How did you get on with the affirmations last week? The feedback that I got was all positive, so thank you for that. This week I want to blog about morning Anxiety. Yes it is a thing.
Do you ever experience racing thoughts or anxiety in the morning before you even have a chance to hit snooze on your alarm? If you do, you’re not alone.
What is morning anxiety?
Although not a medical term, morning anxiety refers to waking up with feelings of stress and worry. If you are dealing with excessive anxiety, worry, and stress in the morning, there’s a good chance you may also have generalized anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by excessive and uncontrolled worry that pervades daily life and occurs frequently for at least six months. People with GAD typically worry about everyday actives such as work, money, family, and health.
What are the symptoms of morning anxiety?
The symptoms of morning anxiety often mimic those of generalized anxiety disorder. If you are struggling with anxiety upon waking, you may be experiencing: feeling restless, “on-edge,” or “wound up” irritability fatigue. Signs of a panic attack, such as tight chest, tense muscles, higher than normal heart rate, or difficulty breathing
difficulty concentrating and finding your mind goes blank
difficulty controlling the worry or nervousness.
What causes morning anxiety?
Morning anxiety can be caused by many factors that may also contribute to an anxiety disorder. Since morning anxiety is a reaction to excess stress and worries, there are several potential causes that may contribute to your symptoms.
The “stress hormone” cortisol is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress. Researchers have studied the cortisol awakening response (CAR) and have found that cortisol is highest in the first hour of waking for people with an increased level of stress in their lives. This helps explain why you may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.
What you eat and drink first thing in the morning can also contribute to higher levels of anxiety in the early hours of the day. Did you know that Caffeine and sugar can increase anxiety symptoms. But low blood sugar due to a lack of food can make anxiety symptoms worse.
If you go to bed worrying or wake up during the night with anxious thoughts, you are likely to feel anxious and concerned about your day in the morning.
How is morning anxiety treated?
Living with an anxiety disorder can feel like a never-ending cycle of worry. But it doesn’t have to take over your life. You can learn ways to cope with your symptoms. Some of the more common ways to treat morning anxiety include:
Many lifestyle changes can help you manage morning anxiety, including:
getting enough sleep
limiting alcohol and caffeine (both can trigger anxiety and panic attacks)
eating a healthy diet that limits processed food and sugar
reducing stress at work and home.
There are also self-care strategies you can use right when you wake up feeling anxious. This includes:
Physical activity. Exercise is one of the best things you can do for yourself in the morning, especially if you are dealing with an excessive amount of worry when you wake up. Any physical activity, such as taking a walk, can:
lift your mood
reduce anxiety symptoms
improve your body’s ability to handle stress
help you relax
Aim to exercise at least five days per week for 30–45 minutes each session.
Deep breathing exercises
Deep breathing done first thing in the morning can help take the focus off of your negative and anxious thoughts and turn your focus and energy toward your body.
Challenging negative thoughts.
If you wake up with negative thoughts about your day (often called “awfulizing”) challenge them and focus on what you can control. You can keep a journal by your bed and write down what you are grateful for. It’s also a good idea to list at least three things you are looking forward to.
Don’t fight it.
If you’re new to these techniques and you’re finding that managing morning anxiety is a lot harder than you thought, try setting a worry timer. Give yourself a time limit of 10 minutes to experience those feelings. When the timer goes off, move on to your self-care strategies. Though you can’t expect to simply “turn off” your anxiety, this approach allows you to acknowledge your worry and gives you a concrete point at which to move on to self-care.
Even though the symptoms of morning anxiety can feel overwhelming and permanent, they are highly treatable. When you combine professional treatment along with the self-care strategies listed above, you can experience relief from the racing thoughts and worry that invade your mind.
In conclusion for mornings
Start a morning routine.
When I started an effective morning routine and stuck to it, I was able to massively reduce my anxiety. In addition, it also helped with my productivity, energy, relationships, and a host of other areas of my life. It really was life-changing.
10 Things You Can Do to Naturally Heal Your Anxiety
Wake Up Early : According to Hannah Hepworth, an expert on natural anxiety relief, “when you wake up early you can have plenty of time to get where you need to go. Instead of rushing and yelling…you can work calmly.”
Make Your Bed : The reason making your bed is so powerful is that it allows you to successfully complete a task first thing in the morning, which then builds momentum to continue doing more for the rest of the day.
Repeat your daily affirmation : If you can look in a mirror, smile and say your daily affirmation. Say it with meaning and belief.
Take a Cold Shower : This sounds awful. In fact, when I first heard about it I didn’t try it for months because I didn’t think it could help and I loathed the idea of taking a freezing, cold shower. However, after 3-months of consistently taking a cold shower every morning, I can ensure you the benefits are enormous. The easiest recipe to get the psychological lift is by taking a cold shower for 2 to 3 minutes once or twice daily, preceded by a five-minute gradual adaptation to the temperature (i.e. start your shower hot and then finish it with 2–3 minutes of pure icy goodness). Only taking a cold shower can strengthen your body’s parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, increase proper circulation of blood through your body, and contract your muscles to eliminate toxins and poisonous wastes.
Coffee, Tea, or Your Breakfast Drink of Choice : Until recently, my mornings would always start with a cup of coffee. I have been consuming the beverage ever since I can remember, and I never wanted to lose that, but there came a point where I knew that healing my anxiety was much more important than the benefits of coffee. So I went cold turkey. Give it a try, but leave your phone at home. Just embrace your surrounds and be grateful that you woke up this morning.
Brain Dump at Desk : “Could bitching and moaning on paper for 5 minutes each day change your life? As crazy as it may seem, I believe the answer is yes.” -Tim Ferriss
Gratitude : The key here is not to repeat that you are grateful for your family, life. The key is to focus on being aware of the smaller things in life that you would miss if you were gone. This is a very pow-erful practice . Dr. Emmons, a gratitude researcher, confirms that practicing gratitude daily can reduce anxiety and depression.
The Morning Three
1. Affirmations—By stating three affirmations in the morning I am able to put myself into a charged state. It may seem strange, but it has been hugely beneficial to my mental state.
2. What do I get to enjoy today—By starting my day thinking about what I get to enjoy today, I put my mind into a positive mode and trigger my brain to see the upside of the day.
3. Daily Intention — I start out each day with intention. Whether it’s as simple as “I will be present today” or “I will choose to see the beauty in everything that happens to me today.” It doesn’t really matter, but I have found it extremely helpful for lowering my daily anxiety to be intentional about what I want my day’s purpose to be,
Three Most Important Tasks that need to get done Even a basic plan of attack for your day can drastically reduce your anxiety by decreasing the cognitive load that comes with increased decision making. Each morning we wake up with a finite amount of brain power and every decision we make detracts from it. By having a basic structure that decreases the number of decisions you have to make about what you are going to do next, you will be able to take control of your day and calm your restless mind.”
1. What task, if completed successfully, will make all of the others obsolete?
2. What task do I have the most anxiety/fear about?
3. What task will move me closest to accomplishing my number 1 goal?
Deep Work: Do all of the above. Make it work for you.
I understand we all have different schedules and responsibilities, but if we want to overcome anxiety and move our goals forward truly we must protect our mornings. If we don’t take control of our mornings, something else will.
Hope that made sense. Until next time.
Have a great week
These recent blogs are taken from my paperback Can I Change? Available from Amazon in Paperback or Kindle version.