When To Seek Help
Look for help when morning anxiety becomes distressful. Unfortunately, just 37 percent of people with an anxiety disorder seek treatment, says the ADAA. Theres a stigma about mental health that you need a reason to go, says Runko. Why suffer if theres help out there?
In this case, in-person therapy or virtual therapy are options. Also consider group therapy or a support group in your area, which will connect you with people who are going through the same things, she recommends. Not only is it helpful to know youre not alone, but you can share strategies that help you start the day in a more peaceful way. Check out these tips for finding a therapist.
How to Deal with Anxiety
Why Is Anxiety Worse In The Morning
Many peopleincluding those who suffer from anxiety disordersreport that they feel most anxious in the morning. This morning spike of anxiety has been linked to a surge in the stress hormone cortisol, which peaks shortly after awakening.
Cortisol, Arousal and Anxiety
The hormone cortisol is released by the medulla of the adrenal gland as part of the bodys physiological, biochemical, emotional and behavioral preparation for physical and mental exertion. Cortisol activates the sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, which then prepares the body for action by increasing heart rate, blood pressure, respiration and more. Anxiety often accompanies this stress response.
Daily Fluctuations in Cortisol Levels
According to various studies, cortisol levels increase two- or three-fold within 30 minutes of awakening. Then, over the course of the day, they slowly decrease. This pattern is consistent throughout the week, including days when people dont work.
The term morning anxiety appears on websites and blogs to describe the heightened anxiety that many people experience in the morning. As of November 2009, the prevalence of morning anxiety in the general population is not known.
Morning Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders
Studies, including the 1977 study by Knorring, Perris and Strandman, indicate that, on average, people who are diagnosed with all classes of anxiety disorders experience their highest levels of anxiety in the morning.
Causes Of Waking Up With Anxiety
It can be a nasty surprise to wake up with anxiety. It is generally believed that anxiety is triggered by problematic thoughts and emotions that happen throughout the day. It’s not uncommon to feel anxiety during the day when you experience a lot of stressful events, but why would a person feel anxious before anything stressful has happened?
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Stress Hormones And Generalized Anxiety
If you are dealing with excessive anxiety in the morning, theres a good chance you may also have generalized anxiety or something researchers call The Cortisol Awakening Response . The stress hormone, cortisol, is released by the adrenal glands in response to fear or stress. Researchers have found that cortisol is highest in the first hour of waking for people with an increased level of anxiety. This helps explain why you may experience an increase in anxiety in the morning.
When you wake up, the body is already in fight or flight at the memory and thought of another anxiety-filled day ahead. Now cue negative thinking before the day has even begun, creating a repeating cycle of early morning dread. Not to mention, the latter part of the night and early part of the morning generally sees a natural increase in both Cortisol and blood pressure as the body prepares to start another day.
Fatigue And Low Energy
If you are waking up and you still feel tired, this is very often just caused by the fact that you haven’t slept well. And unfortunately, falling oestrogen can interfere with our sleep pattern. It keeps us at a much shallower sleep, which means we get disturbed much more often, either by what’s going on in our own body or by all the noises that are going on around us during the night.
Low blood sugar, again, can be another issue for fatigue. If your body is starved of nutrients because you’ve not eaten enough, how on earth is it going to suddenly burst into energy when you get up first thing in the morning when you haven’t even fed or watered it?
So one of the things that can help is to have a bedtime snack. Now, I know, some schools of thought say, “Don’t eat before you go to bed.” For me, from my experience and what I’ve seen for a lot of other women going through the menopause, is that your body needs that extra little meal before you go to bed.So about an hour before bed, a good protein or fat-based snack can very often help you to sleep better, and your body will have some nutrients left so that when you have to get up, you’re not in a total state of fatigue.
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How To Reduce Morning Anxiety
Your alarm goes off. Instead of waking up refreshed and energized, a very different feeling kicks in anxiety.
Anxiety is like an unwelcome visitor popping in when you least expect it. When you experience anxious thoughts or feelings in the morning, it robs your peace of mind and sets the tone for your whole day. Why do you wake up with butterflies in your stomach? How can you get rid of these feelings? Here are some ways you can address morning anxiety and improve your overall outlook for the day.
Consider Your Sleep Habits
Getting proper shuteye is extremely important for your mental and physical health. In fact, sleep problems like difficulties falling asleep and/or staying asleep are known to cause a variety of psychological and physical complaints. These include headaches, decreased energy, poor concentration, short-term memory problems, irritability, and anxiety.
Some healthy sleep habits to consider adopting include:
- Avoid stimulating activities two to three hours before bedtime .
- Engage in a relaxing activity before bedtime like curling up with a good book or getting a back rub from your partner.
- Go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every day, including weekends.
- Keep your bedroom cold and dark .
- Use your bed only for sleep and sex.
- Consider journaling or doing a “brain dump” before bed to get any thoughts or worries onto paper so they don’t interfere with falling or staying asleep.
If you find you’re unable to sleep well despite practicing good sleep hygiene, talk with your healthcare provider.
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Coffee And Sugary Morning Foods
Coffee has developed an unfair reputation in the anxiety world. While coffee can increase your risk of anxiety symptoms and panic attacks, many people are able to drink coffee without too many problems and some even find the clarity that coffee brings to be calming.
But coffee can still contribute to feelings of morning anxiety. Studies have shown that coffee increases cortisol levels, which may trigger a physiological anxiety response. This might also involve an elevated heart rate, and for those that are sensitive to how their heart feels, that increased heart rate may trigger further anxiousness.
But coffee is not the only culprit. Many people eat foods high in sugars, from donuts to cereal to juice, and high sugar foods can also contribute to nervousness and jitters. All of these scenarios may indicate that your diet could be affecting morning anxiety.
Anxious In The Morning
Can you explain why anxiety is worse when waking up than at any other time of day? This has been my wifes pattern for years.
Andrew Weil, M.D. | October 29, 2010
Morning anxiety appears to be common, but many people suffer from anxiety at other times of day as well. I have a friend who gets anxious at sundown. Unless there is a particular set of circumstances that occurs every morning your wife may suffer from generalized anxiety disorder , which is different from feeling stressed out and anxious about specific situations.
With GAD, individuals cant seem to shake their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They also seem unable to relax and often have trouble falling or staying asleep. Their worries are accompanied by physical symptoms, especially trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating or hot flashes, lightheadedness, and feeling out of breath.
As an alternative to drugs for managing anxiety, I recommend a number of lifestyle changes that may help. Chief among them are my breathing exercises, which I find to be very effective. Many people experiencing anxiety tend to hold their breath or hyperventilate without being conscious of their actions. Controlling breathing can offer immediate relief as well as a sense of empowerment. The relaxing breath is perhaps the best tool to use in addressing GAD, and the exercise I recommend as the cornerstone of any relaxation program.
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Leanne 36 Marketing Executive And Blogger
“I was diagnosed with depression when I was 19 and suffered with my mental health in my twenties, even overdosing after a difficult break-up.
My anxiety manifests itself as a feeling in my tummy that just wont go away. It isnt hunger, or being poorly. Its like a deep pit in my stomach. I also feel like my chest is tight and get short of breath. Sleeping is always an issue as my brain goes into relentless mode. Even the smallest of things can tip me over the edge and make me feel powerless. My menstrual cycle also drains me and makes my outlook on life change quite dramatically for a few days each month. Money is probably my biggest stress: I never feel like I have enough and, in turn, tell myself that my XX kids don’t have enough either.
My anxiety is worst on Mondays. I reflect on the weekend and make myself feel guilty for eating or drinking the ‘wrong’ things, not being more productive, and not exercising as much as I ‘should’ have. It’s when I feel most overwhelmed by everything I need to do throughout the week for my blog, part-time job and family. As soon as I get out of bed, I feel like I’m on a treadmill without a ‘stop’ button.
“As soon as I get out of bed, I feel like I’m on a treadmill without a ‘stop’ button”
I have three sons, age 14, 12, and four. My eldest son is autistic and if I know he has something going on at school or in his social life that will affect him, it’ll get to me in the mornings and I’ll worry about it all day.
Everyday Anxiety Vs Gad
An individual experiencing everyday anxiety will spend time worrying about a specific event, assignment, or task. Theyll also have trouble sleeping or concentrating during stressful times, and theyll experience physical aches and pains from specific situations.
An individual with GAD will experience ongoing general worry about vague, often imagined threats that interfere with daily life. Theyll also experience frequent trouble sleeping or concentrating and experience physical aches and pains for more than six months without a specific cause.
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Allow Yourself Adequate Time To Get Ready In The Morning
Waking up at the very last minute and then having to rush to prepare and complete all the things we need to in the morning before we start our day is a sure-fire way to get ourselves feeling stressed and is often a contributing cause to morning anxiety.
Sit down and take a moment to draw two columns on a piece of paper. Jot down all the things you need to do in the morning on the left, and in the right-hand column, write the approximate amount of time it takes to complete each activity and total the amount of time at the bottom. Your list may include time to wake up, meditate, feed the dog, exercise, prepare/eat breakfast, prepare your lunch/snacks, shower, get dressed, pack your bag, lock up the house, travel etc. .
Reduce Your Daily Stresses
Your next step will be a little more complicated, but no less important. You’ll need to make sure that you’re looking forward to every day, and not experiencing a great deal of stress. Morning anxiety is directly related to the amount you’re looking forward to your day. When your day is stressful, your anxiety increases as a result.
So what can you do? That depends on what’s causing you the stress. For example:
- Making Work Fun If work is what is causing you so much stress, then you need to make sure you’re looking for more ways to enjoy your work. You may work at one of the worst places in the world, but there are almost always ways that you can improve the quality or enjoyment of your work if you do it right. Try to make work more fun, and the stress you experience will decrease.
- Getting Out There Maybe you’re stressed because you don’t feel as though you’re doing enough or having enough fun. That means that your next step is to make the changes you need to address that. Join clubs, spend more time with your friends – what you do depends on what you enjoy, but getting out there and enjoying life is the obvious solution.
- Relationship Troubles Those with relationship issues should be making sure they’re addressing them as well. Sitting around and hoping things will change is not realistic. If you’re so stressed during the day that you’re waking up with anxiety, then you need to make changes right away if you want your morning anxiety to go away.
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Make Your Bedroom A Peaceful Place To Fall Asleep And Wake Up In
Take a moment to look at your sleeping environment, i.e. your bedroom. Is it a calm and cosy space? Or is it messy, cluttered and full of things that make your mind wander?
Our bedroom should be a peaceful sanctuary conducive to a solid night of sleep. Take time to clear any clutter from your room before you sleep each night, ensure lighting are soft and peaceful, and ensure your bedroom are of a comfortable temperature for sleeping.
Place a dressing gown and slippers next to your bed to make it that bit cosier on cool mornings, invest in a dimmable light and be sure to set your alarm using a soothing sound instead of something that startles you and perhaps makes you feel frustrated or anxious from the get-go.
Begin Your Day With Positive Thinking
When we regularly wake with morning anxiety or develop it in the first sixty minutes after waking up, it can cause us to develop negative thought patterns. We can begin to expect to or assume we will feel anxious after waking and this expectation can further fuel our morning anxiety.
However, with some consistency and regular practice, it is possible to change this way of thinking and to encourage ourselves to think positively rather than negatively.
Beginning a gratitude and/or positivity journal is a great example of how you can work to move away from negative thought patterns and towards positive thinking. Choose a time of day, before going to sleep for example, that suits you to take a moment and write down in a journal at least three positive things that occurred during your day/things you are grateful for. Or, if you are feeling anxious in the morning, grab your journal and reflect on the wonderful events that occurred the day before and try writing down a minimum of three activities you have to look forward to in the day that lays ahead.
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Why Do I Wake Up With A Pit In My Stomach
If you are waking up with a racing mind, increased heart rate, pit in the stomach, trembling body, and sweating along with other panic symptoms, it indicates you have morning anxiety. Anxiety in the early morning could have many potential causes.
Either its your office work stress thats bothering you all day and even before bedtime, or relationship issues that making your morning terrible. Chronic stress is a possible cause of horrible morning anxiety.
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Build A Mindful Morning Routine
Your morning routine doesnt need to involve waking up at 5 a.m. and reciting empowering mantras .
A good morning routine is about making space for yourself to get ready for the day.
Its important to build a mindful morning routine that works for you. Some suggestions you can try include:
- Journaling. Writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal can be an effective way to cope with worry, self-doubt, and negativity. It offers a way to examine sources of stress, as well as express deeper thoughts. Try setting a timer for 1015 minutes and allow yourself to see what flows to the page.
- Deep breathing. Slowing down your breathing brings the body into a state of relaxation. The 4-7-8 breathing technique is a popular method to soothe your nerves. It involves inhaling for 4 seconds, holding your breath for 7 seconds, and exhaling for 8 seconds. Try a few cycles of this before getting out of bed or whenever you notice your anxiety is at its highest.
- Visualization.Visualization is a technique using mental imagery to achieve a relaxed state of mind. For instance, you can try to picture a calm morning on the beach with the waves washing over your toes to start your day in a relaxed place.
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