If your thoughts start racing from the moment you wake up and you are filled with worry about the day ahead, then you might be experiencing morning anxiety.
And you are not alone: lots of people all over the world are feeling the same thing.
Here we take a look at the causes of morning anxiety and some helpful strategies for managing it.
What is morning anxiety?
Morning anxiety refers to feelings of stress, worry and anxiety when you wake up in the morning.
Morning anxiety is not a medical term but if you have morning anxiety, you may also be suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD).1
GAD is when you feel anxious about a range of issues and situations, rather than one event in particular.
If you have morning anxiety, you may also be feeling on edge, irritable, tired and have difficulty concentrating as well as experiencing morning panic attacks.3
Why is anxiety worse in the morning?
At the beginning of the day, you may become overwhelmed when thinking about what you have got on for the day ahead. This can lead to negative thoughts and terrible anxiety first thing in the morning.
For some people, the stress hormone cortisol is at its highest levels when you wake up. This helps you to stay alert and focussed in the morning. However, if you are anxious when you go to bed, your cortisol levels might peak too early which will lead to your mind racing upon waking.4
Low blood sugar due to a lack of food can make morning anxiety symptoms worse, as can caffeine and sugar.5
How can I best manage morning anxiety?
Feelings of anxiety in the morning can be debilitating and you might find facing the day ahead impossible.
We have put together some helpful tips to help you overcome this:
Take regular exercise
Physical activity in the morning can lift your mood, reduce anxiety symptoms, improve how your body handles stress and help you to relax.6
If you do not fancy jumping out of bed to do a vinyasa yoga flow or a HIIT workout, then when not take a walk outside instead?
There are even more benefits to getting some fresh air in addition to exercise.
Get plenty of good quality sleep
Getting enough healthy sleep is essential for both your physical and mental health.
If you are struggling to sleep, try switching off screens at least an hour before you go to bed, taking a warm bath with a few drops of lavender essential oils or doing some meditation before you drift off.
Start a good morning routine
Instead of hitting snooze on your alarm and rushing to work, scoffing breakfast on the way, why not try getting up early enough to enjoy a relaxing morning routine?
Leave enough time for your exercise, shower and to sit down and enjoy some breakfast with a cuppa and a book before you need to leave.
Meditation and mindfulness
Start your morning with some mindful meditation. These simple breathing exercises will help to focus and relax both your mind and body as well as focussing your mind on the present, rather than worrying about the past or future.
Try apps such as Headspace or Calm to get you started.
Do not stay in bed
Try to get up as soon as your alarm goes off, rather than hitting snooze. Going back to sleep will play havoc with your body clock and make it difficult to get into a good sleep pattern.
Try to also avoid lying awake in bed, worrying about things. If you get up and start doing something, it will give your brain something else to focus on, rather than the worries that you have.
Manage your day
If it is having a lot to do that is making you feel anxious, then it may help you to write down all of the tasks that you need to complete in a to do list.
Once it is all written down, it will seem more manageable and you can tick things off as you go along.
It is especially important to do this at the beginning of the week (say Sunday evening) to try and keep Monday morning anxiety at bay.
Do not check your phone straight away
What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Try and leave it a few minutes after opening your eyes before looking at your phone.
Emails, the news and even social media apps can all make you start feeling worried and add to any negative feelings that might already be there.
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Last updated: 3rd February 2021
Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.