Step-by-Step Plan to Get Through the Day with Anxiety
It can seem impossible to get through an entire day when you have anxiety. Anxiety can be severe, and it can make hard to get out of bed in the morning, let alone function. Having a step-by-step plan will help you get through your day with anxiety.
Get Through the Day with Anxiety with a Routine
One of the most reliable ways to beat anxiety is to create a daily plan that works with anxiety. Having a concrete plan, or routine, in place empowers you to act despite worries and what-ifs that can make you want to retreat.
A step-by-step plan also includes anxiety-beating tools that work to reduce your anxiety so you can move through your day. Managing your anxiety in little ways throughout the day prevents anxiety from building and bowling you over.
A Step-by-Step Plan to Make it Through Your Day with Anxiety
The following example illustrates the power you have to plan your day and function even when your anxiety is high. You can use it as-is, or you can make adjustments so it is more suitable to your personality and situation.
The Night Before
A manageable day actually begins before you go to bed the previous night. This step has three components:
- Write down something positive about your day (preferably something that you are proud of having done). Doing so creates a subtle shift in your thoughts.
- Write an affirmation -- a short, positive statement that builds you up and counters strong negative thoughts that you are having
- Fill a cup with water
Keep these by your bed for easy access.
When You Wake Up
Get through your day with anxiety by doing this when you wake up:
- Read your positive statement about yesterday to remind yourself that you were able to get through the day and that you’ll do it again.
- Read your affirmation to counter some of those automatic negative thoughts that probably have already begun
- Drink the water you placed by your bed last night because getting water into your system first thing in the morning rehydrates you from the night. The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago informs us that the brain is approximately 75% water so especially needs to be well-hydrated to function well. Drinking water right away in the morning will boost your brain.
- Get up and move. Even when you don’t want to do so, stand up, stretch, and walk around. This increases blood flow to the brain.
- As you prepare for the day, return your thoughts again and again to your values and goals. Why do you want to make it through your day despite anxiety?
- Congratulate yourself for getting up and going.
- Avoid the temptation to skip this, as your brain needs nourishment.
- Replace coffee with green tea or chamomile tea. Caffeine can worsen anxiety, while green tea and chamomile tea help reduce anxiety.
Mid-Morning and Mid-Afternoon
- Even if you’re busy, stop and take a short break. Stepping away from your tasks for 10 minutes or so can help you reset and reduce anxiety that has begun to build.
- Have a small, healthy snack and drink water or tea.
- Repeat your affirmation.
- Breathe slowly and deeply.
- Take short, mindful walk.
Getting through your day with anxiety includes these evening steps:
- Exercise to raise your heart and breathing rates in order to increase oxygen flow to the body, decrease the stress hormone cortisol, and release tension and anxiety.
- Eat a nutritious dinner.
- Be merry. Instead of plopping down in front of the TV, find a hobby or relaxing activity that engages your brain and keeps your mind from overthinking about anxieties.
- Have a bedtime routine that involves relaxing, unwinding, and turning away from electronics. This is part of good sleep hygiene. Sleep is essential to anxiety management.
Repeat the steps from the previous night.
Creating and following a step-by-step plan to get through your day despite anxiety allows you to function even when your anxiety is high. Even better, doing this will gradually reduce anxiety until you realize that it’s no longer in control. This plan will not just let you get through your day, it will help you reclaim your life from anxiety.
Mentioned in the post: The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago
Peterson, T. (2017, October 5). Step-by-Step Plan to Get Through the Day with Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, February 20 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/anxiety-schmanxiety/2017/10/step-by-step-plan-to-get-through-the-day-with-anxiety
Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
I love this, and we have tried some (most of these) -Do you have suggestions for changes in routine? My husband has his routine but recently we decided he needed to go back to work. He struggles greatly with anything that doesn't follow what he's accustomed to and as a result, the next morning when he wakes up the fear from a change in the norm crippled him and makes it so he cannot leave the house. He's qualified for so much and interviews so well and accepts jobs, and then on the first day has an anxiety attack and we have to start the process all over again. If he can make it out the door and to work, he works! It's just getting there that we have struggled with. Over the years he's had amazing jobs, but now we are in this spot where we can't change his routine. Help! Any suggestions?
You described one of the worst things about anxiety: Your husband is highly capable - it's anxiety, not inability, that is holding him back. Changes in routine do throw anxiety into an uproar. Sometimes people find that when there's a big change coming up, like starting a new job, making little, gradual changes leading up to the event is helpful and less of a shock. If he can estimate what the change will be (or now that it's started, he knows exactly what the change brings), he can practice. Making gradual adjustments is less of a shock than just suddenly mixing everything up. He might identify what is causing the most anxiety, and the two of you could decide how to create a new routine around it to make it work. Then other changes can be made around this part of his day. Think of throwing a rock into his pond of routine. Change what was shaken up around the rock then adjust the ripples. I hope this helps a bit or at least sparks some different ideas for you, and I hope this new job goes well!
Thank you ! Great idea!
Having a routine sounds good but insomnia always ruins it for me. I just can't sleep half the time and it throws everything off.
Insomnia is cruel. It does throw everything off. Have you tried making a simple routine for the times you can't sleep? Sleep experts advise getting out of bed and out of the bedroom if you are lying awake for more than 20 minutes. They say, too, that it's good to do something relaxing (and no screens) like reading (under low lighting but with enough light to actually read), knitting (or similar), doing gentle stretches, or whatever you find relaxing but engaging enough that you can let your thoughts just do their thing while you focus on what you're doing). Do your activity until you feel drowsy, then go back to bed. Do this as needed through the night. Choose something, and make that your go-to thing to do when you can't sleep. If you routinize your insomnia rather than fighting it, you might find that you begin to sleep more. It's a process that can take time, but it has worked for many people. Insomnia really is a beast. But you can tame it.
I love this breakdown of the day (starting the night before!) and corresponding suggestions. When it comes to anxiety having a routine really can be a game changer. People often associate total freedom with an open schedule but often that space can actually increase anxiety because it feels like things are always sort of hovering over head. Having a routine, a schedule, a plan, can actually feel very empowering. Being mindful of the "little" things like getting enough water throughout the day, cutting down on caffeine and getting a good night's rest can make huge improvements.
Thank you for your comment. I love your insights and am really glad you shared them to benefit others!