Not everyone is a morning person. I’m certainly not, and if you’re reading this the chances are you aren’t either. Anxiety isn’t a pleasant experience at any time of the day, but when it hits you first thing in the morning it can seem almost impossible to take on the day. In this post, you will find out not only how to recognise Morning Anxiety, but how to get a handle on it with some ideas and tips on managing it, to become a calmer you.
Morning Anxiety is defined by the Calm Clinic as anxiety either immediately after waking up, or anxiety that tends to build over the first hour or so upon awakening. Most people who suffer experience several of the symptoms below:
- Unusually high or low body temperature
- Tight chest
- Light headed
- High heart rate
If you’re still unsure of your anxiety, read our Signs of Anxiety (From The Serious To The Mild + What To Do) Blog Post.
Causes of Morning Anxiety
Cortisol – The Stress Hormone
The hormone Cortisol is produced by our bodies when we’re feeling up tight and stressed out. But why does it happen in the morning? Surely I can’t be stressing out from the minute I wake up? You may be thinking. To which there is a simple answer – Cortisol levels are naturally at their highest in the morning – giving you barely even a leg to stand on when it comes to battling your morning anxiety.
Anxiety Disorders Association of Victoria (ADAVIC), say: ‘Worrying about the coming day’s events, and feeling anxious about coping with them, can contribute to morning anxiety. If you find yourself worrying in the mornings about what might happen during the day, turn your attention back to the present. What is happening right now? What are you seeing? What are you hearing? What do you smell? What do you taste? How do your clothes feel against your skin? Come back into the moment. You can also sit and focus on your breathing, noticing the coolness of your breath as you breathe in, and the warmth of your breath as you breathe out. Whatever brings you back into the moment will reduce your anxiety.’
Eating fatty foods or drinking high amounts of caffeine can add to the jitteriness that makes your mornings such a stress – adding to your feelings of anxiety.
Imagine finally drifting off into a peaceful sleep in a dark room and cosy bed, to be woken up by a pounding alarm and harsh bright lights and the chill of getting out of bed. Environmental aggravations like these can soon welcome you to your worst day ever. It’s vital to infuse positive energy into your home to wake up peacefully and ensure the best possible start to your day.
Low Blood Sugar
Deanne Repich, founder of the National Institute of Anxiety and Stress, Inc. says,
“Another reason why symptoms can be worse in the morning is because your blood sugar is low when you first wake up. You have gone all night without food. It’s important to maintain a constant blood sugar level because the brain uses sugar, also known as glucose, as its fuel. If blood sugar levels are too low or drop too fast, then the brain starts running out of fuel.”
How to get a handle on it: ideas and tips on managing your Morning Anxiety.
Switch up your attitude
Going to bed worrying that tomorrow will be another day of worrying and upset doesn’t resolve the issue what so ever – it will snowball into a huge problem that wasn’t there in the first place. It’s time to switch up your attitude. Go to bed expecting to be upset in the morning, and tell yourself it will probably be there regardless of whether you worry or not. Tell yourself that when you wake up and the anxiety hits, that it’s okay to feel worried, nervous, shaken. It’s not a big deal, you can handle it. You can do whatever you need to do, you can get through today. Believe in you.
It’s easier said than done, isn’t it? It’s easy to say: ‘tomorrow I will be positive’. Because sometimes, just sometimes, you will wake up and think: ‘I just don’t have the energy to do that today’. And that is when you’re most vulnerable to anxiety taking over your entire day. So, whether it’s writing on a sticky note or leaving a reminder on your phone, have a backup option to help you out when you need that extra bit of encouragement and positivity in the morning. A gentle reminder that reads something as simple as ‘you can do this’ can make all the difference.
Control Your Breathing
Health Guidance Online says: ‘The extra cortisol as well as your subsequent stress can both lead to an increased heart rate which then further aggravates the stress creating a self-perpetuating cycle. By controlling and slowing down your breathing it is possible to slow your heart rate down and this will help to keep you calm. Gentle music can also help to slow down your system and help you feel more at ease.’
Make Breakfast Your New Best Friend
Earlier on, I mentioned low blood sugar being a cause of morning anxiety. So, to help with balancing sugar levels, eat soon after waking up. Familiarise yourself with some healthy recipes. It will give you an extra boost – and who could say no to a yummy poached egg on toast.
Health Place Online say: ‘I have a game on my phone that I use to help distract my thoughts when I have morning anxiety. If you focus on the anxiety, it will magnify it. If you focus on something else, you will forget about it more easily. Try listening to your favourite music or paying attention to your children instead.’
Set Yourself Up for a Positive Day
Minimise your chances of anxiety by making your surroundings more peaceful. Small alterations such as a soothing alarm clock instead of an ear-splitting cuckoo noise, having slippers and a comfy dressing gown to slip into in the morning instead of having to bear the freezing cold mornings and a dimmer switch on your bedside lamp instead of blinding spotlights. Read our blog post on Relaxation Techniques!
Anxiety Disorders Association of Victoria (ADAVIC), say: ‘A gratitude journal can help keep our worries in perspective. Each night write in the journal about all of the things you are thankful for that happened that day, and as you go to sleep keep those things in mind. In the morning read your journal and reflect on all the wonderful things in your life and give thanks for those as you start your day.
Battling anxiety in the morning, like anxiety over all, can take time. In time, you will realise how far you have come, and each day will be brighter than the last.
In the meantime, some of these tips might be helpful to you in reducing your levels of anxiety in the mornings. Remember, we’re in this together.