How to Minimize Morning Anxiety

6 Tips to Wash Your Early Bird Worries Away

Morning anxiety
6 tips for reducing your morning anxiety. Photo © Microsoft

Many people with an anxiety disorder experience the start of each day with worry and dread like they just want to curl up under the covers and not face the day ahead. 

Try not to get discouraged, though, there are some things you can proactively do to minimize your morning anxiety.

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.

By adopting healthy sleep habits, you can reduce morning anxiety and improve your ability to carry out your daily activities. Some healthy sleep habits to consider include:

  • Going to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every day, including the weekends
  • Using your bed only for sleep and sex
  • Keeping your bedroom cold (around 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and dark (invest in room-darkening shades or curtains)
  • Avoid stimulating activities two to three hours before bedtime (for example, TV, computer, vigorous exercise, drinking caffeine)
  • Engage in a relaxing activity before bedtime, like curling up with a fantasy or fiction novel or getting a back rub from your partner

If you find you are unable to sleep well despite practicing good sleep hygiene, talk with your doctor.

Examine Your Morning Stressors

There may be parts of your morning routine that are anxiety-provoking, like an alarm clock that jolts you awake. Perhaps, changing your alarm clock to one that wakes you with soothing music would be better. 

In addition, your anxiety in the morning may be worsened by all the tasks you need to complete.

By giving yourself plenty of time in the morning and completing some of your tasks the evening before, like packing lunches or preparing clothes, you can ease some of your anxiety.

Start Your Day with Some Relaxation Exercises

Doing some relaxation exercises in the morning only takes about 10 to 15 minutes. If you start your day relaxed and focused, you may feel a sense of emotional balance that carries you through your day. Some techniques to try include:

Think Positively

If you’ve been dealing with morning anxiety for some time, it’s possible that you have developed automatic negative thought patterns, which can fuel your anxiety. This means that your mind awakens, and without any conscious effort on your part, worried thoughts take center stage, leading to more anxiety.

It takes practice, but you can change these negative thought patterns and replace them with positive thoughts and behaviors.

First, identify the thoughts that need change, and then develop your own positive counter-statements.

For example, let's say you wake up and your first thoughts are, "I feel terrible. How am I going to drive to work today?

I’ll never get through the day. What’s wrong with me?"

You can replace these negative thoughts with positive statements, such as: "Yes, I feel anxious this morning, but I have felt this way before and have been able to handle it. If I have trouble with anxiety during the day, I can use relaxation techniques that will calm me down. I am in control. Anxiety is a normal human emotion, and it is my cue to relax."

If you find changing your thought pattern is useful, consider seeing a therapist who is trained in treating anxiety disorders with cognitive-behavioral therapy.

Alternatively, there are online programs you can utilize where a therapist communicates with you through email or telephone, as opposed to face-to-face.

Consider Your Diet

Research suggests a link, albeit complex, between diet and anxiety. In other words, what you eat has the potential to either trigger or ease anxiety. In addition, research has revealed that people with mood disorders, like generalized anxiety disorder, tend to have poor diets, ones that are low fruits, vegetables, and protein, and high in saturated fat and refined carbohydrates. 

With that, under the guidance of your doctor and/or a nutritionist, changing your diet (one that is balanced in protein, omega-3 fats, and fruits and vegetables with a low glycemic index) may help soothe your anxiety. While the science is still not robust on this theory, it certainly may be worth a try. 

Lastly, when it comes to diet, we cannot forget the role of caffeine, a common and well known anxiety-producing culprit. If your morning anxiety is getting to you, consider eliminating or at least cutting back on your cup of joe.

A Word From Verywell

In the end, if your morning anxiety is affecting your daily functioning or quality of life, be sure to see your primary care doctor or a mental health professional, like a psychologist or psychiatrist.

It's best to not carry the burden of your worries on your own shoulders. Let someone else who is trained in treating anxiety disorders help you feel better and get well. 

Sources:

Aucoin M, Bhardwaj S. Generalized anxiety disorder and hypoglycemia symptoms improved with diet modification. Case Rep Psychiatry. 2016;2016:7165425.

Davison KM, Kaplan BJ. Food intake and blood cholesterol levels of community-based adults with mood disorders. BMC Psychiatry. 2012;12:10.

Olthuis JV, Watt MC, Bailey K, Hayden JA, Stewart SH. Therapist-supported Internet cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety disorders in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Mar 12;3:CD011565.

Tartakovsky, M. (2017). 15 Small Steps You Can Take Today to Improve Anxiety Symptoms. Psych Central.

Swarts, K. (2016). There’s More to Sleep than Bedtime. Psych Central

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