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Morning Anxiety

By Voula (ADAVIC Volunteer)

This page created 18th September 2013


Does your anxiety seem worse when you wake up?

If so, you aren’t alone. Morning anxiety seems to be a common experience amongst people who have anxiety problems.  Why is this so? This article discusses some of the causes of morning anxiety and gives some suggestions as to what you can do to lower the levels of your morning anxiety.

The first step is to understand why you feel more anxious in the mornings, and this understanding may in itself help you to lower your morning anxiety. The second step is to begin to practice some of the ideas in this article that might apply to your situation, or that appeal to you. You might come up with other ideas of your own.

There can be many causes for feeling anxious in the mornings. Some of these causes are physical, some emotional, some environmental, and some are a result of habits.

Waking up

When we sleep we relax, and when we wake up, the difference between the relaxed state and the waking state can be jarring, and this can make us feel anxious. We all know the shock of waking up from a deep sleep to a loud alarm, and how anxiety provoking that can be.

On awakening, our bodies produce a hormone called cortisol which is released when it’stime to wake up. Cortisol is also released as a response to stress and it can make us feel tense and anxious. You can change your thinking about your morning anxiety by telling yourself, “This is just a burst of cortisol which is my body’s natural response to waking up”. This might help in not becoming anxious about morning anxiety.

Another physical reason we might feel anxious when we wake up is that our blood sugar level drops overnight while we sleep, and this can cause feelings of anxiety in some people. Eating something soon after you get out of bed will help. Alternatively, have a snack or drink by your bed and have this before getting up.

Our diet can contribute to feeling anxious in the mornings. If we consume too much caffeine, which is found in coffee, tea, and some soft drinks, this can make us tense and jittery and so contribute to our morning anxiety.   Some people who suffer from anxiety have found eliminating caffeine from their diet helps them to feel calmer  and less anxious. A soothing herbal tea might be a better drink to start the day with.

If you smoke, nicotine withdrawal in the mornings on awakening causes feelings of nervousness.

Worry

Stress and anxiety can interfere with our sleep and this may cause us to be tense and anxious in the mornings because we have not had a good night’s sleep and rest.

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.

Meditation is a wonderful anxiety reducing practice and is a great way to start the day. Some people find they are too sleepy to meditate in the mornings. The practice of meditation is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety overall so whatever time of day you meditate, the calming effects of meditation will eventually flow on throughout your day.

Worrying and feeling anxious in the mornings can become a habit. We can come to expect to be anxious in the mornings. Changing some of your habits and your morning routine might make a difference to how you feel as you start your day. For example, rather than sitting and worrying while you have your breakfast, you could do a crossword puzzle, or read the newspaper or go online, all of which serve to distract you from your worrying.

Some quiet time just as you wake might help you to start the day in a more relaxed fashion. You could wake to  gentle meditation music, and lie in bed for a short time just letting the music relax you.

Some morning exercise might be beneficial too. You could go for a walk, or a run or do some gentle stretching exercises or yoga.

Simplify

Simplifying your start to the day might also help to ease anxious morning feelings. Changing your routine before bed may help achieve this. Making a list the night before of what you have to do the following day, as well as a timeframe for doing each thing, might allow you to go to sleep with less on your mind. You might also prepare ahead for the morning, by working out what clothes you will wear or by packing your bag if you are going out. Streamlining your mornings by having less to do, will make you less hurried and help you to achieve a more relaxed start to your day.

Look at your environment. Is your bedroom a calming place to wake up in? Do you fall asleep with the TV and radio on? What changes could you make to your home to enhance your feelings of calm in the mornings, as well as at other times?

Gratitude

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. Or you could reflect on something inspirational as you go to sleep or when you wake up. What we focus on grows. You could also put notes around your home to remind you of things to be grateful for or positive affirmations like “Everything will be alright”.

Anxiety reduction in the mornings, like anxiety reduction overall, can take time. The long term solution is to lower your anxiety level overall, but in the meantime, some of these suggestions and handy hints might be helpful to you in reducing your levels of anxiety in the mornings.


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