Morning anxiety occurs when individuals wake up and feel symptoms of anxiety straightaway. It may occur for many reasons and may be a part of general anxiety disorder, or simply exist on its own for certain individuals. Understanding why you feel more anxious in the morning will help you to regulate your feelings and may aid you in tackling it altogether.
Those with morning anxiety may wake with rushing thoughts, a tight chest, nausea, tremors, irritability or a feeling of dread. Many people with general anxiety disorder will feel one of more of these symptoms through the day, this article looks specifically at those people who feel these symptoms at their most when they wake up in the morning.
There are many reasons why your anxiety is more acute first thing in the morning. One simple answer is that it’s the shortest time before you have to face the day and also because it is the time of day you are most unknowing about what may lay ahead – those whose anxiety is triggered by worry may feel it more in the morning for this reason.
Another source of the morning worry may be that you simply feel the hurdle to get going is too big; getting kids ready, the school drop off, the daily commute etc. If you think your morning anxiety is triggered by worry, write a journal each day about what it is you’re worried about, as this will make it easier to combat.
In physical terms, the morning sees you wake from a restful state of relaxation, possibly a deep sleep, into wakeful consciousness. The move from a relaxed to an awake state may trigger early morning anxiety, especially as this is the point in the day that your brain releases more cortisol (stress hormone). Blood sugar can also drop off by morning, causing an emotional reaction to your physical state.
If your morning anxiety appears to be caused by worry about the day ahead, try some meditation, tai chi or yoga when you wake up. All of these techniques are proven to reduce stress levels in general. Another option is to change up your morning habits as worry and morning anxiety may become habitual. By changing your morning routine, your body may be forced to change the habit of feeling anxious. Try waking earlier and reading a book for 30 minutes, going on a walk before the rest of the world is up or even doing a crossword.
Write a journal about what your worries are so you can define whether it’s work, relationships, or just the pressure of it all being too much.
If you feel much of the worry you wake up with is associated with how much you have to face, lighten the load the night before. Make mornings as simple as possible by laying out clothes ready, making lunches in advance, unloading the dishwasher, having the breakfast table prepared and your work or school bags packed and ready to go.
If you feel your morning anxiety may be caused by low blood sugar levels, introduce the idea of eating something with a low GI before you go to bed, which will release energy and sugars more slowly as you sleep, allowing you to wake with more balanced blood sugar levels. A good choice might be a slice of wholemeal bread with almond butter.
If you feel your anxiety is caused by the general move from sleep to waking, then once again, yoga or meditation may help you to regulate your stress hormone levels.
If you find your morning anxiety doesn’t start until you’ve had a coffee or tea, it may be that the caffeine is causing it. If this is the case move to herbal tea in the morning and also eliminate caffeine before bed. Those with anxiety should work towards cutting down on caffeine wherever possible.