A client asked me this today. So here’s what I explained for her.
Is your mind is racing with feelings of anxiety even before your eyes open in the morning?
You’re far from being alone in fighting the clock and feeling bad in the morning.
Morning anxiety means waking up feeling stressed and worried already.
How do you recognize it?
Most of my clients describe it as:
- feeling ‘wired’ or ‘on edge’
- unable to contain the worry or nerves
- lump in the throat
- hard to focus or concentrate, the ‘mind goes a blank’
- physical tension, ‘hard to get a breath’, fast heart rate
What is the cause of Morning Anxiety?
Simply put, there’s no one cause of MA. ‘It’ is not a thing!
I describe MA as a reaction to excess stress and worries, with a few different causes that adds fuel to the fire.
Science shows that the stress hormone Cortisol is highest first thing in the morning for people experiencing a lot of stress in their lives.
What can you do to ease MA?
Preparation and routine pave the way to own your mornings, for a change.
A good night’s sleep is key to easing anxiety.
That means heading to bed at a reasonable hour that gives time for 7-8 hours of sleep before the alarm goes off.
- Plan for the day ahead. Write your lists, calendars, diaries, post-its and reminders before heading upstairs.
- Journaling is a great way to empty your head of worries and concerns before you go to sleep.
- Reading an interesting, enjoyable book at bedtime takes your mind off your own troubles and fears.
- Keep phones and laptops out of the bedroom so the natural ‘sleep tight’ hormone, Melatonin has free rein for sweet dreams.
- Wake up earlier. Fear of being late, not having enough time and rushing around contributes to anxiety.
- Take time to focus on YOU for a change, before the phone starts.
- Leave the phone alone. No sneaky email of fb checks! A snarky message or sanctimonious post can derail your day before it starts.
- Breathe and stretch in bed to wake up your body and feed your brain.
- A quick drink of water will refresh your system. Dehydration leads to irritability.
- Feel a sense of gratitude for having your bed, your home. Imagine and savour the pleasure of a hot shower. The mind cannot hold two conflicting thoughts simultaneously. Here you are choosing your thoughts for a change. With a little effort it becomes a good habit.
Why breakfast is a good idea
Is a shot of espresso your morning go-to? Maybe with a spoonful of sugar for energy?
Both caffeine and sugar can increase anxiety, leaving you tired and dehydrated after the first hit wears off.
Heading out without eating may save time but a low blood sugar due to lack of food increases anxiety feelings.
The best ways to treat anxiety
The symptoms of MA are similar to those of Generalised Anxiety Disorder, GAD.
Sometimes it can feel as if anxiety is a never-ending cycle of discomfort that rules your life, and affects relationships so what can you do?
Psychotherapy is a talk therapy I combine with Hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Mindfulness for my clients.
First off they identify their anxiety triggers. Then they discover what it’s like to feel calm. Next they learn strategies to reduce those triggers and develop more useful coping strategies.
New ways of thinking, acting and reacting to situations reduces the stress reaction, and levels of Cortisol decrease.
Self-care and well being to reduce MA
- Move it! Exercise is probably one of the best ways to relieve anxiety. Whether it’s a brisk walk, or great sex, dance or zumba, pilates or yoga, a team sport or a solitary cycle there’s something to suit everyone. Uplifting and fun, exercise takes you ‘out of yourself’, helps you unwind and calm the head.
- Eat well. Buy real food, cook and enjoy delicious meals. Good food gives your body the building blocks for health and happiness.
- Help others. Volunteering for a charity, writing emails for Amnesty, organizing a collection regularly at work serves to focus your thoughts outside yourself, and your concerns.
- Learn and use the relaxation techniques that suit you.