'm encouraging you to revisit yours.

Before we go any further, I want to acknowledge that setting aside time -intentionally- can feel really, really hard. In fact, I'm sure I've lost a few people by this point who are already feeling overwhelmed, drained, and exhausted and find the idea of adding something else to their plate completely impossible.

The truth is, our days feel more hectic, overwhelming, and rushed if we never take the time to acknowledge what we need or what is causing us stress.

Mixing up how we start the day is one of the simplest ways to check-in, acknowledge what we need, and protect ourselves from immediate stress.

So, what do you do? Below, I've provided some options based on what you are feeling you could use more of.

The goal:

Add 1-3 positive changes to your morning routine and commit to them for 3 weeks


If you are seeking to start the day with more calm, consider:

  • Intentional breathing/ focusing on your breath

  • Mindfulness (what do you hear/ see/ smell/ feel/ taste)

  • Reading

  • Spending the 1st hour awake off of electronics

  • Listening to a guided meditation or progressive muscle relaxation

If you are seeking to start the day with a release, consider:

  • Engaging in your preferred exercise activity

  • Getting outside (walk, hike, sitting with coffee)

  • Stretching

  • Engaging in a hobby/ personal passion

If you are seeing to start the day with more positivity, consider:

  • Turning on some music (+ feel free to dance, too)

  • Listening to a favorite podcast

  • Journaling with a gratitude focus

  • Spending time with a pet

  • Making time for breakfast

If you are seeking to start the day with more focus, consider:

  • Creating a to-do list of top priorities/ goals for the day

  • Meditating for 5-10 minutes

  • Decreasing distractions for the 1st hour (phone, tv, etc.)

  • Engaging in yoga

  • Intentionally breathing/ focusing on your breath

Oftentimes we can fall into the habit of doing whatever is fast and easy.

Breakfast on the go. Drinking coffee faster than we can taste it.

We hit the ground running in hopes that getting more done will make us feel less stressful, but that isn't really how it works.

Intentionally making time for yourself can decrease your stress levels throughout the day, decrease anxiety symptoms, improve mood, and your ability to navigate stress as it arises.

Give it a shot! You are worthy.


Meredith Waller MSW, LCSW

Based in Boulder, CO and offering online counseling throughout Colorado

-Certified Shame-Informed Treatment Specialist

-Certified Clinical Anxiety Treatment Professional


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