I find that anxiety hits me harder at different times of the month. Usually it’s at its worst around the time of my period – we all know how it is. I find that I think of the anxiety as a general ‘anxious day’, but did you ever notice that your anxiety is worse in the MORNING than any other time?
Sometimes before you even have time to press snooze, you may feel that awful, anxious dread creep in. It’s not fun, especially when you have a busy day planned. Waking up with morning anxiety can leave you feeling down and worried all day, meaning you may not be able to complete tasks or be able to do your best work.
Although not a specifically recognised medical issue, morning anxiety is quite common among many of us – and there is a reason.
The Science Behind Morning Anxiety
There is a ‘stress hormone’ called cortisol, which 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 those of us who already experience anxiety and an increased level of stress in our lives.
I spoke to Amber*, 26 who previously suffered badly with morning anxiety: “My morning anxiety was ruining my whole week. I would wake up extremely early and just lie in bed panicking about my day ahead, worrying about things I can’t control and situations that hadn’t even happened yet. I would lie frozen until it was time to get up for work and then try to force myself out of the anxiety throughout the day,” she continued, “I might be finally able to feel a little happier by the evening, but then it was nearly time for bed, and so the cycle would begin again. It was a long road of self-care treatment to help me to stop feeling morning anxiety so much”.
How To Fight The Morning Dread
First things first, speak to your doctor if you are really struggling. Secondly, there are several ways you can experience relief from the racing thoughts and worries that invade your mind just by practicing a little self-care and control.
What you eat and drink last thing at night and first thing in the morning can really contribute to higher levels of anxiety in the early hours of the day. Personally, things like coffee and sugar really increase my own anxiety, so I try to avoid it until mid-morning when I’m feeling more in control. Drinking alcohol also massively increases anxiety levels and that slight hangover you have from sinking a couple of wines with dinner the night before won’t help when combined with morning anxiety! Try your best not to drink alcohol during the week, especially if you have a busy one! Finally, be aware that your blood sugar will be low when you wake up, potentially making anxiety symptoms worse. Don’t skip breakfast! Carve out some time to create a balanced, healthy morning meal such as eggs or avocado on toast.
“Practicing mindful breath-work will help you to calm down – trust me, it works.”
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. What do I always say? Preparation is key! Setting out your to-do list the night before will give you a sense of control over the day ahead and how to achieve your goals. Be realistic with your workload or to-do list – have you got too much to do? Can you drop something to make life a little easier? Cutting something out (even if that’s cancelling social plans) can really help you make some space in your week and your head.
Try to relax as much as possible. Practicing mindful breath-work will help you to calm down – trust me, it works. Breathe deep into your diaphragm – inhale and exhale for as long as you need to before you feel more at ease.
Even though the symptoms of morning anxiety can feel overwhelming and permanent, they are manageable and treatable. Don’t suffer – take back control and smash your goals like the #bossbabe you are!