Living anxiety-free means actively making choices to have less stress. Everything about our lives is fast, and intense. We’re always trying to get ahead. We want the best grades for our teenagers so they can get into the best schools. We push them into a lot of extracurricular activities because we feel we have to. We work long hours and take short vacations. We start our mornings off all wrong.
How we start our day is one of the key factors to reducing anxiety. However, it is one that doesn’t get much attention. We don’t realize a slower start to the morning is key. We tend to fill our minds with a bunch of useless, negative junk while reciting our to-do list, and then hope to have a good day.
One thing a lot of people do is watch the news in the morning. It is rare to find a news program that discusses progress and positive events in tandem with the negative. Sometimes even the good things that happen are still spun in a negative way. For example, apparently there has been a drought in the Midwest. It was forecast to rain in the Midwest and the weather reporter talked about how it would be a relief because all those farms in the Midwest sure aren’t going to do well this year with the drought. While that may or may not be true, the reporter found a way to increase the viewer’s anxiety.
It is really important to realize that most of what is reported on is out of your control. Try and focus on what you can do something about, and leave the rest alone. Replace some of the news with looking outside at the beauty God has created, and take a minute to say thank you. Then you might remember that you live in an amazing place and are generally blessed.
Start your day with something positive and encouraging. Take time to read your bible, pray, call a friend, slowly enjoy your cup of coffee, or anything else that gives you a sense of calm. It has been said that your first ten minutes are a huge predictor of what kind of day you will have. If you begin your day with anxiety, then you are much more likely to feel anxious the whole day. Be very intentional about starting your day with something that leaves you feeling positive and energized. Help your teenagers do this as well. Make your teenager a good breakfast, have them sit down to eat, and be very pleasant if you sit with them. Do not talk to them about classes, a test they need to take, or anything else on their to-do list. Keep it light and positive.
Helping teens grow and families improve connection,
Lauren Goodman, MS, MFT