Have you ever woken up in the morning with a sense of dread about the upcoming events of the day? Maybe you have noticed a pattern where one of the most difficult things for you to do is to start your day because you are weighed down by worry. Do you often just want to crawl back into bed and avoid facing the day? If this sounds like you, you might suffer from morning anxiety.
Morning anxiety is exactly what the name suggests, an experience of anxiety that happens when a person wakes up in the morning. Morning anxiety is not just “not being a morning person,” or being in a bad mood because you don’t want to go to work, it is a feeling of worry, uneasiness, or dread, that is especially pronounced when a person first wakes. Someone with morning anxiety might experience elevated heart rate, shaking hands, worry without a definitive reason, elevated blood pressure, or exhaustion even if they have just slept.
What Causes Morning Anxiety?
Diet and Blood Sugar
A person’s blood sugar is at its lowest when a person first wakes up in the morning. This factor can contribute to the presence of anxiety in the morning. It may be that just by eating breakfast, it is possible to decrease the amount of anxiety that you feel. What you eat can also play a factor. Breakfasts high in sugar and carbohydrates can cause a person’s blood sugar level to suddenly spike. Choosing to start your day with nutritious foods lower in sugar and carbohydrates, and high in protein, can help create a more healthy blood sugar level, and contribute to a decrease in anxiety.
Many people drink tea or coffee in the morning, which has caffeine. Caffeine contributes to feelings of anxiety by increasing heart rate and worsening symptoms such as shaky hands. If you experience morning anxiety, you may want to decrease your caffeine intake to see if that helps you become less anxious.
Every morning the level of cortisol in a person’s body reaches its peak. Cortisol is a hormone produced by a person’s adrenal glands. This hormone helps a person regulate their response to stress, but due to the high concentration of cortisol produced in the morning, it can cause a person to feel anxious. Cortisol levels can be reduced by the following practices:
- Getting enough quality sleep
- Regular exercise
- Avoiding stressful thinking patterns
- Deep breathing exercises
- Hobbies and fun activities
- Positive relationships with other people
Cortisol is an essential hormone for a person’s body to function normally. It is possible, through the practices listed above, to adjust cortisol levels, but your cortisol levels will never be totally under your control. If you make adjustments to your lifestyle and still experience morning anxiety a doctor will be able to run tests to see if your body is producing too much.
If you have persistent issues with morning anxiety, it may be evidence of a general anxiety disorder. This means that a person experiences persistent and excessive worry that is out of proportion with the actual circumstances causing the worry. The precise causes of anxiety disorders are not known, but risk factors for anxiety disorder include:
- Illness related stress
- Certain personality types
- Other mental health disorders
- Family history of anxiety disorders
- Substance use
Anxiety can be treated by your doctor or mental health professional. Anxiety disorder treatment is common. The sooner a person seeks help for an anxiety disorder the sooner they can receive access to therapeutic treatments that will allow them to overcome their struggles with anxiety.
What Can I Do About Morning Anxiety?
If you are experiencing morning anxiety there are a number of practices that can help to manage this anxiety.
Make An Effort To Address Overall Stress
Many life events can contribute to a person’s overall stress level. Someone with morning anxiety might wake up and instantly remember several factors that are contributing to their high anxiety levels. People need to care for themselves by doing things that can counteract feelings of stress and anxiety. Exercise, meditation practices, and a healthy diet are examples of things anyone can do to contribute to decreased anxiety and stress.
Morning Exercise Routine
Taking time to exercise in the morning, when you might be at your most anxious, is a useful practice in combating morning anxiety. Exercise contributes to serotonin production, which is a brain chemical that promotes positive emotions and reduces anxiety levels. Exercise also activates the frontal region of the brain, a region which processes events that we perceive as threatening, and helps us approach these events with increased clarity.
Reduce Caffeine And Sugar Consumption
Caffeine and sugar create responses in the body that mimic anxiety. If you are consuming a lot of caffeine and/or sugar, you may be contributing to feelings of anxiousness. Switching to a decaffeinated, or less caffeinated version of the tea or coffee you enjoy in the morning can reduce feelings of anxiety. Likewise, you can make sure that your breakfast choices include less sugar and bring a higher nutritional value to the start of your day.
Don’t Rush in the Morning
If you wake up 10 minutes before you have to be ready and out the door, you are asking for an experience of anxiety first thing in the morning! Instead, wake up with plenty of time to get ready and incorporate practices that help you have a positive start to your day. It can be difficult to adjust to an earlier alarm setting, but giving yourself time to start the day well can set the tone for your mental wellbeing for the rest of the day.
Make Time For Happiness
It is easy to get stuck in a routine where you move from responsibility to responsibility until you crash at the end of the day. Telling someone to make time for happiness might make them wonder “when could I do that?” However, making time to do something that brings you joy will contribute positively to your mental health and reduce your overall level of anxiety. This practice can also distract your mind from the issues that are causing anxiety, preventing you from fixating on these issues and increasing your anxiety.
Anxiety Treatment at Sun
Seeking professional treatment for anxiety can be an important step for overcoming anxiety and learning to thrive as you face the many challenges that life presents. Sun Behavioral Health provides evidence based therapeutic treatment for individuals looking to manage their anxiety. Our staff can give you care that is individualized for your specific condition, giving you the best chance of continued success. If you are experiencing morning anxiety, or any other mental health condition, the staff at Sun can help put you on the path to wellness. Call us at 302-604-5600 to discuss treatment options with our staff.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Causes Morning Anxiety?
A number of factors can contribute to morning anxiety, including diet, caffeine intake, and other mental health conditions. A significant contributor to morning anxiety is the production of a hormone called cortisol, which can make a person more anxious. Production of cortisol is highest in the morning and contributes to the condition of morning anxiety
How can I stop morning anxiety?
There is not a cure that will work for every person who experiences morning anxiety, but practices that help with other forms of anxiety management, such as a healthy diet, plenty of rest, and exercise, will help a person who experiences morning anxiety. Mental health treatment is often beneficial for those who experience anxiety. In this setting a person learns ways to manage and treat their anxiety or other mental health problems.
What are symptoms of morning anxiety?
Morning anxiety is characterized by racing thoughts, feelings of panic and excessive amounts of worry. These symptoms take place in the morning, which is why it is called morning anxiety.
Is it normal to have morning anxiety?
Morning anxiety, and mental health conditions in general, is a common occurrence. Around 1 in 4 Americans experience a mental health condition every year. If you are experiencing morning anxiety, or any other mental health condition, it is perfectly normal and seeking treatment for this condition can be helpful in learning to treat and overcome it.